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“What’s the point of work? Or marriage and kids? We ‘re born, we grow up,  go to school, work, get married, have kids and die.”

“It’s whatever point you want it to be. You’re in charge.”

“You get up, go to work,  come home,  go to sleep, get up,  go to work, maybe relieve a bit of tedium in a bar or someplace…”

“So do something else!”

“I knew you wouldn’t understand.”

“Of course I understand. Just about every single person who’s alive thinks the same thing at least once in their life.”

“Marriage. Tying yourself down and merging yourself legally, financially, all that to someone else, and for what? So ten years down the road, you divorce? And if you have kids, they grow up to hate you? And you buy a house with a mortgage and you’re stuck with that for 40 years…”

“What’s brought all this on? Existential crisis?”

“Mmm-hmm. Well,  at the party yesterday, I was talking to somebody about life…”

“The tall woman with the long hair?”

“She’s very smart.”

“Oh.”

“Julianne can’t help that she’s beautiful,  I mean, smart! “

”’Julianne?’ Kevin, you want that woman.”

“I… Yeah.”

“Wait, you’re dumping me? Here?”

“I’m sorry, Sheila.”

“All this agita was fake?”

“I’ll get my stuff out tomorrow.”

“To think we would actually have a real conversation…”

“But I agree with you; it’s all a choice.”

“No wonder we’re at Starbucks. You bastard.”

“Yeah, well. Good luck with life. Really. I mean that.”

Reader, I punched him.

Walt Rorschach surpassed Brice Wickes by $4.5 million for Salesperson of the Year, yet was only in second place. Renee Frazier dwarfed all: $285.7 million in new sales for the fiscal year. After 3 outsized belts of 50-year-old Glenfiddich, Brice approached her with a smile, pumped her hand vigorously and whispered, “You rancid cunt.” Renee had blinked twice and turned away on her heel.

But that was last night.

Casey, Brice’s mistress (and Walt’s secretary), had gone flying through the window of his room on the highest floor of the lodge, her body pierced through by massive shards of breaking glass. A thunderous crack had interrupted them, the building groaned as it was thrown down the hill, and the screams of the trapped went silent as their rooms were either crushed or had filled with black, clinging mud. Brice’s grip on a sturdy wall fixture saved him.

The sky was faintly grey when, though a gaping hole in one wall, Renee found him naked and in shock. Her hands were dotted with tiny cuts and she wore mismatched shoes. Her filthy cotton nightgown was torn.

“Are you hurt? Can you move? We have to look for people!”

Uninjured, he crawled out shortly thereafter in what he could find; a pair of boxers, a tee, trainers.  On seeing her, shame overwhelmed him.

Brice climbed over broken planks to where Renee was kneeling.

“Renee, I…”

“No! Just dig!”

Brice caught sight of a motionless hand grasping at nothing through the muck and shut his eyes.

Catcalling season is here. As it has been for 30 years, if I had a dollar for every man who’s already said something sordid and gross to me, I could get 10 people dinner at Peter Luger’s today. 30 years.  Since I was 11. Guess how young I looked at 11? I would be a multimillionaire with all those dollars.

Two days ago, some guy talked about my bottom for an entire city block. “C’mon, girl, gimme dat azz!” He was serious. I almost felt sorry for him.  And he was about the 7th or 8th rude man that day.

Perhaps you think that at my age, I’d feel complimented by men loudly talking about my body as I go along, minding my own business. “Listen, old broad, you should feel flattered”, right? Imagine your wallets, fellas, in clear view to passers-by; your money exposed, no matter how modest you were being with it. Every few yards, some woman loudly remarks about your money, how she’d like to get with your money, and “Ooh, baby, you know you wanna give me that money!” Would you consider her for your next date? No? But why not? She’s only complimenting you on your money!

Is there no other way for these dudes to feel manly other than trying to assert some masculine privilege on strangers? Do they somehow really believe they can roll up and get sexual favours from women? Not. Happening. Idiot!

I won’t look back on it at 82, thinking, “Damn, I was something in my day.”

“What are you smiling about?!”

What am I smiling about, Dom? No matter what’s happened, no matter the outbursts you’ve subjected me to in court, I’m fine. I’m achieving my goal in the next few minutes in this aerie that’s my lawyer’s office: Liberation.

You’ve said a lot of shit about me to the media. Why anyone was willing to believe such a classic case of projection, I don’t know, but never mind. I’ve gotten a clean bill of health and soon, I’ll never have to see you again.  Ever.

What a shame you convinced yourself – and me – that you were the marrying kind or that libel would get rid of your guilt about cheating (and cheating and cheating and cheating). Tatum’s said I’ve been too merciful, that I should sue. No,  the world sees you for what you are, and that’s enough. An inadvertent public service, really. Oh, here comes Tatum with the papers! I’m giddy! I’ve got my own pen, thank you!

I’m with someone else – not in the business, bless. Hardly anyone has friends out here, but Marc’s my friend. He’s read a book or two. He’s been by my side the entire time. He treats me with real loving care. He’s an actual adult. I’ve heard he’s been compared to “a young David Gilmore” too, which I didn’t notice before, but, woohoo!

And look at you, Dom. An immature, creepy sex addict. ‘Get my revenge’? When you already have to live with yourself? Completely unnecessary.

Despite the odds, we’ve made it. It wasn’t exactly a shotgun wedding, but we decided for the sake of the baby, we’d get married. I know my friends thought I was stupid, but I was already 21, Evie was 18 and Max was almost a year old, and, it just wasn’t right to me and Evie that we weren’t a family. So we became one. Our parents were relieved. They couldn’t hide that.

Then a year later we had Jess, so we were in it to win it. For a while we struggled, sure. Though the only time I ever seriously considered cheating was when I lost my job 10 years ago; the kids were almost out the door and my ego wanted massaging. One of the managers at the old office wanted to massage it, but I passed before things got to the point of no return. I also wanted to be able to look at myself in the mirror.

Max? He’s 27, a carpenter. Jess is 25 and a stand-up. She’s pretty good, once I got over hearing her swear. You never want to think of your little girl swearing. Our friends have little kids and teens, and you can feel the envy when they’re at the house, except for Trina; Trina met a friend of Max’s at our house and they’re together now. Trina’s 42. Will’s 30. They really hit it off.

I look strange? Yeah, well… Evie told me yesterday we’re pregnant. Jesus. Pregnant. I’m 47. Evie’s 44. I’ll be 65 with an 18 year old kid. 65!

There are no two more different people on earth than my sister Lenya and myself, according to people who assume they know us well.

She is stunning. I am plain; such is the basis of all other assumptions about us.

And also of strangers. One day as we were walking, I stopped to tie my shoe on a busy city street and told her I would catch up. As it was, she loped ahead and I didn’t meet her until shortly after this:

The hot dog seller, the construction workers at lunch on the kerb, the university students; they all stared at her in awe of her litheness, her long, shiny chestnut hair, her perfectly proportioned oval face. One man’s jaw dropped. None spoke.  As I strode to catch up, I was greeted with vile cat calls from the construction workers.

“Yo, baby, shake that fat ass!”
“Hey, smile! Smile!
“Ungh! Ungh!”

I wanted to burst into tears, but dared not. I didn’t want to embarrass my sister or myself. When I finally did catch up to her, the innocent look she’d been wearing for those men dropped as she smirked at me.

“I’ll bet it really sucks to have to deal with that.”

Why do people think that just because someone is beautiful that they are all other good things? That biological indicators of symmetry, fitness and health equals honesty, intelligence or compassion?

I am a good person!

I must stop allowing the bitterness to take over.

“Mommy?”
“Hmm?”
“Mommy!”

“What, Patrick, what?”

“Stop reading and talk to me.”

“OK. Book is closed.”
“If I was a dog I’d go, ‘woof-woof’?”
“Yes. Approximately.”

“And if I was a cat, I’d go, “meow-meow’?”

“Mmm-hmm.”

“But what if I were a rock?”

“Rocks don’t make their own sounds, honey.”

“But when I throw it, it makes a sound!”

“That’s because it hit something else. Rocks aren’t alive.”

“Oh. So dogs and cats and us are alive.”

“Yes.”

“Are rocks alive?”

“Nope.”

“Why not?”

“Rocks don’t grow.”

“They don’t?”

“No. And rocks don’t feel anything.”

“Do flowers feel?”

“I think we’re trying to find out. Scientists, that is.”

“Flowers are alive.”

“Yes.”

“And carrots?”

“Plants are alive until we pull them off the trees or out of the ground.”

“Is dirt alive?

“No. Dirt’s just ground-up rocks.”

“I’m confoozled.”

“When you are bigger and in school longer, you will learn all about it.”

“OK. It’s OK to eat carrots?”

“Every living being has to eat to stay alive, so, yes, it’s OK.”

“Would a tiger eat me?”

“If it was hungry and could catch you, yes!”

“I would run and run!”

“It would be better to be far away from a tiger.”

“I saw a cat outside eat its babies!”

“What! When?”

“Today! They were tiny!”

“Oh, honey. I’m sorry. Sometimes that happens.”

“You won’t eat me, will you?”

“No! Oh, no wonder! Believe me, I would never eat you! I love you!”

“You do?”

“Yes!”

“OK. That’s very good.”

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