Hi blog readers. Thank you for reading my blog! I’ve been silent for three months due to a back injury which required surgery and resulted in limited sitting, and therefore writing, time. At least I’ve been able to read in a supine position! I am almost back to full strength and offer this story. I hope that you enjoy it.
By the time that they were seated in the restaurant Patrick desperately needed a drink. Getting a table, which pleased his wife coupled, with her driving tirade, and worst of all the day’s personal telephone call which he had received from their son’s school had made him wonder if it was all worthwhile. He hoped that the cocktail would soothe him into a happy mood suited for the occasion of their celebratory anniversary night out. He waited alone, because after they were ushered to a new table, and had ordered, she had gone to the lady’s room.
Patrick concentrated on breathing slowly and began to relax. He was soothed as he watched his Kate, with an aura of calm, weave her way across the restaurant. He admired her intelligence and quick wit. Watching her reminded him why he stayed married. He asked himself why she couldn’t always be as demure as she now appeared. As he began to adjust to the atmosphere of the restaurant, he allowed himself to sigh in content for he enjoyed witnessing her beauty. Today was no exception. Indeed, he thought, that this evening was extra special for she wore a fitted dress which clung to her body just enough to emphasize her flat stomach and elegant figure. The dress was maxi length and flowed from fitted torso to swirling full skirt. It sported narrow vertical navy blue and white stripes. As she moved the skirt of swaying stripes shimmered like an op-art mobile. Patrick glanced about the room and noticed that several of the other diners were also watching this paragon of loveliness. “That’s my wife!” he wanted to tell them; but he kept quiet and waited in anticipation for her return.
After she passed out of view, his day came back to haunt him. The phone call from their son’s head master was what worried him most for he knew that he was going to have to discuss it with Katherine sometime before next Monday’s school. It was going to be hard for you can’t sugar coat a message like the one he was given. He was offered two alternatives. Either he could place their first-grade son elsewhere, or he was to make sure that Patrick, and only he, communicate with them. They stated that his wife was impossible. When questioned, they explained that she had bombarded their son’s teacher with increasingly irate notes. She balked at their request that the children come to school in pilgrim or Indian dress to celebrate Thanksgiving. She said that she considered it an inappropriate waste of time; they were supposed to be teaching not play acting. She regularly criticized the homework assignments which were generally not done, for she repeatedly told them that they had ample time during school hours to teach. She told them that she resented having to supplement their inefficiency by taking up precious evening time doing school work. She categorically refused to ‘do her share’ in providing snacks for the class. She told them that she regarded this to be an unnecessary and pointless task, especially when the teachers and most of the children were overweight.
On their way into the restaurant, they dropped their son off at Katherine’s sister Bianca’s for a sleep over with her son. It was then that Patrick had decided to try to salvage their evening by temporarily ‘forgetting’ the school discussion, and delaying it to the privacy of their home sometime during the weekend. Even as he recalled that decision, he shuddered in recollection of their drive over. Katherine drove. He remembered how she had commented on every traffic light, “Those idiot traffic engineers might synchronize the lights! It’s ridiculous; if only they had a little intelligence and used it traffic would move so much better!” He relived his attempts to calm her with reminders that they were in no rush, and his urging that she breathe deeply and relax in order to enjoy their night out. But to his chagrin, at each light change she had screamed with angry impatience, “Wake up, move, is everyone brain dead?”
The restaurant was cool and dim inviting relaxation. Patrick’s Margarita arrived. He took an icy gulp and continued to reminisce. He cast his mind back to the day that he met his Kate. He smiled as he recalled how he had told himself that he would make her his wife.
“That you shall be my wife,………..
And, Will you, nill you, I will marry you!”
Even now he had to admit to himself that she wasn’t the first about whom he had made such a mental vow. He’d said the same thing; of his kindergarten playmate; his high-school prom date; and his college girlfriend. The extraordinary part about this was that, after all these dramatic pronouncements, on that apocryphal day, Patrick was, thirty, and still single. He had never proposed to anyone. Indeed, he had to concede that his first encounter with Katherine could hardly have been called a “meeting.” He, as the engineer of record, was out between construction barricades inspecting freeway reconstruction, when he witnessed a curious fender-bender accident. He had called the police even before the two drivers got out of their cars, and he was overwhelmed by the sight of Katherine. Now several years later, he relived the entire scene.
The police woman who responded to his call appeared to be surprised, probably because fender-bender accidents generally don’t require police involvement. She parked alongside the two cars stopped on the inside lane with the two drivers standing beside the barricade exchanging insulting glares. The already congested freeway traffic was crawling past as each driver rubber-necked to observe the cause of the traffic jam. At first glance, it appeared that the car driven by Katherine had been rear-ended by a second car whose driver stood some distance away from her. Patrick, the traffic engineer who had reported the incident, stood behind the construction median barricade shaking his head in bewilderment.
The traffic cop took out her pad and approached the group. “One at a time please,” she pointed at Katherine, “you first, show me your license and proof of insurance and then tell me what happened?”
Katherine complied and after her documents were returned, she spoke. Her eyes flashed with residual anger. Patrick, watching from his vantage point, taking in her beauty, her elegant polka -dot dress with tight red belt, and her red high heels. As she talked, he was captivated by her musical voice, spunk and undisguised emotion. He heard her say, “He rear-ended me – the brain-dead idiot rear-ended me – it’s clearly his fault!”
It did look as though she was right, but the traffic cop was thorough and asked the same question to the driver of the second car. He was already perspiring in his business suit and looked unhappy. “Yes, I rear-ended her but she made me!”
“Yes, she pulled in front of me without any indication and slammed on the brakes. The first time I managed to miss her, then she pulled over into the middle lane and did it again. Again, I missed her. I could see her in her car shaking her fist at me – a woman I had never met! The third time she was so fast that I didn’t react in time and hit her.”
Patrick recalled how the police woman turned to him and how he had reluctantly he confirmed that he had witnessed the entire incident. He recalled that he had added that when the two drivers had stopped and got out of their cars the driver of the rear-ended car shouted in anger,
“That’ll teach you not to pull in front of me without indicating!”
He watched the traffic cop give Katherine a field citation for a misdemeanor associated with road rage, not a mere traffic violation ticket.
Patrick took another draw of margarita and smiled as he recalled his subtle follow up to the incident. A few days later, he had called his lawyer brother and asked him to follow up on the incident. He obtained Katherine’s name and address and discovered that the judge assigned to her case had sentenced her to take a course in anger management. He even discovered that she took her course with a rather unconventional, but most effective counselor, named Donna Wright.
Several weeks later after he knew that the counseling was complete he managed to bump into Katherine accompanied by Bianca, in the Starbucks shop closest to her apartment. She was easily recognizable as she wore the same polka-dot dress with red sash and matching red heels. His initial approach had been to flatter Bianca, who responded with flirtatious giggles. Even now he recalled how his attentions annoyed Katherine so that when they stood up to leave he was able to surprise her into officially giving him her telephone number.
Patrick signaled to the waiter and ordered a second Margarita. He was beginning to wonder what Katherine could be doing in the rest room. He hoped that she hadn’t launched into another altercation. That course of anger management had obviously worn off. He wondered how he was going to convince her that she needed some top-up sessions. When she finally emerged, he stood and assisted her with her chair. She took a long drag from her drink and sighed.
“I needed that” she said. Patrick agreed with her but said nothing. She continued “It took so long because, you see, I had to alert management that the handicapped toilet stall was cluttered with a table and flowers. Not to code and inappropriate. Why are people so stupid?”
Patrick didn’t have time to consider an answer to her rhetorical question because the waiter delivered their wine and food; lamb chops mounted over a small mound of mashed parsnip and potato surrounded by a choice selection of baby carrots, and tiny green peas. Patrick took a bite. It melted in his mouth, lamb with a faint hint of garlic the flavor accentuated by the mint sauce giving a faint touch of sweet and sour. He looked across the table at Katherine she, predictably, was frowning, and launched into a loud tirade.
“This lamb is ruined – it is overcooked. It should be bright pink inside! Doesn’t anyone use their heads – it is too bad.” She beckoned to the waiter. This time Patrick snapped. He thought to himself that if they were to have a scene, it might as well be effective. He stood up and gave the waiter his credit card.
“We are leaving. My wife is sick”
“I, I’m not sick.” she stammered, but Patrick merely hushed her with a quiet hiss of a whisper,
“Only the very best for my Kate. We can’t tolerate second best!”
“But, but I’m hungry – it isn’t that bad, in fact, I’m sure that it’s good. I was merely making an informed comment.”
“No,” he said firmly, “only the best for you, and right now we are going home. I’m driving!”
Katherine looked at him in awe. She let him guide her out to their car. Patrick reveled in his newly acquired authority. Now was the time to tell her about the school. Now was the time for him to explain to her that he had been working late specifically to avoid her ire. Now was the time to tell her that she had two options either another course of anger management with Donna Wright or divorce. If divorce, she would lose both husband and son; for he would make sure that he was awarded full custody.