Boxed Wine Equals One Bad Ass

I love wine.  I love wine so much that I drink at least a glass a day.  Did you know that if you drink it in moderation, it’s good for your health?  That’s why I really like it but it also makes me feel relaxed after a long day.  There is nothing like that warm, calm feeling I get after that first sip.  You know, kind of like that feeling you get during a massage but almost better.  I said almost.

Wine can get expensive and I am cheap.  If I could, I would buy my wine in a box all the time.  I would sit that baby up on my countertop with its little spigot and just go and drink from the fountain whenever my heart desired.  It’s there, it’s ready, it’s fully loaded with lots of liquid yummy-ness.

But I can’t.  I’m about to say something that will make you say, “hey Mo, this is waaaay too much information” but that’s okay.  Because we all know that I am all about sharing TMI, putting it all out there.  When do I ever hold back?  Anyway, I discovered that I was sensitive to the amazingly awesome invention of the boxed wine during my engagement party circa 1991.

Here’s how it went down:  I drank a couple of glasses of it, I was having a great time.  The future DH and I were at the front of the room opening our ten thousand gifts when the first “rumble, grumble, pop” hit me faster than a run-away freight train going down the Himalayas.  I excused myself and ran — not walked — to the nearest restroom.  What came out of me was obscene.  And it didn’t stop.  For a very long time.  I had a horseshoe printed on my bottom from sitting for so long.  I’m surprised it wasn’t followed up by a hemorrhoid.  What was especially sad about this story is that when I finally exited the lavatory, most everyone had gone home.  You could hear crickets.  Seriously.


Yes, that is a pic of me on the left sitting on the toilet.  My wonderful mother snuck her camera up over the stall.  You know, just in case I forgot the turmoil of what was supposed to be a happy day.  The future DH is feeding me some alcohol in the form of Imodium AD.  Does Imodium even contain alcohol?

Was it a coincidence?  Possibly, but I’m not 100% completely certain.  So to test it, I had some boxed wine at Thanksgiving that year.  Just half a glass.  All I can say is that thank God none of the 20+ people in attendance were using the toilets in the house at that moment because it came on strong, hard and sudden.  Although the planter in the hall would have worked just fine as a second choice.  And I would not have had a problem using it.  Not that I really would have had much of a choice.

As if there weren’t enough proof, I actually tried boxed wine one other time after that.  I don’t remember the details exactly but I do remember the same effect.  I’m guessing that there is some kind of preservative they put into boxed wine to make it last longer.  I’m also going to take another guess and say that I don’t get along well with this preservative.  Who knows.  All I do know is that I can’t drink it.  Not even a sip.

So, if I am coming to your house, please don’t serve me wine in a box.  Unless you want to see a show.  Or hear a show.  Or have a sudden septic problem.  Seriously.  Don’t mess with me.  It will backfire.  Pardon the pun.

Look At Me When You Text

text and walkThere is this chick in my neighborhood who walks every single day.  Up this humongous hill that I have walked up (even run up in the day I was able to…sniff, sniff), but not without losing a lung.  She goes up and down over and over again.  This chick is in pretty good shape.  Walking up the hill of death would do that to you, I guess.

Anyway, we all know exercise can be rough.  It kinda sucks.  I do it because I really need my ass to stay as close to its original birthplace for as long as I can possibly keep it there and I also really hate the sound of my thighs rubbing together.  It’s a necessity at my age.

I carry one thing with me on my walk: my iPhone.  This is for a couple of reasons:

1) In the event I need to dial “911” in case some kook tries to steal me (because who wouldn’t want this, right?) or in case a coyote finds me delicious.  Yes, I actually imagine myself in an emergency situation and wonder how I would dial my phone while being eaten alive by wildlife.  In my brain, it doesn’t seem easy.  I also wonder if I would be able to climb a tree to get away.  This thought is followed up by another thought:  would this animal be able to also climb said tree?  Such a problem.  Wait…why do I exercise again?  Oh right, ass.

2) I cannot do an ounce of exercise without my beloved playlist playing through my earbuds. It just makes it that much less painful.  But I do not text and walk.  Okay, so that’s a lie.  I did last week.  Once.  Because once was enough after I realized that I cannot walk, look down and text at the same time without veering off into the middle of the street.  My walk quickly turned into a good game of “Chicken.”

So, anyway, my point was that this humongous-hill-exercising chick texts.  She does.  No, I do not stalk her.  I know this because every time I go out in my car and see her walking, she is looking down and texting on her phone.  EVERY FREAKING TIME, I KID YOU NOT.  Now, this woman is not real young.  She looks to be at least in her fifties.  Not that that makes much of a difference, but she should know better.  Don’t text and drive should also be a motto for walkers.  I don’t mean to judge her.  Maybe I’m just jealous because it’s quite obvious that I cannot do the two at once.  Maybe, also, I would like to know who she’s texting and what they are talking about.  It’s got to be intriguing, right?

Yesterday, The Kid and I ran into DSW and we noticed a young girl texting and walking through the parking lot.  I see this all the time.  The Kid actually pointed it out.  “Look mom, look at that girl texting while she is walking through the parking lot.”  “Pfffssh, can you imagine?”  I said to myself.  “Kid, who are you kidding?  Sometimes I feel like I need a chisel to get that little device out of your hands.”  Right.  Whatever.

I am in my late forties, okay?  I was brought up in an era where if we needed to get a message to someone, we had to use smoke signals.  No, no, just kidding.  But we did have two options:  a pay phone, or a phone that was attached to the wall in the kitchen with a 30 foot long curly cord that would reach down the hall and into the bathroom so that you could have privacy.  That’s it.

So, what happened to me?  Today, I find myself behaving like some of these kids.  The family could be sitting around watching HGTV and there I am.  Texting someone, checking Facebook or my junk email (because I only get junk email, can someone send me something legit?  Please?).  DH often asks me what I’m doing and if I can put my phone down please?  I sometimes even get a headache from it.  It’s so stupid.

This post has gone a bit off kilter here (what else is new?).  I’m trying to say that we are missing so much around us.  I know this isn’t new.  I’ve seen the Facebook status’ and memes and videos about it.  Everything that is going on around us is being missed because we can’t get our heads out of our phones.  It’s a problem.  For some, it’s worse than others.  I know the friends who don’t do it. Those are the ones who you text and it takes them 13 days to get back to you.  (Gawd, don’t they just annoy you???  I mean, who do they think they?  Having a life?)

So, I stand (or sit) here and declare that I am going to put my phone away.  I don’t want to miss anything else.  Especially what house they picked on House Hunters.  If you text me and I don’t get back to you right away, that’s why.  But if I do get back to you right away?  Well, it’s because I  just happened to have my phone on the table next to me by accident.


Cellular Apologies

Day 16 of 16 – Writer’s Digest Writer’s Prompt Bootcamp

A stranger asks to borrow your cell phone. You agree. She turns away and talks on it for a moment, then faces you once more. “I’m sorry,” she says, eyes red. “I’m so sorry.” Then, she runs away.

Why do I get this feeling that I’m being followed?  I know it sounds ridiculous, but the feeling is strong.  I turn around and see that nothing seems amiss.  I start walking again, but as I pick up speed, I hear my steps being matched.  When I slow down, the same thing.  I stop and turn around again.  This time I am met face to face with a girl in her mid twenties, about my age.  She is frowning.  Spooked, I turn back around and continue on my way.   I try to ignore her, but I still feel her presence behind me.

I duck into a coffee shop hoping to lose her, but she follows me in.  I am flustered and confused, so I decide to approach her.  “Excuse me, but can I help you with something?” I inquire.  Her face turns red as she asks if she can borrow my phone.  “It’s important,” she says, a bit angrily.  I pause, not able to grasp what is going on.  I should say no, but I am feeling that she is in distress so I just hand over my cell phone without any questions asked.

I take a few steps away from her so she can have some privacy and she turns away.  After what seems to be about a minute, she turns back to me with red eyes, hands me my phone, says, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” and runs out of the shop.

What the hell was that all about?  I am left standing there stunned until I realize that she never broke the connection with whoever it was she was speaking with.  I put the phone up to my ear and say, “Hello?”  “Hi, who is this?” replies a male voice.  A familiar male voice.  “umm, Dad?” I answer.  “Michelle?  What are doing?”  What am I doing?  I should be asking him that.

What I don’t understand is why a strange woman would follow me, ask to use my phone and then call my dad.  I’m guessing it isn’t a coincidence.  “Dad, why did that girl call you?  How does she know me?  I’m really confused and I would like it if you would shed some light here.  I have to admit to being a little freaked out right about now.” I say.  “Calm down Michelle, she’s just a friend.”

“Calm down?  Dad, she was visibly upset.  You need to come clean right now.  Who is she and why was she crying?  Please, don’t lie to me, I’m begging you.” I feel on the verge of tears as well, out of sheer frustration.

I hear him sigh on the other end.  I have left the coffee shop and am walking down 5th Avenue.    I’m feeling the need to move.  “Honey, that’s Cleo.  Oh God.  Please…okay, I was seeing her,” he explains, “but I ended it with her last week.  I’m so embarrassed to say this, but it seems she is stalking me.  She keeps calling me and showing up at the office.  I don’t know how she got you involved.  Please.  Can we keep this between us?  Pumpkin?”

My dad is a creep.  I mean, I love him.  But he is a pathetic excuse for a husband.  My poor mother has accepted the fact that dad cheats. “He can’t help it,” she says, “he loves me, it’s just that he needs more than what I can give him.  I’ve just learned to look the other way.”  I don’t know how she can live like that.  Because of him, I’ve grown leery of men.  I’m not sure how I can trust them.  His infidelity has been going on since I was a teenager.  Probably even longer than that but I was too young to figure it out.

“You know what dad?  What you do with your life is your business, but please don’t bring me into it.  I don’t need your lovers knowing who I am.  Why was she following me?  How does she even know who I am?  She’s half your age, dad.  She’s young enough to be your daughter.  It’s a little freaky.  And if she’s stalking you?  It was bound to happen sooner or later.  Look, I have to go, I’m just about home.  We’ll talk about this later.”  I hit the off button and put my phone back in my pocketbook.

I live in a walk-up on the lower east side.  I’ve never been so relieved to be home, the last hour has been a bit harrowing.  I walk up the three floors to my apartment, stop to search for my keys and open the door.  I’m about to fall onto my couch from exhaustion when I think I hear and see something.  It’s getting dark out so the apartment is full of shadows being thrown from the street lights.  I flip the switch for the lamp.  I drop my bag and take a step back.  “Cleo?  How did you get in here?”  She’s holding a knife.

I turn and run as fast as I can for the door.  Unfortunately, she is moving faster than me and grabs me by the hair.  All I keep thinking is that my life is going to end if I don’t fight for it.  I throw myself around and grab at her arms.  She’s strong, but so am I.  We both struggle for what seems like an eternity.  Suddenly, I hear my dad’s voice, “Cleo, drop the knife or I’ll shoot.”

Surprisingly, she does as he says.  I run and hide behind him.  I am suddenly transported to when I was a small child and we were visiting Santa in the mall.  Except this isn’t Santa, this is a deranged ex-lover.  The ex-lover of my dad’s, who is married to my mom.  Although I am extremely angry at him, I am relieved he is here.  I hear the sirens outside getting closer.  In a few minutes this will all be over.  “By the way,” he says, “I never told her about you.”

Sinking Ship

Day 15 of 16 – Writer’s Digest Writer’s Prompt Bootcamp

You realize the boat is sinking, but that’s not the worst thing that could happen. The worst thing happened last night. 

Oh God.  What’s going on?  What is this?  A reenactment of the Titantic?  Is this really happening?  I stopped what I was doing and tried to concentrate on what the Captain was saying.

I didn’t want to go on this stupid cruise in the first place.  But, no, “we have to,” he says.  “It’s our 20th anniversary,” he says.  “What better way than to cruise it with friends,” he says.  Yes, you heard right.   Friends — our best friends — Jack and Abigail share our wedding anniversary.  To the day, to the year.  We didn’t know each other at the time of our weddings, we met through our kids.  Of course, what other way do you meet friends at our age than through your children?

Ever since we first realized we shared the same anniversary 12 years ago, we’ve celebrated every year with them.  Actually, that’s not entirely true.  Abigail had to have emergency gall bladder surgery on our 16th anniversary, otherwise it’s something every single year.  Sometimes it’s a winery, a three-day weekend in Cape Cod, or just plain old dinner.

I love Abigail and Jack very much, but I would like to have my husband to myself once in a while.  This is a tradition that was started by Larry, my husband.  He loves to party, he loves to be surrounded by people.  Me, I need solace.  I’m shy and the constant going out is just a bit outside of my comfort zone.  With Larry, it’s always go, go, go.  It’s exhausting.

So here we are, on a sinking ship.  Who can say that in their lifetime?  What’s funny is I’m not as frightened about it as I should be.  Mainly because what happened last night was way worse than a sinking ship.

The four of us met in the dining room for dinner.  The one thing I am enjoying about this cruise is the non-stop eating.  I’m usually pretty good about watching what I eat, but it’s so nice to just throw it all out the window for a few days.  At my age (don’t tell anyone, but that would be 45) it’s hard to keep the weight off.  I know I’ll probably be up more than 5 pounds when I get home, but I don’t care.

I don’t usually drink that much, but I partook in a bit too many cocktails this time.  It was completely out of character for me.  I was feeling no pain and was in the mood to party.  I know, “shocking” as Larry would say.  The tables seemed to be turned last night.

After dinner, the four of us walked over to the discotheque.  Or as the kids call it today, the club.  We all drank some more, we danced, we laughed, we were having a great time.  Until Abigail called it quits.  So, it was just the 3 of us.  We partied, we drank, we danced some more.  And then the shock of the evening came — Larry was tired.  He tried to talk me into going back to the cabin, but Jack and I were having way too much fun to call it a night.

And then there were two.  I’ve known Jack for a long time.  He’s almost like a brother to me.  “Last Dance” by Donna Summer played.  It’s the song that always plays when it’s the end of a wedding or a New Year’s celebration.  Larry hates that song because it means that the party is over.  Usually, I am grateful for it…except tonight.  I let my hair down and was having a great time.  I realized that I really need this.  Jack and I got on the floor.  We danced.  He spun me around and he pulled me against him.  I could feel him against my back.  Something was happening and I didn’t know how to stop it.  Truth be told, I didn’t want to stop it.

We started to kiss, slowly at first.  Then it turned passionate.  Sex with my husband is great.  I’ve never had any complaints.  But this…feeling.  My god, I haven’t felt this in ages.  And it was with Jack.  I’ve never felt an attraction to him before.  It never entered my mind.

I was a puddle on the floor.  I needed to get out of here.  I tried to pull myself away from him but when I did, he just followed on my heels, pulling at me.  In my defense, I asked him to stop.  I begged him to stop.  “Jack, please, we can’t do this.  What about our spouses, our friends, our children?  Please let me go.”  But there was a part of me that didn’t want him to let go.  I was feeling more alive, attractive and sexy than I’ve felt in years.

I felt 18 again, the way we were going at it.  I don’t know how, but we found a quiet nook down the corridor.  He threw me against the wall, reached up under my skirt, moved my panties to the side and entered me.  Just like that.  It was over as quickly as it started.  It felt good.  At the time, I didn’t have any regrets.

Until today.  When I woke up and realized what I had done, I felt like my world would split in half.  If Larry ever found out, he would leave me.  My marriage, as I knew it, would be over.  I don’t want my marriage to end.  I love my husband, I love my family.  This would tear us apart.  I know I can’t live without Larry.  I’m not sure I could survive it.

I woke up with dark thoughts.  Larry kissed me good morning.  I was feeling a little ill from the effects of the alcohol last night.  He wanted to go to breakfast, but I told him I wasn’t feeling very well and that I just wanted to rest.  Besides, I couldn’t face either Jack or Abigail.  I don’t know how I could face them ever again.

After he left, I went into the bathroom and got the bottle of sleeping pills.  I couldn’t pull myself out of it.  This dread.  We live in a small town.  What if Jack opened his mouth to even one person?  Word gets around so quickly these days.  I couldn’t do that to my kids or to Larry.

I poured the entire bottle out onto the bedside table.  There was already a glass of water sitting there from last night.  I grabbed a handful of pills and was about to throw them into my mouth, when I heard the announcement.




Day 14 of 16 – Writer’s Digest Writer’s Prompt Bootcamp

Write a story featuring a ouija board, a search engine, and a self-help book.

I received the strangest gift for my 21st birthday — a Ouija board. Now I don’t claim to know much about the Ouija board but I will say that I saw “The Exorcist.”  I know that if that little girl Regan didn’t mess around with that “game” in her basement, those weird, terrifying things never would have happened to her.  But that was just a movie.

I also did play with it once. I remember when I was 10 and a bunch of my friends and I were totally into seances and levitation. We were obsessed to the point where we would plan a sleepover every weekend so we could get our crazy on.

Once one of these friends brought a Ouija board. We were all intrigued. We sat in a circle with our fingers lightly pressed against the planchette.  We would ask it silly questions like “does Billy love Angela?”  It would start to move and we would all peek to see who was making it point to “YES.”  It was fun, and I didn’t feel frightened in any way.

Anyway, the girl who owned the Ouija board had a story about it. She said that there is no way of getting rid of it once you own one.  She claims she was scared of it and before she and her family moved from their old house, she left it behind in the closet for the new homeowners. You know, kind of like a housewarming gift. The funny thing is, when my friend settled into their new home and she was hanging her clothes in her closet, the Ouija board was sitting there on the shelf.  In other words, it followed her.  It was a creepy story, but I’m not really sure I believed her.

So, I didn’t know what to say to this friend of mine.  I thanked her, of course.  But it wasn’t exactly the most welcome gift I’ve ever received.  Here I am with this game that I don’t want and I don’t know what to do with. I mean, I guess I could have fun with it.  Call some friends over and recreate the old times. Have a levitation and a seance or two.  But that seemed strange.

When I got home that day, I Googled “Ouija Board.”  The first few hits were basically just definitions.  Then there were some Youtube videos of kids and people playing with The Ouija.  And some “true” stories of things that happened to people when they played with it.  One of the things they always said was to not verbally allow a spirit into the room and to always say “goodbye” before putting it away.  Like my 10 year old self, I started to become intrigued.  I didn’t really believe that you could communicate with the spirits on the other side with a cardboard game, but my curiosity was piqued.

I pulled out the game, dimmed the lights and put my fingers on the planchette.  I wasn’t sure what to do, so I asked it if anyone was there.  Nothing happened, so I kept repeating my question.  After about 15 minutes, the planchette moved to “YES.”  I pulled my hands away from it in shock.  Then put them back and asked what his name was.  After a few moments, the game piece spelled out “L-U-C” and then stopped.  I asked if it was a boy or girl.  It went to the “G.”  Hmm, maybe it is a Lucy.  “Are you Lucy?” I asked it.  “No.”  I asked what she was doing here.  “K-I-L-L.”  Totally and completely freaked to my core, I said goodbye and put the game away, deep into the dark recesses of the garage.

I have a bit of a problem.  I’ve had it since I was a kid.  It used to drive my mother absolutely bonkers.  I’m very impressionable.  In other words, if someone complains of a headache, I will immediately get one.  If someone at school has a cold, I will wake up the following day with a sore throat.  In high school, there was this girl who turned up pregnant.  I swear within a month, I started experiencing pregnancy symptoms and I never even had sex!

So, here I am, sitting on my bed in my room.  It dawns on me that I could have been speaking to the devil.  And I suddenly remember learning or reading somewhere that the devil is actually a girl.  I start to freak out and think that the devil is possessing me.  I start to think about Regan and how her bed shook and her room got cold.  I was absolutely paralyzed with fear.  Yes, I realize I am a 21year old woman and I should know better, but honestly, I did feel cold and shaky.

This is when I remembered my book.  My mom bought me a self-help book a few years ago about mind control.  I try to tell myself that it’s all in my head.  After reading my favorite chapter, I felt calm again and realized I was being completely irrational.

Now about that Ouija board…it turns out you can dispose of it.  I got my dad’s shovel and the game, walked back into the woods and buried that sucker at least a foot under dirt and rock.  But I guarantee you, If it shows up on my closet shelf, I will probably die of a heart attack.  No, really.  I guarantee it.

Breaking Down

Day 13 of 16: Writer’s Digest Writer’s Prompt Bootcamp

A tire blows out as you’re in the car with someone on the verge of his/her own breakdown. Stuck in a small town, you’re about to do something you haven’t done in years.

As I sit waiting for my train at the local Amtrak station, I think about how I wound up back here.  I was called on by my mother, a mother who was dying.  This God-forsaken town is where I grew up and I haven’t been back in years.  Memories of my childhood are fairly painful.  I can remember praying for the day I turned 18 so I could flee this place.  And that’s exactly what I did.  Me, a small suitcase and $2,000 in cash boarded a one-way trip out of here and never looked back.  Until now.

So, here I am waiting for my train to take me home.  The last 3 weeks have been hell on earth.  Caring for my sick and dying mother was no picnic in the park.  I know this sounds terrible, but I was relieved when she finally passed on.  For once in her life she was organized and had her funeral completely planned out, which made her burial quick and seamless.  I have left everything else to the sister I never got along with.  I don’t care much about getting anything in that house.  I just need to get out of here and get home to my husband and children.

I am deep in thought when I hear the announcer say something about a train cancellation.  I look around frantically, maybe I heard wrong?  Unfortunately, I heard right.  It seems my train has been cancelled and won’t be leaving until the next morning.  I start to panic.  I desperately need to escape this place.  I practice the breathing exercises that my therapist taught me when I find myself in this type of situation.  After I have calmed down a bit, I walk up to the rental car window and am told that the next available car isn’t for hours.  I start to hyperventilate.  I am visibly upset and I have gone past the point of no return.

It is then that I feel a tap on my shoulder.  I look behind me and there is a woman about my age standing there with a huge, friendly smile on her face.  My thought is, “what the hell are you so happy about?” when she says that she is headed in my direction and would like to offer me a ride.  At first I am skeptical but then realize I am just being uptight.  My therapist told me I need to learn how to trust people.  So that’s what I do.  I trust this woman and accept her ride.  I am overcome with a feeling of relief so powerful I almost cry.

We get into her small Ford Fusion and head out to the highway.  I realize that it’s going to be a very long drive ahead of us but remind myself that I am at least going in the right direction.  My new traveling companion introduces herself as Marcy.  During the first 2 hours there is a lot of quiet and little chit-chat, which is completely fine with me.  I’m not much of a talker, especially with strangers.

It’s at this time that Marcy decides to start speaking.  She tells me she’s going back home after being separated from her husband for 4 months.  “Oh, that’s wonderful Marcy.  I’m so happy for you.”  I can’t imagine being separated from my husband, so I am genuinely happy for her.

Marcy starts to cry.  At first, it’s a mellow cry with small, quiet tears.  I reach over and pat her shoulder, tell it’s going to be okay.  I say that I can imagine how happy she must be to be reuniting with her husband.  Then her emotion turns into outright anguish.  Sybil-type anguish.  I get a chill.

“Oh, we aren’t reuniting in the way you are thinking.  The bastard doesn’t want me.  He said he doesn’t love me anymore and wants a divorce.  Just like that, he just doesn’t love me anymore?”  She starts to scratch at her arms.  I tell her she should stop but she doesn’t.  She just keeps scratching and scratching until she starts to bleed.

She starts to scream, “I have done nothing but love him for the last 10 years of my life.  When I caught him with that other woman in that restaurant, I just got so upset.  I started throwing things, I dumped a glass of ice water over her head, and smashed their dishes on the floor.  Then he tries to tell me that I’m ruining his deal.  I’m ruining his deal?  What about our deal?”  I know it wasn’t my business but I found myself saying, “maybe it was just a business lunch?”  “No, I’m not buying it.  They were laughing like they were lovers.  I know that look.  We used to have that look.”  I’m starting to realize why her marriage failed.  This woman is a kook.  She’s absolutely out of her mind.

“So, your husband doesn’t know you’re coming then?” I ask.  She snaps her head in my direction and looks at me like I’m the one who has gone completely mad.  “NO, of course not!”  An odd smirk appears on her face, a smirk that gives me the creeps.  “I’m going to surprise him.  He is going to get the surprise of his life.”

The sky above starts to darken.  Within minutes we are in the middle of a terrific thunderstorm.  Because this is the kind of month I’ve had and I couldn’t imagine it going any other way, the evening gets better.  We get a flat tire.

I am stuck in the middle of a violent thunderstorm, with a could-be violent woman in the middle of nowhere.  I tell her I’m going to get out and try to flag someone down to help us.  She reminds me that there is the potential of getting struck by lightening.  I’m thinking there is less a chance of me getting struck by lightening than her stabbing me to death.  But I sit, practice my breathing and wait it out.  And listen to what she is planning on doing to her estranged husband.

God, I feel like I’m in a bad horror movie.  This can’t be happening to me.  All I keep thinking is I have to stay on this woman’s good side, I’m terrified of pissing her off.  And then I think that I have to warn this guy somehow.  “What did you say your husband’s name was?” I ask.  “Victor.  Victor Paulson.  His name is so ugly, isn’t it?  How could I have married a man with such a name?  Victor Paulson.  Disgusting.” she sputters with complete venom.

I wait a few minutes while I wonder how to get her cell phone from her.  Surely, his name has got to be in her contact list.  I feign trying to make a phone call with my own cell.  I pretend to be making a call to my husband to tell him I’ll be later than I thought.  “Oh, damn.  My phone has died.  Do you mind if I use yours?” I say.  “Oh, of course.”  She’s sweet as pie.  Like I said, she’s Sybil.  I casually take her cell phone from her, but feel anything but casual.  On the inside I am a crumbling mess, but I try to keep it together.  I look through her contact list as quickly as I can, locate Victor’s number and commit it to memory.

It is here and now that I am grateful that I have comfortable shoes on and am in good shape.  I reach in the back for my suitcase, open the door and make a run for it.  The weather has lightened up some so I no longer fear getting electrocuted.  Although that thought is much more welcoming than the thought of sitting in the car with that looney bin one more minute.  After I’ve gotten far enough away from her, I do what I haven’t done since I was a teen.  I stick out my thumb and start to hitchhike all while I’m making a phone call to the one and only Victor.