Tuesday, April 15, 2003

A tax day story...

The scene wasn't an unfamiliar one. He was single, he lived alone. She, too, was single, lived alone. They differed in age by only a few years, and in height by only a few inches. They weren't in love, but good friends. She knew she could trust him, knew he'd look out for her, knew he'd do his best to help her out.

The ex hadn't been kind; there'd been words, volleys of hate which had signalled the death of the relationship in a violent, verbal spasm. It hadn't involved physical abuse, just a growing apart of two individuals who never grew together.

But the transition wasn't easy. He had done some things naturally, and she others. That which he did, she could do, but she could never understand them like he could, and he didn't understand them well himself. So they lingered. For years. First she promised she'd tackle them herself, then she swore she'd get them done, but all the while they lingered while time slipped quietly by.

Then she met him. And they became friends, occasionally sharing a drink, but more often an email, a phone call. Hi how are you, she'd ask, knowing that this time of year the question would be greated with a scoff, as he'd complain about the long hours, the stupid clients, and the tyrannical boss so evil, the staff ran an annual pool to see how long the front desk girl would last. This year, he'd told her he'd added law school to his to do list - a way of forgetting by punishment the woman who'd hurt him. And this year she'd needed him more than ever; her time was running out, and she needed the money.

She had called him and asked of his precious time. She only needed a night, she said, and she'd cook him dinner. Like any single guy who lived alone, the prospect of a home-cooked meal by anyone other than himself, some good company, and companionship for an evening was enough to entice him to make the hour-long drive to see her. He came over after eight, after a long day of work (even if it was Saturday), and greeted her with a smile. She started by informing him she didn't have any salad, or any bread, or any parmesean cheese. Good egg that he was (and how the women in his class described him), he offered to drive her to the store.

When they came back, she got serious about the dinner. She made sure the sauce, simmering all day, was just right - not too blah, not too spicy. She threw the angel hair pasta into the boiling water. She buttered the bread - sticking her tongue out at him when he asked how many cows she planned to kill to butter two sides of french bread. And when it was ready, she opened the oven, now thoroughly preheated, and went to toss in the bread to bake.

But she'd forgotten about the baking pans. And the knife. The wooden knife, now smoking as it had begun to singe. He laughed heartily, the laugh of someone who was under tremendous stress and hadn't had an outlet in weeks. She laughed in reaction, and tried to hide her embarrassment. But he wasn't embarrassed, he found it charming, her attempt to step out of character and be Susie Homemaker. Fortunately, the rest of dinner went well, and a few days later, he sent her a lovely present - her tax return, complete with refund. And she promised to make him steak next year. Without the knife.

Happy April 15th!!!!

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