Susan was two weeks overdue for her monthly trip to the Hair Castle. Her short cut was looking a little shaggy and her mustache was making its presence known. One of the cruel ironies of aging is that your eyesight begins to go just as your body decides to sprout little black hairs in places you would never have dreamed they would grow. Susan had still not recovered from the view in the 5X magnification pocket mirror she had purchased. So many dark hairs on her face!!! Horrible. How did Charlie find her attractive? Well, his eyesight was going too, she supposed.
Looking in the mirror in her giant "spa" bathroom, she worked with some hair wax to shape her unruly hair into something a little less mad-scientist and a little more just-in-from-the-beach. She wasn't satisfied but it would have to do. Lunch with the Optimist Club was not exactly a major social event, but she would see many people who played a role in her business life, so she didn't want to look disheveled. She wore her red suit, which she always felt confident in, and black pumps. Her daughter had recently convinced her to forego the panty hose, so her legs were bare. That felt quite peculiar, but she supposed she would get used to it eventually. Gold earrings, Tiffany necklace and Coach purse. She was ready.
As she made her way down the stairs, she fantasized about quitting the Optimist Club. She wasn't an optimist and she had no desire to participate in any of the activities or fundraisers. In fact, she hated everything except the lunches at Rita's. She was very fond of Rita's pies. But one could not live in a small, Southern town and not belong to a civic organization. Susan wondered how many people in the Optimist Club felt the way she did. And which was the greater virtue? Being the kind of person who DID want to be there? Or being the kind of person who DIDN'T want to be there, but who attended faithfully anyway?
In the car now, she pressed the button for the garage door. She adjusted the mirror and applied her lipstick as the door rolled up. She put the car in gear and started forward, but jammed the brake pedal when she saw two boys with Halloween masks on, standing in her driveway with their peckers hanging out. They were wiggling their hips around so their small penises danced around in the air. Before she could react, they ran off. Honestly, why did boys and men always think the world revolved around their private parts? Even Charlie unveiled his as if she should be newly astonished and impressed every time she saw that thing. And she played her part, oohing and aahing over it and everything he did with it. To be honest though, she could have easily lived without ever seeing it again. But she'd never tell HIM that! Oh, no!
Driving down the hill towards town, she passed by other large houses with immaculate lawns. Is this my life? Is this all there is ever going to be? Susan felt like rolling down her window and screaming out, "Lord, give me some magic and excitement!" She would give anything to find herself transported to another life, one in which she had a daily dose of fun. Maybe she could become an artist and live on a commune. She waved at her neighbor Jimmy, out walking Aristotle, the little frou-frou dog that he shared with his roommate, Howard. Everyone knew they were a couple, but since they never talked about it, nobody ever said anything - not to their faces, anyway.
Crap. She had forgotten her list. She didn't have time to go back, so she'd just have to try to remember what was on it. She knew she needed to grab some crafting supplies. The grandchildren were coming home with her after church on Sunday so Mike & Shelly Ann could have some "alone time," as they called it. Susan planned to make Christmas ornaments with the two older kids during nap time for the youngest. It would be an ungodly mess, but they would have fun and Shelly Ann would be forced to hang the tacky things on her precious tree. Susan smiled to think of it. She didn't care for her daughter-in-law who had a permanent case of one-upmanship that mainly ran towards comparing her things to Susan's things. If Shelly Ann actually found herself liking something that Susan had, she would drop hints about it, hoping that Susan would give it to her. Susan sometimes packed an item and put it away, just so she could lie to Shelly Ann and tell her she had sent it to her daughter in Seattle. She loved seeing the mixture of astonishment and frustration on Shelly Ann's face. She knew it was not nice, but it was the only revenge she could think of for the theft of her only son. Mike would not stand up to Shelly Ann, which was smart, Susan supposed. He wanted peace and he got peace as long as Shelly Ann had her way.
What else did she need? Oh, a new journal. Hers was almost full. She had long ago realized that Charlie read her journal. He often read it while she was out showing houses on Saturday. She could always tell because he had sticky fingers from his Crackerjack addiction. She had even found popcorn residue. So she had stopped writing her deepest secrets and now used the journal to communicate wishes to Charlie about gifts, vacations and restaurant picks. She pretended that she believed he was coming up with these ideas on her own. Maybe he had figured it out. Maybe he hadn't. But it worked for them, so she kept doing it.