I’m pretty certain Dr. Cohen slept with Jenna, or something near enough to it. But when he invites me over for supper, I can’t resist. I’m uninterested in cooking, and I detest cleaning up after a meal. These activities have a horrid quality of always lying ahead of me, never behind. I finish cleaning the kitchen after preparing a meal, eating the food, and prying dried bits of things off frying pans with the knowledge that four hours later I’ll confront the precise same set of tasks all over again. With housework, I never take a victory lap.
When your dad was alive, we had a housekeeper. She’d been working for him for years before I arrived on the scene so there was never any discussion about whether she’d continue on once I became his wife. In the morning, your dad and I made our own respective breakfasts, put our dishes in the sink, and went to work. The housekeeper would come in around eleven to wash the dishes and prepare our lunch, if we were going to be home for it. We’d eat around one o’clock, then go back to work or sometimes we’d take the afternoon off to do something fun: fly his model airplanes or take the boat out or go for a bike ride. We’d return home in the early evening for cocktails and a nicely-made dinner. The housekeeper would have prepared the meal and washed the pots and pans. By seven o’clock, she’d leave. We would eat the dinner when we felt like it—sometimes before she was gone, sometimes long afterwards. Then after we finished, we’d put away leftovers in the refrigerator and serve ourselves dessert. That would be that—any remaining dishes, we left in the sink for her to handle when she showed up the next day.
As I’m writing this, I’m feeling both as if we were decadent in those days and that I’d give anything to have the whole set-up back in place again. But that housekeeper was one of the first people to be swept away in the SUCs. And of course, I moved out of that house in Ottawa and back to the city.
At dinner tonight, I didn’t ask Dr. Cohen about Jenna. We discussed my new speechwriting volunteer job instead. He thinks I’m nuts to get that close to Beefcake. After dinner, I went straight home without offering to help do the dishes.
Jill Riddell is a writer in Chicago. She teaches at the School of the Art Institute and has a weakness for nature, magic, and pennies abandoned in sidewalk cracks.