“You are not exactly impressive right now.” she said–a couple of times for the sake of emphasis. “Not exactly impressive.”
He could not deny that she had a reason to be pissed. He did, however, disagree. Forgetting to pick up your daughter, getting a speeding ticket, and maxing out the credit card–all in one day? Pretty impressive, in a Goldman Sachs sort of way.
But he wasn’t going to try that joke. She wasn’t having any of it. The recession lines, as true as they were, were testing her patience. She had been great, she really had. And yes, there was no recession-based argument for your daughter waiting for 45 minutes. In the rain.
“I’m not sure what’s going on with you,” she was firm, but not mean. God knows she could have been. She had cut out everything–yoga, lunches out with friends, magazine subscriptions–and had even leveraged her early childhood development graduate degree into some sort of “scientifically-based” day care service for kids from a slightly hoity-toitier neighborhood than theirs. The moms bought whatever argument she had made for it, and she had–brilliantly–been able to convince them that her work as a Resident Supervisor at her fancy private college was an asset for their kids’ futures. They sure as hell weren’t getting wealthy, but it helped stave off some of the bills, and she felt like it was a way that she could contribute, especially when not a single school system was hiring–even subs.
The M.A. in teaching hadn’t been her life-long plan. She had dreamed of writing, had picked out a liberal arts college with a writer-in-residence program, hoping to sit at the foot of a new master/genius/bestselling writer every year. When they met, at a Christmas party when she was back to visit her folks, she had just finished the program, and explained to him that it was how she planned to finance her writing habit. Waiting tables and serving coffee to other writers chipping away at the great American novel was getting exhausting, she explained.
“And teaching 6 year olds how to tie their shoes won’t be?”
Good material for the future, she said. And research. Children’s lit.
“I could write the next Captain Underpants,” she laughed.
Now, she was a paragraph short of accusing him of hanging around in his underpants, doing nothing except “networking” over one too many beers with other losers of the economic downturn.
I’m continuing to explore this character. I like him, so I want to avoid falling into a number of cliches. My biggest fear is that he’ll turn into some tragicomic hybrid of Walter White and Phil Dunphy. I also am reminded that for dudes, “writing women” with integrity and without falling into sexist stereotyping takes mindfulness and hard work. Writing his wife and her very real frustration without creating a shrew of a character is my first goal. For now, it’s easier to do that by writing from his (currently guilt-ridden) perspective. Hopefully, she’ll live into some sentences of her own soon.