Saturday, June 2, 2018

Cheers--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Tuesday, May 14

     “Are you okay with me writing a divorce memoir?” I asked Blake.
     Two thumbs up from Blake. “You have my total support.”
     I hugged him and kissed his cheek. “I love you.”
     “I love you, too.”
     “Remember, Tom’s going to dad’s and you and I are driving to Minocqua Friday for cabin maintenance weekend.”
     I texted Golf Guy.

     “Just arranged to drop my dogs at my mom’s Thursday. Don’t know where your son is playing, but dinner could be on my way home?”

     “I’ll check, it’s either in Northfield or Kenilworth.”

     “K. Pick a restaurant.”

     “We could meet at my personal ‘Cheers,’ Happ Inn in Northfield.”

     While I was living in Chicago and pregnant with Blake, I went to the beach one morning and dug a hole in the sand for my enormous belly. I missed laying on my stomach. It felt wonderful to lay front side down again. Afterward, I sat at the bar and  got a bowl of vegetarian chili at Heartland Café. A woman about my age was eating nachos to my right, her hair a glossy brown pageboy.
     “That looks good,” I commented.
     “It is,” she said. “When are you due?”
     “Beginning of October.”
     “I’ll probably never have a baby. I’m gay.”
     “You could still have one.”
     “But I probably won’t. This bar is my personal ‘Cheers.’”
     “I come here all the time. They know my name.”
     “That’s nice.”
     “I brought my girlfriend here. Introduced her to everyone. She’s an actress. She goes to Columbia. She stopped returning my phone calls. I went to see a play she’s in. She was a whore! She was on stage wearing a slip and coming onto a guy.”
     “She was acting.”
     The woman glared at me. “She was a whore! I couldn’t believe it. I brought one white rose with me. After the show, I walked up to her and gave her the rose. I didn’t say one word. I just stared at her and gave it to her. She didn’t say anything either. I walked away. I’ve been calling her for days, leaving her messages. She hasn’t returned my calls.” The woman popped a nacho in her mouth and crunched away. “This place is my own personal Cheers.”
     I looked at Golf Guy’s text and cringed.

     “That’s the name of it? Happ Inn? What time?”

     “Probably won’t be able to get there till around eight, is that okay?”

     I Googled the restaurant. “That’s fine. It’s Carlos’ place. Cool.”

     “You know Carlos?”

     “I’ve eaten his food. Took a cooking class from him years ago. Still make his crème brulee.”

     “I’ve never had that. I have consistency issues.”


     “Squishy stuff.”

     “It’s creamy with a crunchy sugar glass on top. It’s way better than pudding. And fun to make. Get to use a blowtorch.”

     “Wow, aggressive.”

     “What about chocolate pudding? Does that fall under squishy?”

     “I’ve never had it.”

     “No way.”

     “Cuz it’s squishy.”

     “Hahaha you are funny. Yogurt?”

     “Never have. Never will.”

     “I am laughing very hard right now.”

     “I’m all about Melba toast.”

     “Well then, I’m not your girl. I’m a girl with a blowtorch.”

     “I’m pretty sure there is a blowtorch involved with Melba toast preparation.”

     “You may be right. Do you really like Melba Toast?”

     No answer.

     “I’ll take that silence as a yes. I will not make fun of your affection for Melba Toast (much).”

     “Haven’t had it since I was a kid. But I liked it a lot.”

     “I will have fun eating with you. And I’m not being mean. I’m looking forward to it.”

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