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Authors: Mary Campisi

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Not Your Everyday Housewife

BOOK: Not Your Everyday Housewife
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Not Your Everyday Housewife

by

Mary Campisi

 

A wise and humorous tale of living large after 40 as women finally make peace with themselves- wrinkles, blubber, neuroses, exes, and all.

 

Three women embark on a month long ‘discovery’ journey and uncover quite a few tidbits along the way…one bottle of Clairol Midnight will not cover a full head of red hair, and never talk to men wearing polyester pants hiked up with a tan belt. But most of what they unearth is about themselves—who they are, what they really want, what they really DON'T want. The center of controversy is a Maid-for-You mixer which symbolizes a boring, routine suburban life with NO second chances—then along comes insight in the form of Tula Rae, a sixty-something Salsa dancing, Dalai Lama quoting, four time widow in spandex and a gray braid who gives them a different perspective on life, love, do-overs and the real reason a man buys his woman a Maid-for-You mixer, (which she says is all about S-E-X.)

 

 
 
Dedication

 

To my sister, Ann—friend, confidante, kindred spirit

 

 

Chapter 1

Cyn Cintar’s life was a mess.

There was the before—before she lied to her husband, before she deceived her children, before she became an imposter in her own life.

And then there was the after.

She tried to pretend the second part never happened but there it was, trapped in her brain for the past five months by a six digit password comprised of her wedding day and year. How ironic was that?

Today was Cyn’s forty-fourth birthday and her daughters just called to say they wouldn’t be home for dinner. They didn’t even remember it was their mother’s birthday. Cyn thought of the standing rib roast, Sam’s favorite, resting on the platter oozing pink juice, the twice-baked potatoes, minus cheese and butter, Kiki’s express request, puffing against one another like a double row of marching soldiers. And of course, Janie’s demand, Green Giant’s extra sweet corn from the frozen section of Fresh Mart, heaped into a white serving dish, drenched in gobs of real butter.

She opened her eyes and zeroed in on the double fudge cake claiming the entire corner of the kitchen counter. Now
that
was her choice, a present to herself on a birthday her daughters hadn’t even remembered.

Cyn inched her way to the cake and slid an index finger along the rim of the frosting, scooping up heaps of fudge. The richness of chocolate settled on her tongue, clung to the roof of her mouth.

She headed into the dining room and snatched up Kiki and Janie’s place settings. Let Sam think she’d planned her birthday dinner with just him in mind, why make two people miserable? He still thought the girls wanted to be tucked in at night. Maybe it was better this way—a candlelight dinner, a bottle of white Zinfandel, Bocelli in the background.

Romance shouldn’t die just because a person had two teenage daughters and qualified for “over forty” Prime of Life Auto coverage. Cyn unhooked her bra and pulled it through her shirt sleeve.
Why not?
She raced upstairs, tugged down her jeans and misted her thighs with White Diamonds, then her neck, then the swell between her breasts.

It was going to be a good year. The best. She glanced at the clock on the nightstand. Eight more minutes until she officially turned forty-four. What happened five months ago was almost a blur.

She sprayed more White Diamonds in her Jockey underwear. She should’ve listened to Derry and bought the black lace thongs from Victoria’s Secret. Of her two best girlfriends, Derry was the walking designer label with edge and attitude. Instead, Cyn had caved and listened to her other girlfriend, Shea, the voice of reason in scrubs. Bad idea.

Cyn yanked her jeans up and ran downstairs, pulling out two glasses and a bottle of Beringer. Then she punched in her husband’s cell number. He’d only been gone four days but it seemed so much longer.

“You have reached Sam Cintar. Leave your name and number and I’ll call you back.”
Beep.

Cyn hung up.

Her gaze shifted to the digital display on the microwave. 5:54… 5:55… two more minutes to forty-four. The phone rang and she grabbed it.

“Hello?”

“Cyn? What’s wrong? You sound like you’ve been running the mile.”

That will be the day.
“I’m fine. Where are you, Sam? I’ve been waiting for you.”

“I know. Damn, of all days, I’m stuck at O’Hare, engine problems. They think it’ll be ready for takeoff in about an hour.”

“An hour?” Even the gentleness of his voice couldn’t calm her disappointment.

“I’m sorry, Cyn. I wanted to call and wish you happy birthday.”

“Thank you.” Was that really her voice, so small, so needy?

“You and I will have our own little celebration when I get home, okay?”

“Sure.”
I miss you, Sam. I have something to tell you.

“You and the girls go ahead and eat without me, no sense ruining a perfectly good rib roast.”

“Okay.”

“Have the girls given you their present yet?”

“No.”

“Well, when they do, I want you to know they picked it out themselves.”

“With your charge card.”

His laugh was patient. “Well, we have to start somewhere. Don’t let that ruin your gift. I think you’ll really like it.”

“Okay.”
There is no gift, no girls, either.

“I’ll see you in a few hours. Happy Birthday, Cyn.”

“Thank you.”

Click.

Cyn placed the phone on the counter and opened the silverware drawer. Sam was honorable, and good—and so deceived. She pulled out a fork, counted the tines slowly. She’d need a new set of flatware before Kiki’s graduation party.
If
Kiki had a graduation party. Who was she kidding? It would be here before she knew it, and then Kiki would be off to college. Time kept sliding past them, gone before it even came. Cyn carried the cake to the kitchen table and eased into the captain’s chair, back straight, eyes trained on the chocolate peaks of frosting.

Happy Birthday to me.
She lit four pink candles and stared at the flames until pink wax puddled at the base and the candles burned to nubs. Then she blew out the flames and gouged her fork into the center sweetness of the double fudge cake, shoveling chunks of chocolate into her mouth.

A half cake later, Cyn’s stomach jumped and fidgeted, and her head ached from sugar overload. But she didn’t stop, she
couldn’t
stop. Her fingers gripped the fork, dumping cake into her mouth until she almost threw up. How many thousands of calories had she just inhaled? Fifteen hundred? Two thousand? She’d have to walk ten miles on the treadmill for seven days just to get back to even.

She shoved two more forkfuls in, ignoring the queasiness in her gut. If she didn’t stop right now, she’d spatter the oak floor with chunks of fudge saliva.

Her skull banged against her brain and jarred her vision. She heaved the fork toward the sink, missed, and watched it skitter across the floor in staccato. The smell of chocolate stuffed her nostrils, nauseating her as much as it enticed her earlier.

Get away.
Cyn pushed herself from the table, tried to stand, but her legs wobbled and she fell back into the chair, her body slick with sweat.

When the phone rang, she almost ignored it, until she heard Derry Rohan’s husky voice filling the line. She grabbed the phone and croaked, “Derry?”

“Cyn? Are you okay?”

“Too much birthday, I guess.”

“You sound like shit. Where’s Sam?”

“Stuck in Chicago.”

“Christ. What a birthday, huh? Where are the girls?”

“At school.”

“Those little shits. Can’t they even remember one day a year?”

“I can’t talk now Derry, I think I’m going to be sick.” Cyn gripped the edge of the table, sucked in sips of air.

“Why didn’t you call me if you were going to get smashed? I would’ve come, too.”

“It’s not that. Too much birthday cake.”

“Ahhh…a pity party. You eat the whole thing?”

“Half.”

“Chocolate?”

“Double fudge.”

“You barf it up yet?”

“Give me ten more minutes.”

“I’ll be there in five.”

“No, Derry, I’m okay, really.”

Click.

Cyn slumped in the chair and closed her eyes. Derry was the one who needed taking care of, but she’d never let anyone close enough to do that, not even Cyn. Not even though they’d been friends for five years, ever since Derry and Alec moved from D.C. to Reston.

That was before Charlie came along.

The poor boy. He was the innocent one in that mess. Poor Alec, he loved Derry too much to do anything but wait. And poor Derry, she was hurting so much she wanted everyone to feel her pain. Poor Charlie. Poor Alec. Poor Derry.

The back door swung open and Derry Rohan flashed in wearing a lime suede jacket and matching scarf wrapped several times around her neck. “You look like shit.” Derry touched Cyn’s forehead and frowned. “And you’re actually green, you know how they say people look green? Well, you do, kind of a pea soup green.” She studied Cyn’s face and said, “Or maybe avocado—”

“Stop.”

“Let’s get you to bed and then I’ll clean up this mess and dispose of the evidence.”

Cyn glanced sideways at the cake which lay imploded beside scattered chunks of chocolate on the oak table. “Did I really eat half that thing?”

“Mmmm, I’d say more like two thirds.” Derry flicked a piece of frosting onto her finger and licked. “Good.”

“Don’t talk about food, especially not that.”

“Moderation, dear, everything in moderation.”

Funny, coming from someone like Derry.

She helped Cyn to her feet and slung an arm around her waist. “I’m sorry, Cyn. Sometimes life just sucks and there’s nothing you can do about it, but it seems like at least you should get a break on your birthday.”

“Yeah, you’d think.”

“For what it’s worth, happy forty-fourth birthday, Cynthia Cintar.”

The next hours blurred between toilet hugging and promising God she’d never touch chocolate again which she knew was a lie even as she pleaded for relief.
Are You punishing me because of what I did five months ago? I’m going to tell Sam, I really am, once I’m sure he can handle it. Soon. Maybe.

Finally, the heaving stopped and Derry wiped Cyn’s mouth one last time and helped her to bed. Cyn crawled under the covers fully clothed and shivering.

“Try to sleep,” Derry whispered, placing the wet cloth on Cyn’s forehead. “I’ll just be downstairs straightening up, but I’ll check on you in a little while.”

Cyn drifted into a dark sleep and when she woke, minutes or maybe hours later, her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth, her head throbbed, and her stomach ached as though someone had turned it inside out and jumped on it.

“Cyn?”

She opened her eyes to find Sam standing over her, his tall, lean figure bent forward, concern mirrored in the wire-rim glasses framing his brown eyes.

“Feeling better?”

Sam was such a good man, direct, protective, honest. Careful with his words, even more careful with his emotions, but Cyn knew he loved her, had always known, though he chose to let Hallmark say the words and Sears or Best Buy show her, instead of Renaldo Jewelers. Still, he did love her.

“I think so,” was all she could manage.

“Derry was cleaning up when I got home. She said you had a touch of the flu.” He leaned over and stroked her cheek, then adjusted his glasses. “You shouldn’t have gone to all the trouble if you didn’t feel well. I didn’t think you sounded like yourself on the phone. Why didn’t you say something?”

Derry had carved the hole and all Cyn needed to do was drop the lie inside. Still, she hesitated. “I felt fine, something just came over me.”
A double fudge cake.

“The rib roast was excellent. I’m sorry I wasn’t here to share it with you.”

“That’s okay, I wasn’t up to it anyway.”

“Happy Birthday, Cyn.” He handed her a card, and a box wrapped in red foil with a white bow that she knew would be Russell Stover’s peanut butter meltaways. But she sat up straighter when she spotted the second box, a long, slender rectangle wrapped in royal blue foil with a silver bow. What could it be? Sam wasn’t a jewelry buyer. Other than her engagement and wedding ring, both of which she selected, he’d never bought her a single piece of jewelry in their twenty years of marriage.
I gave you a wedding ring, anything else would be superfluous
.

But, maybe, this time… Cyn eased the foil from the box, half certain this time she’d find a piece of jewelry nestled against the velvet lining. Perhaps a diamond pendant like Derry’s or an emerald bracelet like Shea’s. Even a pair of gold earrings with ruby studs, tiny, tiny, ones.

We can start over, can’t we? Forgive me, Sam, please?
She gave her husband a shy smile and flicked open the box.

“I know you’ve been wanting a new one,” he said in a gentle voice. “I thought we could go pick one out this weekend, whatever color you want.”

His words pinched her brain as she stared at the picture of the Maid-For-You mixer tucked inside the velvet box.

“You should’ve seen some of the colors. Lemon chiffon, hot tamale, guacamole green.” He shook his head and said, “I don’t know who thinks of these things.”

“Thank you.” When she looked up there were tears in her eyes.

He smiled and pulled the rocking chair next to the bed, sinking into it with a long, satisfied sigh. “You know, I could’ve sworn when I walked in the house tonight I smelled chocolate. No fudge cake this year?”

Cyn looked away, shook her head. “I didn’t get around to it.”

“Maybe Janie can make one for you this weekend.” He paused. “I talked with the girls, Cyn. They knew they were supposed to be home, not running off to extracurricular activities on your birthday.”

“Kiki’s only extracurricular activity is Brad Prenton.”

“I wish she’d dump that guy.”

“She’s not going to listen to anything we say right now. The more you push her, the more she’ll cling to him.”

“I guess.” He clasped his hands behind his head and sighed again.

And just like that, the talk tilted back to normal, comfortable conversation and Cyn Cintar’s forty-fourth birthday slipped away.

 

BOOK: Not Your Everyday Housewife
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