I keep talking about this book I plan on writing, but I haven’t given you very many details.
While I still want to keep most of what I’ve been working on under wraps, I thought it might be high time I released a small preview. This is actually the second half of the first chapter. The scene is our Ballard condo, circa April 2010. All you really need to know is that during the first half of this chapter, Scott calls me from work, realizing he accidentally threw his credit card away the night before.
In the canister outside our building that is solely designated for dog poop.
Yes, this really happened, and yes, I dug out the credit card and cleaned it with my bare hands.
Okay…I think you’re call caught up now. Let’s get started.
“Katrina? Where in the hell were you?”
Scott’s voice sounds more concerned than agitated. I glance down at my watch and realize I may have gotten a tad bit carried away at the Flagship Nordstrom’s in Downtown Seattle – it’s already 6:30.
In all fairness, it’s not my fault they just happened to be having their anniversary sale. Although three pairs of shoes might not have been completely necessary, I just couldn’t pass up the Jessica Simpson leopard print mohair flats with the adorable little rhinestone accents. The fact that I have no idea when or where I will don these beautiful creatures is completely irrelevant. They have rhinestone accents! And leopard print mohair!
I quickly duck into our office, conveniently located just off of the entryway, and stash all my shopping bags under the desk. The beautiful espresso stained piece of furniture is more of a storage unit than workspace anyway, as I conduct the majority of our business on the sofa in our living room. They call it a laptop so it can sit on your lap, right? Plus, how am I going to catch up on all of my Real Housewives episodes if I’m trapped away in a stuffy old office?
It’s a miracle that after three years of marriage, Scott has yet to discover my post-shopping hiding spot. I picked this strategy up years ago from my mother, who always insisted we hide our purchases in the trunk of our wood-paneled station wagon if my father was ever home when we returned from a shopping trip.
My mother, a stay-at-home mom, was never frivolous or extravagant with money. Dad earned a modest salary as a Lutheran minister, and with four kids to support, a shopping spree at Nordy’s would have been out of the question. However modest our handful of purchases from the Sears clearance rack was, they would have to remain stowed safely in the trunk until Dad left the house. Only then were we free to quietly transfer our purchases into our dressers and closets upstairs. Think of it as a sort of underground railroad for rejected items from the junior’s department.
Most people would never take me to be the spawn of a cheapskate, but I can’t deny my roots. My father only permitted clothing from the Goodwill, or a stray cardboard box on the side of the road marked “Free”.
I wish I was joking. Really, I do. But at the end of the day, I am the offspring of a dumpster diving trash collector who refuses to pay more than three dollars for a pair of pants. Let’s just say if my dad ever buys you underwear, you should never, under any circumstance choose to wear it. It’s probably a wise choice to burn it instead. I learned this lesson the hard way, when at the tender age of twelve my mother screamed at me to “Take those things off before you get herpes!!”
I’m not sure where Dad picked them up, which is probably a good thing. All I know is that it’s creepy enough getting underwear from your dad, let a lone a pair that at best came from the Salvation Army, and at worst, was rescued from some lonely stretch of sidewalk in the South Seattle suburbs.
Seriously, I wouldn’t put it past the man. He once ate Oreo’s out of a dumpster.
At my college graduation.
In front of my friends, professors and future in-laws.
(I think these childhood traumas may be partly responsible for my shopping problem.)
“Just a second!” I call out innocently. On second thought, I retrieve a single bag from underneath the desk. Scott will never buy my “running errands” story if I don’t have some fruits to bear from my labor.
I trot into the living room and find him sitting on our sofa watching Sports Center. After eight years together, he’s only become more handsome to me. His cropped blonde hair and deep set blue eyes compliment a strong jaw and distinguished nose. His Scandinavian features are matched by a strong yet lean physique, and I don’t suppose his eyes will ever lose their mischievous glint. His teeth that are slightly crooked, but so white that I never really notice.
I, on the other hand, have developed thunder thighs and stretch marks, but I’m hoping the fact that I dig credit cards out of dog feces makes up for those minor discrepancies.
“Hey – sorry I’m a little late, I had to go run a few errands.” I say as innocently as possible.
“Errands? I didn’t think we needed anything.”
“Oh, you know – it was more paper work stuff…I, um, had to stop at the bank to get that IRA set up and then I, um…had an appointment.”
“Um, yeah. With the doctor.”
The shoe doctor, that is.
“Really. What’s in the bag, then?”
This wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought.
“Oh, you know…I was downtown so I just stopped into Nordstrom’s. Did you know the anniversary sale is going on? I just picked up a few basic essentials I needed…nothing major.”
“What?” I shout a little too defensively. “It’s just a few t-shirts from the junior’s section. Cheapies. It was like, under thirty bucks for both.”
He extends his palm, while giving me a look so vile, you’d think I’d committed a felony. I casually toss him the bag, glad I’ve had the sense to grab the bag containing the least expensive items.
Although, that bag felt kind of…heavy.
As in heavier than just a couple of t-shirts.
Scott’s hand slowly emerges from the bag, gripping a fistful of champagne colored sequins. His fist is so tight, I’m surprised his veins haven’t ruptured over the Adrianna Papell golden sequined cocktail sheath he’s clutching.
I instantly remember snagging its plastic garment bag on some jackhole’s SUV and transferring it into the bag with the t-shirts.
“Oh, really? Just a couple of t-shirts, huh?”
It’s during moments like this that I desperately wish life was like a Snickers commercial. Just take one large bite, chew for a few seconds, and then come up with the perfect excuse.
“Oh yeah…I…err…forgot about this one. It’s for the cruise – isn’t it great?”
Scott’s entire family is celebrating his dad’s 60th birthday with a Caribbean Cruise this spring. I’ve been carefully preparing my wardrobe since the trip was booked twelve months ago. Sure, I may not fit into any of the twelve bikinis I’ve purchased so far, but at least I’ll have fabulous options.
I casually stroll over to the kitchen and start unloading the dishwasher. A bit of domestic prowess certainly can’t hurt the situation. Scott refuses to continue until I make eye contact.
I look up innocently, as if he’s about to ask me if I’ve seen his keys. He continues the lecture in a patient yet disappointed tone.
“Is this really necessary?”
“Of course it is.” I flatly respond, as if he was just asking me if the world is actually round.
“Really? Really? When, besides the cruise, are you ever going to wear this thing? It’s practically visible from space!”
Exactly. A girl’s got to make a statement, after all. Heaven forbid I turn into a wallflower on formal dinner night. Plus, if things go horribly awry and the ship starts to sink, I can stand atop the deck and use the frock to send distress signals to low flying aircraft.
“Oh, you know. I’m sure I’ll wear it when I go…out with my friends.”
Yes, of course. I’m sure my near future has at least a few galas in store…maybe even a swanky fashion show or something.
“When you go out with your friends?” he asks incredulously.
“Yes. Out with my friends.”
My confidence in this argument is shrinking by the second.
“And where exactly do you plan on going? With your friends, I mean.” His voice has lost every last ounce of patience, now dripping with sarcasm and disgust. And he hasn’t even seen the price tag.
“Lots of places.” I pronounce matter-of-factly. “Cocktail hours, charity auctions bachelorette parties, maybe a fashion show or two. It’s really an investment piece. Honestly, you’d be surprised how much someone in my position needs a good sequined dress to wear.”
I’m not sure if he’ll buy that last part. My “position” generally involves sitting on the couch with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Although simply wearing the new dress would instantly make Cherry Garcia much more fabulous…possibly even photo shoot worthy? My dreams of a career as an ice cream spokesmodel are cut short by Scott’s intense yet hushed voice.
“Katrina.” He pronounces every syllable with control and precision. “I hate to point out the obvious, but it seems you are forgetting to take one very simple piece of information into account.”
“Oh, don’t worry – I’ve already spoken with the dry cleaners. Did you know they offer a discount for frequent customers?”
Scott closes his eyes and takes a deep breath before continuing.
“Katrina. You don’t have any friends.”
Oh no he didn’t.
“What?” I shriek. “Don’t be ridiculous. I’ve got tons of friends. Buckets of friends! Friends lining up around the block! You don’t get elected homecoming queen without having friends, Scott.”
My defense is met with an eye roll.
“Alright, A, that was eight years ago, and B, Jolie doesn’t count.”
The dog hears her name and scuttles into the room in hopes she might earn a treat. After a few seconds of waiting she leaps onto Scott’s lap, settling instead for some belly rubs and chest scratches.
“I know dogs don’t count. I’ve got plenty of human friends, Scott.”
He raises his eyebrows in challenge.
“Plenty? Did I miss something? Aside from your mom and your sister, whom all do you socialize with?”
I pause, trying to come up with a snarky comeback. As much as I hate to admit it, he has a point. Despite being raised in the Seattle suburbs, I don’t know that many people in the city. Scratch that. I don’t know any people in the city. When I returned home after 8 years in Nebraska and New York, most of my friends from high school had moved on. Working at home doesn’t allow for much peer interaction, although the baristas at the Starbucks across the street are starting to recognize me. I’ve met some great people at our church, but being as we’re Lutheran, most of them are at least ten years past retirement, and don’t seem interested as I’m gravely in experienced in the quilting department.
I realize Scott is absolutely right — aside from my Mom and younger sister Hayley, who both live an hour away, I don’t have too many Seattle companions. My current crew consists of Jolie, Scott and my 93-year-old Great Aunt Delina who just happens to live down the street from us. I didn’t realize she lived so close until a surprise run in at, you guessed it, the Lutheran church.
The ironic thing is that I’ve always been a social butterfly. I can start a conversation with just about anyone, and have never had trouble being well liked and popular. I know deep down that my lack of friends isn’t really my fault – I’m simply a victim of circumstance. Working at home has made growing my social circle nearly impossible. Still, that doesn’t mean that Scott’s observation doesn’t smart a bit.
I slowly exhale, trying not to let my voice quiver as I speak. “What about Lindsay and Krista?”
“Yes, Lindsay and Krista count. But they live in Nebraska. That dress will probably be out of style the next time you see them.”
“Sequins never go out of style.” I scoff.
He holds the dress at arms length, scanning it up and down with critical eyes.
“Alright, alright…I’m sorry I brought it up. I just don’t see you wearing this…this thing more than once. It kind of seems like a waste. Plus, don’t you think it’s a little bit…I don’t know…tacky?”
Sometimes I tire of educating the fashionably challenged.
“No. I don’t think it’s tacky at all. And neither would Michael Kors or Nina Garcia. Ombre sequins are all the rage right now – and the nude tones are muted enough to balance out all of the bling. This is totally something Eva Longoria would wear. Now, if you would just agree to watch Project Runway with me, I wouldn’t have to explain all of these things.”
Scott has pulled out his iPhone and started texting out of boredom. I snap my finger in front of his face before making him a promise I have every intent on keeping.
“And also? I am going to meet some friends. I’ve just been busy with the move and work stuff, and…oh, I don’t know…cleaning dog poop off credit cards! The second I have the time to go out and socialize, I’ll meet so many gal pals it will make your head spin.”
“This dress is already making my head spin.”
“Oh, this dress is just the beginning. In fact, I have a beyond brilliant idea.”
Scott’s neck hairs stand on end as the words fly off my tongue. He’s typically not a huge fan of my “master plans”.
“You’re not going to make me film another audition tape for the QVC host search, are you?”
What? I was made for television. Not to mention my passion for cubic zirconium jewelry and hand painted holiday snow globes. The fact that the QVC talent scouts failed to see my charisma and poise as I attempted to sell them my dog was a huge oversight.
“Relax.” I assure him. “I just want to tag along to your kickball game tomorrow night. Nothing crazy. Just hob nob with a few of your co-workers, get invited to a happy hour or two, I think it’ll be fun.”
“I think it’ll be dangerous. It’s dodgeball, not kick ball, and you don’t have the best track record with…well…not getting hit in the face.”
It’s true. The last time we played volleyball I got smacked in between the eyes. Not only did my brand new sunglasses shatter; their fragmented edges sliced a huge, bloody gash in my forehead. It certainly wasn’t my finest moment.
“I’ll be fine. I’m going less for the dodgeball and more for the networking, anyway. You want me to make friends, don’t you?”
Scott’s shoulders slump in resignation. He considers my proposal for a solid ten seconds.
“Yeah, I guess so.”
A victorious grin stretches across my face. Good thing I picked up a new pair of Nike’s from the shoe department today.
“Good! Then it’s settled – tomorrow night I’ll—“
“THREE HUNDRED AND FORTY-SEVEN DOLLARS?!?!?”
Maybe it isn’t settled after all.
I’m starting to really regret not removing that price tag.
I have but one means of defense. It is green, it is shiny, and it is skid mark free. But most importantly? It was paid for with my very last shred of dignity.
I saunter over the couch, whipping the credit card from my pocket and placing it gingerly in Scott’s lap.
“There you are, honey. Took me about twenty minutes, not to mention my brand new tooth brush, but I finally got it clean. You’re welcome.”
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