The Callemonit 7 Day Challenge is a continuation of “John and Karen: Life on a Rollercoaster” which was begun on the Home Page.
Also, if one of the topics is something you’d like to address in your own life, give yourself a nice 7 Day window to see it through, then come back. I would love to hear how your Callemonit turned out.
And if you’ve been keeping up with John, Karen, daughter Abby, and son Jon-Jon, here’s a quick way to jump to installments individually. Simply click the links.
As mentioned, John and Karen make a living, but they surely aren’t wealthy. Their house is just big enough to accommodate their needs. There’s a powder room on the first floor and a full bath on the second, in which the whole family hectically shares, especially when getting ready for school and work.
Every time Karen goes to use the toothpaste, she has to first squeeze the paste up from the bottom of the tube, then roll the emptied section, hoping to make it difficult for remaining paste to be forced back down.
Is it a big deal…not really. But keep in mind all she does in the morning to get everyone ready for their day. There’s making lunches, ironing the shirt Abby absolutely has to wear, filling out Jon-Jon’s sports permission slip that’s due yesterday (but he’s had in his folder for two weeks), letting the dog in and out, making John’s coffee, etc. Then she finally has the bathroom to herself, quickly brush teeth, shower, hair, and makeup.
Each morning she mumbles to herself, “Doesn’t anybody see the pattern with this darn toothpaste…it’s not rocket science people…you can’t just squeeze it from the middle and expect it to always work for the next person…ridiculous…inconsiderate.”
Since Karen has chosen to demonstrate proper procedure by example only, without verbal prompting, her assumption that the rest of the family will follow suit will likely never come to fruition.
It might sound like a simple fix. Sit the family down at the kitchen table, show them how they leave the toothpaste, explain why it’s irritating, and conclude with the right technique.
The only problem is inciting the gang mentality. The kids have a history of joining together and creating an alliance with one parent for their benefit, when they realize the other parent’s unappealing opinion isn’t getting the necessary partner support.
Karen fully expects, Mom…are you serious? Then they go into a comedy routine of, Is there a hidden camera here? No, no, no…I got it, I got it…let’s film it for real and put it on YouTube. We can call it Mom Seeks OCD Recruits…totally viral for sure. And John will sit there like the cat got his tongue.
Jon-Jon is one of those talented, or more specifically, gifted from birth athletes who is destined for great things on the playing field.
Well, maybe destined is a strong word. The truth is, there’s never a guarantee of a successful career in professional sports, even for a highly prospected high school football quarterback like Jon-Jon.
John and Karen know their son is capable of getting much better grades than he does now. But they also know Jon-Jon doesn’t regard academics as necessary, especially when pro quarterbacks make tens of millions of dollars.
John and Karen want to give Jon-Jon a reality check about the absolute importance of an education as an insurance policy for life, without stifling his self-assurance or appearing to discourage his dream.
Regardless of what your child aspires to do as a career, how do you Callemonit when it’s obvious poor grades aren’t a reflection of a lack of intelligence, but rather a lack of effort?
For the last two years, Abby has been in middle school while Jon-Jon entered high school. She was constantly involved, from student council to theatre club to swim team.
Now she’s in high school herself, and she’s finding it more difficult to do the activities she’s grown so fond of. The most obvious reason is the dramatic increase in number of students. There are dozens of Abby(s) who have similar interests.
Competition is taking a toll on Abby’s confidence, and her latest failure to make the swim team has left her wallowing in self pity.
To make matters worse, when she walks the school hallways, students refer to her as “Jon-Jon’s Little Sister.”
Smoking cigarettes could easily be seen as acting out, doing something all her own, something she can control.
But is it really all her own? Up until three years ago, Karen was a smoker. The habit started for her in freshman year as well. And it took the death of her twin sister from lung cancer to finally motivate her to quit.
So, Karen could easily throw the pack of cigarettes on Abby’s lap while she’s sitting on her bed facetiming her smoking cohorts, “What the hell were these doing in your backpack…do you know how hard it was for me to quit…let alone what happened to Aunt Susan?”
Or would it be best served if Karen’s Callemonit is posed in a way that addresses the root of the problem, making a more lasting impression on her daughter, so Abby doesn’t simply replace cigarettes with drinking or a steady boyfriend?
Lately, Karen has been having more alone time in the evening. Jon-Jon drives. Abby has a friend with a license. And John seems to be content working late, meeting his buddies for fantasy football, pounding beers, and watching sports in the basement (his man cave).
Karen doesn’t mind the peace and quiet. She’s spent her fair share of nights crammed on bleachers, still in a skirt and heels from work, absorbing the obnoxious cheers of overzealous parents.
And that was outside the house. Inside, she’ll never forget the high pitch squeals from Abby’s bedroom when her and her friends started texting boys, and not to be outdone relentless brain rattling automatic gunfire from Jon-Jon’s video games.
So, nights alone on the couch, going through social media, and unwinding from a long day at work with 1 or 3 glasses of wine is not a bad way to wrap things up.
But this one night, when confronting Abby about cigarettes and thinking about her sister turn 3 glasses into a bottle and add a shot of Sambuca for good measure, Karen is in no condition to pay attention to a minor detail like Is the toilet seat up or down?
She stumbles through the bathroom in the dark, sits down to pee, and falls right into the bowl, cheeks touching the water. Worst of all, in an attempt to catch herself, she flails her arms backward, smashing her right elbow against a window sill.
“What the f***, where’s the seat?” Thankfully the alcohol masks some of the initial pain. She’s definitely going to pay for it in the morning.
But then, how does she Callemonit? Alright everyone, I was sad and drunk last night…and…do me a favor boys…show some courtesy and put the f***in’ seat down when your done!
Without a doubt, slapstick comedy will take center stage when Jon-Jon imitates her drunken escapade. Then a role reversal will follow when Abby condescends, Really Mom…at least I don’t fall down and break my elbow from smoking. And John will take a stab at her and humor, Hun, do you think we should put a nightlight in the bathroom?
Karen’s a real trooper. She takes a bunch of ibuprofen and heads to work.
Today’s a big day. Her and a long time fellow associate, Tom, have a presentation before the bosses. They’ve been working on it side by side for months, and success could mean a promotion and pay increase.
John and Karen get home together for the first time in quite awhile. It’s the perfect opportunity for them to sit in the living room and talk about their day.
John lines up 3 beers on the coffee table. Karen is still a little gun-shy from last night’s over indulgence. She has water.
John: “So how’d the big meeting go?”
Karen: “Really well. They called me and Tom up around 11-
John: “You and Tom?”
Karen: “Yeah, me and Tom…It was on the 14th floor and-
John: “Is he that wormy guy…you know…glasses…smells like cats?”
Karen: “Haha! No…not him…but it’s funny you should mention smell. Tom has the most atrocious breath, and I can never find the nerve to say something. Anyway, we had to take the elevator 10 floors, and Tom practically stands on top of me…he’s such a close-talker and-
John: “I can’t picture this Tom guy…is he-
Karen: “Hun…the Christmas Party…you talked to him for hours by the bar…remember…you were going on and on about Jon-Jon and football…Tom was a quarterback in high school too-
John: “Oh, the black guy!”
Karen: “Half black…his mom’s white and-
John: “What’s the difference.”
John cracks open another beer.
Karen: “Jesus, John…are you working on renewing your redneck card or something…can I continue?”
John: “Yeah yeah, you and Tom are stuck in the elevator…Oh, I can picture him clear now…that guy was in shape…he showed me a scar on his elbow from surgery…he was in college and all the scouts were-
Karen: “John, I swear to God…no wonder I f***in’ drink. We just talked about him last week when we were going over Jon-Jon’s grades…I used Tom as an example and you agreed…honestly, I can’t tell when you’re actually listening or not…or do you just yeah-yeah-yeah me to death?”
John: “No, no, I remember…go on…in the elevator with stinky breath.”
John takes the last sip of beer #2. Karen reaches over and puts her hand on #3, “Hold on, slow it down…I haven’t even gotten to the meeting…I’m trying to paint a picture here.”
John: “Alright, alright…I’m sorry…it’s your big day…tell your story.”
Karen: “Thank you. Ok, so what you said about Tom being in shape…well, you’re right…which explains his bad breath. He’s such a fitness fanatic…takes these garlic pills for like a year now…some sort of cleanse thing. Anyway, the elevator’s packed…hot as hell and stopping at every floor…Tom’s in my face going over our numbers for the hundredth time…I’m nursing a hangover…and no sh**, I start getting dizzy as hell, like I’m gonna pass out or something. I sort of fall back, and Bang! I smash my elbow right into that stupid metal rail in the elevator.”
John: “Don’t tell me…the elbow from the toilet.”
Karen: “Exactly…no kiddin’ Hun, I felt the pain right down to my feet…worse than last night-
John: “Hun…you were wasted last night…surprised you even knew you hit it.”
John: “So wait…you actually passed out, fell to the ground?”
Karen: “No, but almost…thank God Tom was there…he was like, “Kar, you alright…holy sh**!” and he reached out and caught me before I hit the floor…but guess where he grabbed me…right on-
John: “I don’t know Karrrr…your ass.”
Karen: “No, not my ass…are you for real…my bad elbow…wrapped his big hand right around it and pulled me up.”
John opens beer #3.
Karen: “Don’t you think that’s crazy Hun? I’m starting to pass out, I bang the same elbow from last night, and Tom grips it up in the exact same spot…is God trying to tell me something, like maybe-
John: “Yeah…like stop playing damsel in distress for the big black muscleman with the big hands.”
Karen: “Oh that’s hilarious. What I was going to say is…maybe God’s trying to tell me to ease up on the drinking.”
John: “Speaking of which…hold that thought.”
John gets out of his chair, with half a beer left, and heads for the basement door.
Karen: “Are you serious…you’re gonna get more beer…you know what John, do me a favor…just stay down there…stay down there in your f***in’ man cave and watch your hockey and drink your beer!”
John: “Wow, where’s all this coming from…I’m just sitting here listening to your story, and I wanted to grab a beer, no big deal, and you’re flying off the handle…like, what are you getting all pissed off about?”
Karen’s eyes start to well up.
John: “Oh that’s great…here come the waterworks.”
John’s volume raises significantly, “You know, this is the crazy sh** I can’t understand…I’m trying to do the right thing and be a good husband and hear all about your big day-
Karen: “That’s what I wanted…and why are you yelling?”
John’s voice goes even higher, “I’m not yelling…why do you always say I’m yelling…God, what the f***, no wonder I work all the time…this is like coming home to a loony bin!”
Tears streaming down Karen’s face, she gets up and heads to the kitchen.
John: “Now where are you going?” His voice lowers a little, “Seriously…where you goin’…I thought we were talking?”
Karen: “I have no words John…I’m getting a glass of wine, and I’m gonna sit on the couch and relax.”
John: “Whatever…you’re always the victim, and I’m always the bad guy.”
John goes downstairs, slamming the door behind him.
Jon-Jon has had his drivers license for about a year now. And it’s been both convenience and inconvenience at the same time.
John and Karen simply can’t afford to buy him a car, even if it were a real beater, so to speak. Purchase price, insurance, and inevitable repairs are just not in the budget.
So while it’s great that they don’t have to shuttle their social butterfly son all over the map, it’s lousy for Karen that Jon-Jon is always borrowing her car. And by the way, he’s completely inconsiderate about filling the tank.
It’s Saturday, around noon. Karen comes in the front door with grocery bags in both hands and looped around her arms.
Karen hollers, “Yo John, where you at?”
She doesn’t wait for a reply and heads back out for more bags.
The second time in, she beckons louder, “Yo John!”
John from the basement, “What?”
Karen: “Are you gonna help me carry the food?”
John: “Just give me a second…they’re on the 20 yard line.”
Karen doesn’t reply and gets the rest of the bags, goes to the bathroom, then starts putting away the food. John comes upstairs five minutes later and reaches for a bag of chips.
Karen: “John, so help me…if you start eating before…you know…I work all week too…then I go food shopping on Saturday, among the other fifty things I do for this family on the weekend…is it too much to ask for you to take a break from the game and help me carry in the bags…and then, instead of stuffing your pie hole, help me put everything away…then maybe we could sit down together and have a nice lunch like a normal couple, or am I being crazy?”
John: “Alright, I get it, I get it, I’m sorry.”
John immediately starts stacking canned goods in the cabinet.
Karen stays quiet, but in her mind she’s thinking, Boy, that was easy…I should write that speech down and laminate it for future use.
Everything gets put away. They make lunchmeat sandwiches on fresh rolls with sides of pickles and potato chips. John grabs a couple cold beers for them both, and they head out to the back deck. It’s unseasonably warm for October, a real Indian summer.
Halfway through her sandwich, Karen leans back in her chair, “What do you think of my hair?”
John: “Your hair? Looks good.”
Karen’s eyes slowly squint and her brows become acquainted, “What looks good about it?”
John: “I don’t know…it looks pretty and clean.”
Karen giggles a little and shakes her head, “Oh that’s great John, maybe you’d like to steal my jump rope and punch me in the arm, so I can chase you around the schoolyard.”
John takes a swig of his beer, then gives her his best Casanova stare, “What do I get if I let you catch me?”
Karen: “You get a kick in the balls.”
John: “Ooh, sounds like fun.”
Karen: “Come on John, I’m being serious.” He just gives her a dopey look. “Alright, for starters, do you know how long it took me to find someone who could cut my hair half descent…I’ll save you the brain cells…FOREVER…and I finally found someone, and she must be as broke as us, because she works like two or three other jobs, and Saturday is the only time she has in the salon, and-
John: “Is she Jamaican?”
John gets smitten with his presumed sense of humor, “Remember that old Saturday Night Live skit about the Jamaican family where everyone had like ten jobs…seriously…I’d say it was…I don’t know…maybe late 80’s, and I think the cast was-
Karen: “John, Hun, please…for the love of God, can I just finish the story…and if a squirrel runs by, promise you won’t chase it.” John laughs. “So anyway, I love how she does my hair, but so do a ton of other women. That’s why you have to make an appointment with her, and you can’t be late…well don’t you know, I get in my car this morning, and the needle’s on empty. Your prince of a son, for the hundredth time, borrowed my car and didn’t put gas in it.”
John: “Hun, he doesn’t got a job…how’s he gonna put gas in it?”
Karen: “Well, I gave him money last night and specifically told him to fill it up at some point.”
John: “He just must have forgot…he’s got a lot on his mind with football and all.”
Karen: “Oh please, would you stop babying him…trust me, he’s never gonna find a wife like me if he’s always so needy.”
John: “Why, I did.”
Karen: “Yeah, I know…don’t remind me…so listen, I had to get gas just to make it to the hairdresser, and I missed my appointment by 10 minutes. She took the next person…I mean, I don’t blame her, and she actually felt bad…she told me I could come back later, but I had food shopping, and Abby wants me to take her to the Halloween Store…so I just stood there, and this other girl pops up out of nowhere…she looks like she’s 12, fresh out of beauty school, I can do your hair, I mean if that’s ok with everyone. I was like, f*** it, Sure. And now look.”
John: “Look at what. I think it looks nice.”
Karen: “Well, you’re sweet Hun…or drunk…but I hate it…thanks.”
Karen: “Well John, that was a nice lunch…and since it’s fresh in my mind, I’m gonna keep the good times rollin’ and give the sleeping prince a piece of it.”
Karen heads upstairs to Jon-Jon’s room. It’s 1:00 in the afternoon. She busts right in and goes directly to the blinds. She draws them up and let’s the sun shine in.
Jon-Jon grumbles, “Yo, what the hell you doin’?”
Karen: “Easy there Prince…you’re on thin ice as it is.”
Jon-Jon: “Come on, I’m sleepin’!”
Karen: “Not anymore…do you mind explaining to me why my gas was on E today, and I specifically gave you money for gas?”
Jon-Jon: “I spent it at Sullivan’s.”
Karen: “Sullivan’s…Sullivan’s Seafood?”
Jon-Jon: “Yeah…Drew’s parents own it.”
Karen: “Who’s Drew…Drew from the football team?” Jon-Jon grunts in affirmation. “Well what…were you hanging with him…isn’t he a senior, and I thought he’s out for the season with the knee operation?”
Jon-Jon sarcastically, “Mom, he’s still part of the team…and what’s the difference if he’s a senior or not…but to answer your question, no I wasn’t hangin’ with him…he works there.”
Karen: “I don’t know…am I missing something here…you and the rest of your broke ass friends decide to eat at Sullivan’s, because Drew works there…what, was the food, free?”
Jon-Jon: “No…have you been drinking? That’s where the money went…hey did you know that’s the same place that used to be that fancy restaurant from your lobster story, the one Dad tells when he gets drunk and all lovey-dovey.”
Karen: “For one thing, I had one beer with lunch, and yes I know where it is…I guess they didn’t learn their lesson after all…Still, I gave you $40, 30 for gas and 10 for like McDonald’s or something…why go to Sullivan’s?” Karen tires from standing. She shoves Jon-Jon over and sits on the side of bed, “Come on Son, help me understand what’s going on.” She lifts his face off the pillow by his chin.
Jon-Jon: “I don’t know Mom…maybe we just wanted something different than fast food.”
Karen: “Say fast food again.” She leans in closer to him.
Jon-Jon: “Uhh…fassst food.”
Karen shakes her head, “I knew it, I knew it…all this time I thought it was my breath I was smelling…but it was you…what the f*** Jon-Jon…you’re 17 years old-
Jon-Jon: “Almost 18.”
Karen: “Don’t, don’t even…I trusted you when you said you wouldn’t drink, let alone drink and drive…that’s it, I’m out…you’re grounded, and no car for you for…forever.” She gets up and heads to the door, then turns, “And where the hell you get the beer anyway?”
Jon-Jon: “Are you serious…grounded for like…for like 2 beers?” Karen stands there, stoically. “Drew snuck a couple sixes out the back door.”
Karen leaves, slamming the door behind her.
John gets done work early. There’s a big delivery due at the store tomorrow. The truck is expected around 6am, and since he knows the products better than anyone, Mr. O’Leary said, “Wrap up what you’re doing John…I’ll get someone to cover the front. I want the truck to go smooth…no headaches. And Kelly’s comin’ early too…she’ll have all the purchase orders ready. I told her to help you check in as well.”
John and Karen are brown baggers. Karen convinced John it was foolish to buy their lunches everyday. John fought it in the beginning. There’s a burger joint right across the street from the store. But since he’s noticed the extra money in his pocket and the number dropping on the scale, he’s become ok with lunchmeat sandwiches and dinner leftovers. And Karen has even gotten him hooked on fruit. She drops a piece in his bag every morning.
But lately John’s a little bored with oranges, apples, and bananas. Since he got out early, he decides to hit the produce market on the way home, maybe pick up some peaches.
Unfortunately, the peaches didn’t look like much of a value. He’s not too confident about decision making when it comes to the food buying. That’s Karen’s department. But there was a bogo mix ‘n match with the blueberries and strawberries. He decides on one of each.
And since he’s in a good mood, he risks an impulse purchase. They were just rolling out the flower cart while he was in line. He buys a dozen red roses and justifies it with They’re 1/3 the price of a flower shop, and besides, what woman would complain about surprise flowers?
Karen pulls in the driveway. John jumps up to greet her. She opens the front door. He’s just standing there like a cat that ate the canary.
Karen has never been a huge fan of surprises. And lately it seems she’s become even more jaded, as if something that’s a surprise is just another thing that’s out of her control. Especially when it comes to John, she usually thinks the worst and tends to grill him before he commences to babbling some long winded story, “John, you’re home early…you got fired, the store caught fire, someone died…” John stands there smiling, as if he delights in Karen’s confusion. “…but judging by your sheepish grin and the feather sticking out of your mouth, it’s not that bad, but you’re nervous how I’ll react.”
John: “Nope, not true at all My Beautiful Wife. I’m just happy to see My Hard Working Honey.”
Karen: “Ahh, that’s sweet…give me a kiss. Hmmm, interesting…no drunken beer breath…I’ll figure it out, but first I have to pee.”
On her way to the powder room, she passes the roses displayed on the dining room table. John cut the stems, peeled some leaves, accented with baby’s breath, and managed to locate the centerpiece vase from their wedding.
Karen feels him follow behind her. She sees the roses and keeps walking, not a word.
John: “Hey, what do you think?”
Karen: “About what?” She closes the bathroom door.
She cracks a smile while sitting on the toilet, contemplates teasing him some more, but then decides to ease up on her man. She finishes and opens the door.
John: “What do you think…pretty right? It’s the vase from our wedding…I even put a couple of aspirins in the water, so you could be reminded of my love…well, for at least a week.”
Karen: “They are beautiful, thank you.” She gives him another kiss and heads to the kitchen.
John: “Where you goin’?”
Karen: “I’m grabbing a glass of wine, and you’re gonna tell me your story.”
John just starts talking, “We gotta big truck coming tomorrow. I have to be there at 6 to unload…The Old Man sent me home early. Then I went to pick up some fruit…I was hoping for peaches…but you would be proud of me…they seemed kinda expensive…what do peaches usually go for?”
When John goes on and on, Karen treats most of his questions as rhetoric and remains silent. He gets the idea.
John continues, “…Anyway, I ended up getting blueberries and strawberries…buy one, get one…pretty savvy, huh?”
Still nothing from the gallery. Karen gulps her wine.
John again, “So I’m just standing there, and they bring out flowers fresh from the truck…and I got to thinkin’…you know…that Anthony’s right…I do got the best girl.”
Karen: “Anthony, Anthony who?”
John: “Anthony…Anthony Gennorio…how many Anthony(s) we know?”
Karen: “Well, there’s your cousin from Jersey…Anthony down the street…Anthony who cuts the dog…Anthony-
John: “Alright Wiseguy…I’ll rephrase. How many Anthony(s) do we know that have a construction company…and who I used to hang around with in school…and by the way, you also dated?”
Karen: “Well, you never talk about him…and besides, Anthony’s a dick!”
John laughs, “Agreed…but that dick has been growing…” John laughs again. Karen doesn’t react. “…and he’s been coming in more and more…boy, I’m on a roll here.”
Karen: “You done?”
John: “No seriously…it’s part of the job to make customers feel good about themselves, to at least have a fightin’ chance against the big guys. And maybe I don’t like talking about customers…so I can leave all that fake and phony sh** at work…honestly, Anthony mostly uses the big boxes and distributors…so I’m thrilled that half the truck me and Kell are checking in tomorrow will go right back out to him.”
Karen takes a deep breath and pours another glass of wine, then begins, “Alright…one at a time. Why was Anthony talking about me…no actually, start with…why are you and Kellll checking in the truck…do you mean just you and her?”
John: “Yes Karrr, just me and her…Mr. O’ trusts her to do a thorough job…she’s good at what she does.”
Karen squints her eyes and tilts her head, pauses, then conquers with attitude, “Oh, I bet she is.”
John: “What does that mean? Weren’t you guys best friends and all…I mean, at least you were before we started dating…what was it…did Kelly like me?”
Karen does a quick belly laugh, then straight face, “Oh yes Honey…she had the biggest crush on you.”
John isn’t a fan of Karen’s sarcasm. He’s told her it’s sharp and hurtful, definitely not funny. But he’s not going there. He’s still in a good mood, “Well…then I don’t get it. What do you have against Kelly…and Anthony, for that matter? I thought you guys broke up on good terms?”
Karen hesitates, thinking What’s the point of reliving bad memories and getting John’s head spinning to boot? But then again, she’s already 2 glasses in, so What the f***. She begins, “John, you never did piece together what happened around that time of me breaking up with Anthony…or maybe you just didn’t care to…”
John: “Well Karen, that was a pretty sh**ty time for me.”
Karen: “No no, I’m sorry…I didn’t mean anything by it…of course it was…with your parents suddenly splitting up and all, I get it…my dating drama was the last thing on your mind…but what I’m saying is, you never really asked me about Anthony…and maybe I just never volunteered anything either…I don’t know.”
John: “Well, you seem to be feeling pretty good…no time like the present.”
Karen: “Alright, why not…so I don’t know if you remember, but Anthony and I started dating the summer before our senior year. We were together all the time…down the shore at his parents’ beach house…on the boardwalk…we even got a room for the weekend at the casino-
John puts his hand up, “You’re not gonna tell me about all the steamy sex, right?”
Karen: “Actually, I’m glad you ask…because there was no sex, steamy or otherwise.”
John: “You mean you never had sex with him, ever?”
Karen: “Nope, never ever…oh trust me, he asked for it all the time…but not after Susan…you know, with getting pregnant and dropping out of school. My sister was never the same. And I wasn’t about to make that same mistake…but it’s not like I didn’t want to-
John: “Alright, I get the point…so what’s the big revelation?”
Karen continues, “Remember the night Anthony got caught drinking behind the football field…you know, behind the bleachers side, in the woods where we would party, which became that housing development?”
John: “Yeah, yeah…of course I remember.”
Karen: “Well, you weren’t there that night…you had like SAT’s or something in the morning.”
John: “No, it was an SAT prep class…lotta good that did.”
Karen smiles, “Anyway, it was me, Anthony, Kelly, and those two weird brothers that have that vape shop in town.”
John: “The Nelson Nerds…Nelson’s Vape Haven…they always followed us around…I think they still live with their parents in that apartment above the store.”
Karen chuckles, “Exactly…so, you remember what a lightweight I was…by my third beer, my head started spinning, and I thought I was gonna throw up…I knew the older Nelson wasn’t drinking, actually being responsible, because he was driving…I asked him to bring me home.”
John: “So you hooked up with a Nelson Nerd?”
Karen looks at the ceiling, “Hmmm…creepy and interesting…but no.”
John: “Wait…I remember Anthony was telling everyone that the cops caught him in the woods, but later I heard it was actually in one of the new construction houses his dad was building there?”
Karen: “Yup, you heard right…that night, Kelly comes to my house, into my room in the dark, drunk and acting sketchy, Kar, wake up…the cops raided the party…and…and I think they nabbed Anthony in the construction site…you know, his dad’s new houses. I reached over and turned on the light by my bed, then back to Kelly. And there it was, on her knees…cement.”
John: “Cement? Like on her pants?”
Karen: “Exactly…wait, hold on…I’m sorry, not cement…what’s that white pasty stuff they use on new walls in new houses…you sell it in your store?”
John: “You mean like joint compound…spackle?”
Karen: “That’s it, spackle! That’s what Anthony called it. One day, he was showing me a house being built, pretending like it would be ours someday…and I stepped right into a pile of spackle…I know what spackle looks like.”
John: “What was spackle doing on her knees?”
Karen: “Are you kiddin’? She’s sitting on my bed, drunk…her hair’s a mess, spackle on her knees, and she’s telling me about my boyfriend as if she’s being a concerned friend.”
John: “No, I get what you’re saying…but maybe there was a reasonable explanation.”
Karen grabs the wine, “Would it make a difference if I told you it was on the back of her hoody too, because it was, you know…but why are you defending her…don’t tell me you have a thing for your precious Kelly, who’s so smart and efficient…oh, and don’t forget Anthony The Amazing. One minute you describe him as an obnoxious asshole, and the next you act like he’s a saint…”
John: “I never said he was a saint…and you always gave me the impression you broke up with him, because you didn’t like him that way anymore…not that you thought he cheated on you.”
Karen: “Yeah, that’s right John, I thought he did.“
John: “Please…you know what I mean.” He thinks for a second, “So that was the week before Homecoming…the school found out a student was picked up for underage drinking, practically on school grounds…Mr. Reilly, the Disciplinarian, suspended him for a week, including Homecoming…and he asked me if I could do him a favor and go with you, since you bought a dress and all…and we had a blast, by the way. Do you remember that awesome DJ…every song-
John: “No, so you and him were still together, right? And if I had to bet, I would say, even up until Christmas break…because I bumped into you and your parents looking at trees, and you said you just broke up…I remember it, because I figured, Wow, I would love to ask her out someday-
Karen: “Is there a point to this story, Hun?”
John: “Yeah…if you knew he cheated on you, why would you wait weeks to end it?”
Karen delays, “I don’t know…I guess…I guess I thought I was in love with him…and maybe I wanted the chance to forgive him or not…if he just came forward and was honest…but he never did…and things just didn’t feel the same.”
John: “God, Hun…I hope you wouldn’t have forgiven him if he admitted to hooking up with Kelly…I’m starting to get the sick feeling that her and I are both #2’s…”
Karen: “Number 2’s, what does that mean?”
John: “Anthony said Kelly was the #2 Hottie, and you were #1 and the best catch…boy, this nice day of roses sure turned to sh** in a hurry…I’m gonna head downstairs and have a couple beers.”
He walks by, and Karen reaches for his hand. John avoids her gesture and disappears.
Karen goes to the top of the basement steps, “I’m gonna go grab a burger…I’ll bring you back something.” Then there’s a long pause over his silent response. Karen finishes, “I love you Honey!”
John quietly, “I love you too.”
Callemonit throughout a marriage is a display of healthy communication and no secrets. When there’s a breakdown of honesty, a conversation about an Ex can cause impractical feelings of regret and insecurity.
How could this day of roses gone better? And do you have any advice for John and Karen to escape this rabbit hole of what ifs?