Pleasantville

When Sue was in seventh grade she took Home Economics. The first half of the semester was spent watching movies about procreation and the lady with no arms who drives with her feet and has a good attitude. The second part of the term was the practicum. Socks were darned and hole-in-ones (AKA ‘bulls-eyes’) were constructed on the white Amana stove-tops using Wonder bread and eggs from Mrs. Reed’s backyard.

The satisfaction Sue got from flipping that piece of bread over and making her own breakfast was immense. At home she wasn’t really allowed to touch ANYTHING because her dad was very worried that any of his belongings would be ruined so, at 13, Sue had yet to change a channel on the television, or put an album on the stereo. She most certainly had never turned on an oven or used a mixer.

When she turned the slice over in the skillet and saw the white just cooked through enough to hold it into the center of the buttered toast, she had a vision. A vision of herself in a tiny kitchen in New York, cooking a meal after a long day in the office of somewhere literary and elegant. Beige leather. Boxes tied in pink grosgrain and delivered to her Central Park-facing desk.

By the time senior year rolled around, she and Larry had already talked about getting married and Sue started deciding which tract of the new development next to the mall they would move into after graduation. Mrs. Reed would have been very proud of how well Sue adapted to the drudgery of mending all the metaphoric socks and making the equivalent of a bulls-eye three times per day for four people for over 13 years which meant somewhere in the neighborhood of 14,000 skillets to clean and counters to wipe after the last dish had been loaded. Mrs. Reed would have been proud.

Not Larry.

Larry called her lazy and told her she forgot the baseboards (she didn’t forget) and that he preferred his chicken tacos with cheddar and not jack cheese and why did she always leave the separated laundry on the floor instead of taking it in and out of the basket (redundant and who comments on other people’s chore sensibilities, anyways?) It turned out that all those dinner dishes were perfect training for Sue’s part-time gig at the Waffle House. The mats are a trick, with her slipped disc, and cleaning the toilets is her least favorite part of the job, but at least it’s something, she tells herself when she takes the Advil at the end of the night and turns on the heating pad. At least it’s something.

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