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Misty and Joe recited, “Bless us, oh, Lord, and these thy gifts…” the stock before meal prayer of thanks that Catholics are taught before they can read. They talked about mundane things. There was a career changing job opening in the Tampa office Misty was dreaming about, how she was studying for another certification at work, CEBS, and they had hired a new salesman. She had accompanied the salesman to a potential client’s business and watched as he made his 401K enrollment presentation.

“It was hilarious to watch him!” she said with a laugh. “He was full of awkward energy and had been gyrating on the podium as he walked to, in front of, behind and around the lectern. I swear at one point he was parodying David Carradine from the TV show ‘Kung Fu’ because at times his hand motions had been so choppy.

“I gotta’ give him this, his presentation was very entertaining and no one dozed off! We’ll see what his enrollment numbers look like before we judge his success!”

They finished the salad, Misty ate her potato while Joe ate the yam, the florets were cooked to a perfect al dente level of thoroughly hot but not limp and when they were done they had over half the meatloaf left for tomorrow’s lunch. Finished with dinner they got up from the table and Misty grabbed the meatloaf while Joe collected the dirty dishes. “That was good. I used to hate broccoli,” Joe said.

Joe put the dishes by the sink and Misty grabbed two Tupperware containers from a lower cupboard and divided the meatloaf into two decidedly unequal shares. “Well, your mother ruins it, no offense. I swear she puts it in a pan with water and puts the lid on it and cooks it until its cellular structure is destroyed and it looks like green slime. She’s a broccoli killer.”

Joe scraped the scraps into the sink and turned on the water and the garbage disposal. “Oh, she’s not that bad!”

Misty waited for the noisy disposal unit to stop running before answering. “Would you eat it?”

“Nope,” he replied as he loaded the dishwasher with their everyday dishes. Misty’s mom, Lenore D’Meiner, had once complimented Joe on how well he filled the dishwasher. He thought she had been teasing him but Misty assured him she was serious. Joe felt that the ability to see such simple spatial arrangements was a skill everyone shared but Lenore’s words indicated otherwise.

“The prosecution rests.” Misty washed the two wine glasses by hand in the sink. She had transferred the meatloaf from the cake tin to a plate before dinner and the metal pan and cooling rack had soaked in warm, soapy water as they ate. She set to cleaning it with a green scrubby and made short order of returning it to its original luster.

“You know who introduced me to broccoli?” Joe said as he rinsed his hands and dried them on his pants.

“What, formally? Mr. Kleen, may I introduce you to broccoli, broccoli, Mr. Kleen?” Misty wiped the table down carefully to avoid pushing food crumbs on the floor.

“Hilarious. No. The first time I willingly ate broccoli and liked it was when a girl offered me some of her broccoli beef.”

“Oh, now there’s a surprise. Always doing stuff for the ladies.” She rinsed the dish towel under the water, rung it out and placed it over the water faucet to air dry. “When was this, pray tell?”

“High school. Spring of my senior year. A girl named Mindy Jaffe was a year behind me in school and we worked in the same restaurant. She brought in some broccoli beef and offered me some. It smelled good, she smelled good, and I tried a bite. After that I was more willing to eat broccoli and tomatoes and other vegetables.”

“All for the love of a woman. How touching!” she giggled.

“At the time I was interested in her but she really wasn’t interested in me. We went out a few times but nothing special. It’s funny because I was going out with her at the same time I was seeing Mindy Zook. Both Mindy’s were tall and lean and Mindy Jaffe was dark skinned and a brunette while Mindy Zook was a very pale blonde. I dreamed about taking them both out at once in matching dresses with each one on an arm but it never happened. Mindy Jaffe was willing because she didn’t think of us as dating but Mindy Zook wanted nothing to do with the idea. She was sweet on me.”

“Oh, I can believe it, you big ladies’ man stud you.”

Joe put his arms around his wife and gently lifted her from the floor as he hugged her. “Yep, that’s me. Mindy Jaffe was rich, I’m talking serious money here. I think it’s cool that her folks made her get a job for spending money. Ha! She used to drive to work in a Mercedes that was worth more than the store manager made in a year! She’s a law student at Yale now.”

“Whoa, impressive! Down please.”

He set his wife down and kissed her nose. “I told you, R, I, C, H, rich.”

“Speaking of which, I think I’m going to study for that CEBS exam. If you’re going to watch TV I can go into the bedroom.”

“No, don’t go. I’ll read. I want you around.”

She smiled. “I want you around, too, but I’ve got studying to do.”

“So study. I’ll read Heinlein.”

“Again!? How many times have you read that book?”

“Somewhere between plenty and not enough. And it’s not, “That book,” I have like a dozen of his. Besides, it’s an escape for me and I figure it has to better than watching TV.”

“Alright, you go to your “Past Through The Future” or whatever it’s called and I’ll CEBS over on the table. Deal?”


Joe read while Misty studied. By the time eight O’clock rolled around Misty realized that she hadn’t heard any pages turn in a while. She looked over at Joe half expecting him to be asleep. Instead he was staring at her. “I thought you might be sleeping,” she said with a half-smile.

“Not quite, just looking at you. Do you know how beautiful you are?”

She laughed. “If you say so! Love you, Joe.”

“I love you, Misty. More than you’ll ever know. I’m going to hit the pool for a quick couple of laps, do you want to join me?”

“I can’t. I’ve got to study. Are you okay going alone?”

“Sure, sure! Study! I’ll be like twenty minutes.” Joe went into their room and took off his clothes. He tossed his shoes in a pile on the closet floor, grabbed a pair of flip flops from the same pile, hung up his belt and threw the dirty clothes in the hamper. Then he grabbed a Long Street Charge bicycle race tee shirt and his suit from a drawer, pulled them on and tied the suit’s string.