So today I am giving you all a little treat. This is something different for this particular forum. I have probably talked about writing (other than the blog) a couple of times. I like telling stories and always have. The thing about writing is you can get inspiration from the strangest places.
I have been inspired to write from dreams, from conversations, from music, from inanimate objects, or stories people have told me. The last in that list is not normally something I do. I mean writing something that is a retelling of somebody elses story? It always sounds a bit dicey to me. (Though thinking about it I do it a lot in my blog)
I come by my story telling honestly. My mother loves to tell stories. She doesn't make them up mind you, but she loves to recount events that have happened to her. She is very animated and can keep you hanging on every word. Like I said, I come by it honestly.
My mother also has some of the strangest stories that are absolutely true. For example there is the one about President Nixon calling her on the phone when she was in grade school. Yes the president called my mother, probably from the oval office, because he was responding to a letter she wrote to him.
That isn't the story I am telling today. I know I am such a tease.
No, instead I am giving you an actual story I wrote that is based on a true story she told me. Some facts have been changed as have all the names. Some of the events took place, and some I just made up. The entire piece was an experiment for me. It is written in a style that I never write in. I have had to go back and check my tenses like a dozen times and I still don't think I caught all of them.
Anyways, this is a little something I wrote, based on a true story.
I hope you enjoy.
I’ve never considered myself lucky. I’ve never considered myself extraordinary. Hell I am not sure I have ever really considered myself. I mean I am what I am. I am an ordinary run of the mill American with an ordinary run of the mill 9 to 5 cubicle job, with an ordinary run of the mill suburban home with an exorbitant mortgage and bills I can barely pay.
I come from a broken home, like most people seem to now days. I excelled at something in high school, only to do nothing particularly special once I graduated, like most people seem to. I did not finish college, like most people seem to.
I could be any other American, sitting home on Tuesday night on my couch watching American Idol, eating pizza, and surfing the net. Nothing special here. Nothing to write home about. I could be anyone else really.
At least that is what I have always believed. I mean I never stopped to look at the individual events of my life, and the lives of the people in my life, to see whether or not I am anything out of the ordinary. I never looked to see if I rose above the word average.
Average is normal and comfortable. I have always been ok with average. No one expects too much of average. Sure it is not terribly exciting, but it is at least reliable and consistent. Like a late model 4 door American made sedan. Nothing exciting or flashy there, but it sure will get you from point a to point b.
I am a sedan?
Who the hell wants to be a sedan? I mean no one wants to be a sedan. It could be worse, I could be a minivan. Or an old used station wagon with no AC and a strange stain on the back seat, and a rear window that won’t roll down. That would be worse. Though I must admit that would take me out of the realm of average.
So here I am, average boring me standing in the soup aisle debating between hearty beef stew or chicken noodle soup, again. The sodium content of my soup is the most interesting thing that I am going to encounter today. Dear God, my life is average and boring.
And that is when I notice him.
Standing by the Ramen noodle cups, just staring at me. At first I assume I am in the way. There is always that guy in the store who wants something from the shelf in front of where you are, and they never say anything, they just stare at you with that glassy sort of expression until you manage to move out of the way.
At second glance though I realize he is not looking at me in the ‘pick a soup and get the hell out of my way’ fashion. He is staring at me instead in a searching fashion, as though he was trying to place me.
I don’t recognize him as a regular customer at this store, thinking maybe it is someone I have run into in the baking aisle when I wasn’t paying attention. I do realize I vaguely recognize him from this trip. We brushed hands in the produce section as we both reached for a red onion at the same time. I think I apologized to him, but now I am wondering if I did.
As I think more I realize he has been following me since the onion. I had just brushed it off to he and I having the same sort of list. It happens in the store. You get behind someone and end up following them all the way to the checkout. But this guys basket is almost empty. A loaf of bread, and that onion is all that is in there.
And he is staring at me.
I glance over my shoulder, hoping maybe there is someone else in the aisle that he is staring at, or at least a stock boy that I can run and hide behind should this guy get any creepier. Alas I am alone. The one day that there seems to be no one in the store, and I pick up a stalker.
I turn my attention back to the soup. Perhaps if I just ignore him he will just go away. Only now I can’t focus on sodium content if I tried. Hell I have picked up a can of clam chowder, and I hate canned clam chowder.
He suddenly steps closer “Excuse me?”
I nearly throw the can at him, I am so startled. I have to look like a complete idiot.
“What? I mean yes?” Rude stuttering soup throwing idiot.
“Ohh I did not mean to startle you young lady I just…I can not help but to think you look exactly like someone I used to know.”
Wow was that a pick up line or something? I give another glance around looking for a hero stock boy, but find we are deserted in the aisle. Why don’t more people want soup today?
Turning back to him I give him a good look finally. Now that he has spoken to me I don’t have to just glance at him out of the corner of my eye. He doesn’t look like a crazy person. Dress slacks, button striped dress shirt, looks like he took off a tie and jacket, probably left them in the car. He has mousy brown hair that is well kept, and is showing quite a bit of grey. The goatee he is sporting is almost completely grey and doing nothing to help him look younger. He has on wire framed glasses that seem to accentuate the lines at the corner of his eyes. Those little lines give away his age more than the grey hair does. I would place him maybe early 50’s, late 40’s if he has had a rougher life. I would guess school teacher really; nothing scary about that right?
Of course it is always the nice quiet ones who end up hacking up their neighbors pets and serving them as pate at the next HOA meeting.
“Err well…I don’t think I know you.” I offer lamely. I just really want him to go away. The last thing I want to deal with tonight is some weird old guy hitting on me, or you know, chopping me up and making me into pate.
“Are you by any chance related to Elizabeth Andrews?”
And I have to stop. I actually give the guy a double take.
“That is my mother’s name.” Holy shit I do look like someone he knows.
A large smile breaks out on his face “Are you Audrey?”
Ok too weird for the supermarket.
“Yea I am.”
I am not sure his smile could get any larger, but I think it might have. This guy looks like he just found his long lost relative or something, and I am just looking at him utterly confused.
“My God the last time I saw you you were only two. You had little curly pigtails and a ruffly dress”
“Yea mom used to love to dress me like a doll. Who are you exactly?”
I think he finally realizes he has been acting like a crazy person as he almost looks embarrassed for a moment. He might be blushing. I don’t think I have ever seen a man blush. Probably just the fluorescent lights.
He extends his hand to me, still smiling broadly “Dale Krane, I was almost your father.”
Well now that is not an introduction one gets everyday of the week.
I can’t help but to look dumbfounded as I shake his hand. He has a good firm handshake, though he is careful not to crush my hand. I am no slouch when it comes to handshakes, but I think his rather strange statement has caught me more than a little off guard as I can only just manage to squeeze his hand in return.
“What?” I have all the eloquence of the can of clam chowder which I am still holding in my left hand.
“She never told you about me ehh?” His smile is almost mischievous though he doesn’t seem shocked in the least.
And no my mother has never mentioned him. How the hell are you almost someone’s father? I am guessing he dated my mother, but, I am the youngest of three. My parents were married 7 years before I was born. That doesn’t qualify for almost.
Unless my mother was having an affair. Oh god I don’t even want to think about that. My mother is as straight laced as they come. The thought of her cheating on my father is just wrong. I mean this guy, Dale, he is not bad looking, and I can imagine 30 years ago he was probably hot and all, but, eww.
“No, I can’t say she ever mentioned you at all.”
He is shaking his head and letting out a little chuckle, the way people do when they have no intention of explaining themselves, and want you to know it. It is something my husband does and I hate.
“Probably for the best. How is she though?” His expression changes when he asks about mom. God I can almost see genuine curiosity and concern in his eyes. Who the hell is this guy?
“Good. She is good. You know. Same as she ever was.” Of course that is as far as I know. I am beginning to wonder how much I know about my mother. Strange men who declare themselves almost my father showing up in my supermarket are making me question my life.
Definitely too strange for the supermarket.
“Well that is good.” He is nodding a little with a nostalgic look about him. “Well if you talk to her, tell her I said hello.”
“Yea I will do that” That and a lot more. Mom has some explaining to do.
“It was nice to see you again Audrey. I will let you get back to your shopping”
“Nice to meet you Dale.”
And then I am alone again with my clam chowder, staring down the aisle where he disappeared to.
What was that?
“Why did you buy clam chowder?”
“Just put it away.”
“But you hate clam chowder”
“Just put it away”
I swear my husband never actually looks at what I buy at the store, why is he questioning this today?
My mother has conveniently not been answering the phone for the last half hour. I had barely made it to the car before I was dialing her number. Nothing but voicemail the first three times. She was going to think something is terribly wrong at this rate.
“Mom!” At last woman.
“Audrey? Hi baby. Did you call me earlier? I was in the garage painting the cupboard doors.”
Mom is always painting something. Or building something. Or knitting something. It just depends on the week. I swear that woman has more creative projects going than all of the DIY network.
“Yea that was me. Hey mom, do you know a guy named Dale Krane?”
And there is silence. I am not sure if that is a good sign or not.
“Yes dear, I am here. Dale Krane? Where did you hear that name?”
“From his lips. I ran into him in the grocery store. He followed me from produce to canned soup staring at me, until he finally asked if I was related to you.”
I think I know where I get my eloquence from.
“Mom who is this guy?”
I hear a long slow sigh from my mother. “He is someone I knew when you were little. Why? Who did he say he was?”
Ohh I know that tone. There is something here.
“He said he was almost my father.”
My mother barks out a laugh followed by a short snort. “Ohh that is rich.”
Not the reaction I was expecting, but at least it leaves me hope that my mom didn’t have an affair.
“So he wasn’t almost my father? I mean what the hell was that supposed to mean anyways?”
“Ohh no he was almost your father, at least I suppose that is one way you could look at it.”
It is my turn to be silent.
“You got quiet honey.”
“Yea. Umm mom do you think that perhaps you might explain that statement to me?”
“Which one dear?”
Ohh god is this woman frustrating “The one where you say this strange man was almost my father.”
I must have raised my voice more than I intended as my husbands head is now poking through the kitchen door a look of confusion on his face. “Who was almost your father?”
I wave him off with a small frown, though he only comes into the room fully now, his curiosity piqued.
“Audrey you don’t have to shout at me. I dated Dale after I left your father. He and I were almost married.”
“You never told me that.”
“I didn’t think it was important.”
“It wasn’t important that you almost married some guy? I mean come on mom if you almost married him then he must have been important.”
“Well you and your brothers were so young, I didn’t think it mattered. Not even Brian remembers him. I didn’t marry him, what does it matter.”
My husband is now mouthing to me “Who are you talking about?” and I am again trying to wave him off.
“Well it is something I think you would have mentioned.”
“Well I am sorry Audrey. I didn’t think it was important.”
I am not certain it is important. I mean so mom dated some guy and almost married him before I could even remember. It can’t really be anything that affected me.
“How did he look?”
“Dale. How did he look?”
“Umm good I guess. No point of reference here. He looked like a school teacher.”
“He isn’t a teacher, he is a rocket scientist. Works for NASA. Or at least he did. I suppose he could be teaching now, though I somehow doubt it. He didn’t like children.”
I am looking at my phone slack jawed. My expression is doing nothing but to frustrate my husband.
“You almost married a rocket scientist, but didn’t.”
“Ok there is something you are not telling me here. I have a feeling a lot of somethings, but lets start with this.”
“Well sweetheart I am not sure what to say. I met him through my parents after I left your father. Dale was rich and brilliant and handsome and he thought I was wonderful. He was also incredibly romantic. This one time he took me to his families estate in Vermont and we went on this sleigh ride in the snow. He took me out to this field where there was a picnic set up waiting for us. It was amazing.”
“Amazing. Rich. Romantic. Genius. Right I wouldn’t have married him either.”
My husband gives me a dirty look at that comment, and I can only roll my eyes at him.
“Ohh it wasn’t that. It was you.”
“Well not you. Actually it was your brothers.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean. Brian and Jason were what 3 and 4? How could they have driven off Mr. Perfect?”
“Well Dale thought boys should be shipped off to military school as soon as possible, and mostly be forgotten about. You on the other hand he adored. He thought you were fascinating. He used to say you were almost like a little person.”
I have always heard geniuses could be idiots, and that statement just proved it.
“So you broke it off with him because he wanted to send the boys to military school?”
“Pretty much. Wow.”
“What? You and your brothers were the most important thing to me. I wasn’t about to ship the boys off to be raised at a boarding school.”
“They probably could have used it.”
“Well yes, in hindsight, but I wouldn’t have given up the opportunity to raise your brothers or you for anything in the world.”
I am just shaking my head. To think, had my mom not been opposed to boarding school I would have been raised in a wealthy family where they have Vermont estates. Probably have trust funds and party with heiresses. Hell I could have been an heiress.
“Honey was that all you wanted to talk about, because I really have to go put the second coat on those doors.”
“Yea mom. That was all.”
“Alright I love you sweetheart.”
“Love you too.”
I am just staring at my phone, and my husband is just staring at me. I am not sure why, but this is really just freaking me out a little. Not that this made any real difference in my life, but it really could have.
“Are you going to tell me what that was about?” My husband is always one to have to know everything. The way he is standing with his hands on his hips staring at me he looks more like a gossiping housewife than the hulking mans man he is.
“Ohh nothing, just that I was supposed to be an heiress.”
I just shake my head. I really don’t even know where to begin.
“Never mind. Just put that damned clam chowder away.”