Friday, November 30, 2012

Perfect Polly Returns

"Honestly, Fran, sometimes I wonder how your brain works."

My sister Polly was sitting across from me at my kitchen table being, well, Perfect Polly.  She had showed up, unannounced, without her husband and children because she felt like seeing my new place.

"Did Mama send you here to check up on me?"

Polly studied her wonderfully manicured nails and avoided eye contact.  "I won't say that, although Mama is concerned about you."


Polly laughed slightly.  "Well, you have a mortgage and a rent payment?"

"Had.  My house sold."

"And you moved to the city.  Why would you want to be a single woman in the city?"

Did I really need to get into it?  Did I need to tell her every intimate detail of my life?

"I just need a change."

"Oh, Fran, why can't you be satisfied with what you have?"

I stood and felt like throwing Polly out of my house, but I couldn't because she's family.  I clenched my teeth and made fists.  She seemed unaffected.

"Because, Polly, I want more for myself than waiting for a rich man to marry me."

"Hum, well."  Polly shifted in her seat.  "Seems someone has grown a backbone."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Grade

Remember my horrible, career killing test?

Well, today we got results back. Dr. Clark called us one and a time to give us our tests back so we could go over it in class before moving on to the next part of the course.

"Fran Fletcher."

I took my test when he handed it to me but didn't look at it until I got back to my seat.  I had seen so many of my classmates look upset when they received theirs.

I took a deep breath and turned it over.  There on the page was a mark made by the computer that had graded the test.  It said --  98% A?  How was that possible?  Maybe Dr. Clark had made a mistake and given me someone else's test, but, no, my name was on it in my hand writing.

I couldn't believe it.  How did I score so highly when I thought I had so completely failed?

When Dr. Clark had finished handing out the tests, he said, "Normally, I don't need to do this.  Normally, I just post test results and that's it, but it's clear to me that many of you need a review before we continue.  I really don't think some of you even cracked open a book for this test.  The highest grade we had in this class was a 98 percent but the vast majority of you scored in the 70s."

He went on talking but I had stopped listening.  A 98 percent was the highest in the class?  Did I have the highest test score of everyone?

Monday, November 26, 2012


The following email arrived in my inbox:

Dear Fran Fletcher,

My name is Mingus Fletcher and I do believe we are distant relatives.  I live in Scotland where my family has lived for centuries.  I understand Fletcher is an English name but the family has moved around quite a bit over the course of time.

I've been residing here all my life and recently decided to start researching my family tree.  This is how I found you.  Seems we are descended from the same great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents.  There are probably thousands of us descendants now but I want to connect with as many as I can and perhaps host a family reunion at some point although it would cost considerable funds to do so.

I hope to hear back from you soon and get to know you better.

Your distant cousin,

So what do you think?  Should I write him back?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Test Taker

A, B, C, D or F.  Those are the only choices.  Which one will it be?

I took my first test today since high school.  It covered a lot of material, I repeat, a lot of material, a mind-blowing amount of material.  Once we finish this part of the course it's on to the next part, but this part of the course is important.  Fail it and it's an uphill battle.

Something tells me I failed it.  I can't explain it.  It's a sickness in the pit of my stomach. 

During the entire test my heart was beating so fast I thought I was going to have a heart attack.  I chewed my nails down to nubs and broke three pencils.  I finished a lot sooner than everyone else, too, which tells me I just guessed on a lot of material to get finished.  It was multiple choice so I just picked whatever sounded right.

What do I know about graphic design?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Ever have someone keep calling you and you can't rid of them?  This past week that has been me.

Somehow my phone number got on a list  --  a telemarketing list.

Someone keeps calling and saying, "This phone call concerns your credit-card account.  Your eligibility is about to end.  Please contact us immediately to keep your interest rates from rising."

The first time I heard it I was convinced someone had stolen my identity and had opened up credit-card accounts in my name.  But then I realised the caller does not mention a specific credit-card company or identify the company she is calling from.  If my time working customer service has taught me anything, it's that legitimate caller will identify who they are, where they are calling from and why they are calling.

Meanwhile, I am increasingly more and more frustrated with this caller.  How can I make them stop before I have a nervous breakdown?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Junk Truck

Leave it to my family to ruin a perfectly nice Sunday morning.  It's my only day to sleep in now and, after weeks of taking classes on Saturday after a 40 hour work week, I'm exhausted.

I was all nice and warm and comfortable when I was startled awake by a horn honking.  It wasn't just a car beeping at another.  It was a loud, obnoxious honk.  And it didn't stop.  I tried ignoring it, but eventually my phone began to ring repeatedly.  The caller I.D. said Brandon.

What did he want?  The sixth time he called I answered.

"Don't you hear me blowing the horn?"

Leave to my idiot brother to be the rude, obnoxious horn honkerer.  I went to the front window and there parked on the street was a Fletcher's Junk truck.

"Why didn't you call, like, yesterday to tell me you'd be visiting?  I could have had company?"

"No, you wouldn't have.  So are you going to let me in or what?"

I went downstairs and let Brandon in.  He still hadn't explained why he was here.

"You know your house sold, right?"

"Yes, Brandon.  It sold to that creepy guy who lives next door.  At this point, I don't care so long as I get my money."

"Well, you left some stuff at the house.  The guy you were renting to said it was your stuff when he left.  So I decided to bring it to you."

I felt my eyelid begin to twitch.  "What am I going to do with it?"

"It's your stuff.  You can't abandon it there."

"But I left it there for a reason."

"You can't abandon it there.  If you want, I'll leave it on the sidewalk for the homeless people to go through."

"What homeless people?"

"You live in the city.  There's bound to be homeless people."

Brandon turned to go back to the truck.  All of sudden, I had visions of hoards of vagrants hanging out outside my house rummaging through my trash and waiting for me to give them more, more, more.  Frightened, I grabbed Brandon's arm.

"No, stop.  Bring it inside.  Maybe I can tell or give it away or something."

He went outside and I collapsed in the nearest chair.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Good news, good news, good news.  My house sold.  Yes, someone besides me was willing to buy that piece of crap house.  All I had from my realtor was a voicemail.  I had to call her back.

"Hi, Em, what's up?"

"Oh, Fran," Emily said, "we got an offer for your house that's $5,000 above asking price.  I need to meet you to sign some papers.  Unless you don't want to accept it."

"Why wouldn't I want to accept it?  That's crazy."

"I'll say." 

We made plans to meet at a bookstore that's half way between my townhouse and her office.  I quickly read over the paperwork.  The new buyer of my house is named Hoss Klinefelter.  That was funny.  How many Hoss's can there be?

"My old neighbor was named Hoss."

"Oh, that's because it is your old neighbor.  He came and looked at the house maybe three times and then finally came back with this offer."

I scratched my head.  "Why would he pay that much for it when he just bought his house?"

"I don't know.  Maybe he finds the land valuable."

Hum.  I shook my head and then started to think about it.  I always found Hoss creepy.  I was, maybe still am, convinced he is a serial killer.  The thought that he was in my house, even if I don't live there anymore, looking all around and touching stuff gave me the creeps.  I just hoped he doesn't know where my family lives.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fast Track

So I'm officially a student.  Well, I suppose it was official when I signed up for classes, but now it's official, official.  I went to my first day of class.

When I went this morning, I stared for the longest time at the university from across the street.  I couldn't believe I was going there.  But I suppose it'll be worth it in the end.  I can get out of SAT TV and I can do something more enjoyable for more pay and less stress. 

Finally, I got up the courage to go to my class.  I got lost on the way there and had to ask some teenager for help.  Eventually, I found my way to the lecture hall.  There were more people there than I expected.

The professor stood at the front of the class.  "My name is Dr. Clark.  I want to personally welcome you all here.  I know for many of you this is huge step in your life.  You're making changes.  Changes to your career.  Changes to your future.  It won't be easy.  It will a difficult 18 months  --  you will work hard, study hard and many times you'll feel like quitting -- but at the end you'll have your bachelors and a degree you can be proud of."

I'm not sure what to make of Dr. Clark but, like it or not, I'm stuck with him.  I wonder if I'll pass this course.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Head Knockers

"Have you ever read the book Tommyknockers,"  Bill asked me earlier tonight.  "Or maybe seen the made-for-TV movie?"

I shook my head.  I had never heard of it, but it already sounded like something my book club would never read.

"I don't know much about the classics."

Bill laughed.  "Stephen King wrote it.  I'm not sure if that qualifies as a classic or not."

I laughed, too.  "Probably not."

"It's my favorite book.  Do you want to hear about it?"

Did I have a choice?  I shook my head, and he began telling me about aliens and mystery gas.  I wasn't quite sure.  I never really liked sci-fi or horror.  But Bill did like it.  I could tell from his facial expression and how he seemed so excited.

"What's your favorite book?"

Bill pushed some of my hair back behind my ear while I stared, trying to think what my favorite book is so I would have something intelligent to say.  Just then I realized he was leaning forward to kiss me.  To kiss me?  I panicked so I started leaning forward, too, and we clonked foreheads.

We both rubbed our foreheads.  I couldn't look him in the eye.  I felt ridiculous.  But I guess he didn't feel ridiculous because he kissed first my forehead and then my lips.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Eavesdropper

There are a lot of women who work for SAT TV.  Someone once told me that when there are more women working someplace than men it means the pay is too low because women will accept pay that is lower than men will.  I have to say after working here that I believe this statement must be true.

Today at work I was making photocopies.  I'm still on crutches so I'm slow.  I had finished making my copies but was sorting them into piles and was about to get back to my desk when I heard voices just outside the copy room.  It was Sharon and Peg, two of my co-workers.

"They say SAT TV is doing poorly compared to competitors," Sharon was saying.

"Like how poorly?"

"Very poorly.  I wouldn't be surprised if there are job cuts."

Sharon works in accounting so I'm partial to believe her news had some truth in it.  Peg works as head of dispatching.

"Well, I hope it doesn't affect my department any," Peg said.

"No, no way.  This company will always need technicians.  No, rumor has it, the cuts would come from Dorothy's department.  They're nothing but uneducated clods anyway.  You know how much money the company would save by getting rid of most of them?  Why do they need territories?  Just take whatever call comes in, suck it up and work 12 hour days."

Peg agreed and they moved on.  I had been holding my breath.  I just moved.  I'm paying rent and a mortgage and a car payment and school and -- I forgot about my crutches and tried to walk -- and medical bills.  I need this job. 

I could feel the hairs all over my body stand on end.  What would I do if I lost my job?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ankles Crossed

Yesterday was my second date with Bill and I'm in pain.

We decided to go ice skating.  I have never been ice skating  in my life.  Bill said he had a few times but it had been years.  Still, it sounded like fun.

The rink was nice.  I didn't realise they were so large.

"If you like this," Bill said, "I know where we can go when the weather is colder.  An outdoor rink."

Hum, so Bill sees us together when the weather is colder?  I smiled to myself.  He was either optimistic or psychotic.  I wasn't sure.

We both shook as we got on the ice.  I was shakier than he was.  Why do I do these things to myself, agree to do things I've never done before?  People were speeding by, even kids, and I felt like an awkward idiot.

"You'll be okay.  Come on."

Bill offered me his hand and we skated, slowly, around the rink arm in arm.  It actually would have been romantic if I wasn't so scared on falling onto the ice and cracking open my skull.

"Do you think we'll be okay to go a little faster," Bill asked.  "I feel like we're a speed hazard here and I don't want some hot shot to run into us."

I nodded and took a deep breath.  "Let's go."

"Are you sure?"

"Let's go for it.  I enjoy being a dare devil."

What a lie, but what was I supposed to say to him?  That I'd prefer using one of those walker things on ice that young kids and disabled people use?

So we started going faster for a while.  It was fine.  We were fine.  Then all of a sudden our feet got tangled up and we both ended up falling our our butts.  And we both sprained our ankles, only on different feet.

We're both on crutches.  Sexy.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lilly and Jerry

"We're getting married in two hours.  Can you come down to the courthouse?"

What?  I took the phone away from my ear and looked at the caller I.D.  It sounded liked Lilly's voice and sure enough it was Lilly's phone number, but what was she talking about?


"Because the wedding is today."

Still with no clue what was going on, I ran to the calendar on the kitchen wall and thumbed through it.

"No, I'm pretty sure it's not."

"Yes, it's today.  Jerry and I have decided to elope.  Today.  You have your dress and jewelry, right?"

I didn't say anything for several minutes.  Lilly and Jerry were eloping and expected me to still wear my Pepto pink dress?  Ugh.

"Yes, I have it."

"Great.  Can you meet us there?  You can park in the parking garage across the street.  They'll validate parking."

"Um, okay, I'll see you in two hours."

I hung up and felt sick.  It was bad enough I was going to have to wear that dress to a formal wedding but I was mentally prepared for that.  There would be others wearing that same dress and there would be rituals and routines and after I got home I could burn the dress.  Lilly would feel a sense of beauty having us wear horrid dresses and she would have beautiful pictures.

But an elopement downtown?  Why did we have to wear formal wear?  I didn't want to wear formal wear.  I would have to been seen in public in that pink dress.  Not just wedding guests who were expecting it but actual strangers and cab drivers.  I would have to cross the street in that dress!

I went to the bathroom and threw up.

Friday, November 2, 2012

It's a Lobster

By dinner, my eye was still bloodshot and in pain but at least it had quit watering.  Well, mostly quit watering.

We ordered lobster just like Bill said we would.  I've never had lobster before  -- at least not a whole one.  I started picking at it with my fork, trying to open the shell.

"So do you want to work in customer service forever," Bill asked, striking a nerve.

I hate my job.  Do I tell him that?  Do I finally tell him about going back to school?  What do I say?

I squinted my injured eye.  "It's definitely not my dream job.  I'm going back to school to get a degree in graphic design."

"That's wonderful.  Maybe some day you'll be able to work at Net Tech with me."

Just as Bill said this, movements from my fork caused my lobster to fly off of my plate and across the table and over Bill's shoulder.  It hit the back of the booth and fell down to the seat with a thud.

The people dining next to us turned and gave us a strange look.  I look from left to right, not knowing what to do.  One eye was wide, the other nearly swollen shut.  Were my chances with Bill ruined?

"Sorry, I've never had lobster that was still in the shell before."

Bill picked up the lobster and put it back on the plate.  "The meat is on the inside so you can still eat it.  But you need this tool.  I'll show you."

Sure enough Bill showed me how to break open a lobster.  And he didn't get mad.
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