My hands are on autopilot, cutting up one of those horseshoe shaped pepperoni tubes into small cubes for my famous, internationally-inspired, potluck dish, something I call Italian croissants. It’s one of those Women’s Day Magazine easy recipes I absconded and pretended to invent years ago.
It’s afternoon, and the day is warm, so a glass of icy cold Sauvignon Blanc accompanies my chopping and assembling. Day drinking.
I find myself mindlessly humming as I lay out the croissant dough—recently released from the cracked round cylinder that held it—and placing a large pinch of cheese, several pieces of pepperoni, and some cut olive in the center of each separate triangle before adding a dap of pizza sauce and rolling each section up.
“Hmmm, hmmm, hummm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hummm, hmmm…. Once I had a love and it was divine, soon found out I was losing my mind. It seemed like the real thing, but I was so blind. Mucho mistrust, love's gone behind.”
Blondie’s Heart of Glass, 1978. I was a sophomore in an art’s college that year, working on a fashion design degree. I loved that song. Oh, and the outfits I used to create and wear. Cool dresses with plunging necklines, an empress style chiffon blouse. I used to love pairing that blouse with some funky high-waisted jeans—prescient to today’s same style. I had sewn red Peking knots all over the front and back pockets of one particular pair, and added rainbow fringe down the right leg, and a mélange of gold stars to the left leg, with a particularly large gold star showcased prominently on the left knee. Those jeans were my favorite and how they hugged my lady bits was honestly the draw for meeting my children’s father, Jessie. Damn he was hunky back then, but if I’d only known how life would be married a sculptor, I would have ended it before it started. Bad choice, I think to myself.
My Italian croissants are now nestled in my warm cozy oven preparing to double their existing size as the dough cooks, kind of like my derriere has done over the years. Somewhere down the line the need for eating went from nourishment to sport, a sport where I’m always racing to the refrigerator at home or the breakroom snack drawer in order to console myself. I’m bringing these over to Georgie’s tonight along with whatever is left in my wine bottle. Tuesday nights are our standing single-divorced-girl dinner date plus watching The Voice on NBC.
When my kids came along, a few years after college, I had to kiss those clothes, my figure, and that plan of a design career goodbye. Mostly mediocre, and ordinary at best, Jessie insisted on pursuing his sculpting endeavors fulltime which kept us crippled financially until I picked up a bookkeeping position. Night school followed and I’ve spent the last forty years, until my very recent retirement, in an exceedingly demanding and simultaneously unfulfilling accounting career. It’s downright depressing to think about it all. At least I got our house in the divorce, not that Jessie could have ever afforded to buy me out.
I haven’t thought about those jeans though in a long time. I donated them to goodwill store when my kids were young. Years later, I did happen to see those one-of-a-kind pants once again. I’d just dropped my thankless son Nathan off at the high school and happened to drive by a popular coffee spot for my usual how I’m able to get through another day iced white chocolate mocha. Driving away, I nearly sideswiped the car in front of me as I saw those familiar hip-hugging, sparkly-starred knee denims sashaying on the other side of the street. In an effort to make contact and shout, “hey, those used to be mine,” I quickly hit the lever to lower the driver’s side window but ended up with the contents of my drink all over my lap and the girl no longer in view. I was so upset; I think I ate an entire Entenmann’s at the office that morning to calm my nerves.
My croissants have cooled and I’ve managed to keep half of the wine still in the bottle. I’ve got everything loaded into the front passenger seat of my Volvo and I’m on my way to Georgie’s house. Tonight, is The Voice’s big season finale and we’re both excited to see who will be named the winner of season 22.
“Hey,” Georgie says as she gives me her customary kiss on both cheeks and takes the wine bottle from my hands, pouring us each a glass.
“Hey,” I say back as I place the tray I’ve brought onto her dining table and put several croissants on each plate along with some macaroni salad Georgie has prepared. Georgie’s overweight Labrador Fred ambles in and stares at the tray, knowing I’ll succumb and pass him a pepperoni-filled crescent. “I must have sucker written all over my face. Jessie sought that out and Fred and sees it too.”
“You haven’t talked about Jessie in a while. What brought that up?”
“Oh, just a song. Reminiscing this afternoon. What could have been,” I say the last thing in air quotes.
Georgie opens another bottle of wine, switching us to a cabernet sauvignon to go with the chocolate cake she’s baked. We move to the sofa and the television goes on. I sit closest to the window since the early evening is still quite warm. Georgie has these long sheer drapes that billow in long puffs towards me and back again as if the breeze is making them breathe. It feels good and I undo my pants’ button, pulling my shirt over my stomach and relaxing into the couch.
“I think Karleen is definitely going to win,” I say as I chew a chunk of cake I’ve forked into my mouth and moving the curtain off the side of the couch where it has landed, momentarily obscuring my view of the tv.
Georgie sips her wine, “Yes, she’s definitely really good. I like Darian though. I’d like to see him win.”
A young Latino guy named D-rish comes on first, he’s in a fitted black leather jacket and studded black pants and performs the Bruno Mar’s tune Uptown Funk, making it his own. He’s on Blake Shelton’s team and he has definitely been coached well. He’s fantastic and the performance is extremely energetic.
D-rish is followed by Darian who nails Jarryd James’ Do You Remember, to which Georgie stands up and throws a particularly fierce air punch causing the sofa to sigh from where she’s risen and my wine to momentarily slosh. “Good recovery on the wine,” she says, noticing I countered the slosh and saved her couch a huge red splash stain.
Kelly Clarkson announces that Karleen is up next and she’s going to perform of all the songs, Heart of Glass. “How crazy is that? I was just singing that song this afternoon,” I say as I continue to battle the fluttering curtain. I actually consider closing my eyes for Karleen’s turn just to take in the music without the visual, and really because the damned sheers keep obstructing my view, but when Karleen comes out on the stage I decide to just sit on them. Karleen looks wonderful and then there she goes, “Once I had a love and it was divine, soon found out I was losing my mind. It seemed like the real thing, but I was so blind. Mucho mistrust, love's gone behind.”
And then I see them. My high-waisted, personally designed jeans are on Karleen.
“Holy hell,” I scream. “Those are the jeans I made! I can’t believe it.”
The jeans predate my friendship with Georgie so she has no idea what I’m talking about.
“Those jeans changed my life, Georgie. I created those in college and if it wasn’t for those jeans, I’d be a famous designer right now,” I shout, flinging my arms and nearly knocking my wine glass over a second time as I gesticulate at her and begin to cry. The Voice and Karleen and Heart of Glass start to take backstage to my upstaging breakdown and Georgie makes her way closer to calm me down.
“I’d probably be dressing Karleen and everyone on The Voice,” I sob when she pats my shoulder.
I’m feeling so incensed that I’m not sure what to do with myself. I stand up and punch my thighs, but then I feel light-headed and sit right back down, this time catching those thin sheers on the rebound and taking the entire rod with the sheers down in one huge tearing sound.
“Opps, sorry Georgie,” I say. “But really, if it wasn’t for those jeans none of this would have ever happened. I would have never met freaking Jessie or had to work at Smith’s crunching numbers and live a life of drudgery, and be feeling so down, and fat, and ugly,” my entire body feels like a furnace now. “I wouldn’t have had to sacrifice like I did. Shuttling my ungrateful kids everywhere. Feeling so shutdown artistically. My life could have been so different,” I feel myself dropping to the floor, curling up and then just nothingness. Everything goes black.
Georgie races to the phone. “Hang on Patty. I’m calling 9-1-1.”
I don’t hear the emergency technicians arrive but then I feel a gentle touching of my arm. “Ma’am, ma’am can you hear me?”
I roll my head towards the voice. I’m so confused and then I remember where I am and what just happened. I think I’m looking at Karleen and she’s in my jeans. Wait, no, Karleen was on television and those are my jeans, I’m wearing them, but when I look down all I see is the zipper of my 2x mom jeans unzipped, and it’s then I realize that these jeans are the metaphor for what my life has become—unhinged and unzipped.