The scarlet drapes were hanging too low to suit her. Anyone who cared about such things would call her a white trash wannabee. And that was the problem; there were far too many people in this neighborhood who were going to care. So that was task number one today: Take those damn drapes down and hem them. The real unmentioned Task Number One this day, as with every day, was to try and put the genuine problem so far in the back of her head that it wouldn't jump out and catch her off-guard.
Dale had made that big score with the group cross-purchase sale to those farmers in the valley, and now here they were: In a house that was five times too big for them, in a neighborhood where everyone else had been rich for at least one lifetime. It wouldn't be long until she and Dale were known as the Beverly Hillbillies. It was sheer lunacy to assume that anything else could come of this.
Yet and still, it was like a dream come true. And she had been complicitous in the purchase; there was no doubt about that. She couldn't wait to get out of that ranch house in that neighborhood of losers, backyard grillers, and greasy-ass shirtless married men staring a hole in her pants every time she walked to the car. She'd been born pretty. She'd come to grips with that. She tried not to flaunt it, but (damn) did she hate to have to apologize for it. She and Dale had married young, and even though the two kids were grown and gone, she still had what it took to turn a man's head. And this made some of the bitches in that old neighborhood so embittered that they couldn't remain friends with her for long. Too many baldheaded husbands humping them with their eyes closed imagining that they were the neighbor.
There was no problem with her being the best-looking girl on this block. These bought bodies around here were pretty damn amazing. They were always zooming back and forth in their Benz's, coming from the personal trainer and going to tennis at the Club. They were zealous in their fitness routines. They drank soy milk and ate rice cakes. They were exquisite in their Barbie costumes and their Barbie houses, and she really, really wanted them to like her. Dale would have no trouble fitting in; he was a master of turning into whomever he needed to be at the moment. That's what made him such a good salesman. But she was just one person, and that was all she could be.
The first person she invited over was the immediate neighbor, Carol. Carol seemed like one of the more down-to-earth folks on the block. She would actually water her own flowers each day. Most of the ladies here would touch a hose as soon as they'd mash up a meatloaf. So she had hemmed the drapes and laid out the place settings for an afternoon tea and Carol was ringing the huge doorbell. (Would she ever get used to those four tones which sounded like they were coming from the weight of a wildly grinning hunchback?)
She invited Carol in and they sat for tea and chat. Soon, she excused herself to go to the bathroom. (The excitement of having a guest; why didn't she go before?). While she was occupied, Carol took it upon herself to take a tour of this house she'd seen go through half a dozen nouveau riche folks' hands already. When she returned from her hasty whiz, she saw Carol coming out of the kitchen.
"I'm sorry, was there something else you needed in there?"
"No," Carol said with a hint of disdain, "just looking around. Were you and your husband keeping that uneaten pizza as some sort of souvenir?"
"I'm sorry? What do you mean?"
"Oh, nothing, dearie. It's just that I noticed what nice furniture you have here in the living room, and I wanted to see if the rest of the house was this lavish."
Somewhat unnerved by this backhanded compliment, she was temporarily speechless.
Carol continued, "I notice that in most of the rooms where the doors are closed there's not one stick of furniture. Why is that, dear? You've been here almost a month. Did the moving van get lost?"
"Uh, I think maybe you should leave now," was the best comeback she could muster.
So Carol flounced out the door with a cheery, "Ta ta," and she was left sitting on the white $7000 leather couch with her mouth open and a lump in her stomach. So much for trying to pretend to fit in here. So much for a change of scenery.
She looked out the bay window which faced the golf course and saw Dale on the fifth tee, Carol's husband slapping him on the back as they laughed 'til they cried at a joke Dale had told them. They were sharing the time of their lives together.