The alarm on his cell phone was playing an annoying ring, and Brian woke up to another day of infinite wonder and promise.
“Morning Sweetie” Brian said, his head still snuggled in his pillow.
“Who’s Angela?” his wife asked in the tone Mike Wallace uses when cameras are chasing some poor jerk down a sidewalk in Newark New Jersey.
A million years of evolution have given married suburban guys a kind of sixth sense that tells them when to be absolutely truthful, answering all questions fully and without reservations.
“I don’t know any Angela” Brian said.
“Oh I know you don’t,” Kathleen said, sitting up and slamming her hand on the cell phone to quiet the alarm.
“This is so ridiculous. It’s just that I had this dream last night where you left me and the kids and ran off with some Angela woman. I’ve been awake for hours getting madder and madder”.
“Silly girl” Brian said snuggling deeper into the blankets.
“I promise I didn’t run off with anybody, not last night or any night and especially not with any Angela”.
Kathleen threw back the blankets with considerably more force than the circumstances required and got out of bed.
“It was just a dream” Brian said, wishing desperately for two more minutes of unconsciousness.
“I don’t know an Angela. I’m here with you and our children. I’m not leaving. Never never never”.
The shower door banged shut and Brian drifted off. Suddenly a wet towel hit him in the face.
“Sorry hon was aiming for the hamper”, Kathleen said.
“Anyway you and Angela were living together in one of those luxury high-rise condos downtown”.
“Ha. See how crazy that is? Child support would wipe me out. I couldn’t afford to live under a bridge if I left you. Which I have no plans to do”.
“Angela’s a surgeon”, she said as if she were talking to a complete idiot,
“With an international reputation, she is filthy rich. Or don’t you realize that either? Oh, of course you don’t. Just a dream”
“Listen I know dreams can seem pretty realistic sometimes, but you’re the woman of my dreams. Okay? What kind of surgeon?”
From the bathroom came the unmistakable sound of toiletries being destroyed.
“You know what really got me?” she said. “Our kids. Our kids went to visit one weekend, and you know what that – you know- Angela did? She made teddy bear pancakes. With little raisin eyes. The children talked about those for days: ‘How come you never make us teddy bear pancakes mom?’ “
“Teddy bear pancakes? That sounds kind a cute. They’d probably be pretty easy…”
“Oooh,” Kathleen said. “This is so dumb. How can anybody get upset over a stupid dream about your husband running off with a world famous surgeon who can sit down at a piano with the kids and play all the television theme songs by ear and knows all the verses and can put your daughters hair up in a perfect French braid and show your boy how to play ‘stretch’ with a jack-knife and teach aerobics?”
“Kathleen I couldn’t love a surgeon. Surgeons are notoriously self-centered and egotistical. But maybe Angela was different”.
“Angela works among the poor”. Kathleen said “Here’s that tennis shoe you’ve been looking for. Oops, are you alright? George Bush gave her some kind of plaque. I saw it on T.V. in my dream. There she was with those cheekbones and that mane of black hair. ‘Other’s deserve this for more than I do Mr. President.’ I just about threw up.”
The tennis shoe bruise probably wouldn’t show unless he went swimming or something.
“What with Teddy Bear pancakes humanitarianism and piano lessons. Angela couldn’t have much time left over for a guy.” Brian said. “I mean a guy like me.”
“Oh no. The kids told me how she’d spend hours rubbing your shoulders and sometimes she’d sit at your feet on that spotless white carpet – ‘it’s like snow Mom’ – and stare up at you, laughing at every stupid little thing you said. Damn your watch fell in the sink, sorry sweetie.”
“I think you’re being a little hard on Angela.” Brian said. “She sounds like a pretty nice person who’s trying to make a life for herself.”
“She’s a vicious little home-wrecker and if you ever so much as look at her again, you’ll need more than a world renowned surgeon to put you back together again!”
Later that day Brian sent flowers to Kathleen’s office. It’s just a start of course. When somebody like Angela comes into your life it takes a while to patch things up.