efforts to establish new intimacies, Doris never felt that her new romantic
delvings ever approached her prior connection to Kiplinger. Her ex-husband
seemed irreplaceable. It was a pity that he had been a sycophant of the worst
That brat of a
would-be science phenom had coerced Doris to complete his
research for him and had otherwise stolen colleagues findings. Per
his knowledge about creepy-crawly, winged, and webbed
things, Kiplinger held a surfeit of plagiarized data. In contrast, when
expressing tenderness to Doris, he had had neither original nor borrowed words
Even had Doris not
mixed it up with Furries, Kiplinger would have eventually shunned her integrity
and her emotional neediness. That man, who insisted on cufflinks instead of
buttons, and who shaved his head so that no one would suspect that he was
balding, excelled in appearances.
In fact, Kiplinger
was so solipsistic that his universe contained just him. Over and again, he
forgot Doris birthday, their anniversary, and the many children they had
lost to miscarriages. All the more so, he eschewed their sexual
Ever saintly, Doris
initially excused him, attributing his hurtful behaviors to undiagnosed,
untreated Aspergers. Over time, though, after her many attempts to get
him to CBT therapy, that is, to leave his flawless world of one,
failed, Doris began to second guess the soundness of their marriage.
She stopped excusing
Kiplinger, a minor scholar, for habitually berating her international
recognition. Whats more, she dredged up how, when Kiplinger failed to
achieve tenure, he further emotionally assaulted her. At first, he had screamed
that his potential went unfulfilled because he had thrown all of his resources
behind her rising star. Later, he had demanded that Doris cease submitting
findings to important journals so as to stop overshadow him. Pointing his
finger at her, hed say that she should be grateful for the hue of his
eyes and for the expertise of his fingers and that relative to him, she was a
novice in the bedroom.
Doris silently walked
away from her husbands tirades. Sure, Kiplinger was well-preserved,
relative to her faded caricature of stringy gray hair, cheeks smoothed into a
chaste expression, and fading intellectual curiosity. Nevertheless, in spite of
his allure, Kiplinger was a bore. If he had not flaunted his amorous conquests,
Doris might have enjoyed his attractiveness and carried on as his
self-sacrificing wife (she had learned to substitute hair perms and gourmet
dinners for his affection.)
It hadnt helped
that Kiplingers favorite lover was Doris graduate school classmate,
Catinka Jones. Catinka, who had been impregnated, decades earlier, by the
universitys volleyball coach, had left a full fellowship behind to change
diapers. Her staggering contributions to the study of chemical processes within
newts became completely sidelined when her unfunded research
succeeded too well.
Doris divorce lawyer, Kiplinger had been idling at a local park at the
same time as Catinka was waiting for her son to finish Little League practice.
Allegedly, it was Catinka who had noticed Kiplinger and who had soon thereafter
propositioned him. Kiplingers crime was his failure to decline.
More to the point,
Kiplinger reserved the first of a series of hotel rooms. It was not that he was
not opposed to marriage as Doris servile manner suited him. It was,
however, the case that he was an aficionado of female flesh. Whereas his past
perfidies had lasted a night or two at most, Kiplinger and Catinka blissfully
traded STDs for months.
In the interim, Doris
sought new ways to pay their household bills since Kiplingers expansive
lunch hours had gotten him fired. She was as of yet unaware of his disloyalty.
In hunting for that
peace of mind that comes from having earnings that are greater than expenses,
she left her beloved research position and took a job at a major producer of
health and beauty aids. Specifically, she accepted a job supervising other
chemists in the creation of a floor cleaner that simultaneously killed
cockroaches and smelled like spring flowers.
skills were marketable, she was offered an admirable salary and the
possibility, if certain deadlines were met, of receiving a matching bonus. The
corporations hiring manager was particularly enamored of Doris
fastidious methods and ability to think out of the box.
conglomerates lab, Doris wilted. She was a gentle soul whose research
agenda had involved planetary ecologies, not bug extermination. As well, she
missed her peers recognition of her scholarship. All of the patents on
her commercial work were owned by her employer.
discovered Kiplingers affairs. To wit, she sold their home, and moved
into a rented apartment.
While she didnt return to academia,
Doris began using a significant portion of her large income to fuel her
newfound shopping compulsion. With exacting intentionality, shed spent up
to one third of her earnings on finery. Soon, Doris closet overflowed
with suits incompatible with lab work and with buckram hats, decorated with
ripple-edge roses, which were impracticle in a city noted for its rain. Her
jewelry box, brimmed with costume and real gewgaws, too.
considered, it was unsurprising that Doris freaked out when Kiplinger suddenly
showed up at her lab. That man-boy, who had more connections than a millipede
has legs, had had no trouble accessing her secure site. He had emerged in plain
view because he: was horny, had had a tiff with Catinka, and knew his estranged
wife to be the least resistant of his sexual partners.
What Kiplinger had
failed to anticipate was Doris improved self-esteem. Realizing his
blunder, he made a spectacle of himself. Kiplinger fessing up
varied and numerous extracurricular relationships and then shone his best puppy
dog expression at his former spouse.
Doris threw a small
container of roaches at him.
behind a work island. He would have stayed there, incautiously brushing off the
scurrying beetles, had Catinka not entered the lab. Catinka was searching for a
valuable earring that had gone missing during a moment of intimacy. During his
confession to Doris, Kiplinger had neglected to reveal how often he
delighted in straddling lovers in his ex-wifes test center.
Catinka sized up
Doris. She might be milk toast, but she was brilliant. Catinka sized up
Kiplinger. He was a pretty boy and he was covered with beetles. It was beyond
Catinkas worst nightmare that the man who had stolen her health by giving
her herpes, and who had probably stolen one of her most valuable ornaments,
would also deign to also steal her peace of mind. Catinka was a self-professed
Disgusted, she fled.
A few days later, she had Kiplinger arrested for theft.
Doris completed her
project and then quit her job. She didnt like killing even the smallest
of beasts. Even more, she didnt like working where her exs sexual
juices had been repeatedly spilled.
reinvigorated her friendship with Catinka. The two bonded over the worlds
surplus of louts like Kiplinger and the worlds shortage of Prince
Charmings. Ultimately, Doris began to show up at Butlers, Catinkas
kids, Little League games; Doris was better at sports than her recycled
In turn, Catinka
introduced Doris to organizations for unmarrieds. At her first Parents without
Partners meeting, Doris perked up. She had never considered the possibility of
adopting. She might yet have a happy ever after.
Widower Jorge Canady
began attending Parents without Partners a few months later. He sat with Doris
and Catinka. Doris was his client and Catinka was a fellow softball parent. His
son, Rodger, was in the same division as Butler.
had been suggesting that various mommies might be suitable for Jorge. He
didnt know that all of them wanted no part of a bended family and wanted
no part in keeping house for guys like himself and his dad. Mostly, his
friends moms, who were available, were self-reliant women who were okay
with temporary liaisons, but not with more permanent ties.
Rodger nudged Jorge in additional directions. He again and again pleaded with
him to check out Butlers moms support group. Apparently, kids
talked about more than Pokémon and aluminum bats in the
Jorge conceded to his
kid that he had been right. He enjoyed talking to Doris outside of his law
office. Unlike other divorcees, Doris was willing to settle for a
nice guy and to make compromises that would help insure a
functional marriage. In the bleachers, shed poured out her feelings about
her lack of children, and then pause to ascertain that Jorge was not going to
charge her for billable hours and that Catinka was not going to laugh at her.
know that both Catinka and Jorge daydreamed while she spoke.
Catinkas fantasies were filled with contemporary, chivalrous men.
Jorges were filled with Doris.
He and Rodger would
benefit if someone new puttered in their kitchen, burned their roast, and
undercooked their potatoes. He longed for someone to once again mismatch his
navy ankle-highs with his dressy black socks. Jorge asked Doris to fire
refused. Doris needed her reliable lawyer to stay in his place. Without the
backing of her capable attorney, Kiplinger might return to harassing her. After
Jorge made his request, Doris began suffering from night terrors.
slept better than he had in years. Many nights, he dreamt of sitting with Doris
and watching mindless stuff, which no lawyer or chemist would publically
concede enjoying, on TV. In those dreams, he and Doris spooned, ate over salted
popcorn, and almost always remembered to set the video player to record action
flicks for Rodger.
Those happy fantasies
decided Jorge. He released Doris as a client.
Helped by a
womens aid organization, Doris sued. It was ridiculous that Jorge refused
to continue representing her. She couldnt afford to again feel vulnerable
Jorge and Doris
resolved the matter out of court. Jorge gladly paid both his fine and the fees
for Doris representatives. He also helped Doris find a new, private
A week after paying
his defrayal, Jorge called her to invite her to accompany him to a Little
League game. Butlers team was playing Rodgers. Jorge was very
careful to specify that he was calling as a friend.
Doris insisted that
Catinka join them. She couldnt imagine sitting peaceably with him despite
the fact that he was a nice man. She accepted the invitation, nonetheless,
because she believed it was important to take care of other lonely people. That
outlook was the one that had allowed her to ignore Catinkas role in
Kiplingers infidelities and to renew their friendship.
At the ballpark,
Catinka failed to show up. She furthermore failed to answer her cell
Two innings into the
game, Rodger got hit in the face by a bat and had to be taken to an emergency
center. Doris drove him and his trembling father to the closest care
A few weeks later,
Doris agreed to a pizza date with Jorge. Minutes after entering the shop, the
two got into an argument about the relative merits of pepperoni and of
pineapple. Both reasoned purchasing a full pie would be most economical, but
neither liked the others topping. The next time they went out, they
brought Rodger along to referee.
Doris saw more and
more of Jorge and Rodger. Concurrently, she set aside extra time to take Butler
to his sports events - Catinka had since become chummy with a
Less than a year from
the time of their first shared pizza, Jorge trothed himself to Doris. In
addition to a ring, he presented her with two pies, one of which was entirely
covered with pineapple and the other of which was entirely covered with
Butler and Catinka
walked Doris down the aisle.
Two years later,
Doris gave birth to a little girl.
Doris still chides
Jorge that kale is better than cheese puffs. On the other hand, she hesitates
to knock him for leaving mountains of clean laundry on her dresser. Its
beyond her ken as to why he never puts it away.
When their daughter,
Belinda, is safely in high school and Rodger is married with kids of his own,
Doris returns to chemistry. She teaches part-time at a local community college
and contributes a thought piece, every year or so, to an academic
Catrina marries a
proctologist. Butler becomes a playwright. Both visit Doris and Jorge whenever
As for Kiplinger, he
remains unemployed and promiscuous. Most men of his ilk would have long since
floundered, but Kiplinger still gets by on charisma.