She Asked For Nothing
On retake days, we usually have to fill out cards before we take our subject’s picture. For teachers, this means a last name followed by their preferred courtesy title.
Blandings, Mr. — Doubtfire, Mrs. — Love, Dr. — Pepper, Sgt.
I’m about to ask the kindergarten teacher helping me out if she knows how to do this when she answers a question I didn’t have.
I’ve spent 20 years putting up with his crap, and now I’m free. I can’t wait. I mean, I can do what I want, now, and there’s nothing he can do about it.
I can’t decide whether she said it out of the blue, or if I just wasn’t listening, but her cheerfully fake expression belies what she really feels.
She giggles in such a way that I decide it’s polite to pretend that I didn’t see through the lie, to pretend that I didn’t guess at her real situation. I smile back at her, and she giggles some more — more than even necessary.
I’m getting a divorce now. I probably should have said that, first. Oh well. It isn’t like it wasn’t long in coming.
She spares me the details. I ask her whether she’d like M-R-S or M-S on her ID card.
No, just Mrs. M-R-S. Though, I guess I could use Ms. because I’m getting a divorce. M-S. Nah, I don’t think I want to. I think I’ll just stick with M-R-S.
She pauses. Suddenly somber and devoid of façade, she stares into space almost wistfully:
I’ve always been M-R-S.
I dutifully put down M-R-S under her courtesy title. I also change the subject.