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Beth wondered; how could Vincent poke Ben, who loved him so? Or yell at him, nose to nose? A buddy! Good-looking, thought Beth.
I am good-looking. Not pretty, but objectively speaking, a solid seven on the scale.
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You could use that jaw to miter corners. They never get past the bewitching green eyes. Ellen was six inches taller than Beth, and thirty pounds heavier, the kind of stacked-up strawberry blonde who still caused men to bump into pillars at the airport. She was waiting for Beth at the hotel. Under the circumstances, though Beth still longed for Nick, thought of him in a syrupy way that had nothing to do with her real life, they had only touched cheeks near the casket.
And Beth had wondered then, as she often did, if she should have married him. Nick Palladino had long been a tough, no student, the kind of kid who seemed headed for life as a knockout shoe salesman who pumped iron and dated Bunnies from the Playboy Mansion downtown. But ten years later, Beth The Deep End of the Ocean 35 was a newspaper photographer who could barely afford cigarettes, and Nick owned his own business. He was married to Trisha, his cool, slight homecoming-princess wife, who had lived across the hall from Beth at college.
On that floor in Kale Hall, Beth used to write to Ellen, she felt marooned on the planet of the Nordic blondes. In her car, Beth hummed, and remembered Trisha. Trisha was from Maine, and she had never seen anything like the street feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Pat and Beth took Trisha to the parade, during which supplicants carried the figure of the Madonna, covered with ten- and twenty-dollar bills affixed to her ceramic robes, through the streets. They bought Trisha a paper cup of cold lupini beans and stood with her next to the bandstand, where Beth suddenly sensed Nick before she ever saw him. And then he danced with Trisha; he was a good dancer. After an hour, there was no turning back. When Trisha married Nick, Beth stood up in the wedding, got drunk, and threw up on her beige organdy dress. She wanted to forget until Sunday that she had had children and a recent Cesarean scar.
Beth had weaned Kerry, though she hated to give her last, least one such short shrift, for the reunion.
Shaved an inch off those square hips with leg lifts. Who else? We have no kids. He did hate her. Guiltily, she reached down and pulled him against her side. I stuck it all on my card. They had been lean as long as they could remember. Were she and Pat supposed to have a reserve, a cushion, already? In their early thirties? Did other people?
Ellen paid at restaurants when they ate together; she sent Kerry savings bonds as if the country were at war. But there were times Beth balked.
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They straggled into the lobby. Beth almost gave up. Did she really want to spend fascinating moments negotiating a credit-card transaction with a twenty-two-year-old in mall bangs, who, Beth already realized, would mess the whole transaction up anyhow? Wayne Thunder was both the first American Indian and the first homosexual Beth had ever known.
She looks just like Gloria Swanson now. She has white hair—on purpose.
Cecil whose real name was Cecilia was, Beth judged, the only of the Immaculata graduates from her year to have made more of herself as a creative soul than Beth had. And it rankled. Cecil was an actress. She had taught acting at the Guthrie in Minneapolis and at the Goodman in Chicago— she was very much married. Cecil was, Ellen told Beth now, still a size six, with a belt.
Cecil had had the distinction The Deep End of the Ocean 39 of being the first of them ever to have sexual intercourse—at fifteen.vechompycisec.tk
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Beth noticed abruptly that the cheerleaders had arrived. They were grouped at the desk, eight of them, still a unit, as if they had moved smoothly through adult life in pyramid formation. Their husbands, all large-necked and calm, stood behind them. When they saw Beth and Ellen, they surged. Ellen, a revolutionary who read Manchild in the Promised Land, had never really embraced the soul of cheerleading; she had done it, she confided to Beth, for its surefire potential as guy bait.
She and Nick hugged; Trisha hugged her. Nick and Trisha were wearing white cotton suits that would have looked ridiculous on anyone else. On them, the suits looked like a spread in Town and Country. Beth dragged Jill to her side. Beth smiled madly and concentrated on working her way to the front of the check-in line. Real tight. You can look around and you can stand on this funny cart. But hold his hand while Mama pays the lady.
And then you can go swimming.
Vincent smirked. My neck is killing. Well, good, thought Beth.
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Jill is getting the bags. You just stand here. Beth pushed through the backs in front of her. The counter girl was on the phone, talking to someone at the airport, explaining nastily that no, there was no shuttle of any kind, and no, she had no idea what taxi companies operated in the area, and in any case she was very busy.
It probably took five minutes. Ten minutes at the outside, no more. Vincent was standing slumped against the wall, slowly pushing the trolley back and forth with his feet. Vincent shrugged expressively. He wanted Aunt Ellen. My neck is killing, Mom. I got a heat rash. It was ringed with small red blotches. She scanned the lobby for Ellen; there she was, easy to see.