The Adventures of Ozzie and Katherine
A sample of something that will either be a blog series or a book:
Life doesn’t begin at forty. It begins when you decide to start living.
The Restaurant Episode
“My mother was pissed about you,” Kay said.
“She said you were a nice boy and I was stupid for pushing you away over a no-account piece of nothing like Gary. She didn’t blame you for not taking me to my prom.”
“I called and asked you to take me, remember? I told you I broke up with Gary.”
“Yeah. I figured you were scraping the bottom of the barrel by asking me; you know: ‘Gary didn’t work out so let’s see if Oz will come crawling back.’”
Oz saw the hurt in her eyes and on her face at his comment. He remembered that look too, but he couldn’t recall from when.
“I never thought that,” Kay said.
They were quiet for a minute as they put a dent in their cheeseburgers and fries. Oz wondered where they might go from here. Would this be a one-time encounter because he happened to be back in town for the weekend or a renewal of a friendship from way back in the day? It couldn’t be more than that. Not when they lived three hours apart.
Kay broke their silence by saying, “Remember the basketball court?”
“The last time I saw you before you left, you were playing basketball on Bangs Avenue. We talked.”
“That was a real low point.”
“I wanted to get back together. I offered you a late birthday present. I missed your birthday because we broke up. Well, you broke up with me.”
“Do you remember what it was?”
“I think so. I mean, I was never one hundred percent sure, but I had an idea because you told me I had to come to your house to get it. I think I was ready to go then, but you said your mother was home so you couldn’t give it to me then. So yeah, I had an idea”
“I thought that would entice you. I’d been wanting do that with you anyway, but that day I was pulling out all the stops, trying to get you back. But you weren’t even fazed. You still looked like if I got struck by lightning right there on the spot you wouldn’t have cared less.”
“One of my lifelong talents is holding a grudge. And I was still suffering over losing you…Wait, what do you mean, you’d been wanting to do it? I thought you were talking about sex. We’d already done it.”
“Well yeah, duh.” She leaned over the booth table toward him and motioned him closer with a crooked finger. Oz leaned in. She smelled nice. He remembered that her hair used to always smell nice like this. She stole a look around at the nearest tables and booths, then in a voice slightly above a whisper said, “Oral.”
Kay smiled as she sat back. “So I should’ve just come right out with it, huh? That would have done the trick?”
“Well, I’m speaking with the benefit of hindsight and without the benefit of teenage hormones, but I doubt it. I was hurt and mad and all I wanted to do was hate you so I could get over you.”
“You hated me?”
“I tried to, but I couldn’t. I think you can be mad at a person you love, or even dislike them sometimes, but you can’t hate them. There was never a moment, even years later, that I didn’t imagine us getting back together. But in the beginning pride wouldn’t let me do it, and later, I was gone.”
“I wish you’d come back and tried, Oz. I think it might have worked out.”
Oz shrugged. “That’s the thing about life’s what ifs. We never know if our lives would’ve been better or worse if we’d chosen the other path. So there’s no point in having regrets. Maybe we’re better off on the paths we choose.”
“That’s the path that led to us sitting here today. To right now.”
“So maybe it’s about timing, too.”
“So here we are, all these years later, and we’re both single.”
“So being single, Oz, are you getting much?”
That was something he used to like about Kay, even though it often threw him off guard: On some subjects she got right to the point. She’d pull the strangest questions out of thin air and slap him in the face with them. He remembered that when she wanted to know something, she’d ask. And if she wanted to do something, she’d go for it.
“Not enough,” he said. “Without the benefit of teenage hormones this thing called common sense and a severe aversion to other people’s drama keeps things quieter than I’d like.”
“I know what you mean. Sometimes I feel like such a terrible person. I can be with my grandkids doing Nana stuff with them, and all I can think about is…you know.”
“I don’t see how you’re lacking in that area. You’re a smoking hot grandmother.”
“Thank you. I started young, remember?”
“Right.” When he met Kay she was a seventeen year-old mother with a one year-old son. Gary was her baby’s father. “Do you have more kids than the one?” he asked.
“Four. Three sons and a daughter. Fertile is my middle name. How about you?”
“One son: Jeremy. He’s in California. Went there with a stack of screenplays under his arm planning to be the next Spike Lee or Tyler Perry. Then he got married and realized you can’t feed your family unsold screenplays. Now he’s a teacher.”
“How long were you married?”
“Twelve years. One of the few accurate things about cops in the movies and on TV is about police work being tough on marriages. Not a good mix.”
“You’re a cop?”
“Retired. Now I’m into houses.”
“Flipping. I like renovating places. I’d hoped that Jeremy would want to partner up with me in a business, but he thinks physical labor is carrying his laptop from one room to another.”
“But you’re proud of him. I see it on your face.”
“Yeah, I am. I taught him that a man with an education doesn’t need to get his hands dirty and he took it to heart. How about you and marriage?”
“Two marriages, two divorces. The last ended fourteen years ago.”
“You didn’t want to try it again?”
“I learned my lesson. It’s a lot easier to get rid of assholes when you don’t need to change the locks. So how long are you in town?”
“I’m leaving in the morning.”
“Give me your number, Oz. We’re not going to wait another thirty-something years before we talk again.”
“Definitely not. It was nice seeing you again, Kay.”
“Hopefully it won’t be that long before we see each other again, either. Come home sometimes.”
“I work a lot on weekends. Some of the guys I work with have other jobs. But I’ll try. Hey, if you ever want a change of scenery, feel free to bounce out my way. My door is open for you.”
“How far is Harrisburg from here?”
“About a three-hour drive.”
Kay dabbed her mouth with a napkin and said, “Then I’ll take the train.”