(Author's Message: The organization and people mentioned in this story are purely figments of the author's imagination. No such organization and no such people are truly meant or actually exist.)
They were all at the breakfast table, Earl, Mandy and Little Susie were seated and Susie, who'd gotten it read for them, was only then sitting down. Earl was drinking from his coffee cup and talking softly with Little Susie, when Mandy spoke up:
"Mommie, Daddy, how did you two meet?"
Earl almost spit his coffee out, and Susie just barely suppressed a squeal, at the question.
"Well, honey," Susie said, "It's a long and involved story; one day, when you're older, we'll tell you all about it."
Earl grinned at his wife, his Susie and she grinned back at him. Both of them were hoping that the lovely little girl would forget about the question for at least the next 10 years!
This is the story:
Doctor! She said it again, more slowly--Doctor--and loved the sound of it. Then she said it a different way: Dr. Susan Warren, PhD! She just loved the sound of it, and now it happened and that's who she was.
She'd persevered; she'd done the work; she'd taken the courses; she dedicated herself to doing this and had, by jove, gotten it done. She was pleased about that.
"I can get out of bed now with Clement Vallandigham!" she said with a giggle, referring to the figure about whom she'd written her dissertation and with whom, in her phrase, she'd been in bed for such a long time. She didn't have to worry about old Clement anymore, or put up with his copperheaded ways anymore. Because now the degree was hers and she could relax.
"I can begin to have a life again now!" she said to herself, and raised a glass to toast the idea.
Susie had spent so much of, a majority of, her 'free' time over these past years dealing with the dissertation and old Clement's sourness and pigheaded ways.
She just never took the time to have a life, any kind of a life for such a long time.
Then the thought struck her and she said: "Maybe now I can stop being celibate!
Now that was a pleasing thought! She'd been so career driven, so focused on her course work and the dissertation leading to her degree that sex had been a stranger in her home, in her bed, in her life!
"Wohoo!" she said at last, reveling in the thought that she'd just had, "Susie, it's time to live a little!"
As an after thought from that process, she went on: "Maybe go out tonight, if not soon and have sex with whoever offers it, man, woman or dog!"
This sent Susie into another fit of giggling. But that was her mood, with her living now in the shadow of having received her degree, but the shadow, thanks be to all the angels, was behind her. And the one thing that she knew was that Susie was going to live a little.
Susie Warren, newly made doctor of philosophy, was in the ripeness of her womanhood but there were no appreciating eyes to see that, and tell her about it. Moreover it wasn't certain, if the truth were known, that Susie would believe the teller at all. She had just not entertained such thoughts or thought processes for such a long period of time. As a matter of fact, when she did think about it, she thought she was fat and that was the end of it for Susie. So, she brooded over the fact, if she thought of it at all, which normally she simply did not do!
It was a Tuesday night, with autumn getting one last chance to imitate summer. Some called it 'indian summer', in some cultures it was called, strangely 'babske leto' or 'grandma's summer' but it was in reality, for Susie Warren, the summer of her Susie Party, the summer of her letting go, the summer of her being finished, the summer of putting old Clement up on the shelf where his copperhead ass belonged.
Here it was 9 o'clock and she'd allowed herself one last glass of merlot. This was somewhat strange for Susie, who was not really a drinker. She saw in drinking a short cut to not being able to do the daily work on her dissertation that she'd assigned herself. But this was a pretty fall night, she had her degree and she gave herself an extra glass after dinner.
She went to take an aspirin to stave off a 'merlot headache' in the morning, as she called them, only to discover that there was no aspirin left in the bottle.
She swore at herself, truly displeased and decided on the spot to run to the local Walgreen's to pick some up.
"It'll also get me out a bit!" she said, being reasonable about it.
Susie Warren was nothing if not sensible. She had a sensible car, she led a sensible life, she was the all around sensible gal. As she drove out into the night, driver's window open to allow the spicy breeze of this late autumn surge of warmth in, she was feeling better and better. She was actually getting out, doing something that she almost never, ever allowed herself to do. She saw the possibilities, once she got out of the house and into the garage, as endless, now that she was no longer a slave to academic work.
The night air felt good; the streets were pretty much deserted. She waited at a light, when a car pulled up next to hers. It was a large older chevrolet. She heard a voice and looking to the left, noticed that a young guy, sitting in the passenger seat was smiling at her and talking.
"Hey, pretty lady!" he said.
Susie smiled in spite of herself.
"Yes, you, pretty lady!" he said.
Then the light changed and she drove off, a little ahead of the chevrolet. She was grinning into the night, at the thought of being called 'pretty lady' by a group of college kids.
The next light and they pulled up again. He spoke to her again:
"Hello again, pretty lady!" he said.
This time she could hardly resist:
"Hi!" she said.
He grinned at her and his grin was infectious.
"What's your name, pretty lady?" he asked.
She said "Susie" into the night and maybe to him, if he heard it, which he actually didn't, as she zoomed away from the light, making a turn in the middle of the block, in the direction of the Walgreens, and away from the chevrolet. As she drove, she had a vague sense that she was sorry that she'd worn an old sweatshirt and ratty running pants.
She set it all aside and arrived at Walgreen's, now conscious of how she looked in her outfit. The smiling comments of the young man made a difference in her mood for that evening. She hurried about her business and went scuttling outside, promising herself that she'd be more careful in the future to at least dress a little more acceptably, especially since she was going to become 'Susie the social animal' again, or at least, 'Susie the gal who was getting out now and then'.
She stopped dead still, as she arrived at the front of her car. There parked next to her car was the big chevy, with the four grinning guys sitting in it. Without even another thought, she smiled at them.
"Found you, pretty lady!" the smiling one in the front passenger seat said.
She barely suppressed a giggle at this, which was surprising, since Susie wasn't normally a giggling person, at least not lately, when she'd been so busy with research and writing, not to mention defending.
Without a thought she said: "And just what do you propose to do with me, now that you've found me."
She sounded outrageous, the immediate reaction that she had to what she'd said was that it was outrageous. She knew that she blushed right then.
"You're pretty, when you blush!" he said.
"And you're full of it!" was her response.
"Hey," he returned, "After all the time that we've known each other, why would I try to fool a pretty lady like you?"
Susie laughed outright and the guys joined her in the laugh.
"So what are you doin'?" he asked her next. Then he added: "What's your name, pretty lady? I guess I could just call you 'pretty lady' though."
"It's Susie," she said again simply, not really sure why she was being such a 'mark' for these young guys on the make. It was hard to deny, however, that they were making her feel good with their easy manner, and his kind words.
"So, Susie, tell me, what are you doin'?" he asked politely.
"Just out for some aspirin," she said. "Kind of celebrating."
"Celebrating, Susie?" he asked.
"Yes, I recently was awarded my PhD!" she said proudly.
They cheered; they actually cheered, Susie, enthused with it all now, bowed to them.
"What subject, Susie?" he asked.
"History," she said, "With a major in US 19 century history.'
"Hey, guys," he said then, "Susie is smart as well as beautiful."
"Thank you, "Susie said.
She was about to leave, since she had already decided to run by WalMart to pick up a few things that she wanted for the morning.
"We're going to a party and wanted to know if you would come with us?" he said.
She laughed: "That's one of the oldest lines in creation! Can't you come up with anything better?"
He laughed along with her and held up his hand: "No kidding, a party!"
"I really look like I'm ready for a party!" she said derisively.
"You look like a princess!" he said, and Susie blushed again, realizing that his breezy manner was beginning to work with her, and she wasn't exactly sure if she wanted to leave and get away.
She opened the door of her car, and he spoke again:
"Where to now, princess?"
She laughed at the grin on his face, and said:
"If you must know, Wal Mart."
"Mind if we follow you and make one last attempt at convincing you to go to the party with us?" he asked.
.... There is more of this story ...