Changing Plans: Genre # 6 – the blog from the edge of despair

Changing Plans: Genre # 6 – the blog from the edge of despair

Well, we woke to the patter of heavy rain drops this morning, dashing our hopes of getting out to Cabot Cove this morning.  We know that Jessica Fletcher isn’t a real person and that the Cabot Cove we see on television is probably somewhere in Canada, if it exists anywhere at all, but there is a Cabot Cove in Kennebunkport, which would have been worth the trip in any case.  I’m the Murder She Wrote fan, but Ellie and Hope are good sports, and they’ve certainly dragged me to some odd spots.  The shoe store on Rodeo Drive for one, and that cactus showroom in Tucson.  

In any case, here we are in Maine, a long way from Iowa, and once again three hens let loose from the henhouse.  Hope found the beds and breakfasts for this part of the trip, and if The Ivy Cottage is any indicator of what’s to come, we are in for yet another memorable vacation.  She’s fussy, fussier than I am, ok, maybe MUCH fussier than I am, but fussy pays off when it comes to finding holiday accomodations. I would have been happy enough in a standard motel room or cottage, but there is something extra cozy in finding flowers set out on the bureau and the bed nicely turned down.  It’s embarrassing when Hope gets too pushy (she’d say assertive), but our host had promised fresh baked pastries in the on-line description of the breakfast, and the packaged danishes were notably not fresh baked, so she trotted across the way to another B and B to scrape up some lovely ham and egg croissants.  

Harvey understood that I’m just not the assertive type.  He lectured me when we were newly married, but over time he realized that it hurt me to push people or even to correct them.  I was so grateful for his help when a new acquaintance called me Jane rather than Joan; he’d hurry to correct in the gentlest manner.  “Joan is often confused with Jane, but this is my Joan, no plain Jane.” Corny, I know, but sweet, and such a relief. I thought I’d miss the security of having a husband most, and I do, but I think it’s the silly things I miss most of all.  Harvey would have had a comment when Hope started in, not to her, but to me in that sly whisper he could do like a ventriloquist without moving his lips. “Uh, oh, The Empress is displeased.” It took all the control I could muster not to snort when he said things like that, never mean, but observant.   Yes, I do miss that.

I think that’s why I like Jessica Fletcher so much.  She’s not afraid of anyone or anything; she’ll accuse a murderer right to his face.  She’s smart and sees people as they are, beneath the surface. You’d think she’d be conceited but far from it; she’s always surprised and embarrassed when anyone makes a fuss over her.  Jessica is the woman Harvey really deserved. I always knew that deep down. I’m just not very interesting.

Harvey and Jessica, that makes sense.  Harvey and the dental hygenist in Dr. Barlow’s office?  Really? What kind of woman does that, especially after putting her hands in my mouth?  Or before putting her hands in my mouth. I don’t know the details – how it started, when it  started, when Harvey decided to send his pimple faced office boy to pack up his half of the bedroom, his office, and the garage.  It happened over a long time and then suddenly. I knew Harvey was comfortable with me, loved me, the way you love an old blanket, or the dog that doesn’t smell so great at the end.  I thought we’d grow old together. Maybe he wasn’t ready to grow old; maybe I already had.

Anyway, that’s when we started these trips together, Ellie, Hope, and I.  Ellie’s husband had been gone for quite a while. She doesn’t talk about it, but Martha Harris, who was a nurse at Saint Samuel’s at the time, always thought he had been born with some sort of congenital heart defect.  He was only forty-three when he died; the kids were ten and seven. Ellie did a great job as a parent, we all said so. Her boys had both finished college and moved away about the time Harvey went dental (that’s a little joke I make about it), and Hope’s second husband developed an allergy to sex.  She put up with him for a little more than a year then sent him packing. We don’t keep tabs on her, of course, but she’s the one who is most ready to get back home at the end of one of our trips.

We’ll be setting out shortly for the camp in the pine woods that Ellie attended as a girl, and I’ll put away this silly journal.  They run a family camp for one week in the summer, inviting back past campers and their families. We aren’t really family, but Ellie’s kids are busy and wouldn’t want us around.  Hope must need the break; she says she likes “spinster time” for a few weeks a year if only to remind her not to remarry. I’m not sure if I would, even if I somehow bumped into Mr. Perfect at the Farmer’s Market.  What would we talk about, do you suppose? He’d be a Cubs fan, probably, or a Bears fan, and I don’t care a thing about sports. 


Sometimes when I’m watching Murder She Wrote, I wonder if there’s a kind man somewhere who feels a bit out-of-place and untethered and who sits on a couch watching Jessica Fletcher being clever, and wonders if there’s a kind woman somewhere who feels a bit out-of-place and untethered.  I can hear Hope banging around next door. Time to get going.

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