(The following is a kooky DREAM SEQUENCE, one of many that grace my nocturnal hours. This did not happen in real life—it is only a dream!)
So there I am in my friend Sandy’s kitchen, drinking a glass of wine. I hear people in the next room laughing and talking, and I am immediately overcome with feelings of extreme self-consciousness and the realization that I am not supposed to be here. I accidentally drop my wine glass, which breaks into large shards on the tile floor. Shoot! What now?
I find a small broom and dustpan in the pantry, and I start sweeping up the broken glass. I hope it was not too expensive, or part of a set that has been discontinued. Now I hear footsteps coming toward the kitchen; it turns out to be Sandy’s husband, whom I’ve never met.
Yikes! What am I going to do now? Play it off like Sandy invited me? I look down to verify what I am wearing: nice gray pants, black cashmere sweater, black ballet flats, my chunky turquoise bracelet—I could maybe fit in with this party. But what if this is an extended family gathering, and clearly I do not belong?
I do what I do best in these situations: panic. Don walks into the kitchen, takes one look at me, then looks back in the direction of his guests. My heart is beating very fast, wondering what will happen next. Is he going to yell at me for the broken glass? What about the general trespassing and standing around in his kitchen without being invited?
I give a weak smile. “Hi,” I squeak, “you must be Sandy’s husband.” For some reason, I don’t actually introduce myself.
“Oh,” he says, gesturing to the broom and the broken glass, “uh, what happened?”
“The glass broke,” I shrug, employing a maneuver made famous by my younger son: talking in a passive way (the glass broke, never I broke the glass).
He turns away from me. What is he going to do?
He yells up the stairs. “Sandy! Sandy!” He seems like he might be mad, but I don't know him, so I'm not sure.
I feel like I am six years old and about to cry. I know Don is a lawyer, maybe he is going to have Sandy call the police and have me arrested for trespassing, stealing wine, and breaking his expensive Williams-Sonoma wine glass.
Sandy does not walk down the stairs. Who knows where she has gone. Instead, five or six other party-goers materialize in the kitchen and they are all staring at me.
“Well, looks like you are almost done there, huh?” says Don finally. “I’ll tell Sandy you’re done then.”
Ah, he is giving me the opportunity to leave, like it never happened. This is an opportunity I am going to take.
“Yes, yes, I’m done,” I say accommodatingly, setting the broom back in the pantry, “I will go ahead and leave now.”
“Let me get my checkbook,” says Don weirdly.
Don’s guests are standing around the kitchen, nibbling on cheese and crackers, ignoring me.
Don reappears with his checkbook. Now it is becoming clear to me that he is going to be writing a check to me for some reason.
This is all very mysterious to me. I decide I won’t argue with him, I will just graciously accept the check (for not suing him for almost cutting myself on his faulty wine glasses and possibly bleeding to death at a party I was not invited to?).
He signs the check with a flourish and hands it to me. I smile, say “Thank you,” and head toward the door. He nods, then murmurs, “See you next time.”
I glance at the amount of the check: $300. Wow! Cool! I can buy something great!
Then I read the “memo” part of the check: he scribbled in the words “cleaning services.”
He thinks I am the cleaning lady. I’m not the cleaning lady, I think, outraged. I’m not exactly sure why I’m in their house drinking their wine, but I certainly don’t want to scrub their toilets or clean behind their refrigerator.
Who does he think he is, assuming that I am the maid? I need to correct him and give the check back.
I do the only thing I can: I fold the check neatly and slip it in my pocket. I turn back to Don and say, “Tell Miss Sandy I’ll be back next Wednesday!”
(“Mistaken Other Version”)