Thursday, July 1, 2021

Back on the Porch Swing with Marita, Angel, Charli and Bets

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As promised, I've invited my characters back to the porch swing, but it was too hot for them yesterday. Today, after a rainstorm, it's cool and dry and they're ready to chat -- so much so, that I put them in charge of the questions (I never know where these discussions will end up anyway). Bets has offered to go first :-)

Bets: If you could go back and do one thing in your life differently, what would it be?

Charli: I wouldn't have broken up with Todd. Mom, how about you?

Marita (laughs): That means she doesn't want us to ask her for further details. thing. And everything else in my life would be the same?

Bets: If that's how you want it.

Marita: Okay. I would have gone to college.

Angel: Me too.

Charli (looks from her mother to her stepmother): Neither of you...?

Marita and Angel shake their heads.

Charlie: I never realized that. 'Course I guess it's kinda my fault that you didn't go, Mom.

Marita: No, it's not. I never really loved school, and I'd had enough of it by the time I was 16. I wouldn't have appreciated college then. Now, I realize how many doors it could have opened for me.

Charlie: If not for me. 

Bets: C'mon, Char. You heard her. She wanted everything else in her life to be the same.

Charlie: Did you go to college, Bets? 

Bets: One semester of community college. I wasn't exactly a stellar student and my parents didn't want to lay out the money for me to go away to college. That was the experience I wanted, though, so I kind of tanked. I didn't exactly try.

Marita (guffaws): That's one way of putting it.

Charlie: What -- ?

Bets (mimes zipping her lip): I plead the fifth.

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Charlie: You could still go, Mom.

Marita: I might. But you definitely will. There will be no negotiating.

Angel: I agree.

Charlie: How come you didn't go to college, Angel? Didn't you like school either?

Angel: Oh, no. I loved school! But I didn't know what I wanted to go to college for, and it seemed a lot to ask of my dad to send me to school when I didn't know what I wanted to study. So, I decided to work for a while until I made up my mind. And then, I met your dad.

Marita: If you could go now, what would you study?

Angel: Business. Or psychology. How about you?

Marita: I really do like my job, so probably something in law. But I don't want to be a lawyer. Maybe a paralegal. Bets?

Bets: I'd get a degree in theatre arts. Really, truly study acting and directing. 

Charlie: So, what's stopping all of you? And why do I have to go if you all didn't?

Marita: Let me take those in reverse order. I want you to have the experience. And college opens doors. Now, that said, if you had a different plan -- you really wanted to be a carpenter or a welder -- 

Charlie: A welder, Mom?

Marita: Whatever. If you wanted to go to school for something that didn't require college, I'd be open to discussing that. But I want you to be ready for wherever life could take you.

Charlie: So, what's stopping all of you from going now?

Angel: I've always wanted to be a mom. There's no career I want more than that.

Bets: I'm too old.

Marita: Bets!

Bets: No, seriously, Ri-Ri. Can you imagine me competing with all those college girls for parts? I want to be the ingenue, not someone's mother. Besides, Char, school is kind of a habit. Once you get out if it, it's hard to start it up again. It's easier to just go straight through. Or, at least I think it would have been.

Charli: Mom?

Marita: I've actually been thinking about it.

Bets: You...What brought this on?

Marita: I've been reading online about how the pandemic has shaken up the job market. How a lot of women have left and might not return, and how many people are considering changing jobs. I guess it got me thinking.

Angel: Wow! Marita, that's so -- 

Charlie: Cool!

Marita: Do you really think so? I mean, Bets is right. It takes a lot of discipline to do the work. Especially when I already have a job.

Charlie: So quit!

Marita (laughs): Oh, Char! It's not that easy. Besides, I want to make sure I don't stop saving for your education. 

Angel: Well, you certainly won't have to do that on your own. Jim and I will contribute to Charli's college.

Bets: And I'm sure Rosemarie and the Judge will send some cash your way, wrapped up in a nice, neat little bow of opinions and ultimatums. (clears her throat) Sorry, Charlie.

Charlie (laughs): That sounds about right. Just don't tell them I said that. And, Mom, I don't want to be the reason you don't go back to school. That's not fair.

Marita: You're right. But it's not you, it's me. I'm your mom. I want to make sure I invest in you and your future. But I'll also take money from your father without blinking an eye!

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Bets: As you should.

Angel: No argument here.

Bets: Ri-Ri, are you serious about this?

Marita: Well, I've looked into some online programs...

Bets: You are! Is tuition reimbursement part of your contract?

Marita: Yes, but how did you --

Bets: Temp job as a high school secretary. So, when do you start?

Marita: Wait! I'm not --

Bets: Wait for what?

Charlie: Yeah, Mom. What are you waiting for?

Angel: Well, this conversation certainly took an interesting turn.

Bets (grins): It sure did. And it all started with my question.

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