Amanda Makes Her Excuses
Amanda Makes Her Excuses
Oh Darlings, I know I’ve been away ever so much longer than I meant to be and I certainly hope you’ve missed me. I mean, what is the point of my making very good excuses if you didn’t even know I had temporarily gone the way of all people who temporarily marry other people?
Because what can any sensible woman do if a wavy-haired Scottish laird named Torquil who has just the right kind of crooked nose like that actor in I Know Where I’m Going ochs and ayes his way into your tranquil and absolutely-perfect-as-it-already-is existence and utterly insists that you marry him? You know perfectly well. All of a sudden an invisible pianist in a tux follows you around playing Rachmaninov’s No.2 because you’re in a movie that was made before you were born which ends blissfully and you are forever better and wiser and even more beautiful. Except you’re not and it doesn’t and you aren’t. Furthermore, his isolated castle is what any civilized girl would call unheated while his mater-in-residence rages like the proverbial furnace in a snowstorm. Or wherever it is that furnaces rage.
The thing is, the charms of a manly crooked nose diminish under certain circs. And you can get a very nice, one-day divorce in the Dominical Republic knowing that you are following in the time-worn tradition of the great, if not the good. Tuck that in your hat just in case.
Divorce always makes me sentimental. And when I get sentimental it’s all about food. What with Thanksgiving around the corner, I high-tailed to the States (which is what we call the States when we’re not in the States). Because what other states in the whole wide world would anyone ever mean, anyway?
Mumsy wasn’t there. She hates Thanksgiving because it reminds her that there were Pokanonet Indians waltzing around New England like they owned the place before the relevant ancestors staggered off the Mayflower in search of a decent Lobster Thermidor. She was in Paris, naturally. Which is where Julia Child actually made Lobster Thermidor what it is today. So, aglow with thankfulness and post-divorce joie de liberté, I got on line and ordered brined turkey with chestnut stuffing, quail for nibbles, necessary relishes, maple-garlic root vegetables, Texas pecan pie, sugar pumpkin pie, artisanal lavender lemon ice cream and, of course, the Thanksgiving dish shared by settler and native on that first cold November in 1492: pear cranberry brie en croûte. Then I drove to our camp, deep into the Maine woods, to await the arrival of my Thanksgiving feast.
Now there are camps where you send noisy children to get rid of them for a summer. And then there are camps where you have sizeable staff and a lake and holidays and sometimes a helicopter pad if you’re gauche. My family, being practically as averse to gaucherie as the Republican Senate is to social justice, has no helicopter pad. And because even servants have families which is what more or less Thanksgiving is all about beside food and Black Friday, they were off.
I, like Greta Garbo, wanted to be alone. The FedEx man delivered the uncooked pre-stuffed turkey from Neiman Marcus. No sooner did his van disappear down the driveway, then the snow began to fall. I peered expectantly out the picture window through the dancing snowflakes, in search of handsome couriers bearing trimmings and pie. Felt incredibly thankful that instead of living in a movie that was made before I was born with a Laird’s plaid clad mother fog-horning her grievances from morn ‘til night, I was starring in a glittery, silent Christmas card. Occasionally, a red cardinal would hop across the pristine snow. A family of deer lingered beneath the heavy boughs of snow-laden pine trees. I heaped all the logs on the fire at once. Watching the flames jump I thought to myself, This is what always makes a quick late-November divorce oh, so worthwhile.
There was a loud crack. The deer fled as one especially picturesque pine crashed across the driveway rendering a visit from UPS rather imposs. Then the power went out. All of it. As in zip, zero, pitch black none. The fire died. I was alone in the dark with my uncooked pre-stuffed turkey and no pie and no heat and no computer and no phone for upwards of twenty-four hours, not that I knew what time it was until the sun went up.
In the morning, I wrapped myself in seven blankets and clomped into the dark cellar to find the so-called Emergency kit which, because it had never been needed, was lodged behind two incomplete croquet sets and my old fencing gear. I extracted a surplus army water-heating doohickey and a small, fragrant beeswax votive candle. No turkey, etc., on Thanksgiving is a disappointment; no caffeine in the morning is a disaster. I set the candle inside the survivalist doohickey, poured water into the aluminum canister and waited for a boil while I unearthed a cache of stale teabags. But let me tell you this: a beeswax votive candle however fragrant doth not in its brief life span prove capable of boiling so much as eight ounces of water three inches above a flame. My dearest darlings, stale tea made from lukewarm water is what we call a much too educational experience.
Which practically made me think. About power, I mean. Power is everything when you come down to it. And if you have it, you can do what you want. And if you don’t, all the pre-stuffed Neiman Marcus turkeys in the world won’t get cooked and elegant trimmings won’t be delivered to your door and you will have canned tuna and lukewarm tea for Thanksgiving. So marry not even a wavy-haired laird in haste: be powerful every way you can, and carry a chic flashlight with working batteries.