"I'm not wildly excited to have the Fitzgeralds next door," said Clarence Morton. "I read that excerpt from This Side of Paradise." He chomped his cigar. "Zelda, what kind of name is Zelda? Heathen youth. He's a writer, for God's sake."
Married forty years, I love my predictable curmudgeon, Sarah Morton thought as she fingered her pearls and let Clarence rant for a few minutes. "It's only an open house invitation."
"Fine," he growled. "Is dinner ready? I'm starved. Busy day at the Exchange."
Sara knew that he'd first refuse a drink sanctimoniously, and then overindulge in Fitzgerald's finest bootleg Scotch. Saturday evening, Clarence protested as she adjusted his cravat. "Who's going to be there?"
Sarah clutched her beaded bag. "Intriguing neighbors, dear. Let's go."
At the party, Sarah found herself in a circle of women, waving cigarette holders, gulping wine, and discussing 1921 politics. She confessed she hadn't voted, nervous about the newfound freedom.
"You must join our ladies auxiliary," proclaimed a dramatically dressed flapper. Hesitant, Sarah accepted a leaflet announcing meetings.
Once home, Clarence complained about various unsavory characters, "Rebels, all of them, including our hosts."
"I quite enjoyed the gathering and made new friends," she said quietly.
"Women ready to run the world?" he spat irritating her more as they dressed for bed.
Tucking the leaflet in her desk drawer, she made a calendar notation.
"I don't believe I'll be home Tuesday evening," Sarah informed Clarence, turning over in bed, avoiding his boozy goodnight kiss.
First published: February, 2011
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