Sixteen: Dirty Rotten Karen

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 "Sleep at this point is just a concept, something I'm looking forward to investigating in the future."

~Amy Poehler

"If Karen finds out that you're going to Mr. Watson's classroom instead of Miss Rudy's..." Barb whistles. "You'll be in for it, honey."

"Pfft," I scoff. "Karen won't be able to do anything to me. Might get dirt on her Anne Taylor slacks. Besides, she doesn't own the PTO." I stir around the greasy chicken noodle soup in its styrofoam bowl.

Barb takes a bite of the quinoa she brought from home and shrugs a shoulder. "Whatever you say, but I'm warning like the rest of us and cower in fear every time she walks by."

"Sounds like good advice."

Barb puts her quinoa aside and folds her hands on the table. "So, I never got to ask you...are you married? Or, you know, seeing anyone?"

I roll my eyes and try not to gag. "There's more to life than a significant other!"

"Oh, I know, I was just curious," Barb says gently. She unscrews the cap of her water bottle (that is, of course, filled with coffee) and takes a swig.

I shake my head. "No. There's no one."

"Has there ever been someone?" she pries.

I bite the inside of my cheek and sigh. "There was...once. We decided to go out because my mom was about to set me up with a monk from Canada who thought succulents were instruments of evil. We went to highschool together, and I guess he was a nice guy, but we only dated for a few months until he got arrested for running some sort of Ponzi scheme on Kmart before it went out of business."

Barb gaped at me. "And that's it?"


"Ohh, this is exciting!" A glint forms in Barb's eyes.

"No," I say quickly.

"You don't even know what I was gonna—"

"You're going to try to set me up, but I'm here to tell you to get in line. You and the other two-hundred people in Chestnut Ridge are always trying to get me together with some rando who has a receding hairline. But I'm fine by myself, okay? And plus, I have three nieces that I'm trying not to stuff in a blender on a regular basis, so a guy is definitely not going to be conducive to my current situation."

Barb lifts her hands in surrender. "Okay, hon, I get it!" A tender look comes across her face. "I just remember when Tim and I first met. It was at a Celine Dion concert in Wisconsin. This group of people started passing around cigarettes and we both said "no, thanks" at the same time! We haven't looked back since."

"That's really...disturbing," I say, "but endearing."

A faint beep comes from the kitchen in the cafeteria and Barb immediately stands up. "Coffee's done!"


Janet, Barb, Hayden and I linger after the morning meeting on Friday. David, the businessman, is in the corner again, typing away on his laptop.

"What does he do, anyway?" I ask.

"He has an eBay empire," Hayden replies. "Since my wife left, I've been working in the Wal-Mart Deli, so I've been trying to get David to tell me his secrets—he's rich, by the way—but I can't ever get it out of him."

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