Okay fellow bloggers. Would there be one or two of you that would be interested in giving me your opinion on a “book” I have started? It would be considered chick lit. Just a heads up if you are a guy out there and decide to read it. I am going to post it here and would love to know what your think. It is just a start and I’ve never tried to tell a story in 70,000 to 80,000 words. I am only up to 5400 words so I now understand how difficult it will be to actually weave an interesting story. Be honest but please don’t be cruel. Thanks a bunch.
She tried to get him to stir, but he didn’t move except for the occasional stretch, he stayed in a most inconvenient place. Delilah hated to disturb him because he so rarely would curl up in her lap and stay there, she just wanted to enjoy the moment. Despite wanting to stay where she was, planted on the couch with her cat, Stache, she knew she had to get up and get going. Delilah had chosen the name Stache for her grey and white cat because he had half a white mustache on his face. Like most cats he was independent, so having him lie so quietly in her lap was peaceful and reassuring. Reassuring how? It reassured Delilah that at least one of God’s creatures loved her. Because these past few years, okay let’s just face facts, her entire married life had been nothing but a sad excuse for a life. She had resigned herself to stay and find joy wherever possible, but her ex-husband decided he wanted something, someone different. More precisely someone younger and ignorant of all the horrible things he had done. He even wrote off his own daughters so he didn’t have to face any of the awful truths about himself. Delilah knows he hasn’t stopped any of his behavior. He is doing the same thing behind his new girlfriend’s back, that he had done behind her own back. She was relieved she no longer lived with such a dishonest and disgusting man, but she missed the financial security he provided. It sadden her though to think she stayed all of those years subjecting herself to the hurt and humiliation so she could stay home with her daughters. You see Delilah refers to them as her daughters because even though he was their father, they wanted nothing to do with him. And he quickly walked away when given the opportunity. When we learned the truth we had no choice but to walk away from Delilah. We didn’t have any other choice. You’ll understand once I tell the story. Okay, where was I? That’s right, Delilah is on the couch with her cat curled up in her lap wanting to stay put and that is where I begin.
What can I say about Delilah? Have you ever known a person that despite the obvious evidence could not or would not accept certain positive truths about herself? She was always willing to accept what would be considered negative truths, but we all had tried to convince her of her positive attributes. (Okay not all of us but most of us). She was kind, so very kind and thoughtful. If you were sick or needed help with your kids, Delilah was always the first one to volunteer to help. She was compassionate. When one of our group suffered a loss or had surgery, she was the one to organize meals, transportation to and from the doctor if necessary. Delilah was fun. We all looked to her to do the planning of parties and social events. Even though over the years she had tried to hand off the responsibility, none of us would ever take it. Her parties were the talk of the town. Always coming up with some creative theme or twist, no one ever wanted to be left off the guest list. She was a devoted mother, supporting her daughters in their efforts to achieve their dreams. Unlike the rest of us who impressed upon our children the need to be reasonable and practical when selecting a career, she told her girls to shoot for the stars. And she was beautiful but never ever seemed convinced that she was even the least bit attractive. Maybe that was one of the things that endeared her to some of us, her humility. And then of course, last but not least, she was smart. If any of us needed to know something, we just picked up the phone and called her. If she didn’t know the answer off the top of her head, she would find it for us. Delilah had saved me countless hours of internet research. She was better than Google most of the time. Her intelligence had its limits or maybe she chose not to know certain things to protect herself.
I don’t think any of us really knew what was happening in her marriage. We all like to keep secrets right? None of us want our dirty laundry made public. So we were surprised when we learned the truth about her husband and what she had been enduring for years. I will tell you upfront, it was not physical abuse. You can scratch that off your list. Now that he had left her, she was no longer part of our group. Considering what we learned we just didn’t feel we had any option other than to pretend we didn’t know her. We didn’t want to exclude her, but she moved thirty minutes away to a small apartment. Her divorce was a very real reminder that none of us had a perfect marriage and there probably were many more dirty secrets. And of course there is the economics of the matter. Delilah could no longer socialize at the same places or travel, or spend money freely. She had to watch every penny. So after thirteen years of meeting the first Wednesday of the month, forming what should have been strong bonds, it was all undone. Undone by one woman who deserved our support but only got a cold shoulder.
It all began with an invitation. Candace Ackerman had decided to start a neighborhood bunco group. She would call it the Glenwood Bunco Group. Bunco was a mindless dice game designed to give women a reason to get out of the house once a month without her husband or children. Twelve women were needed to play and she had carefully chosen the women. Candace was known as a queen bee. She always had been. The unexpected, later in life child of older parents who spoiled her, Candace became a cheerleader, popular and all the things a teenage girl dreams of being. Unfortunately Candace had failed to develop any sense of kindness, thoughtfulness or genuineness. Queen bees seem to always be able to trade of the superficial. Her blond hair, girl next door looks and smile hid the real woman behind the façade. But for the Glenwood Bunco Group she couldn’t slack and invite just anyone in. She had carefully gone over the list and sent invitations just to the women she thought would meet her standards. Not all of them lived in the Glenwood subdivision. Some of the women she knew from her husband’s years in the military. It just happened that they all had settled in a suburb north of Dallas, Feather Hills.
As I share this story, I will do my best to be honest and tell you exactly how things actually happened. However, after twenty years not all of the facts can be remembered perfectly, but I will do my best. I was one of the elect eleven, one of the women whom Candace had invited to join her group. When I received the invitation, I had no idea what bunco was but I did know it was an opportunity to get out of the house. I wouldn’t know until the first evening any details of how to play or what exactly was involved. When I arrived that first Wednesday, over twenty years ago, I was young and excited. Having just moved into my dream home, it felt like I had hit the lottery being invited to join a group with neighborhood women. Seriously it was sad, but I felt like that fifteen year old girl who had just received an invitation to the most important party of the year.
Candace’s house was beautiful, not like mine which sat mostly empty. This new house was almost triple the size of our first home, so it was going to take some time to purchase furniture and make it a home. I couldn’t help but wonder how at 32, the same age I was, that she had clearly acquired what appeared to be the furnishings of someone much more established. I would end up learning her husband was quite a bit older than she was and they had started a family when she was just 20. I wasn’t even married when I was 20. Okay, I digress. We were all there. We were twelve women living in the same general area. Our ages ranged from 30-40 and we all had children. Oddly almost all of us had daughters. There were just a few members that had a son and only two that had just boys. Our husbands were all professionals, with at least half of them being pilots for one of the three major airlines based in Dallas. A couple of the women worked full-time or had part-time jobs. The rest of us were magazine examples of the north Dallas suburban stay-at-home mom. We weren’t among the super wealthy, but we all lived very comfortable lives.
I knew Denice Garner, Claudia Davis, Julie Conner, Kim Pahlavi, and Chloe English. I didn’t know Delilah Eastman, Lisa Parker, Courtney Grayson, Doris Harmon, or Billie Sue Brooks. Of course there was Candace Ackerman and then me, Daniella Peterson. We were the twelve and for the next twenty years, we would meet once a month on the first Wednesday of the month. From time to time we would have a substitute when a regular member couldn’t make it, but considering how long we played, it is surprising none of us knew what truly was going on in each other’s lives. The rules of the game were simple. Three tables with four players, three dice on each table, a pencil and index card for each player and appropriate snacks for the evening were required. Designed to not be stagnate, players moved to a new table when they won and stayed at the same table when they lost, each round having a new partner. Glenwood had several bunco groups but they were all loosely formed and none of them had stayed together the length of time our group did. Maybe that’s because we played for prizes and not money or the fact we knew women were on a waiting list to join our group if one of us left. Each member contributed $5.00 a month to cover the cost of the prizes. There were prizes for most wins, most buncos, most losses and door prize. We were only allowed to win the door prize once in twelve months assuring each member of taking home a prize once. Once a year we signed up to host the group at our home and over time, it became a competition. It was no longer an evening of chit-chat, simple snacks and beverages. It eventually became hors d’oeuvres, wine and some over the top dessert. Which was funny since most of us were always pretending to be watching our weight, so the hostess would have gone to great trouble fixing fabulous food for the rest of us to just pick at small pieces.
I’m sure my view of what happened is skewed. It’s like when the police take statements from accident witnesses and no one tells exactly the same story. So in deference to presenting an honest account, I will let each of the members tell the story from their own point of view and then I will give you mine. Of course I will begin with Candace.
Daniella asked me to describe our years in the Glenwood Bunco Group and make my own conclusion about why things ended the way they did. It seemed only natural for me to organize a group. Marrying young and moving around with the military, this was a common way for wives of new officers to be integrated into the base life. Now that Kent was no longer in the military and we had settled our family in Feather Hills, I decided I wanted a social outlet. You know something other than my church activities. My three children kept me busy and so did church, but I still needed something just for me. I had carefully chosen the women to invite because I wanted all of us to have something in common, live fairly close by and I only wanted a “certain” type of woman. Not that I judge, mind you, but this was a nice suburb and we had certain standards to keep. So I made sure each of the women had a certain financial status and were attractive. Silly you might think. She’s 32 years old. Those standards went away once girls graduated high school, but I can tell you honestly they don’t. Just take some time to look around and you’ll see that people of similar attractiveness hang out with people of similar attractiveness. So I couldn’t have overweight and unattractive women in the group. A few of the women I had met while we were still in the military and just happened to all settle in the Dallas area. Who knew we would end up within five miles of each other? They were the first ones on my list, Lisa Parker, Bille Sue Brooks and Courtney Grayson. That put my list at four. I needed eight more women to actually have a group. I had met Delilah Eastman when we were building our house. She was friendly, her husband flew for a competitor and she was attractive. Maybe prettier than I would have normally chosen because I have always preferred not to have any competition but I had to start somewhere. She gave me a list of names of women she knew from the neighborhood. As it turned out I had met some of them at the school open house. So I sent invitations to Delilah Eastman, Denice Garner, Claudia Davis, Julie Conner, Kim Pahlavi, and Chloe English. I met Jill Connors and Doris Harmon through carpool to a nearby Mother’s Day Out program. I wouldn’t know until we had met a few times exactly how we would mesh but I was pretty confident everyone would be happy and have fun.
I set our organizational meeting to be the first Wednesday of March 1992. Everyone had called and accepted my invitations. My friends from military life would already know how to play the game but we would need to teach the other women. Looking at myself in the mirror I was reminded why I had such a blessed life. I went to church. I believed in God. I looked good. My hair was blond. I had managed to keep my school girl figure even after three kids. My parents had paid for braces and I recently had my teeth whitened. I lived a charmed life and tonight would give me the first of many opportunities to share my perfect life.
Time seemed to fly by those first few years. Every now and then we’d have a substitute but by and large, it was the original twelve each first Wednesday. I never shared anything too personal with the group. I saved those conversations for my nearest and dearest friends, Lisa and Courtney. They were my confidants. So when the rumors started swirling the first time, I went directly to them. Over the years different rumors would begin about someone in the group but it never took too long for the gossip to die down. It never stopped, but no one discussed the rumors openly. In the end it was our inability to talk openly about our problems and struggles that caused the turmoil, strife and ultimately the breakup of the group.
Delilah was always so nice. She never seemed to be in a bad mood and she was always the one organizing things for us in addition to bunco. I didn’t join in very often because as the leader of the group, I couldn’t appear to be too available. And then of course, I had the Bible study I led at church and my kids to keep me busy. My faith is very important to me and I always make sure everyone knows from the moment they meet me that I am a conservative Christian. Everyone liked Delilah, at least I think everyone liked Delilah. If anyone said anything about her it was in reference to her looks and how she failed to see how pretty she was. She never reached out to me so I don’t know why anyone wants to hear what I have to say about what happened. But I will give it my best shot.
The doorbell began to ring around 6:45 pm. I had asked Lisa and Courtney to come a little early to help me finish setting up. I always had like them. Lisa, petite, cute and as southern as they come was always eager to help. Courtney, a Midwestern girl, who always seemed to keep herself slightly detached was an attractive brunette but had a serious profile problem. I never mentioned it to her, but there certainly was no way she didn’t know. We had bonded when our husbands were all stationed in West Texas and then Courtney and I found ourselves stationed in Germany. They were also so good to defer to me but when it came to bunco I knew that Lisa would take the reins when it came to teaching the game and running the evening. Knowing she would take control, I would have the opportunity to get to know the other women better.
“Come on in.” Several of the women had arrived at the same time. Seeing so few cars, I decided some of them had walked.
“I am so glad you decided to join us. We are going to have fun and a chance to relax away from our husbands and children.” Now I wasn’t insinuating that we needed the break, but let’s face it, don’t we all need a break now and then? The first in the door was Denise Garner. Tall, thick black hair, fair skin, she clearly was pretty. Next came Claudia Davis. Not too tall, busty with short dirty blond hair, she was average in the looks department but I had it on good authority that she was a miracle worker in the yard. And with a blank patch of grass in the front and back, I could use her help. Julie Connor was also with this group. We carpooled together. She was the youngest of the group at just 29 years old, worked part-time as a nurse and had a killer body. A beach girl from the south, she had sun kissed skin and shoulder length hair that had the shine I envied. Delilah Eastman and Daniella Peterson were coming up the walkway. Even in the darkness of the night you could tell there was something different about Delilah. I knew some people believed each of us had our own aura but as a Christian, I never believed it. But if I was going to, that would have been the night. I swear she had a glow that surrounded her. Not too tall, thick wavy hair, dark blond, blue eyes and a lovely figure she was the perfect type of member. One of those women that other women wanted to be. I just hope I hadn’t made a mistake inviting her to join us. For some reason, I was feeling uneasy. Daniella was great. A tall, strawberry blond, who had her curls tied up off her neck, you could see the smattering of freckles as she came to the door. Her eyes were somewhere between green and blue. I wasn’t sure if Delilah and Daniella were close friends.
“Come on in ladies. Help yourself to a drink and get acquainted. We are just waiting for the final ladies to arrive.” I sounded friendly, kind, exactly as I had intended. A few minutes later I heard a car drive up and a door slam. The last of the women had arrived. At my door stood Kim Pahlavi, the oldest of the group at 40. Her hair was somewhere between blond and gray. Slim, very busty to the point I wondered if she had purchased them, she was married to a foreigner. I wasn’t sure where he was from but I wasn’t thrilled to learn that piece of information. I needed to make a mental note that next time I invite someone to join my group to do a little more research. The bell rang again and the last three women arrived. Chloe English a beautiful blond with three kids and just a few years old than me was with Billie Sue Brooks. They didn’t know each other but had arrived at the same time. Billie Sue was my friend from my husband’s military life. She was the quintessential southern girl, always bubbly, energetic, strong accent and we both had been cheerleaders in high school. Doris Harmon was another carpool mom. I hadn’t intended on including her because frankly she didn’t quite meet my standards but Jill had mentioned it to her and I really had no other choice. It wasn’t that Doris was unattractive, she just wasn’t attractive enough and she had that natural Colorado manner which didn’t blend well with my more formal style.
“Ladies, now that we are all here. Lisa will get up started by explaining the rules and she’ll get us going on our first game. Help yourself to a beverage. There are snacks on the table.”
From what I could tell, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and continued to enjoy themselves over the years. When I heard the first rumor, I tried to ignore it but my curiosity was peaked and I didn’t like not knowing what was going on. We never openly discussed rumors, not at bunco anyway. We waited until we were with our closest friends.
Doris had managed to attach herself to me. She reminded me of one of those girls in high school that would do just about anything to be part of the in group. I didn’t like it but then I realized it had advantages. She was more than happy to share with me anything she heard without reservation. And she never told anyone else what she knew, so she was my own private source. When Doris came to me after we had been playing about a year with the first rumor, I was shocked. I don’t know why because it wouldn’t have been the first time I had heard something like this. It was just the first time it had hit so close to home. We all had noticed Billie Sue had dropped weight. She was slim to begin with and didn’t need to drop anymore weight but after a year of playing clearly there was something amiss. Doris told me she had heard Billie Sue was anorexic. That scared me because I suffer from anorexia off and on myself. I hid it well and never shared that information with anyone. I didn’t say anything to Billie Sue. I just watched to see if she got worse. That was the first time a rumor floated around our group. I never knew until years later that Delilah had approached Billie Sue and helped her find a counselor to deal with the problem. I am still not even sure that Billie Sue was anorexic. That was the thing about Delilah. She was always sticking her nose in where it didn’t belong. I know helping Billie Sue was a good thing, but Billie Sue would have figured it out on her own. Delilah didn’t need to run to her rescue. There were two more rumors that followed. I need a break for now. I will let someone else tell their side of the story.
I am a Texas girl through and through. My friendship with Candace came about because her husband was stationed in my hometown in West Texas. I liked her from the minute we met. I knew she was one of those women that had been a queen bee in high school. I recognized that quality because I had always been part of my high school’s queen bee’s hive. So when I found out both of us were in Feather Hills and she wanted me to join her Glenwood Bunco group, I was thrilled. I knew Courtney and Billie Sue from those days, but I didn’t know the other women Candace had invited. If she stayed true to form, it would be a group of very attractive, upper middle class, suburban mothers and when they began to arrive, I knew Candace hadn’t changed a bit.
I was in charge of the game. It just came naturally to me. So after introductions were made that first night, I went about my job of teaching everyone to play. Now bunco rules vary from group to group. In reality you really just make the rules up, so our game wasn’t exactly like the other Glenwood Bunco groups. We had a slightly more aggressive and exciting way of playing. If someone at your table rolled three sixes, everyone at the table would try and grab the dice. So over the years there were quite a few scratches and a lot of yelling Bunco at the top of our lungs. It always made me feel like a kid when a bunco was rolled. There was an excitement and energy among the women at those times.
I liked all of the women but then again I get along with just about everyone but most people aren’t like me. And over the next twenty years it would be made clear that we were not a group of twelve women that stood as one. There was a divide that would grow over time. It wasn’t evident at first, but once the first rumor started the crack began to grow. I had noticed that Billie Sue had become increasingly thin over that first year but as southern women we knew how important it was to keep our figure. It never occurred to me it could be something more serious like anorexia. And I didn’t know until after it was all over that Delilah had intervened and got her help. But ladies, being thin is important and since Billie Sue conquered her anorexia, she had put on a few too many pounds. I wouldn’t say she was heavy, she just wasn’t thin anymore. Billie Sue had always been fit, so I would say she went back to being fit. Candace told me about Billie Sue. She told me in confidence. I liked the fact she confided in me and no one else. I knew I was special and her dearest friend. Candace had made it clear she didn’t approve of Delilah’s meddling. She also seemed to enjoy the fact that Billie Sue was suffering but I overlooked that fact and decided I was imagining things. I always believed Candace without question. Hindsight is 20/20 so maybe I should have asked a few more questions.
Three rumors in twenty years isn’t bad. I knew groups who had a new rumor every month they played and usually they turned out to be false. So we were better than those groups. Of course rumors being what they are, weren’t supposed to carry much weight. But do you know anyone who doesn’t listen and give some thought and weight to the rumors they hear? We all must or those gossip magazines wouldn’t even exist. These rumors however were among us and not the rich and famous. I just knew that no matter what ended up being true, I would stand on the side of Candace. Nothing could make me cross that line of loyalty.
Because we played once a month, always the first Wednesday, most of women started buying prizes in a theme. So if you had bunco in July, the hostess might have prizes that consisted of beach towels, summer music Cds, sunblock, a fun cup etc. It actually made it easier to find things for prizes since we only had $60 to spend and limits on each prize. Some members were more creative and better shoppers than others, so if you were to win one of those months you felt lucky. I had noticed that Doris had become the fourth in our group of three. Originally it was me, Candace and Courtney but now whenever we did something outside of bunco, Doris was always there. She never said very much but clearly was grateful for being included. That was fine with me. I didn’t care one way or the other. I knew I was Candace’s best friend. I know you want me to tell you about all of the rumors and the eventual fall out, but I think for now someone else should have a go.
When Candace told me she was starting a bunco group in her new neighborhood, I wasn’t sure I wanted to join. I had seen her methods before while we were in the military and I didn’t know if I was up for what I thought was juvenile behavior. Sometimes when we were together, I would swear it was high school all over again. I had been in the popular crowd at school and knew how girls could be. Women were the same, but I liked Candace and we had a history together. Stationed in Germany as young brides and mothers, we depended on each other. That formed a bond between us that couldn’t be broken. That and a secret I carried for her. I knew she would never trust anyone else with the truth and she trusted me to never tell anyone. There were no surprises that night. The women were exactly what I expected. They were all attractive, lived close by and we were all fairly close in age. People sometimes accuse me of being detached but personally for me it’s the easiest way to deal with a group of people I didn’t know well. Don’t get too close and you don’t have to worry about being hurt or sharing information you wished you had kept to yourself. I learned in high school if you didn’t want someone to know something, then you kept it to yourself.
Candace had always made it clear I was her best friend. I knew she was close to Lisa but I also knew that Lisa didn’t know Candace’s secret. The three of us did lots of things together and since this group started we had added a fourth, Doris. I didn’t mind because Doris was a people pleaser, easy going and eager to fit in. I would never tell her the things Candace said behind her back. I am not cruel. Billie Sue and I had met several years ago when our husbands were based in West Texas. Her bubbly, southern persona was a little too much for me. I always stood on the side of seriousness and had been accused of being unfriendly. Oh well, I let that stuff roll off my back. So when the first rumor started circulating, I ignored it. I didn’t care one way or the other if Billie Sue had a problem. It wasn’t my problem and I wasn’t getting involved. Had I known that people believe rumors and made choices based on what were probably untruths, I might had checked out if Billie Sue was really anorexic but since I didn’t care, I just believed what I heard.
Twenty years is a long time to meet with the same people. Heck, some marriages don’t even last that long. So when you consider that twelve women managed to meet once a month for twenty years and there were only three rumors that made the rounds, I would say we had done well. I enjoyed getting out once a month. I was one of the few women that had a son and daughter. Most everyone had just girls. I think that is why I sort of enjoyed having Doris in our foursome. She had two boys and we could connect discussing boy issues. Candace had a son and two girls but her son was so much younger than mine that she hadn’t experienced some of the issues I had.
Do I regret what happened? Do I regret allowing the division to grow among the women; my answer is maybe. I figured it was bound to happen sooner or later. I just thought it would be years sooner than it was. And had it had happened sooner, I don’t think the fallout would have been so serious.