When the Ice Runs Out at the Annual Block Party We Stand by Our Husbands

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When the Ice Runs Out at the Annual Block Party We Stand by Our HusbandsIt’s mojito season again which means we have to keep an eye on Ingrid. Something about the muddled mint and ice melting at the bottom of that sweaty highball (her third one!) gets her scanning for prey behind those cat-eye sunnies smudged with Katy’s potato salad. Something about track two on Now That’s What I Call Music! 23 bleating from Rick’s college stereo on the deck reminds us: we used to be hunters too. Promiscuous. Once young enough for boozy benders and a slap on the ass without consequence when we prowled for someone to rap Timbaland’s part and we pretended to be Nelly Furtado, gorgeous and sly. Only problem is Ingrid still hasn’t figured out we don’t hunt like that anymore. Of all the wives on this cul-de-sac of manicured lawns and manicured nails and manicured marriages, Ingrid’s always been the one who brushes close enough to know there’s a hard-on for her behind those khaki shorts, the one who might actually end up fucking someone if we’re not careful.

But none of us blames our horny husbands. No. That could only implicate us. Suggests we might not be the ones holding up our end of the “deal,” the long rope of marriage too limp in our grip to make much of a difference anymore. Our attentions fractured and distracted, too busy recalibrating the endurance needed for the domestic haul.

It’s easier to blame Ingrid.

It’s cool though. We let it slide because we’re all best friends. A force. A house of cards. We need each other. To trade turns in the kids’ carpool when someone’s got an early meeting with the boss. To track down a pair of used size 3 ice skates in the middle of hockey season. Drop everything to check out the new rib joint two towns over and report for duty as emergency contact when the school nurse calls about a fever and do late night airport pickups, braless and without bitching. Recommend a good tailor to let out the hip seams of a matron of honor dress in a godawful shade of green. Send over the best brand of ginger tea to get through chemo. This is the power among us. We all know something vital, mortared together by the fear of loneliness. Anyone gets cut from the group and we all fall down because our husbands sure as shit aren’t gonna pick up the slack and no one has time to shore up a broken foundation. So we stop the cracks before they creep any deeper. We stop Ingrid from ruining herself. From ruining us.

From the makeshift bar in the garage, Ingrid shouts to Katy’s husband. “Hey, Rick! I think you’re out of ice. Who wantsssss to drive me down to the market to grab sssssome?” The cooler slams closed. She stands waiting next to a jumble of lacrosse gear and cracked plastic sleds, her talons clicking against her empty glass.

Ingrid’s husband is turning brats on the grill and doesn’t hear. Or pretends not to. A few of the other men pat their pockets and feel for their keys, look for a place to set down their beers. Troy clears the corners of his mouth just like he does before he kisses me when he gets home at night and starts walking toward Ingrid.

We take notice and mobilize.

Katy pulls Rick by the elbow and orders him to put the rolls and mustard on the table. Liz and Na’ama look at me and move closer to their husbands. It must be my turn again. I swallow down the last warm sip of limey rum, the fizz of soda water long gone. A piece of mint gets stuck at the back of my throat as I cough out, “Gimme your keys, Troy. I’ll run over to our house. We’ve got some in the freezer.”

I wiggle my feet back into my flip flops and start toward the driveway where he is standing. He grabs my hand as I start to reach inside his pocket. “You sure? I can head to the store with Ingrid and just grab a few bags . . .” He points his thumb over his shoulder.

I adjust the prosthetic breast inside my bra and stare at him. “I said I’ve got it.” He hands me the house key. I nod toward Ingrid swaying in the dark garage behind him. “Maybe you should get her some water instead.”


Photo used under CC.




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About Author

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Kristen M. Ploetz (@KristenPloetz) lives in Massachusetts. Her recent short fiction has been published (or is forthcoming) with CRAFT Literary, The Normal School, Wigleaf, jmww, Maudlin House, and elsewhere. She is currently working on a collection of short stories, and is Creative Nonfiction Editor for Atlas + Alice. You can find her on the web at www.kristenploetz.com.

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