Blanche: (Twitting) Oh, come on, Pepper, why do you always start mentally wringing your hands when the subject — (Emphasizing) Divorce — comes up? You act like it’s the third rail of your life.
(Cavalierly) Divorce is passé — fact of the matter is — 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce.
Pepper: (Crestfallen) Divorce may be out of date, Blanche, but people aren’t. It still hurts.
Blanche: Don’t you think it’s about time to take off that hair shirt?
Pepper: (Philosophically) I don’t really need to remove it. No one does; it comes as standard equipment to the species homo sapien.
Blanche: OK, touché!
(In mock trial lawyer mode) So you married young, right out of a convent school, which happened to be a four-year (Emphasizing) Catholic college, three weeks after graduation, circa 1960.
Pepper: (Rolling her eyes) From one container to another.
Blanche: (Exuberant) So you hit the jackpot — three beautiful babies in the next three and half years!
Pepper: (Looking back) It seems like light years away now.
Blanche: (Doggedly) So the marriage lasted…
Pepper: (Sarcastically) Why don’t you say strung out?
Blanche: (Straight away) Almost 14 years.
Pepper: (Reaching for a recollection) Not very long for a couple the (Emphasizing “Right Reverend”) Right Reverend Monsignor remarked…
Blanche: (Jumping in) Were so much in love?
Pepper: Get real, Blanche.
In the prelate’s eyes, we truly understood the meaning of the sacrament of Matrimony, two baptized Catholics expressing the unbreakable bond of love between Christ and his Church.
Blanche: Doesn’t sound very romantic.
(Jesting) I think this member of the Holy See might have had cataracts!
Pepper: That day, no, he was on target.
Blanche: How so?
Pepper: (Earnestly) We were like St. Francis and St. Clare, the perfect Catholic couple.
Blanche: The Clare that followed Francis after hearing him speak — and did everything to imitate him?
Pepper: (With burlesque flourish) ‘Twas I to a “T.”
Colin read a lot and was smart, a true scholar. Nice looking, too, kind of a cross between Jimmy Stewart and Tyrone Power.
Pepper’s younger sister, KJ, spins and flits towards the Back Fence like the sprite Ariel in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”
KJ: (Moving into the conversation) How could I forget you and Colin, Pepper?
Pepper: (Dismissively) And just what do you remember, KJ?
KJ: (Pantomiming handles on pitchers with her hands at her two ears) Little pitchers have big ears!
I liked Colin Muir a lot. We called each other “Garbage” and “Little Rubbish,” that was between Colin and me. It came out of sarcasm. It wasn’t cute at all. Colin told me sheepishly that his baseball friends, who really weren’t his friends at all, would scream out “That’s Garbage” to him when he messed up on the baseball diamond.
(Pensively) Colin would talk to me — whether he wanted to or not. He was always extremely polite and nice.
Pepper: He did the right thing. He was correct.
Blanche: There’s something to be said for good manners. Being well bred is a rare commodity these days.
KJ: (Jumping in) You and Colin were such a handsome couple, Pepper. Princess Margaret was marrying Tony Snowden at the same time; people were impressed how beautiful you looked together, like in a fairytale.
Pepper: (Slightly edgy) In retrospect, I’d like to pooh-pooh the whole thing, but I bought into it then; I played the game.
KJ: And won the Oscar! (Dreamlike) You were so believable!
Pepper: (Authoritatively) We were doomed from Day One, but I just couldn’t see it.
Blanche: Nobody knew, Pepper. Fifties into the sixties — it was an explosive time, revolution on every front: skirts raised from mid-calf to mid thigh; arrival of Enovid, the first hormonal contraceptive pill; a young Irish Catholic in the White House after generations of white Protestants; student sit-ins at colleges and universities, demonstrations against the Vietnam War and our history of racial discrimination…
It wasn’t meant to be an ice cream social.
Pepper: OK, Blanche, I get it!
But even when we first met and started to date, I being 16, he 17, Colin was arrogant and critical of me.
Being a slow reader, I took a summer school course at the local high school to get up to speed — and searching the library for a book to scan as fast as I could my first day of school, I found “I’d Rather Be Kissed,” something light and suitable enough, I felt, to get me going.
Blanche: Ah, oh, I can see it coming…
Pepper: (Nonchalantly) So here’s 15-year-old Dolores Keith who wants to be a famous writer when she grows up, and likes to pretend she’s 19. She spats with the boy next door; idealizes the carpet man; and learns some facts of life when her English teacher gets engaged…
KJ: (All ears) Sounds plausible enough to me — for a teenager.
Pepper: Well, when Colin saw that disgusting blob of paper and ink on the hall table, he excoriated me for picking such a dimwit story. “You should be reading something substantial — like “Kon Tiki” — not all that mindless fluff.”
KJ: I can hear the prudish tone of our Preacher Man.
Blanche: (Philosophically) Today, you know he was right, Pepper.
Pepper: (Smiling) It may have been mindless fluff, ladies, but still and all, even today, I’d rather be kissed.