Tales From a Broad
If you enjoy new twists on old classics, then Tales From A Broad is a comedic adventure of one woman's quest to find herself, but the spotlight focuses on her older chaperone, instead.
Forty-two and feeling not-so-fabulous, Lucy Banks allows her older sister to talk her into accompanying her twenty-four-year-old niece on a trip around Europe. In the past year she has lost her fiancé, her job and her fertility. Embracing her role as spinster aunt seems to be Lucy's only option, until she embarks on a romantic adventure through London, Amsterdam, Munich, Paris and Florence. Will a room with a view and a handsome stranger be enough to open her heart and mind to new experiences?
Tales From A Broad promises to draw readers into a light-hearted tale of emotional development, self-discovery and love.
I refuse to empty the dishwasher today. My goal is to use every last utensil in there.
Facebook Status May 19 at 11:20am
I stretched my arm from beneath the down comforter and reached for my cell phone on the nightstand. I had a string of missed calls from my sister Morgan, and it was already a quarter past eleven. How did it get so late? I couldn’t believe the racket on Lexington Avenue hadn’t woken me sooner.
I closed my eyes and listened to the sound of life passing me by. Street drilling, the siren of a car alarm, and the beeping sounds of a garbage truck were comforting reminders that I wasn’t completely alone. I put on my slippers, padded into the living room, and turned on the TV.
“Boy is it beautiful out there,” Kelly Ripa chirped from her seat on “Live with Kelly & Michael,” as her cheerful face came up on the screen. “There’s something about this weather that makes you feel so, so ... alive,” she sang.
“Not feelin’ it, Kel,” I sang back. All I felt was guilt, and I certainly didn’t need to get it from her. It had been two months since Cooper called off the wedding and still, I hadn’t managed to reenter life. I didn’t need to be reminded I was missing another quintessential spring day in the city.
I flipped the TV off, tossed the remote in disgust, and put my feet on the coffee table. Using my toe, I nudged the pile of accumulated crap on the table. It was a mish mash of magazines, unread mail, wedding responses from those who didn’t get the memo, and my beloved journal, which had been ohso neglected.
I reached over and picked it up. A feeling of nostalgia washed over me.
“Bless me journal for I have sinned,” I murmured. “It’s been about a couple of months since my last confession. It’s just that...” I paused to read one of the inspirational messages printed across an empty page, “I don’t really write when I’m down. I eat. And it’s just too darn messy to hammer cheese doodles and write at the same time.”
Maybe I should go hands-free. Siri for slobs? A digital Dictaphone? I pondered whether they made waterproof ones that protected against flying crumbs and sticky fingers when I heard a knock at the door.
I froze for a moment. God strike down the person who invented the drive by visit! Luckily for them, my prayers were rarely answered these days. I tiptoed quietly over to the door and peered out the peephole.
I groaned inwardly. There stood Morgan, and I saw anxiety written all over her face, magnified through the tiny peephole. She bit her fingernail and knocked again, this time a little harder.
“Lu, open up! It’s us!” Morgan sang in a chipper tone.
She may have sounded upbeat, but that didn’t fool me. I knew my sister well enough to know she was nervous. She was probably worried about how her unstable sister would react to her unannounced visit.
She had called the night before with an invitation to take me out for a drink. When I told her that I wasn’t in the mood for a cordial, her reaction was anything but. Over the past two months, the majority of our phone calls had gone in the very same direction. Bother, rinse, and repeat.
But last night, the routine was over. What had started with a friendly hello, ended with a not-so-friendly goodbye—on my part.
I looked out the peephole again and saw Tess, my twenty-four-year-old niece, staring back at me with apologetic eyes. Telepathically I told her, “Don’t worry, Tessie. I know you’re not responsible for this.”
“Lu, we can see you,” Morgan shouted through the door. I quickly ducked my head down. Busted.
I put my hand on the doorknob and froze in contemplation. They haddriven an hour, so technically, that couldn’t even qualify as a drive-by visit. Oh, how I wished it were a drive-by shooting instead. And I was the victim.
Then again, I wouldn’t want to be found looking like this. I had been sporting one of Cooper’s very old t-shirts with my pajama bottoms. It had been worn so thin that the grey material had become practically see-through. To make matters worse, I had cried myself to sleep the night before and used the shirt as an eye-makeup remover. Mascara as a pick-me-up is highly overrated.
What wasn’t covered in mascara was covered in ice cream stains from a late night feeding frenzy. Classy. I wasn’t sure what was more humiliating, the way I looked or the fact that I still slept in my ex-fiancé’s shirt. And actually, my pajama bottoms were his boxers.
I swept my eyes around the messy apartment and caught a glimpse of a framed photo that hung in my foyer. Morgan had taken it years ago, but I remembered the moment as if it were yesterday. She and I had been shopping in Soho when we were caught in the storm of the century. In the photo, we were huddled under a plastic bag, soaking wet and giggling like silly schoolgirls.
My heart softened a bit, and I experienced a pang of longing for the simpler days. I knew I should just open the damn door. Morgan wasn’t exactly the type to make a quiet exit. If I didn’t acknowledge her efforts, she’d only try harder.
“Just a minute!” I shouted.
I looked down and knew I had to change my clothes, stat. I started to pull the shirt over my head and heard the doorknob click. I immediately froze as the door swung inward. I stood in the vestibule, topless, with the shirt over my face. I could actually see them staring at me, through the worn out material. Morgan’s hand flew to her mouth, and Tess omitted a quiet giggle. Sheepishly, I pulled it back down.
“Hi,” I said shame-faced. “I was just...” I trailed off. Morgan was speechless.
“We used the key,” Tess said, shooting me a look.
I knew she was mortified for me. Boy, did I regret giving her a key to my crash pad for her twenty-first birthday. I was trying to send the message to drink responsibly. Little did I know that three years later, she would be using it to have an intervention with me.
“C ... can you just give me a s ... second?” I felt like a cross-dresser who had been busted. “Then we can have a proper hello,” I said, walking down the hall towards my bedroom. “Make yourselves at home and I will be right...”
“Lucy,” Morgan commanded. “Wait.”
I stopped in my tracks, did a reverse, and slowly approached my sister. She rushed toward me, her eyes glistening with tears. She gripped both of my elbows and looked into my eyes.
“Lu, I’m really sorry about last night. I didn’t mean to badger you. It’s just that.... I wanted to see my sister. I’ve missed you so much.”
As I stood face-to-face with Morgan, I suddenly felt foolish. I sheepishly ran my hand through my unwashed hair and waved it in the air. “Let’s just forget it. I probably overreacted.”
“No, you didn’t. Iwas the one who overreacted. Lu,” she paused and placed a hand on her chest, looking me up and down, “I didn’t realize you were still in this much pain. You never even talk about it, anymore.”
“Well,”—I widened my eyes—“Iguess you had to see it to believe it, huh? Surprise!”
I held my arms up, and after Morgan’s eyes darted to a hole in my armpit, I folded them protectively across my chest. Morgan’s lips formed a sympathetic pout. I drew in a breath and released a long sigh.
“Look, I’m sorry too. I didn’t mean to shut you out. From now on, you have an open invitation to my pity party. Come here.” I tilted my head and stretched my arms out.
Morgan heaved a sigh as she came in for a hug. “I’m always here for you, Lu.”
“I know you are,” I whispered in her ear. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” She gave me a tight squeeze.
I drew in a breath of relief myself, and in doing so, I got a whiff of her signature scent. She’d been wearing Chloe for as long as I could remember. I, on the other hand, was aware that I smelled like a dirty sock.
“Now, do you mind if I shower quickly? You guys look so nice, and I just can’t stand the thought of looking like a vagabond in front of you.”
Morgan pulled away and gripped my elbows at arm’s length. “But you look so handsome in men’s loungewear.”
“Shut up.” I gave her a playful punch in the arm. “I can’t even bring myself to hug that one.” I pointed my thumb in the direction of Tess, who looked like her usual gorgeous self. Wearing jeans, a simple tee, and a long scarf, she looked perfectly put together.
“Oh, whatever!” Tess laughed and glanced up from her phone.
She was effortlessly beautiful. In fact, one of the things I loved most about her was that she was completely unaware of her good looks. I’ve come to realize that’s probably why she’s so awesome.
What I haven’t quite figured out, though, is where her looks came from. Yes, my brother-in-law happens to be attractive, and Morgan has always been a pretty woman. She may be eight years older than I am, but for someone nearing fifty, she looks pretty damn good. Now, if she could bring herself to part with the minivan and her love of L.L Bean, she’d probably knock a few years off her look. But even if she were a Corvette driver, she still wouldn’t look like an older version of her daughter.
Nor would I for that matter. Our side of the family just doesn’t produce honey-colored hair and blue eyes. We’re all dark-haired, dark-eyed clones of one another.
“Sweetie,” Morgan called out to Tess. “Should we make Aunt Lu open our gifts first?”
“Gifts?” I echoed. “Is it my birthday?” I was only half-joking.
For a minute, I had to stop and actually think about the date. With no job, and no life for that matter, I was having trouble keeping track. My days had no beginning and no end.
“Mom and I brought you a little something,” Tess said. “A peace offering.” She stepped down from the barstool and gave me a wink. She walked over to the door, extracted a box from her oversized bag, and handed it to me.
“Ooh!” I smiled at Morgan while giving the box a small shake. “Let’s sit.” My shower could wait.
We took our places in the living room as they watched me lift the lid. Two books lay inside and suddenly my excitement began to dissipate. “Eat, Pray, Love and Under the Tuscan Sun,” I read off the book covers. “Hmm. Old stories about lost women trying to find themselves,” I said in a falsely upbeat tone. “Is this a hint?” I watched Morgan and Tess exchange a look.
“I’m sorry,” I winced. “I don’t mean to be unappreciative. I know I’m a mess.” I crossed my legs to close the opening on Cooper’s boxers.
“Actually,” Morgan said with a smile, “it is a hint. We think it’s time you give yourself a break for once in your life. Go find yourself.”
I looked at Tess who was gazing at her mother, rapt with admiration. It was as if she had just witnessed her mom pass on the family stone. Yes, it was a nice gesture, but two books didn’t quite warrant such a reaction. I drew in a slow breath.
I gave my sister a puzzled look and tucked my ratty hair behind my ears. “I’m not so sure I follow.”
I extracted a peanut M&M from the candy dish that sat on the table, popped it into my mouth, and leaned back on the couch. I carefully bit the candy and released the nut with my tongue.
“Open the next one,” Morgan said with a smile. Tess reached into her bag and handed me another gift.
Based on how it felt, I could already guess it was another book. “Did you ever think of starting a book club?” I said. I ripped open the paper. It was actually a journal.
“Okay,” I smiled and nodded. “I’ll give you an A for effort. I see you have a whole theme going on here. The books, the pep talk, the journal...” I waved the book in the air. A piece of paper slipped out and landed on my lap.
“What’s this?” I picked it up and held it under my nose. “It looks like an airline ticket.”
“It is!” Tess exclaimed. “We’re going to Europe, baby!” With that, she leaped onto the couch and jumped up and down. She kind of reminded me of a judge on “The Voice.” Or Tom Cruise, when he professed his love for Katie Holms on “Oprah.”
Tess plopped back down beside me, barely taking a second to catch her breath. She grabbed my arm. “Aunt Lu,” she panted, “this is going to be so much fun!”
I looked over at Morgan, who was happily nodding her head. “Go have the adventure of a lifetime.” She leaned closer to me and tapped her hand firmly on the journal. “And remember it.”
“But ... I thought.... Wait, what?” I shook my head in confusion.
“Okay, here’s the deal.” Tess clasped her hands together. “Since college, I’ve wanted to travel Europe, but never had the time—or guts, to do it. That’s when my mom suggested that wego together!”
“How kind of her.” I shot Morgan a silent look of death. “What about Jack?” He was the guy she had been dating for years.
Tess shrugged her shoulders. “We’re on a break.”
“I had no idea.” I frowned. “What happened? Was it mutual?”
My stomach lurched, and I immediately regretted my choice of words. After calling the wedding off, I had received dozens of responses from friends who were happy to hear the breakup was mutual. I had come to loathe that word.
“Aunt Lu, I’ve been dating the same guy since high school. We’ve become more like brother and sister.”
I glanced at Morgan. She tugged on her bottom lip to fight the corners of her mouth from twitching their way into a smile. I bit my own lip and turned my attention back to Tess.
“I don’t know any man other than him, and I think it’s time to experience new people, new things,” she said with an eyebrow raised. “My life is so dull. Believe me, you’re not the only one who could use a change. I took that job at the daycare center as a short-term plan while I waited to get a real teaching job. That was two years ago! I’m sick of wallowing about not having a ‘real’ job,” she said, making air quotes. “I haven’t done one productive thing since college.”
She formed the letter “L” with her thumb and index finger and rested it on her forehead.
“That’s not true, honey,” Morgan said.
Tess cocked her head to the side and raised her eyebrows, waiting for her mother to elaborate.
“You made those beautiful window treatments for our living room,” she offered.
“And let’s not forget my gorgeous pillows, thank you very much.” I picked up one of the throw pillows she’d made me for Christmas and hugged it protectively.
“Sewing is just a hobby,” Tess admonished. “It doesn’t pay the bills, and it’s really depressing not being able to find a job. However, I can wipe a butt like it’s no one’s business.” She held a triumphant fist in the air.
“Tell me about it,” I scoffed. “Not the butt thing, although I wouldn’t mind that either,” I quickly added. My superstitious self never wanted the universe to hear any negativity when it came to babies. “But Tess,” I furrowed my eyebrows, “do you really want to take this trip with me?” I scrunched my nose and tapped my chest. “Take your old aunt on a road show? An antique road show, no less?”
“Oh, please. There’s no one else I’d rather go with. You’re like a mother to me. Or big sister,” she quickly corrected herself. “I have it all mapped out.” Tess’s eyes shone with excitement as she spoke. “We’ll fly to London—”
I held a hand in the air. “I’m telling you right now. I am not a very calm travel companion. You do know how much I hate to fly, right?”
“I’ll get you drunk and hold your hand,” she encouraged.
“Ok, I’m just saying. On my last flight, the turbulence was so bad that—”
“So.” Tess silenced me with her enthusiasm. “We’ll start in London, take the train to—”
I groaned. “I get the chills when I even have to travel below 14th Street.”
“Oh Lucy,” Morgan chided. She gave me a sideways look. “Live a little. Go fill up that beautiful journal.”
“Yeah.” Tess gave my arm a supportive squeeze. “We can’t allow our fears to hold us back. All you need is that journal and a backpack— ”
“Come again?” My stomach dropped. “Backpack?”
“It’s the easiest way to go from hostel to hostel.”
“You’re kidding me, right?” I laughed out loud.
“Would you rather roll one of your Louis Vuitton suitcases on and off trains and in and out of hostels?”
I held a finger in the air. “No, no, that’s not what I meant. I already forgot about the backpack. That pales in comparison to the other thing you said. Hostels?” I made a face. “I’m sorry, do I look like I’m on summer break from college?”
Tess looked at Morgan with the same I-told-you-so look she’d been casting her mother for years.
“Oh, Lu,” Morgan said, shaking her head. “I saw pictures on the internet. There are some really nice, clean youth hostels out there and they’re so affordable.”
“Youth hostels?” I sat back on the couch in defeat and looked at Tess. “Sweetie, you know I love you but if I were to do Europe, words like backpack and youth hostel would not be rolling off this tongue.”
“Um, hello?” Morgan waved her hand in front of my face. “I hate to burst your bubble, but you’re not exactly bringing in the big bucks, Lu. You may have done well in your heyday, but you should probably tighten your belt now. When was your last paycheck?”
“This is such an ego-boosting intervention,” I said dryly.