Yesterday morning, Hubert was up and out of the house early. Happy day! Out of the house means out of pajamas!

By the time I’d done my toilette, he was back with breakfast-in-a-bag.

I nibbled and sipped while he laid out the plan. To make up for forgetting ignoring my birthday, he suggested we head down to the local repertoire theatre and watch Fassbinder’s “Satansbraten.”  Then maybe out for a drink and post-mortem.

Maybe that’s not romantic in some places…

He was giving me the synopsis when I spied the mold. I spat the half-chewed bite onto the remaining eggwich, folded the mess back into the greasy paper, and swilled out my mouth with the now-tepid coffee. It’s the thought that counts, I told myself.

Smiling, I handed him the paper cup and went up to brush my teeth.

At one, I went down for lunch. Hubert was just hanging up the phone. And looking nervous.

A teacher was sick and he’d been asked to fill in. He wouldn’t be out of the classroom until 6:45.  The film started at 7:30 – not enough time for him to come home so we could go together.  Would I mind terribly if our date started once we were both at the theatre?

Mind?  Why would I mind hoofing down to the local stroll by myself? 

I most definitely did mind his remark that I’d be safe as long as I didn’t dress like a working girl. So, Hubert made nice – and made lunch.

After he left for his writing class, I thought about what he said – and decided to spice up the evening.

By 7:15 I was standing outside the theatre, my knee-length black coat covering up my “wanna-go-on-a-date” finery.  I lit a cigarette and watched the negotiations of some women whose outfits were all business.

Within a few minutes, Hubert got off the bus and walked toward me.

I should have known. Not only by the number of young people getting off the bus and walking toward the theatre at the same time, but… just because. I just should have known.

When Hubert waved, I untied my scarf and blew him a pouty kiss. As he neared me, I winked and opened up my coat. And then (I am still humiliated), as I bent ever-so-slightly to lift my skirt and show him a bit more thigh, Hubert swept his arm magnanimously to his right and corralled five young male students straight toward my Sinful Snow White décolletage.

He thought they deserved some fun after a long class.

Indeed.

And didn’t I look fetching.

Please.

I clutched my coat closed as Hubert – oblivious and happy – paid for our tickets.

I wrapped my scarf around my head and face, my mother’s voice inside me, tsk-tsking: “You should have known this was a bad idea, Eunice!”

I fumed as we walked into the auditorium. Thankfully, we found seats at the back. Three dwarfs on his left.  Two on my right.

I refused to hold Dopey’s hand. We are so NOT hosting the faculty-student Christmas party this year, I hissed.

The prostitutes on the screen were too much art-imitating-life for my liking. I slipped out while Hubert shared a bon-mot with one of the writing students.

Outside the theatre I lit a cigarette.  Fumed some more.

A woman – shivering slightly in her skimpy outfit – sauntered past me.  Twice.

The second time, I took it as a sign.

After a dance of suspicion, disbelief and, finally, laughter, she agreed to wait – no more than five minutes – while I found a cash machine.

After I handed her $200 and she slipped on my coat and scarf, I bought a movie ticket and described where she’d find her 60-year-old date and his young cronies.

Back home, I poured a gin.

As I made up Hubert’s bed in the spare room, I pictured her, scarf around her head, masking her profile. Taking the seat beside him without taking off her coat, angling herself so her back was ever-so-slightly turned to him.

As I wrote out an invoice for my coat and the 200 dollars I’d had to withdraw from the cash machine, I pictured him reaching for her hand when she sat down, content that all was right in his world.

As I lay his “smoking jacket” on the pillow of the pull-out bed and slid the invoice into the sleeve of his pajamas, I pictured him turning to her – and she to him – when the credits finished rolling.

As I closed and locked the door to the master bedroom, I pictured the students wishing Hubert and his “wife” a good night.

I sipped my second gin and laughed.

In the morning when I went down to make coffee, my scarf was laying on the kitchen table, tied neatly into a bow.  On top of it was a cheque for $400 drawn on Hubert’s personal account.

The memo line said, “ Hot date and cover up.”

He has a sense of humour.  I’ll give him that.

Is it any wonder that writing a diary is second only to reading steamy literature as the leisure activity of married women? To admit out loud what transpires some days would be just too, too humiliating. One could never live it down.

The children phoned early. I was in my nook, editing.  Had Hubert deigned to answer the telephone this morning, this entire episode might have been prevented.  The children would most assuredly have reminded him that it was my birthday and suggested he get something organized.  And quickly.

But, Hubert answers the telephone with the same regularity that he cleans the refrigerator.

And you know what they say:  If you don’t clean your refrigerator from time to time, you’ll eventually have a stinking mess on your hands.

Good luck cleaning up this mess, Hubert.

Whatever other news the girls shared this morning I promptly forgot when the youngest said she wouldn’t be home for Christmas either.  I tried to sound nonchalant, but really. …

Happy birthday Mom.

Over the course of the morning, I made several trips past Hubert’s office on the pretext of fetching coffee. He failed to notice the plastic flower I had stuck in my hair to look festive, but he did suggest I was having trouble staying in the seat. This from the man who spent the first half of the day watching soccer replays. Sports article, indeed.

Over lunch, I told him the girls had both phoned. He was distracted by the radio and didn’t think to ask why they both called on the same day. I decided to delay telling him that they won’t be home for Christmas until one day when he’s feeling a little low–like the next time he opens a rejection letter.

At two, I went across the way to see Gladys.  In honour of my day, she put two tea bags in the pot.

When I got home, Hubert was still in his pajamas and robe, watching soccer.  I didn’t see any evidence of that sports article, but there was a beer beside him.

Nothing in the mailbox. To make myself feel better, I rummaged in the recycling and opened an envelope marked “occupant.”  Made a party hat from the letter inside.  Poured a glass of gin.

Mother rang the minute Dr. Phil ended. It was a quick call.  She still had to tinkle, make a Bloody Mary, and empty her ashtray—all before Dr. Oz started.  The irony was lost on her.

Of course, my brother didn’t come to the phone. I don’t care. Forty-five is too old to be living with mommy.  He’d be really upset if I suggested he just wants to be first on the scene when mother dies. Okay, that’s just bitchy.

When I hung up the phone, Hubert lowered the newspaper a few inches and laughed when he saw my hat.  “Hey! It’s your birthday.”

I stood there a minute, looking at him.  He smiled and went back to his reading.

So. No party.

I poured another gin.

Hubert made dinner and cleaned up.  He often does that, so I refused to treat it as a birthday gesture. I also refused to remove my party hat, though it was tricky to keep it from falling into my soup. Canned. But low-salt, I’ll give him that.

Shortly after seven an extravagant spray of roses, orchids and calla lilies was delivered. I can’t believe I kissed Hubert and cooed “You shouldn’t have” before I even opened the card.

Because, of course, he hadn’t.

The flowers were from my sister.  Lovely, yes.  But I know they’re a reminder that I still haven’t repaid that loan she made two years ago.

So here I am now, sipping the gin Hubert made me after I threw my party hat at him.

Smoking  another cigarette. Wondering how I ended up here.  Four years past a half century, and celebrating alone. Hubert downstairs on the couch, not even pretending to write that article.

It all makes me realize I need to make some changes in my 55th year.

Starting with Hubert — and those damned pajamas!