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A thirty-two-year-old New Jersey housewife whose life on the surface bears all the hallmarks of success becomes aware of her dying marriage and stale suburban life-style and sets out in quest of her emotional and sexual identity
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Judy Blume is the author of three adult novels, including Wifey, Smart Women, and the number-one bestseller Summer Sisters, published in 1998, and now with more than 2.5 million copies in print. Her classic novels for young readers include Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret; the Fudge books (from Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing to Double Fudge); and Forever. More than 75 million copies of her books are in print.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Sandy sat up in bed and looked at the clock. Quarter to eight. Damn! Last night she'd told Norman she might sleep all day just to catch up. No kids for once, no demands, no responsibilities. But the noise. What was it, a truck, a bus? It sounded so close. And then the empty sound after the engine cut off. She'd never get back to sleep now. She slipped into her robe, the one the children had given her for Mother's Day. "Daddy picked it out," Jen had said. "Do you like it?" "Oh yes, it's perfect," Sandy had answered, hating it. Imagine Norman choosing the same robe for her as she had sent to his mother and her own.
She traipsed across the room to the window, rubbing her eyes to keep them open, spitting her hair out of her face. She looked down into the wooded backyard. He was in front of the crab apple tree, hands on hips, as if waiting for her, dressed in a white bed sheet and a stars and stripes helmet, standing next to a motorcycle. What was this? A kid, playing Halloween? A neighborhood ghost? No...look...he threw off the bed sheet and stood before her, naked, his penis long and stiff. Sandy dropped to her knees, barely peeking out the window afraid, but fascinated, not just by the act itself, but by the style. So fast, so hard! Didn't it hurt, handling it that way? She'd always been so careful with Norman's, scared that she might damage it. Who was he? What was he doing in her yard? Nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, Sandy counted. He came on twenty-seven, leaving his stuff on her lawn, then jumped on his bike, kicked down with one foot, and started up the engine. But wait. It stalled. Would she have to call Triple A and if so how was she going to explain the problem? Hello, this is Mrs. Pressman there's a...you see...well...anyway and he's having trouble with his motorcycle... No. No need to worry. The engine caught and he took off, zooming down the street, wearing only the stars and stripes helmet.
She called Norman first, at the plant, and he asked, "Did it make ridges in the lawn?"
"The motorcycle, did it make ridges in the lawn?"
"I don't know."
"Well, find out."
"Yes, I'll hold."
She put the phone down and ran outside.
"Yes, there are ridges," she told Norman. "Two of them."
"Okay. First thing, call Rufano, tell him to take care of it."
"Right. Rufano," she repeated, jotting it down. "Should he reseed or what?"
"I can't say. I'm not there, am I? Let him decide, he's the doctor."
"But it doesn't pay to put money into the lawn when we're moving, does it?"
"We haven't sold the house yet. it would be different if we'd already sold."
"I'm a little shaky."
"I'll call the police as soon as we hang tip."
"I'm not dressed."
"So get dressed."
"Are you coming home?"
"I can't, Sandy. I'm in the middle of a new solution."
"See you tonight."
Sandy showered and dressed and waited for the police.
"Okay, Mrs. Pressman, let's have it again." She'd expected, at the very least, Columbo. Instead she got Hubanski, tall and thin, with a missing tooth and an itchy leg. He sat on the sofa and scratched the area above his black anklet sock. Plainfield, New Jersey's, finest.
"My husband told you the whole story, didn't he?"
He whipped his notebook out of his pocket and made squiggles with his ballpoint pen. "Doesn't seem to be working today."
"Try blowing in it," Sandy suggested. "Sometimes that helps."
Hubanski blew into the end of his ballpoint and tried again. "Nope, nothing."
"Just a minute." Sandy went into the kitchen and came back with a pen. "Try this one."
"Thanks," he said, printing his name.
Sandy sat down on the love seat opposite. him, tucking her legs under her.
"Okay, now I want to hear it from you, Mrs. Pressman. You say it was about quarter past eight?"
"No, quarter to."
"You're sure of that?"
"Yes, positive, because as soon as I woke up I looked at the clock."
"And the noise that woke you sounded like a motorcycle?"
"Well, I didn't know it was a motorcycle then. I just knew it was a noise, which is why I went over to the window in the first place."
"Now, we have to be very sure about this, Mrs. Pressman."
"I looked out the window and there he was," Sandy said. "It's very simple."
"He didn't ring the bell or anything, first?"
"Why would he have done that?"
"I'm only trying to set the record straight, Mrs. Pressman, because, you know, this isn't our everyday, ordinary kind of complaint. So just take your time and tell me again."
"He was wearing a sheet and he was looking up at me."
"Now, this here's the important part, Mrs. Pressman, and I want to be sure I've got it one hundred per cent right. You're telling me that this guy rides up on a motorcycle."
"And he's got a bed sheet over him."
"Like your ordinary everyday kind of bed sheet?"
"Yes, plain white, hospital variety."
"Okay, I get the picture. So let's take it from there, Mrs. Pressman. Now, you look down from your bedroom window and he looks up. Is that right so far?"
"Very good, you're doing fine."
"Look, Mrs. Pressman, you might not believe it, but this is no picnic for me either."
"Okay, so he takes off the sheet."
"And he's stark naked."
"Yes, except for his helmet...stars and stripes..."
"Yeah, I already got that. So, go on."
"Well, then he masturbated. And that's about it."
"You say about. Is there something else?"
"No, he got on his motorcycle and rode off. That's it."
"Yes, I told you that."
"So where's the bed sheet, Mrs. Pressman?" He held up his hand, a hint of a smile showing on his face for the first time.
"I don't know."
"You didn't pick it up when you went out to inspect the lawn?"
"And you didn't see him pick it up either?"
"No, but he might have. Because I was pretty upset at the time, as you can imagine. I might have missed that."
"What I don't get, Mrs. Pressman, is how come you watched the whole thing. I mean, you could have called us right off. We might have been able to get over here in time."
"I was scared, I guess. I just don't know,"
"How about a make on the motorcycle?"
"It was chrome."
"Come on, Mrs. Pressman. You can do better than that. Was it this year's model, a 1970? Or would you say it was five to ten years old?"
"I don't know. They all look the same to me."
He clicked the pen closed, stood up, and handed it to Sandy.
"Keep it," she said, "I'm sure you'll need it."
"Thanks. Say listen, what about the dog? Your husband said you have a dog."
"We do, a miniature schnauzer, Banushka. But he slept through it."
"You're sure he was white?"
"The guy -- the exhibitionist."
"Because a lot of these mixed races can look almost white."
"No, he was white. Like you."
He sighed. "Well, you haven't given me much to go on, Mrs. Pressman."
"Look, if you remember anything else, no matter how small, give me a call, okay? And in the meantime I'll do my best."
"That's all anyone can ask for, sergeant..." Sandy paused. What the hell was his name?
"Hubanski. U-ban-ski. The H is silent."
"I'll remember that. Good-bye...and thank you."
As Hubanski was walking down the front steps Sandy called, "Oh, sergeant?"
He turned. "Yeah."
"I just remembered...he was left-handed."
"Hubanski didn't believe me," she told Norman that night over chicken piquant. She was really pissed about that.
"It is an incredible story, Sandy."
"You think I know that?"
"How come we're having chicken tonight? It's Monday, we always have chicken on Wednesdays."
"I didn't stop to think. I just defrosted the first thing I saw when I opened the freezer. Besides, with the kids away, what's the difference?"
"The difference is that I count on chicken on Wednesdays, the way I count on pot roast on Thursdays and some sort of chopped meat on Tuesdays. I had chicken salad for lunch."
"Oh, I'm sorry."
"Did you get this recipe from your sister?"
"No, from Elegant but Easy."
"Not bad. You should have browned it first, though."
"It's a pain to brown chicken. That's why I made this one, you don't need to brown it first."
"It would look more appetizing if you did, next time."
"So close your eyes!"
"I'm just making a suggestion, San. No need to get so touchy about it,"
Norman took off his glasses and wiped them with his dinner napkin. "I think what you need is new interests, especially now, with the kids away for the whole summer."
Was he doubting her story too? "I have plenty to do. There's the new house and besides that, I'm in going to read. I'm going to do the classics. I told you that."
"But you need to get out of the house more, to mingle," Norman said.
"I don't need to be around people all the time."
"You lack self-confidence."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"I'm trying to tell you, trying to help you, if only you'll let me."
"Do you want more rice?"
"Yes, thank you. I think The Club is the answer, San."
"Oh, please, Norm, don't start that again."
"I thought we agreed that as soon as the kids left you'd give it another try."
"Look, I told you when you joined that it wasn't my thing...that I didn't want any part of it. So don't expect...don't ask me to..." She got up to clear away the dishes.
"Look at your sister," Norman said.
"You look at her."
"Four years older than you."
"Three and a half, but who's counting?"
"She loves The Club, practically lives there."
"She was always the family athlete."
"Tan and firm, in terrific shape."
"I failed gym in eighth grade, did you know that?" She put a plate of cookies on the table and set two cups of cold water, with tea bags, in the new microwave oven.
"You're not in the eighth grade any more, Sandy." He took a bite of one of the cookies. "Pepperidge Farm?"
"No, Keeblers." The microwave pinged and Sandy carried the teacups to the table. "Myra got straight A's in gym, all the way through school. She won letters. She was a goddamned cheerleader!"
"You ought to learn to do more with the microwave than just heat water."
"I don't like gadgets."
"Because you lack self-confidence."
"What does self-confidence have to do with the microwave?"
"What do gadgets have to do with it?"
"I tried The Club, Norm. I took two golf lessons and two tennis lessons and I was awful. I just don't have the aptitude, the coordination."
"Don't give me that shit, Sandy. You could be as good as most of the girls if you'd make the effort." He crunched another cookie. "Why don't you have your hair done...buy yourself something new to wear...you used to look terrific yourself."
"Jesus, you sound like my mother now."
"So she's noticed too?"
"I've been sick, Norm!"
"That was months ago. That's no excuse for now."
Sandy went to the sink and turned the water on full blast.
"I guess I'll walk Banushka," Norman said.
"You do that!"
"Oh, San, for God's sake." He tried to put his arms around her but she brushed him away. "You're so damned touchy these days," he said, "I can't even talk to you any more."
Any more? Sandy thought. But she didn't say it.
As soon as she heard the back door close she picked up a plate and flung it across the kitchen. It smashed into tiny pieces. She felt better.
Copyright © 1978 by Judy Blume
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Putnam Adult, 1978. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0399122419
Book Description Putnam Adult, 1978. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0739404717
Book Description Putnam Adult, 1978. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110399122419
Book Description Putnam Adult. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0399122419 New Condition. Seller Inventory # NEW99.0204964
Book Description Condition: New. New. Seller Inventory # STRM-0739404717
Book Description Condition: New. New. Seller Inventory # STRM-0399122419
Book Description Putnam Adult, 1978. Hardcover. Condition: New. Ships with Tracking Number! INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE Shipping available. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Seller Inventory # 0399122419n