Issue 219, Winter 2016
The night before their appointment, they sent Haley one final e-mail in which they reaffirmed the when and where and tastefully restated their excitement. But Reuben managed to smuggle in a request: Would Haley mind wearing “normal clothes”? He was about to hit send when Brenna, proofreading over his shoulder, announced that his use of “normal” was, in this context, “problematic.”
“Problematic,” he said. Their son had been asleep for an hour.
Bren, looking at the laptop’s screen, only nodded.
Reuben poised his e-mail-sending finger above the enter key like a scientist about to launch something toward Pluto. “Bren, come on. I’m sending it.”
Bren paid this no attention at all, probably because she knew he wouldn’t send it, not without her go-ahead. “ ‘Normal.’ It just seems like a very classist thing to write. Normal to whom?”
For as long as he’d known her, Bren had worried about classism. These days, of course, he and Bren were doing well, perhaps even embarrassingly well. However, their many years of doing less well had made Bren afraid of succumbing to the thoughtless consumption patterns of their friends, such as Annabelle and Isaac, who recently built a thirteen-thousand-dollar outdoor pizza oven with imported Umbrian stone. To Bren’s way of thinking, success, particularly Hollywood success, was mostly an accident; she never wanted to condescend to those who hadn’t been as lucky as she. But this meant that virtually everything Reuben said to servers and valets was later subjected to Bren’s undergrad-Marxist rhetorical analysis. He didn’t mind. If anything, he admired her for it. When Annabelle and Isaac whipped up their first batch of pizzas, everyone politely chewed and smiled on their sunlit patio. Bren was the first person to actually say, “Is it me or is this not very good?”