I woke up early, wanting to start a nice breakfast for everyone before they got up. But before I could even get up, Sam’s alarm went off, and he rolled himself out of bed and into the shower, beating me to it. Scowling, I wrapped myself in a bathrobe and headed downstairs. I was not a morning person.
Phyllis was already in the kitchen, fully dressed and ready for the day. She was busy wiping out my microwave when I came into the room. The counter tops were gleaming, completely cleared of all the usual clutter of school papers, old mail, assorted pens and markers, and misplaced library books.
Number 6: Candace has a dirty microwave.
Number 7: Candace is unorganized.
“Good morning, dear!” Phyllis chirped.
“Good morning,” I mumbled in response, feeling inadequate in my bathrobe and frizzy morning-hair.
Number 8: Clearly, Candace is not a morning person.
“Phyllis, you don’t need to do all that…”
“Oh, it’s nothing, really! I just want to help! I was going to make some breakfast, but there doesn’t seem to be much in your pantry….”
Number 9: Candace does not shop for groceries.
“Yeah, I was thinking we would do our grocery shopping today,” I shrugged. “I just need to pick up a few more things.”
After dropping the kids off at school, Sam headed for work, and Phyllis and I headed for the grocery store. We left Roger at the house, watching a football game from Sam’s well-loved recliner.
When we got to the store, I pulled out my shopping list from my purse. It was scribbled on the back of an old envelope from my junk mail pile. Phyllis pulled out a list of her own. It looked like a long cash register receipt, reaching practically to the floor.
“Is that your naughty or nice list, Santa?” I asked, pointing to the long strand of paper.
Phyllis laughed. “I wanted to make sure that we had everything we needed. I’m not sure if you have all the ingredients for some of our favorite Thanksgiving dishes. They are a little fancier, after all. And I know that Roger and Sam would be disappointed if I didn’t make my apple-parsnip dressing.”
I remembered Phyllis’ special apple-parsnip dressing and grimaced inside.
“Oh, I wasn’t going to make you do all the cooking, Phyllis. You’re here as our guests. I wouldn’t dream of making you work the whole time you are here.”
“Nonsense! I can’t sit by and watch you slave in the kitchen all week. Besides, you need all the help you can get.”
Number 10: Candace is a lousy cook.
Two hours and two shopping carts later, we made our way through the check-out line. I had bit my tongue when Phyllis loaded the carts with practically the entire stock from the organic herb section, the bean-sprout-fed turkey from the over-priced specialty section, and the perfumed spa-quality extra quilted toilet tissue.
Number 11: Candace only buys cheap toilet paper.
The cashier deftly rang through our purchases, and with each bleep I could feel my heart sinking. This was going to cost me a fortune. I had only budgeted $300 for this grocery visit and I knew that it would go way over.
“That will be $643.19,” he said in his chipper tone, looking at me with an expectant air.
I tried to act nonchalant, like I was planning on spending $643.19 on a cart full of stupid groceries all along. I pulled out my credit card, reserved for emergencies.
“Don’t worry about it, Honey, I’ll take care of it,” Phyllis patted my hand and passed her credit card over to the cashier. It was swiped and the deal was done before I could even say anything.
This was even worse. I hated Phyllis feeling like she had to take care of us. We can afford our own groceries, for heaven’s sake!
As we followed the two attendants pushing our overflowing carts out to the car, I said, “Thanks, Phyllis, but you really didn’t have to pay for the groceries. We can handle it…”
“Oh, I know, Honey. I just like to spoil you guys sometimes. Besides, I am so excited to try that turkey! I found this recipe that looks so divine! That’s what I got the roasted hazelnuts and Valencia rose oranges for! It should go great with my dressing!”
I thought it sounded atrocious with her dressing, but of course I didn’t think her dressing accented anything in a good way.
“Well, thanks, Phyllis,” I murmured and she smiled.