The Soupster learns there’s more than one kind of happiness.
The Soupster saw Linda Zapatos ahead on the downtown sidewalk near the Post Office. Seeing Linda always made the Soupster smile because her name, in Spanish, meant “pretty shoes.”
But it was Linda who wore the more noticeable smile today – a broad grin with a lot of teeth showing.
“Soupster,” called Linda.
“Pretty Shoester,” the Soupster answered.
Linda was a Pretty Shoester. She had delicate, feminine features – big eyes. Cupid’s bow lips. Wavy auburn hair. But her tough skin revealed she had weathered 20 years or more fishing with her husband.
“Why the devilish grin?” asked the Soupster. “Eat a canary?”
“It’s my husband, Eugene,” Linda said. “He’s the best.” Linda poked the Soupster in the ribs. “Did you know that no matter how tired he is from fishing, my Gene always helps me with the housework.”
“A noble fellow,” agreed the Soupster.
“But that’s not why I’m happy,” said Linda.
“Do tell,” said the Soupster. “Did you make a new friend?”
“No, that’s my husband’s department, too,” said Linda. “I would be a lonely Betty if it wasn’t for that man. You know those kids who are always bringing home a stray puppy or kitten?”
“Uh, huh,” said the Soupster.
“Gene is like that. He can’t talk to somebody for five minutes without cooking up plans to get together. I won’t tell you all the times he’s bought folks home for dinner and I’d find out at the last minute and we’d run out of food. Now, I cook for an army every night and if Gene doesn’t come home with anybody, then we have leftovers for later in the week.”
“I like casseroles,” the Soupster said. “But doesn’t Gene cook? Didn’t he used to be a chef for the cruise ships?”
“And there’s the rub!” said Linda. “That man is an artist with a knife and a frying pan, but he will not cook for me! I beg him to cook for me and he says `Meh.’”
As Linda recounted this to the Soupster, her smile grew wider, Cheshire cat-wide.
“Only one day a year will my Gene cook for me,” Linda said. “Once in a whole year. Only on my birthday.”
The Soupster couldn’t help notice her smile creeping wider still.
“Linda,” he blurted out, “you’re husband will only cook for you once a year? Then why are you so chipper?”
“Tonight’s the night!” Linda said and skipped off. “Tonight’s the night.”
The Soupster stood stunned as he did the mental math. “Oh, right,” he said, then called out, “Happy birthday!”