Mary-Lou is annoyed at her husband, Barney, in this week’s episode. So, best I let you find out why!
As always, please excuse the typos.
Episode 53: Those Kinda Friends.
Mary-Lou checked her hair as she sat in her office and tried to cheer herself up. She’d been married to Barney for twenty years (and some extra but that made her feel kinda old) had two intelligent, independent kids who she tried not to contact enough to be seen as interfering but enough that she didn’t go crazy wondering how they were. When they finished college, they both intended to stay back home in Florida. Barney thought that was good and showed that they were great parents but Mary-Lou felt that if she’d been so great, they’d have wanted to hang out with her more. Then, she’d remind herself that she wasn’t hanging out with her mom or dad when she was in college and it was okay. They talked to her, they asked for help when they needed it, and they sent her sweaters.
Mary-Lou checked her hair again and fiddled with the pencil that Hedges had given her. It was in the shape of a hedge trimmer and it was just a sweet gift from her to make Mary-Lou smile when she’d been kinda down. Hedges was sweet, but then Lanie had gotten Janis to install extra heating in Mary-Lou’s office and put in large windows so she could have some natural light; Tammy had made oldest kid come to Mary-Lou’s office to save her going to get her eyes checked; Gaynor had come to her house to cut her hair and dragged Diane around for a fried food tasting session; Glynnis often took her out for a business lunch at The Bee and they enjoyed Tracy’s table service enough Mary-Lou needed to up her fitness regime.
Barney, well he was either in a meeting, in a bicycle-meeting, on his way to a meeting, over Glynnis’ husband’s place in her yard learning how to make a mess of the flowers, visiting his folks and family somewhere south of Jumbleton—not that she knew where that was because Barney didn’t take her with him because he said that it was kinda a rough place. She’d met his folks at home plenty of times over the years but Barney was protective over where he grew up. It bugged her a whole lot more than she liked to think about.
When it came to Squishy, she let him manage it because that’s what he’d wanted but she was getting more and more left out of meetings; And, when he wasn’t working, with his buddies or family, he sat on the sofa not talking much or fell asleep.
She’d had a chat about it to Hedges who said that sounded like her husband most of the time too but… Mary-Lou pursed her lips… she didn’t relocate to Britain just to be ignored by the guy.
She threw her pencil down, stood up and headed into the board meeting Barney was running. ‘How are you people taking so long to go through one slide?’
Lanie, who was close to falling asleep where she sat, looked up with hopeful eyes. ‘Barney wanted a discussion about the type of thread they use for the stitching on the deluxe sofa. They went into it but I’m not sure what we’ve been talking about for an hour but I’m sure it isn’t thread.’
Mary-Lou kinked her eyebrow. ‘I set what thread we use.’
The other members of the meeting exchanged glances.
‘They voted to change it,’ Lanie said and shot a glare at Barney. ‘I didn’t vote for it.’
Mary-Lou eyed Barney. ‘Anything else you’re changing that I decided on?’
The board members slid down their seats.
Lanie nodded still glowering at Barney. ‘I have a whole list. You want a copy?’
‘Sure,’ she said and pointed to the door. ‘Lanie, why don’t you update me in my office.’ She held Barney’s guilty eyes. ‘You can’t overturn my decisions, honey. I own the business.’ She stomped out, Lanie hurrying in front of her.
‘I wanted to tell you but… I didn’t want you to get upset,’ Lanie said as she shut the door behind them. ‘He’s outpricing most of the stock.’
Mary-Lou took the list and read through it. ‘You got any idea why?’
‘I think he’s getting advice from Mr Billington and Mr Hedges on what customers would like.’ Lanie hovered near the door glancing through the office window.
‘Honey, I’m not mad at you, sit.’ Mary-Lou waved at the chair the other side of her desk. Barney liked an open-door policy but she liked to make it clear who was in charge. ‘Why is he asking guys who don’t know much about furniture?’
‘I don’t know. Mr Billington did work here but he was in HR, he didn’t know anything about the products.’ Lanie smiled at the engagement ring on her finger. ‘I’m not sure what expertise Mr Hedges has but Barney doesn’t really ask him about the garden centre.’
‘Because Hedges Junior would tell me and I’d tell Hedges,’ Mary-Lou with a curt nod. ‘I get that he wants to feel bonded to his guys but not when I get to be shoved in the freezer.’
Lanie wrinkled up her mouth.
‘What, honey?’ Mary-Lou furrowed her eyebrows then checked it wasn’t giving her a frown-line.
‘It sounds like something Ricky might do to Trevor for reporting him to the police.’ Lanie bounced her feet up and down like she was imaginary cycling.
‘I’ll be calling Ricky to remove his favourite pair of pants,’ Mary-Lou muttered then stared at the list. ‘I want you to send Barney in. We need a discussion.’
Lanie nodded then nodded again then got up and nodded.
‘Glad I’ve got you watching my dance steps,’ Mary-Lou said with a brief smile. Lanie was sweet and still wearing a bicycle helmet.
She sat there for a while staring at her pencil only to look up and wonder where Barney was. Board room looked empty. She got up and strode to Barney’s office but he wasn’t in there either.
She eyed his secretary who was focused on her computer screen like she was deep in work… but it was off. ‘Where is he?’
‘Mrs—I mean— Mary-Lou?’ the secretary squeaked.
‘Honey, you want to see me in a mood?’ Mary-Lou peered at her like she used to peer at her kids. It used to work… sometimes.
‘In the garden centre, Mary-Lou,’ she managed then grabbed her handbag. ‘I need to…’ she got up and hurried off down the corridor.
Mary-Lou put one hand on her hip and pursed her lips. ‘He’d better not be messing with Hedges’ displays.’
She sighed because no one was around to hear her and strode down to the garden centre. She opened the door but it was dark in the garden centre which was weird because she knew they had large windows. He’d better not have stolen her windows or she’d be dragging him to the family therapist.
Then someone sneezed, Billington barked, George clattered into view wearing a pair of shorts and baggy tee and Lanie tried to drag him out of the way.
‘Honey, where are my windows?’ Mary-Lou shot at them.
‘Janis, go for it,’ Barney shouted.
Light flooded the room. Hedges, Lanie, and well the whole class with junior members and Agnes stood grinning at her in shorts and tees. Barney was on a patch of sand with her favourite outfit on him. His boating shorts, nice tee with a collar, and his deck shoes. Next to him were her daughter—with a new haircut—and her son in his baggy shorts and snapback. Her in-laws were next to her mom and dad and even the board members, Mr Hedges, Mr Billington, and staff were in shorts.
‘Hi,’ Barney said with a cute wave. ‘I know you would like it to be warmer and enjoy some sunshine.’ He waved to the palm trees and the display of beach furniture. ‘So we thought we’d surprise you.’
‘Some guy called Ricky couldn’t get us sand so we had it shipped from home,’ her son said with a flex of his biceps. ‘Dad kinda sucks at keeping you from noticing we were working on something.’
Her daughter nodded. ‘I told him that you’d think he was having an affair.’
Barney shrugged and walked over to her with a smile and some of Hedges best flowers. He cleared his throat. ‘You are as lovely as nice warm sand.’
George wobbled on his feet and knocked Diane into the display of the beach where she grew up.
‘We can call you up whenever we’re down.’ Her daughter sang it with her beautiful voice and winked then slapped her brother. ‘Your turn.’
Her son hunched and grinned. ‘You supported Dad when he dragged you to another land.’
‘And you tried your best not to frown,’ Hedges added and patted Billington.
‘You are always a pleasure to have in class,’ Paulette said in a bikini and sunhat. ‘And you have legs that can do all sorts of bends.’
‘And in a snapback,’ Tracy said with a snigger.
‘So, everybody in Bumblethorpe wants me to make it clear, honey,’ Barney said and beamed his wonderful smile. ‘That we… and maybe Hedges if the gossip is anything to go by…’
Hedges waved him off then chuckled.
‘That we… are definitely,’ Barney said, pulled her into his arms, danced her around then flopped her over his arm and nodded to the others. ‘What was it again?’
Mary-Lou smiled, giggled then gazed up into his eyes, relieved that he was being the cute guy she loved like crazy. ‘I think we should do it as a group.’
Barney held out his hand and everyone took a large breath.
Billington barked and pounced Hedges into the sand.
Mary-Lou cleared her voice as they all shouted out. ‘Those kinda friends!’