50 shades of Red
A barrage of emotion assaulted her. Shock, betrayal, humiliation, flattery, and denial coursed through her veins at once. With no time to examine her feelings, she settled on the idea of revenge and wave of calm cooled her flushed cheeks.
Karen was attending the 21st annual Mommy And Me Society Gala which took place in her dearest friend, Susan’s kitchen. Karen had hosted the gala in her own adorably decorated kitchen since its inception. This was the first year Susan would take the reigns as the Grand Hostess Supreme. Karens children had been in away at college for years now and it was time to pass the gauntlet.
Karen never dreamt that, Susan, her most ardent supporter and cofounder would betray her.
Taunting her, right there in Susan’s kitchen for all to see was the exact same “Live Laugh Love” sign that Karen has boasted for all these years. The transgression intensified when Karen realized she’d also displayed identical plastic grape vines along the top of her kitchen cabinets.
With her legacy at stake, Karen knew it was more important than ever to exhibit her usual decorum and diplomatic charm. She complimented Susan’s hors d’oeuvre selection. “Your cheese cubes and ritz crackers are arranged expertly, Susan. The semi-dried broccoli and carrots with ranch platter are staple for any Gala. You totally nailed the fruit platter trifecta: grapes, pineapple and unripe cantaloupe. I have full confidence that you will handle your new position with honor.
Karen’s achievements reached far beyond her own local Mommy and Me Society chapter. She spearheaded the protest to stop restaurants from delivering a single check to large tables. Empowered by her first success, she expanded her demands to fight against the splitting of checks evenly down the middle. Her initiative ensured that all checks would always be split based on the exact consumption of each customer. Karen’s award winning protest was heralded among society members across the globe. “I only ate 10% of that spinach artichoke dip, so thats all I want to see on my bill, or its coming out of your tip”
They discussed their future initiatives; Non-expiring coupons, over bottles of Apothic red, perfectly paired with the Monterrey cheese cubes. The ladies, feeling a little more relaxed, were able to bring a some humor to the party. Susan jovially exclaimed “No wine-ing, ladies.” Karen chimed in “Yea, Its Wine thirty somewhere!” As a roar of laughter swept the room, Karen felt sentimental about her and Susan’s history. They’d always been such a good team.
Feeling conflicted, Karen went home with the urge to confide in her husband Doug, whom she referred to as “her rock.”
Doug, had been enjoying an evening of football and master-bating to his favorite go-to porno; “Transexuals who look like Rush Limbaugh.” After 20 years of marriage, Doug could see on Karen’s face that it was time to get into position and behave in a listening manor.
As they sat next to each other on their brown microfiber sofa, he gazed at her purple stained lips as they moved and repeated the last word of each of her sentences. Doug was a pro.
Few people know the History of Dougs.
All Dougs receive a list of platitudes on their 13th birthday that they must memorize. The ceremony is called the “trite of passage” a tradition that was passed down through generations of Dougs who learned that neutral dispassion was the best way to ensure their place in society’s middle. Armed with this powerful tool, Dougs are equipped circumvent any meaningful conversation, From the water cooler to the dinner table, no hot button topic or tragedy is too severe for a Doug. Some of the most notable Dougs have made their way into upper management and vice presidencies.
Doug #347 came up with the all time greatest team builder: “Theres no I in TEAM.”
Doug #243 contributed both “You win some you lose some” and “It is what it is”
Doug #422, supplied us with “These things happen” Some Dougs believed it was a little derivative of 243’s work, but that’s “just the way the ball bounces” when you’re a Doug.
Doug knew Karen was fired up and his wheels were spinning. Before she could get to the crux of her dilemma, she felt strongly that the story really began in the earlier part of her day at the Foxy nail salon, where that bitch Kim was trying to sabotage her. Karen swears she heard Kim laugh at her in Vietnamese, conspiring to make her festive toenail snowmen look a little frowny this year. Though her square-tipped french manicure was impeccable as always, Karen couldn’t reward that kind of behavior by tipping her. She needed Doug’s reassurance.
He vehemently agreed with her. “Fool me once” he stated. “I think you did the right thing. The devils in the details. At the end of the day, a penny saved is a penny earned. It goes without saying that It’s really a win win, you know. Kim learned not to count her chickens before they’ve hatched, and you had an opportunity to take the high road”
Karen thanked him for his insight and proceeded to tell him about the rest of her night. Doug didn’t realize there was more to come. He’s used up his daily reserves. He sat through the next 45 minutes anxiously scraping the bottom of his proverbial barrel. All he could muster was “When it rain’s it pours, honey”
Karen felt Doug was blowing her off. She went to bed questioning their entire marriage.
Was Doug losing interest? Is he really the supportive rock she believed him to be? Maybe this was a sign that she should pay more attention to her marriage and less on the Mommy and Me Society.
“Today is another day” Karen’s alarm clock told her when she woke up. She washed the red wine stains from her teeth, put on her favorite jazzy printed blouse from Kohls, She gave herself a pep talk in the mirror while teasing her short spikes and smoothing down her side bangs. Filling the void from Doug’s lack of support, she listened to her favorite podcast on the way to work “Pinterest, the Cliffnotes” where Kristen Bell reads inspirational pinterest quotes verbatim for 3hrs.
Karen is an office manager. She doesn’t work for any company in particular, she just shows up to different offices wearing sensible shoes and a cardigan with loose buttons and stray blond hairs stuck to the back. Once she finds a cubicle that suits her, she supplies the office snacks and no one questions her presence.
During her lunch hour, Karen was flipping through her coach purse looking for a coupon to Applebees. She came across a business card with an artists name on it. She must have taken it from the art festival she attended last weekend with no intention to buy art ever but took the card out of the kindness of her heart because she believes in supporting local artists.
This gave her a wonderful idea! She will buy a new sign for her kitchen that no one else will ever be able to buy from a store. It will put Susan’s “Live Laugh Love” to shame. Karen was pleased with her revenge plot. It will be so profound, so inspiring, Susan will be crouching in the corner of her braided kitchen rug, crying tears of shame.
Excitedly, she called the artist from the card and asked her to paint a really fun sign on barn-wood with an inspirational quote.
The artist, who typically paints modern brightly colored oil paintings with layers of meaning that explore the depths of humanity, listened to Karen’s request humbly. Charmed by Karens enthusiasm, she decided it couldn’t hurt anything to stray away from her normal artistic mission. She accepted Karen's commission request and took her deposit.
Relieved to find such a creative solution to her problem, Karen rushed home early to begin tackling her next task, rekindling the flames in her marriage and making sure Doug knows he can do no better than her. She began cooking his favorite meal; Tyson chicken tenders and corn, with the secret sauce, Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup slathered on top. The recipe came from her Pampered Chef cookbook, though she’d always claimed it as her own.
While cooking, she remembered a conversation she’d had with a younger member of the country club, otherwise known as Sam’s club. She mentioned a cool new tip that all of the young people were using to spice up their marriages. She explained that the prostate gland, hidden deep inside the husbands unmentionables held the key to lasting marriage that women have been searching for since the dawn of time. “It’s a magic button! Pressing it ensures lifelong faithfulness, reignited passion and in some cases, your husband will become interested in hearing you speak” she boasted.
Karen fantasized about awakening a lustfulness in Doug that was typically reserved for Transexuals that look like Rush Limbaugh VI. “Tempting,” she thought, “but Doug is too straight laced for that, maybe I’ll just try a nice back massage for now.”
Karen decided to run to Target while the dinner was microwaving. She found a nice “For his pleasure” massage oil in the tampon isle. It was all coming together. She passed an Edible Arrangements stand in the entry way and thought it might be nice to send one to Doug while he was still at work. Shamefully, she doesn’t know where Doug works or what he does for a living. She’d spent the last 20 years asking other men who looked and dressed like Doug, hoping to glean some insight, but to no avail. It’d just be too awkward to ask him at this point.
She placed her focus on the bedroom. She filled the matching Ashley Furniture bedside tables and dresser with Scentsy candles. With such a romantic ambiance and exquisite dinner, she figured she should dress for the occasion.
She dug out her old lingerie that she’d ordered from a Spiegal catalog during their first year of marriage. Though she felt the high waisted cut was still flattering, she decided to class it up with a sheer robe she borrowed from the boudoir photoshoot she did for Dougs birthday years ago. She slid on her sensible one inch heels with the jazzy little buckle on the top to give the ensemble a naughty flair.
When Doug arrived, she poured him a glass of Yellowtail chardonnay because it pairs well with chicken. After dinner, she lured Doug into the bedroom and ordered him to lie on his belly. She climbed on top, straddling him, and began massaging his soft shapeless shoulders with the firmness only a true Karen can apply. Doug moaned with delight. After a few minutes, she wasn't certain that Doug’s moaning wasn’t actually snoring. The two sounds have historically been indiscernible.
Karen panicked. She was fighting to save her marriage and she couldn’t have Doug falling asleep after she’d pulled out all the stops.
Her friends words began churning in her head, “Magic button, lustful, faithful, interested” over and over, her heart racing, she finally builds up the courage. She she re-oiled her hands, and up they went.
Unsuspecting Doug’s eyes popped wide open, his flaccid cock swiftly erected causing him to thrust his body upward so abruptly that Karen went flying off the bed, pummeling the row of Scentsy candles before hitting the wall. She had just enough time to feel validation that real candles would have started a fire, right before a risqué decorative sign had fallen off the wall, hitting her head in just the right place.
A few days later, after several ignored emails, the artist called Karen to let her know her artwork was ready. Doug answered to inform the artist that their water heater wad broken and will cost them the exact amount they owe her on the commission.
This scenario was familiar to the artist. Early in her career she noticed that an inordinate amount of people suffered from burst water heaters soon after commissioning artwork. She earned her Water Heater Repair Certificate online and the service is included in the price of her artwork. It’s listed on her business card. Assuming Karen was aware of the service, the artist showed up to the home to fix the water heater.
Karen’s oldest son, Caleb, home from college for the weekend, let her in and informed her that Karen was away at a Deepak-Tolle-Oprah worksop. He said his dad was at work so he wasn’t sure if he was allowed to talk to strangers while they were gone. “No problem”, the artist replied, “I’ll just take a look at your water heater then I’ll be on my way.”
While tapping around the water heater, the artist noticed a bright red rusted liquid leaking from the pipe and a peculiar smell she’d never encountered in other repair jobs. She cut open the top of the heater to investigate and discovered Karen’s lifeless body floating in a bath of blood with a wooden sign in her lap that reads “50 shades of Red” with a wine glass clipart painted in the middle.
The artist cringed in disgusted, more so from the wine pun than the body. She decided that this is where she had to draw the line. In order to collect her receivables, she’s been happy to fix her Patrons plumbing, water heaters, carburetors, garage doors, waste disposals, sewage lines, That’s just good business. But this! This just seemed to go above the call of duty for an artist. She welded the lid shut and went on her way.
The artist went home to re-examine her life choices. She started a business that turned recycled water-heaters into composting bins. With her art business supplying her with an infinite supply of broken water heaters, there was little overhead cost.
She remembered, from business school, that the path to a successful corporation is in hiring enough Dougs. They also taught that to attract the best Dougs, companies have to offer competitive benefits. She filled a supply room with stacks of blue polo shirts, khaki slacks and new balance sneakers and advertised, everyday is casual Friday. Between this and Taco Tuesday in the cafeteria, she was able to hire Doug to oversee an entire team of other Dougs.
Doug introduced her to an Italian woman named Marci, who wanted a hand painted sign reading “Bon Apetit” She was classing up her bathroom with a french theme.
When Marci’s husband learned about the artist’s composting technology, he decided it would be the perfect environmentally friendly PR move he’d been seeking for his waste management company. They joined forces and found great success selling the product worldwide. Everyone from hipsters to mobsters were raving about the product.
Doug and the artist celebrated immense success over a bottle of Apothic Red, in honor of Karen. He removed his ball cap, placed it over his heart and toasted “One Man’s Trash really is another man’s treasure.” Pouring a little wine on the ground, “To Karen!” they cried …”To Karen!”