The Stamina of the American Housewife

Tag for "There Goes the Neighborhood"

She couldn't get it out of her mind. Try as she might, it kept repeating over and over, like a broken record.

The stamina of the American housewife.

Surely Lee had been joking, right? He couldn't have been serious. Lee Stetson and Amanda King?

Francine shook her head.
"Not in a million years", she murmured.

Not that Lee might not try – she knew him better than that. Sure, Amanda King wasn't exactly his type, he usually liked his ladies a little, well, flashier. However, having to spend several days locked into that suburban nightmare, something right out of "The Stepford Wives", with only the housewife as company – well, desperate times and desperate measures and so on …

But even if he tried. That King woman surely wouldn't have let him in her bed, right? She's not that type of woman, is she?

Surely she would have told him in no uncertain terms to back off, being the boring, wholesome mother of two that she was.

And how do you think she got to be a mother?

And Lee indeed could charm the birds out of the trees when he put his mind to it. Amanda King most likely wouldn't know what hit her once he turned on that old Stetson charm full force. So maybe he indeed had earned some first-hand experience judging the stamina of the American housewife.

The images that idea triggered in her mind were even worse than the broken record from before. It was like imagining her parents together in bed. Worse, actually.


She bumped into something – or was it someone? – and stopped. Deep in thought as she was, she hadn't paid attention where she was going. Now she found herself almost nose to nose with Effrom Beaman. She took a glance around. In a storage closet.

Great. That's exactly how rumors get started.

She must have taken a wrong turn somewhere.

Oh well, at least the door's open …

Effrom Beaman frantically tried to come up with something intelligent to say. All he had wanted was to pick up more paper clips because he had run out. He had found them and was about to leave – and then, Francine walked in and right into him. Francine Desmond, the one and only, this Queen of the Office who had caught his eye his very first day at the Agency. He doubted she even knew he existed. Well, at least she hadn't known until now.

Say something! Something intelligent, witty, something that impresses her! Quick! Don't just stare at her!

"Uh – can I help you?" he asked.

Oh, well done. That'll indeed impress her.

She blinked.
"Actually – you don't happen to have any mind bleach at hand?"

"Mind bleach?" he repeated, dumbfounded.
Of all the possible things she could have said that was the one thing he hadn't see coming.

"I'll also take a dose of any kind of memory-wiping drug." She frowned and went on: "Several, actually."

He shook his head.
"What for?"

Another intelligent question. Better and better.

"It's –"
Francine paused.
"- gross", she said.

Effrom actually managed to smile.
"Can't be any more gross than Jabba the Hutt kissing Princess Leia."
It was the first thing that came to his mind and he just blurted it out.

Like the complete idiot you are.

Francine made a face.
"Ugh. Thanks for putting that image in my mind. Now I'll be seeing that for the rest of the day."
She turned and left again.

It took Effrom a second to get it.

Just a moment. She didn't bat an eyelash. Does that actually mean she's seen Star Wars?

Jabba the Hutt and Princess Leia. Francine snorted. She wasn't surprised Beaman knew those movies – in fact, she would have been surprised to find out he didn't. He just seemed like the type to like that kind of stuff. Star Wars, probably also Star Trek, science fiction, fantasy, nerdy stuff in general. She briefly wondered why she was getting that vibe from him and decided that it must be the glasses. A strange guy, that Effrom Beaman. Every time he saw her he seemed to either freeze – sometimes mid-conversation – or walk straight into something or someone. Oh well, at least he had taken her thoughts off Lee Stetson and Amanda King and the stamina of the American housewife.

Oh no. There it was again.

Quick! Jabba the Hutt. Think Jabba the Hutt.

There. Much better.