These days, Smartmom and Hepcat are like ships passing in the night. In recent weeks they’ve spent more time apart than together and people are getting suspicious.
“Everything okay between you two?” Groovy Grandpa asked the other day on the phone when Smartmom told him that Hepcat was in California.
He’s just visiting his mother in California, she told her nosy dad. Besides he needed to check on The Little Orange Car, the Porsche he inherited from his beloved uncle, which he keeps in a container behind his mother’s house.
“But you went away last week with the Oh So Feisty One,” Groovy Grandpa reminded her, obviously building a case that Smartmom and Hepcat are on the outs.
Well, they’re not and Smartmom wants to make that abundantly clear. When you’ve got two kids in different schools and different schedules you’ve got to divide and conquer in order to make things happen.
Everyone knows that (doesn’t he)?
And more to the point, when you’re as busy as Smartmom and Hepcat are — with different work schedules and deadlines — you’ve got to grab any downtime you can get.
Still, the conversation with Groovy Grandpa did make Smartmom wonder if it was normal for a married couple to take short trips independent of one another.
Normal schnormal! Who cares about normal? Smartmom may not be Marlo Thomas, but she believes that the freedom to be you and me is essential for a good marriage. And it’s major tenet of her relationship with Hepcat.
Still, Hepcat and Smartmom have been going solo quite a bit of late. So what’s up with that?
Well, last month, Smartmom decided on a whim to take OSFO to the Minerals Inn at Crystal Springs Spa in Vernon, New Jersey for a quick getaway during the seemingly endless winter break.
Before making the reservations, she asked Hepcat if he wanted to join them. But he had too much going on at the office. Besides, it didn’t sound like Hepcat’s kind of vacation. Too cushy. Too comfortable. Too bourgeois.
Hepcat grew up on a farm and is a rugged kind of guy. He still kvells about his three days alone in the woods with Outward Bound like it was three nights at the Ritz.
Hepcat’s idea of a vacation is an itinerary-free drive cross-country in The Little Orange Car, staying in Indian-owned motels.
But Smartmom and OSFO crave some R&R (or, technically, P&P — pampering and pillows) every now and again.
So Smartmom, OSFO and the Kravitzes went off for a fun and sporty weekend at the New Jersey spa. Third Street goes on vacation.
What’s not to like? Seven inter-connecting pools, including an outdoor heated pool for winter swimming under the stars, hot tubs, a steam room, sauna, an indoor track, an indoor basketball court, tennis, Pilates classes, a salon for massages and facials.
The kids had a first-class vacation and so did Smartmom and Mr. and Mrs. Kravitz (who picked up three bottles of red wine at the local mall). Plus, it was fun for them to hang out with good friends somewhere other than their identical dining rooms.
Once they got home, Smartmom told Hepcat all about the restful trip, but he still wasn’t convinced it was his kind of thing. And Teen Spirit, well, he was perfectly happy hanging out with friends and practicing his guitar (too loudly some would say).
A few weeks later, Smartmom went on an overnight to Boston with Best and Oldest, her best friend since fifth grad, to see Opera Diva, her high school best friend, sing the lead in “Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.”
Well, Smartmom couldn’t exactly skip hearing her friend sing the lead in this rarely performed opera by Kurt Weil and Bertolt Brecht.
But Hepcat couldn’t come along — someone needed to stay home to police Teen Spirit and OSFO. Plus, it meant being away on a Tuesday, and that’s Important Staff Meeting Day at the Edgy Startup where he works.
So Smartmom went solo. After the show, which was terrific, she and her high school pals drank martinis until 2 am with the cast and crew. It was the most fun the three old friends have had together since they each turned 30 in 19 — (we’re not telling!).
Once home, Smartmom and Hepcat barely got a chance to chitchat before he was getting on a Jet Blue flight for Oakland. Because it was the week of the fourth grade test, it was out of the question for Smartmom and family to join him.
Besides, he likes to visit the family farm and see his family by himself from time to time. He has lots of things to take care of out there and there’s always The Little Orange Car.
Yes, The Little Orange Car.
Okay, so Smartmom is a tad jealous of The Little Orange Car. It’s just that, Hepcat pays so much attention to HER. She’s his screen saver, for Buddha’s sake! When they’re together, he takes her for long scenic drives, buys her expensive gifts like piston rings, seat belts, and a $2,000 carburetor.
When was the last time Hepcat bought Smartmom a $2,000 carburetor? The Little Orange Car: she’s almost like his mistress. Except, well, she’s a car.
Hepcat came back on Saturday night and now they have only a few days together before Smartmom is off on her own little adventure at a writer’s conference in Rehoboth Beach. It’s called “Writers on the Beach,” but Writers on the Beach During Off-Season” sounds more accurate.
Smartmom has never been to a writer’s conference, but she likes the sound of it. It’s a professional trip, a serious investment in her writing career, a chance to mingle with important writers.
It’s also a chance to sleep in a hotel for three nights, eat dinner out, and be alone.
Smartmom hasn’t even told Groovy Grandpa about this trip. She’s afraid that it’ll only add to his sense that Smartmom and Hepcat are going through a rough patch and heading for the Big D.
But that’s not it at all. Smartmom and Hepcat know that the secret to their togetherness is their ability to be apart. They try to give each other the extra space they need when they need it. That way there are no built up resentments or hurt feelings.
Even so, Smartmom hopes the next time she goes away it’s with her Hepcat. She does enjoy being with the man she married every now and again.