The dentist’s house smells like Listerine. It really does. Antiseptic. Vaguely minty. A mouthwash cloud as soon as you open the front door. We’re there bartering. M. needs to pay off some bigtime dental work. She’s paying the dentist in painting for fixing her teeth. We’ve done the master bedroom and bath so far and changed the twenty-something son’s room from poppy to a grey-blue. I like this bargain. I think it’s excellent that an arrangement like this can still be made. (Better of course that we were all insured.) You have a skill or service, I have a skill or service, let’s trade one for the other.
The dentist and his wife are divorcing and selling their house. What’s sad: in the front hall as soon as you walk in, framed on the wall is their Jewish marriage contract. A painting as you head up the stairs shows bride and groom leaping a hill with some messy likeness to the dentist and his wife. On the bureau in the bedroom, a photograph of the couple on the beach, easy smiles. Another with the dentist in a lawnchair, his wife on his lap astraddle, both beaming at the camera. “Happier times,” M. said as we cleared the bureau to reach the wall. They’re both still living there together. It put a bad feeling in my guts — to see displayed in your front hall evidence of your commitment and your love, a document of vows, ignored now (or not) on every entry and exit from the house.