The Wives Don’t Like Me (399 words)

by | Nov 11, 2022

Never have. Each one has a different way of showing it. Happened again today. An email from someone named Rachel. Like on Friends. It’s a birthday invitation for her husband. My writer friend’s ‘50th birthday bash’ — Who talks that way?

I’ve never met Rachel. Why would I? Writers don’t bring spouses to conferences. Unless they have that transparency thing going on. Once this male writer whispered what it meant cause I didn’t get it. He said it happens after you’ve admitted an affair, or you’ve been caught. You promise transparency in all things. Now I can spot those wives and believe me, they are the worst. Their dagger eyes follow my every move. Doesn’t matter if I’m up on stage reading. Or down in my uncomfortable folding chair listening. They won’t quit. So at the meet & greet, I make a beeline for the nearest transparent husband. Drape an arm around his shoulder, beam my bustiest smile, then brush something that’s not there off his chest. In 20 seconds the wife is steaming, tugging at his arm.

Rachel, a name which grates on me, ever since Friends, if you’re reading this, you should know I’m in love with my husband, and after a zillion years just one look from him makes my knees buckle. Your husband? Not so much. Except this one time, when everyone else stampeded to the bar, and you were at a museum meeting and my husband wasn’t there since he thinks most writers are smug bastards, and both our readings got raves, and we’d sold a bunch of books. Behind us the sun is setting over the redwoods, like it’s hungover and dragging itself to the same damn job it does every day, the one it knows so well because it’s been doing it for 2 millennia of recorded time. I almost said yes to the question your husband asks every damn time. But instead I point to the window. And he says the sun looks like it’s dressed in the torn ribbons of the cloak of time, and we laugh cause it’s a line from the last poet, who was terrible, to be honest. And Rachel, if you’re still reading, this part’s for you: a line from a bad poet isn’t enough to build a life on. But maybe it’s enough for a writing workshop. The one I’m in right now with your transparent husband.


  1. Robert Vaughan

    Hi Roberta, welcome and what a beauty you have here!!! Love the layers of “confessional” style, and also how the entire piece is a response to the supposed email, and the invite to Rachel’s husband’s “50th birthday bash!!!” You use snark so well, the ‘asides’ are terrific, and how the entire second paragraph is addressed directly to Rachel, as if she is in the room, or on the telly (her word!) Love the speculation in this, how it has that twist at the end which plays on the workshop itself… my only tiny suggestion is that you’ve used the word “time” in three close sentences toward the end- unless that was your intention? Overall, what a romp! This is a terrific start!

  2. Roberta Beary

    Thanks, Robert! Of course, I didn’t notice the three ‘times’. I’ll work on that!

    It was a fun piece to write. One of the things I love about these workshops.

    It came out of reading the stories and poems you posted, and maybe out of the songs/recordings, although I’m not sure I got where they were going.

  3. David O'Connor

    Roberta, I love this tone, immediacy, snark, honesty, and rip-roaring energy. There is a hot spirally energy swirling out of control that creates urgency and makes it impossible to put down. This line floored me: a line from a bad poet isn’t enough to build a life on. So good, so happy to have read this, thank you!

    • Roberta Beary

      Appreciate your reading and commenting, David, and glad you enjoyed the ride. These workshop prompts now are lodged in my brain!

  4. Kellie Rankey

    Agreed on the effectiveness of the confessional quality. I feel like I’m getting in on some hot gossip while also getting a bit of the speaker’s interiority at the same time, which I suppose all good gossip does, but it really shines in this piece! The conversational/immediate/snarky tone is fantastic, and I love the phrase “transparent husband.” The word “transparent” is so perfect there — of course they’re “obvious” husbands, but they also are sort of husk-like accessories whose transparent nature betrays their faults/past violations, rendering them (in my eyes) as lesser (less interesting, less whole). I’m really interested in how the addition of details over the course of the piece gives an arc to what could otherwise be a sort of stagnant emotion. Also, the handling of moments here is great. They’re well-contained and in clear conversation with each other, not feeling like they give too much or too little, which keeps the pacing on a stellar track even as the paragraphs get longer. Love the work you’ve done here!

    • Roberta Beary

      Thanks, Kellie, for such a detailed response. Yours are the kind of comments that make me a better writer…

  5. Koss (No Last Name)

    super-snark writing. love “transparency husbands” and the literary references. that last line, killer. great! all of it!

  6. Benjamin Niespodziany

    This is a delight! Love the direct address and the confessional style. Like a missed connections, but rather, a middle finger to the idea of a missed connection?

    This piece really picks up energy and speed with “Except this one time, when everyone else stampeded to the bar, and you were at a museum meeting” and I feel like it rides really nicely all the way until the end. Almost wouldn’t mind seeing this as one big paragraph. Or even formatted as a Facebook post.

    • Roberta Beary

      I appreciate your detailed comments, Benjamin. Thanks a million! They give me hope for this piece.

  7. Meg Tuite

    Hi Roberta,
    I laughed all the way through this. Love how it connects with her hatred of Rachel on ‘Friends’, and that ending is outstanding. I even thought ‘who is this guy?’ Roberta? haha! LOVE IT!

  8. Len Kuntz

    Hi Roberta,

    This was fabulous–the snark and scorn and the way it moved. You really captured an element of writerly life and competition. The images of the sun at the end were terrific. I totally loved this piece.

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