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His commute to the office had been a short subway ride every day. Now it was a forty-five-minute, bumper-to-bumper drive. Micky's Place, his neighborhood bar, had been a five-minute walk from home. The closest bar now was a fifteen-minute drive, but what good was a bar if you couldn't stagger home from it? And the city had Dottie, a sexy, blonde, once-a-month secret he kept from his wife. These days he only had Jean, and now that she was going through the change, whoopee had become a four-letter word. No, this suburban hellhole couldn't compare to his old life, where everything worthwhile was within reach.

The click-clacking came back in the living room. Jean chewed on her lip as she sprayed the jungle of fern plants hanging from macramé holders. Her tirade wasn't over. "You tell me, how can people like that afford such a house? I'll bet he's some whiny Vietnam vet, and the government is shelling out our tax dollars to pay for it."

He rolled his eyes. "Believe me, the government isn't doing anything for Vietnam vets."

She was back at the window, peeking across at the new neighbors. "Look at her over there! Hanging up a happy face mobile. Harrumph! Like people like that have something to be happy about."

He sighed and hoped she wouldn't talk through the eleven o'clock news later. "Don't you have a bra-burning meeting to go to tonight?"

"Don't be an idiot." She sat on the suspended white wicker egg chair and sprayed the leaves of the rubber plant she'd named Rod, after her favorite poet Rod McKuen. "It's a consciousness-raising group, and we meet on Wednesdays."

"What the hell do you women find to talk about every week that's so damn important? Or do you smoke that Mary Jane stuff at your meetings?"

She sprayed water in his face.

"Hey!"

"You're such an ostrich. Don't you know what's happening around you? We interface about Roe v. Wade and other important current issues."

"Yeah, like there's a chance in hell of you ever getting pregnant."

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