Margaret chuckled and handed Gladys a plate with the smallest slice of lemon meringue. “Gladys, why do you still worry about your figure? Is that not one of the bonuses of being on this side? By the way, dear, what is your favorite kind?”
“Well, are we talking pie or men?” Gladys laughed as she watched Margaret wince.
“Oh, my! Well, I never. Well, sometimes I do. Oh! listen to me. I’m all flustered and Jon and Basil aren’t even here.” Gladys wiped the pie server on a cloth. “Since you brought it up, dear, what is your favorite kind – or is it type – of man?” Margaret fanned herself and adjusted her apron.
“Relax, Margaret. The guys won’t hear us. And so what if they did.” Gladys dabbed the corner of her mouth with an embroidered napkin. “In my experience, women and men have a type. No matter how many relationships they may have, their partners usually fall into the same category. Maybe he prefers brunettes. Maybe she prefers the quiet type. He needs to be mothered. She keeps trying to find the guy just like her dad. We all have a type.” Gladys reached for her bag to find a cigarette.
“I see, dear. What is – or was – your type?”
Gladys slowly exhaled and laughed, “Well, I certainly wasn’t attracted to the guy who was looking for a mother. No thanks! I don’t think I had a nurturing bone in my body.”
Margaret sighed, “Well, you didn’t get a chance to find out, dear. Perhaps if you’d had children…”
“Oh, please Margaret, this body was never meant for bearing children. Anyway, mothers don’t have fun. I was all about fun. A guy who’s looking for a mother isn’t gonna be any fun.”
Gladys retied her apron and adjusted her gray curls, “You know I was a mother, and I was fun. I still am. There are different kinds of fun, you know.”
“Sorry, Margaret. You are right. You must know – by now – not to take anything I say seriously.” Gladys held the cigarette filter to her lips as she contemplated. “I guess I was attracted to the guys who craved adventure. I liked the men who wouldn’t be held back by convention or tradition.”
Margaret slowly shook her head, “Yes, well those men don’t want to settle down. There’s no security in a man like that.”
“That’s where you and I are so different, Margaret. I wasn’t looking for security.”
“You are so right, Gladys. I wanted safety, security, and consistency – a reliable man to raise a family with.”
Gladys batted the ashes from the tip of her cigarette, “You see, Margaret, that’s your type. And you lived a long happy life with your man.”
“Gladys, what about the women who have a type that’s – how shall I say – wrong for them? They repeatedly end up in abusive relationships. Why wouldn’t they quit with that type? Why wouldn’t they consciously choose a healthier individual. I guess that goes for men, too.”
Gladys hopped down from the stone she’d been sitting on. “That’s an excellent question, Margaret. I think it has a lot to do with their history. We learn how to be loved when we are children. We spend the rest of our lives looking for that kind of love. That’s how we determine our types. If you were raised in an unhealthy family, your adult version of love will most likely be unhealthy, too.”
Gladys walked between two stones. “You should have known my father. Oh! He was dashing. As it was, I never knew him well. He was never around. He was always off gallivanting from one exotic adventure to the next. We’d see him between trips, just long enough for him to give us the trinkets he’d collected, and to hear him tell the high points of his travels.”
Margaret covered the lemon meringue with a dish towel. “Well, I guess that’s why you chose men with adventuresome spirits. My father worked the farm for 50 years. He never went anywhere without my mother. He raised five children and doted on his grandchildren.”
“And that’s why your type is all about security and consistency.” Gladys brushed an ash from her skirt.
“Well, what about those women – and men – who keep choosing the same unhealthy type? How can they change? How can they be attracted to a different type?” Margaret added a little cream to a fresh cup of coffee.
“I don’t know, Margaret. Maybe it starts with liking themselves more. They have to decide that they deserve better. They ought to spend some time alone – outside of relationships – learning to like themselves.”
“Yes, that’s right. Then, when they get to the point of really liking who they are, they won’t put up with someone treating them poorly.” Margaret took a sip of coffee. “How did you get so smart, Gladys? How do you know these things?”
Gladys laughed, “I’ve been watching history repeat itself.”