Charlie doesn’t respond; he’s staring at the television screen, mentally calculating his chance of winning the office pool as Ohio State scores. Their kicker makes the extra point. The advertisement that follows is for some shampoo brand that’s supposed to make a woman’s hair richer, fuller, and more radiant. The model, twisting her shoulders this way and that, showing off the results of shampooing regularly with this brand, is almost a double for the best-selling author who is now Charlie’s client and is scheduled to show up in his office on Wednesday.
He makes a mental note to stop by the downtown library and see if there is a copy of one of her novels. Ohio State kicks off; Michigan’s receiver runs it back to the forty-two-yard line. Another time out lengthened for the advertising. This time the ad is for some prescription drug. Charlie watches this one with a certain amount of beer-fueled interest: why, he’s wondering, almost in his lawyer mode, should a person take a drug for some ailment but at the same time have to watch for side effects such as shortness of breath, diarrhea, constipation, skin rash, vomiting, dizziness, swelling of feet and hands, and inability to sleep.
What kind of illness do you have to have in order to tolerate all those unwanted symptoms? Maybe there’s a lawsuit to be filed, he thinks. How much money would a person spend on health care, if he or she had this problem, took the advertised medicine, and had all the side effects? Would anyone believe this person? His insurance cover it if he had this affliction? Would he be able to pay for all his expenses if he won Powerball this weekend?
Charlie goes upstairs where Betsy is putting some groceries away.
- “What’s for dinner?”
- “What do you want for dinner?” she answers with a question.
- “I don’t know.”
- “Well, so far today, you’ve gone to the filling station to get gasoline, blown out the gutters,
- mulched up the leaves, drunk some beer, and watched football.” She assesses his Saturday.
- “After all that, surely you deserve a big steak. So you can take me out.”
- “I bought a Powerball ticket, too.”
- “You bought five Powerball tickets, thus wasting eight dollars,” she reminds him.
- “You’ll be laughing out the other side of your face when I win,” he says.
- “I’m not laughing out of either side,” she responds. “But you still wasted eight dollars.”
- “We can afford it.”
- “We can also afford to go out tonight.”