Sally Sugarman is blonde and green-eyed. She's slightly overweight, but pretty nonetheless. She's thirty-four, and could be almost accurately described by the "little wife" stereotype. She never went to college, opting instead to get married at nineteen. She doesn't work, or rather, she doesn't have a paying job. She devotes her life to taking care of her husband and sons.
Saly doesn't get tired of staying and doing housework in the yellow ranch house on Maple Street. She's happy to wash Carol's soccer shirt for the sixth time that week, scrubbing the stains from the playing field out of the exact same places. She doesn't mind letting out the hems of Jamie's favorite corduroys, which he's had since he was five and refuses to stop wearing. It doesn't bother her that, nightly, she has to call Tommy down to dinner countless times before he will remove himself from his world of comic-book aliens and action figures. Because she doesn't let it. Because she decided a long time ago to be a good mother.
Sally prides herself on always being there for the boys. Her parents weren't, for her and her sisters. Divorce was still taboo when they filed for it, but they did' they were too busy at parties to tuck their children in most nights. Sally modeled herself after the smiling mothers on television, who were waiting with pancakes every morning and bedtime stories every night, so her boys wouldn't have to go without.
But the trouble with coming from a broken home, Sally muses for at least the hundredth time as she opens the door to the little yellow house on the way back from the grocery store, is tht you can't really, truly be June Cleaver and Carol Brady. Sally keeps secret a host of guilty pleasures, which she entertains while her husband and sons are at work and school. Chinese food, murder mysteries, worst of all (she ducks her head, shamed almost at the very thought) heavy metal. Things the ladies of the Tuesday Night Maple Street Bridge Club would frown upon.
Sometimes she puts her wedding ring away in her sock drawer and pretends she is like her mother.
Sally chcks the clock on the microwave. It's two-fifty, almost time for the boys to get home from school. She stuffs the groceries away into their proper places, except for a carton of shrimp chow mein and a pair of chopsticks. Perching on the counter in front of the window, so she'll know when the ugly yellow school bus approaches, she turns on the kitchen radio to the hard rock station, opens the shrimp chow mein, and begins to eat with the chopsticks (which she's mastered).
Just as she finishes, the bus rolls into view and three boys of varying size but with no other real physical difference hop off it. She shoves the carton the the back of the trash can, switches the radio to the classical station, and opens the refrigerator to get out the cookies and grape JuicyJuice for the boys. As Sally hears the door swing open and Jamie shriek at Carl to give him back his baseball cards, she pours herself a glass of cold water to rinse out the taste of the shrimp chow mein.