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It’s still Women’s History Month, a time to focus on the experiences of women.

Althea was a beautiful woman, and even though she was now in her late sixties, her beauty had not escaped her. Not only was Althea beautiful in appearance, she was beautiful in spirit. She was kind, intelligent and patient. Unfortunately, her external beauty was too often the focus of and the cause of resentment from women and sexual overtures from men. Althea spent a lot of energy keeping her kind core from being destroyed.

Althea was now a widow. She had been married for decades to a man who ruled the roost. She had remained in the marriage because she couldn’t face the embarrassment of a divorce. She blamed herself for marrying this man in the first place. She had let her family persuade her to marry her late husband because he was a good provider and she “wouldn’t be able to find a better catch” in her hometown. Althea had never told anyone that this “better catch” never stopped running with other women (the townsfolk knew this) and that he sometimes slapped her.

After Althea’s husband died, Althea sold her house and moved a few hundred miles away to be near her grandchildren. She enjoyed her new location and her new life, but she really looked forward to returning to her hometown for the 50th-year class reunion. Althea made arrangements to spend the reunion weekend with her girlfriend.

On the night of the reunion, Althea and her girlfriend arrived dressed to the hilt. They knew they looked good; they both had told each other so. As Althea stood at a table getting some refreshments, a man sidled up behind her, put his arm around her and kissed her on the cheek. “Girl, you sure look good,” the man said.

Althea sidestepped away from the man so that she could see who it was.

“For goodness sake,” Althea said. “It’s Ralph. How are you?”

“I’m fine, now that I’ve seen you,” Ralph replied. “You know,” he continued, as he looked Althea up and down, “I always said if I was single and you were single again, you’d be mine. So here I am.”

Althea rallied her kind spirit to try to flavor what she was about to say to Ralph.

“You know, Ralph, I’m sure you thought you were flattering me with your you-have-to-come-hither talk, but it didn’t work when I was young, and it’s certainly not going to work now. You were and evidently still are a wolf. I’m quite happy with my life now, alone.”

Ralph picked up a plate and started placing refreshments on it. Althea touched Ralph’s arm and said, “Friends?”

Ralph shook his head up and down.

Althea walked away from the table and thought: Some people just never change.

*Althea = from Greek word meaning wholesome.

Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...