One time Leah Short, their senior member at seventy-seven, had too many margaritas with dinner (Gretchen had made empanadas and enchiladas and even flan), and Leah said sloppily, waving her hand for emphasis, "Go in peach." And then the next week someone brought a peach-colored scarf, and now it's a tradition: whoever is forgiven wears the peach scarf home. And then that person brings it back the next week all hand-washed and ironed and ready for the next sinner.
Naturally, it was endlessly fascinating, what people confessed to. There was a saying someone shared at an early meeting: The truth is always interesting. So, too, an honest confession. And it wasn't necessarily the sin that was interesting; it was the willingness to say, There. Have a good look at my imperfections. It made you feel better about your own.
There weren't many times when people missed Confession Club. Joanie feels it's her job to keep people on track, though. If it was your turn to confess, why, you had to come and confess something.
Rosemary Dolman once confessed to taking cookies off a grocery store shelf at Betterman's, sampling them, disliking them, and then putting them back on the shelf.
All the women laughed when Rosemary shared this, and she said, "Well, I am very surprised by this reaction. I am upset about this, and I haven't told anyone, and I thought surely I could confess it here and get some sympathy and some advice! I feel like this was effectively stealing. More than that, it sounds like it was done by someone a little&out of it. I fear I'm getting old and strange like my Aunt Pookie, who makes no sense whatsoever anymore, but holds forth at family dinners like she's royalty. All people do around her is hold their mouths real tight together so they won't burst out laughing."
"How old are you again?" Dodie Hicks asked. Dodie is north of seventy, though she won't say how far north. "I'm Minneapolis, not International Falls, okay?" she says. "When I hit the big 8-0 we'll have a party with dancing boys."
Dodie still dyes her hair a severe black. It makes her face look alarmingly white. And then she draws on long, coal-black eyebrows and wears black mascara and blue eye shadow and blush that Gretchen says makes her look slapped. In the spirit of honesty between friends, Gretchen told Dodie that, and Dodie, in the same spirit, told her to mind her own business. Dodie still smokes, too, though she is courteous enough to smoke outside, even on the coldest winter days. But her cigarettes are unfiltered, so she is always doing that nasty thing of picking tobacco off her tongue and going, Ptuh! Ptuh!
On that day when Rosemary confessed her fear of becoming odd and Dodie asked Rosemary how old she was, Rosemary took a while to answer. She is one of those women with elegant bone structure who creams her face religiously with ridiculously expensive placenta-y things and wears a lot of nice jewelry given to her by her husband, who owns Mason's only car dealership, Dolman Chevrolet (his sign says, IF YOU DON'T WANT A CHEVY, YOU DON'T NEED A CAR), and she will probably always look at least a little glamorous, even in her coffin. But when she was asked her age, she looked over at Dodie, her chin lifted high, and said, "I'm turning sixty."
"When?" Dodie asked. The women liked when there were birthdays. Cake.
"In a year and a half."
A moment of confusion, and then Dodie said, "Well, then you're turning fifty-nine, aren't you?"
"I'm just going to get it over with," Rosemary said. "I'm just going to say I'm turning sixty."