This site is kept in loving memory of Trish Reske, who passed in October of 2021.
Trish was a writer - this site captures a bit of her incredible sense of humor.
You can read Trish's full obituary here.

Annette’s First Shoes

It’s a bitter cold December night. John drives to the party in silence while Elisabeth and I chat about a multitude of mundane things.  We turn off the main street onto a snaking, narrow road and pull in behind a string of cars leading up to the house.  The walkway to the house is longer than my own street, neatly lined every twelve inches with flickering tin containers designed to look like hand-cut, snowflake-laden bags, lighting the way to the grand entrance of the mammoth estate.   How quaint.

“Happy Holidays!”  We are greeted at the door by one of Bob and Dianne’s kids-turned-teenager.  Ashlyn or Alison or something.  I can’t remember.  “Merry Christmas!  Happy Hanukah!  Happy Ramadan!” I respond back, enthusiastically.  This “Happy Holidays” stuff is really getting under my skin.  It’s so generic, so politically correct.  It drives me nuts.  I feel like when I utter the words “Merry Christmas” anymore, I am judged, ostracized, labeled as an unfeeling, unsophisticated toad.
Abbie or Amy just smiles blankly at me.  Maybe she assumes I’m Muslim.

We head into the sea of people, none of which I know. There are more feet in every room than square feet.  I smile wryly to myself.  And I was gullible enough to think I would be missed if I didn’t come.  I may have overestimated my presence just a tad.

 I decide to take on the challenge of meeting some new people.  Inhaling a deep, calming breath, I venture bravely into the massive kitchen, the obvious first choice for food, drink and conversation.  Bob, a.k.a Bartender Bob, is at the counter pouring the drinks.

“Happy Hanukah, Bob,” I smile warmly.  He looks at me blankly, then registers my face with a name from the hundred or so other Friends of Bob.

“Annette!  How are you? Would you like something to drink?”

I let him pour me a generous glass of expensive red wine, give him a polite holiday hug, and head for the hor’d’erves table.  Ahh, shrimp. Extra large jumbo.  Bob and Dianne are a spare-no-expense kind of couple.  I stand there, trying not to obsess over the food, and fill my growling stomach within minutes with pate, cheese, and of course, the shrimp.

I look around.  Everybody’s talking to someone else, and nobody’s talking to me.  I decide to use one of my husband’s networking tricks he learned from his Boston Entrepreneurs Group.

I lock eyes on the only person in the room who’s not already engaged in conversation: a very short, very well dressed, sixty-something woman.  I slowly make my way over to my chosen target.
“Hello,” I smile, hand confidently extended. No “Happy Holidays” from my lips. “I’m Annette Boneceto, a friend of Bob and Dianne’s.”

“Pleased to meet you.  I’m Bob’s mother.”  Oh this will be fun, I think to myself.

“How do you know Bob?” she inquires.  I tell her the truth.

“Well, Bob is on my husband’s board,” I reply.  “So I personally don’t know him as well as my husband does.”

“Bob is on everybody’s board,” She answers wryly.  Surveying the crowd around me, I don’t doubt her. “Where’s your husband?” she asks.

Zinnng! “He’s at a conference,” I concede.  She smiles knowingly. “Bob’s always away on business, too,” she states. “It’s not good for the kids,” she adds.

Or for the wife, for that matter.

We begin to chat.  Her name is Sylvia.  She is a professional concert pianist, plays classical music and teaches at the Boston Conservatory.  I’m awed, impressed, and I tell her so.

“The piano is my favorite instrument,” I say. “I began playing it when I was only five.  I would love to hear you play someday.”

She looks at me, and pulls me close, confiding. “Do you know that I’ve never, ever played the piano in my own son’s house?” she intones.

“Why not?”  I ask incredulously.

“They don’t care for my music.  They don’t appreciate classical music.  So I don’t play.”

The thought saddens me.  I think about my own mother, who painted oils and sketched for many years, her work fairly unremarkable, yet inextricably part of her identity.  The Hat Man, The Clown, The Man with Pitcher, Jefferson Memorial, Annette’s First Shoes, to mention a few.  I think about the oil painting she gave me of my baby shoes when I moved out of the house, soft hues of blue and white, signed and framed, now gathering dust in our attic, next to my old LPs. I had hung the picture in my children’s nursery when they were babies, but it never quite matched the rest of the décor, so when they grew into little boys I switched to Red Sox and Star Wars posters. “Annette’s First Shoes” was relegated to the attic, gathering dust, all but forgotten.

“Silvia,” I say, “I think that’s very sad.”

She holds my arm and pulls me close. “Come to my house someday,” she says. “Come and hear me play. I will play for you whatever you wish.”

“I will,” I promise.

Two hours later, as I unearth my jacket from the heap of coats and head for the door, I finally spy Bob’s wife Dianne.  She’s standing next to the DJ, in the room opposite the Steinway piano, belting out a Shanaya Twain tune for the karaoke crowd. Everyone applauds at her talent.

It’s after midnight when John and Elisabeth drop me off.  I pay the babysitter, say goodnight, and head upstairs to check on my sleeping children.  I find them: three angelic beings, fast asleep, beyond beautiful.  A momentary sadness stabs my heart as I wonder whether they will ever care about my passion, whether even one will take the time to read my articles, my stories.

It’s late, but I can’t go to bed yet.  There’s one more thing I’ve got to do before I can sleep.  I quietly open the door to the attic and climb the creaky wooden stairs up to the attic.

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One Response to “Annette’s First Shoes”

  1. Great story Trish!

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