LIBRA HOROSCOPE (from astrology.com): Your leadership skills are vital — and potent — today, so make the most of them! Your coworkers or family members need guidance or direction, and you can give it to them without getting bossy.
Mom called shortly after two in the afternoon. I was in another friggin’ toilet paper meeting so naturally I took the call, for once happy to let Mom ramble on as much as pleased.
“I need you to come over.”
“What is it, Mom? I’m working. I’m in the middle of a meeting.”
“Then come after work. It’s your father. You’re the one who understands him the most. He’s having an affair, I just know it. I confronted him at breakfast. Hid his Grape Nuts and refused to give them to him until he confessed. He just took a banana from the counter and stormed out. I think he’s fooling around with Betsy Ng. She once dropped off some homemade chow mein and your father loved it. You know how he doesn’t like any fancy food. But he loved it! I’ve always thought he had a thing for Betsy Ng. And ever since Ben Ng had a stroke, that woman’s been trying to take some other woman’s man. The way she laughed at Syd Zucker’s jokes, I tell you it was disgusting. And then she went—”
“After work. OK. I’ll stop by.”
“Thank you, dear. Did I tell you what your father did two nights ago? He got up at 11:30 and turned on Letterman. He doesn’t watch Letterman. Never! Now that he’s having an affair, he’s connecting to Letterman who’s a real sleazeball. And your father watched that golf tournament when Tiger came back! And I think he’d—”
Just once I’d like a conversation with my mother to end naturally. She gives me no choice; I always have to cut her off.
Dad having an affair. Ha! Absolutely implausible. Improbable. Impossible!
When I got to the house, I snuck into the garage first. Dad was sitting there, reading the morning paper. He was even less talkative than usual. I had to be blunt. “Why does Mom think you’re having an affair?”
“She needs excitement. She’s bored so she creates a little chaos. Been doing it the entire thirty-eight years I’ve known her.”
“But, Dad, an affair? She never goes that far. It’s always, ‘Your father likes the Starbucks scones better than mine!’ or ‘Your father’s getting the cheap gas again.’”
He looked down at the floor. Oh, god…was the affair real?! “They’re letting me go at the end of the month.” He said it in barely a whisper, but every word was clear. Thank goodness. It would have killed him if he’d had to repeat it.
“Does Mom know?”
He shook his head and then went back to looking at concrete. He sniffed and I hugged him. As I did, I felt his entire body quiver. It broke my heart.
I’d stopped by to console Mom and talk some sense into her, yet it was Dad who really needed me. I pulled up a lawn chair and just sat with him. Thirty seconds in, he leaned into me and bawled. No attempt to hide it. It was the first time in my life I’d ever seen him completely break. Within five minutes, he was on his feet, polishing a rake—because rakes really need to shine. “Those Sedins were really something last night, weren’t they?”
“Yeah. They were great, Dad.”
And as I made my exit, he tried his best to smile and said, “Thanks for stopping by.” And just like that, he went back into his shell.
MY ROWING CLUB LESSONS W/TRAVIS ARE STILL A WAYS OFF &, W/ANOTHER POTENTIAL WEEKEND OF A JERRY-TRAVIS BLOWOUT PENDING, I DECIDED TO TAKE TRAV OUT ON THE WATER AFTER SCHOOL TODAY. KAYAKING, THIS TIME IN DEEP COVE. I DIDN’T GET FAR IN ASKING ABOUT SCHOOL. JUST A SERIES OF INTERCHANGEABLE RESPONSES: “NOTHING”, “IT’S ALL RIGHT, I GUESS”, “I DUNNO”. ASKING ABOUT FRIENDS AND SARA GOT SIMILARLY EVASIVE ANSWERS.
ONLY WHEN I ASKED, “HOW ARE ETHAN, BELLA & RUDY?” DID HE OPEN UP. “BELLA’S AFRAID OF ME,” HE SAID SOMBERLY.
“WHY WOULD SHE FEEL THAT WAY?” I HOPED HE’D BE REFLECTIVE…AND OPEN.
“I DUNNO. BUT IT SUCKS. ETHAN’S THE SAME.”
WAS HE REALLY THAT CLUELESS OR JUST NOT WANTING TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR OPENLY ENGAGING IN WWIII W/HIS PARENTS? POOR BELLA AND ETHAN WERE CIVILIANS CAUGHT IN THE LINE OF FIRE.
“SO WHAT’S UP WITH RUDY?”
“NOTHING. ’CEPT HIS FRIENDS ARE TELLING HIM I’M A DRUG DEALER OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.”
“AND HOW’S THAT FEEL?”
“I DUNNO.” BETTER THAN HIM SAYING, “IT’S ALL RIGHT, I GUESS.” BUT NOT MUCH.
ON THE WATER, WE COASTED BY A ROCKY LEDGE AS THE LATE AFTERNOON SUN HIT OUR AREA. WATCHING THE HUNDREDS OF JELLYFISH FLOATING AROUND US WAS MAGICAL. OR, AS TRAV SAID, “COOL.”
HOW IS IT THAT COOL HAS ENDURED? NOTHING UNCOOL ABOUT COOL. WE PADDLED ON AND, FOR FIFTEEN SOLID MINUTES ON THE WATER, DIDN’T EXCHANGE A SINGLE WORD. THAT WAS THE TIME WHEN THE BOND SEEMED THE BEST.
SOMETIMES YOU JUST CAN’T FORCE THINGS.