The phone rang just before eleven o’clock on a Friday night.
Who could be calling at this hour? I wondered. Collie got to the phone before I did.
“Hello? Oh, hi Mom! . . . Yes, we are still awake. Dad’s letting us watch Back to the Future Three . . . It’s good. It’s got cowboys . . . You are? You do? That’s going to make Lillie so happy! . . . Okay, bye.”
Collie hung up the phone and turned to his sister.
“Lillie, good news—Mom is bringing Boo Boo! She’ll be here in fifteen minutes!”
Lillie took her thumb from her mouth. “Boo Boo! Boo Boo! Me want Boo Boo!”
Collie patted her head. “Boo Boo be here very soon, baby,” he said in a singsong tone.
“Did you say your mother is coming over?” I asked from the door.
“Yes. She’s driving and she’s bringing Boo Boo for Lillie.”
“Well . . . great!”
“Can you guys please be quiet?” Jason asked, his eyes on the television.
“Sorry,” I whispered. “Prima donna.”
“I heard that,” Jason said.
Now, this was a curious turn of events. Lucy never stops by, and certainly not at eleven o’clock at night. But it was nice of her to deliver Boo Boo, Lillie’s funky blue blanket and constant companion.
Boo Boo has been loved to shreds. It is barely held together by threads and knots.
Lillie considers Boo Boo to be a living creature that is sometimes, but not always, a dog. She speaks baby talk to Boo Boo, and often talks about her adventures with “him.” She sleeps with him every night, so she was unhappy to have left Boo Boo at her mother’s house.
Lucy called again to say that she was turning into our building’s driveway. Lillie raced for the door.
“Wait, wait, isn’t your brother going with you?”
“No, he’s watching the movie.”
“Hang on, then, and I’ll join you.” I slipped on my sandals and followed Lillie to the elevator. She bounced up and down as we waited.
“You are so excited to see Boo Boo,” I smiled.
“Yes, he’s been so lonely without me,” Lillie said. “Poor Boo Boo!”
I followed as Lillie raced through the lobby.
“Mommy! Mommy! Me want Boo Boo!”
“Hi, Lillie,” Lucy callled from the driver’s seat. “Hang on, let me open the trunk.”
“Hi, Lucy,” I said. I smiled at the man in the passenger seat.
He waved meekly from his open window.
Lillie and I joined Lucy at the open trunk. Lucy reached in and handed Boo Boo to Lillie.
Lillie put her head through the hole in Boo Boo’s center and draped him over her shoulders like a poncho. She wrapped a few loose threads around a finger and stuck her thumb in her mouth.
“I just washed Boo Boo and its not fully dry,” Lucy said. “You may want to put it in a dryer for a bit.”
Lillie shook her head and scowled. “No take Boo Boo.”
“Well, the laundry room is closed by now, but we’ll manage,” I said, stroking Lillie’s hair.
“Okay.” Lucy stood looking at me for a moment before tackling the inevitable. “Tom?” she called, her eyes still on me. “I’d like you to meet Jefferson.”
I crossed to the car’s passenger side.
“Howdy,” I said, extending my hand. “I’m Jefferson, nice to . . . now, don’t get up.”
Tom was already opening the door. He stood in front of me and took my hand.
He had a gray goatee, slumped shoulders and a potbelly.
“Nice to meet you, Jefferson.”
Lillie stood by, sucking her thumb.
“Okay, we’re leaving,” Lucy said, buckling into the driver’s seat. “Bye, Lillie!”
“Bye, Mom. Boo Boo says ‘bye’ too.”
Tom settled back into the passenger seat and closed the door. He looked back as Lucy drove off.
I took Lillie’s free hand and walked inside, wondering if I had just met my ex wife’s new boyfriend.
I contained the urge to ask Lillie if she had ever met Mom’s friend before. It’s not proper to put children in the position of reporting on a parent. If she had met him, she didn’t register it.
I mentioned the encounter to Bridget.
“Dude, you so busted her!” she said. “Of course that’s her boyfriend. They must’ve had dinner or something in the city, and she was driving him back to her place in the suburbs. What did he look like?”
“Truth is, I barely got a look at him,” I said. “But enough to know that I’m way hotter.”