Thursday, January 11, 2007

Conventional

“Lucy? Hi, it’s Jefferson.”

Lucy exhaled. “Yes, I know.”

I paused, expecting her to say something more. She didn’t.

“Well, uh, hey. So I’m calling with some big news. I hope you’re sitting down.”

“What? I really don’t have a lot of time . . .”

“Then I’ll cut to the chase. Rachel is engaged. She’s marrying her boyfriend . . . no, wait, her fiancé, Ray.”

A moment passed. “That’s insane. Are you serious? She’s eighteen years old, Jefferson!”

“I know.”

“How long has she known this guy? Six months? No, I bet it’s more like five months. Five months! She can’t marry him. She doesn’t even know him!”

I sat to listen as Lucy went through the steps of processing this news. “I know.”

“It’s just . . . she’s not pregnant is she? Please tell me she’s not pregnant.”

“She’s not pregnant. I mean, they’re setting a date for summer, and so . . .”

“Next summer? That’s so soon. But wait, no, that’s plenty of time for them to break up, so that’s good. Maybe they’ll break up.”

“She seems to really love him, so I don’t know about that.”

“How can she love him? They just met. She’s eighteen. How old is he?”

“Nineteen.”

“Jesus Christ.”

“I know.”

I could hear a door swing as Lucy walked outside. Birds chirped in my receiver.

“Well, I have to say,” Lucy said, her lips on a cigarette. “We had hoped she wouldn’t be so conventional.”

“I know.” I had no idea what she meant.

“Is she staying in school?”

“Yes, he goes to college with her. They live together near campus.”

“They live together?” Lucy exhaled a puff of smoke. “Why can’t they just live together? They can wait and marry later, right?”

“I know.”

Lucy took another drag. The kids had told me she was smoking again. Lucy was a chain smoker when we met, but she had given it up when she was pregnant with Jason, over thirteen years ago. Her smoking had taken them by surprise; they had never seen either of us with a cigarette.

“It’s just so conventional.”

“I know.” Rachel’s engagement struck me as rather unconventional, actually, but I was not about to debate fine points. I was merely the messenger.

“Aren’t you disappointed?”

“Well, I wouldn’t use that word. I guess I’m surprised.”

“Well, you did a great job with that one,” she said facetiously. “At least I don’t have to deal with her anymore.”

I had nothing to say to that. After eighteen years of caring about Rachel, Lucy was apparently ready to imagine my eldest daughter meant nothing more to her. With our divorce and Rachel’s “conventional” engagement, Lucy pushed Rachel squarely into my camp. My daughter was officially no longer of any concern to my ex wife.

“So anyway,” I said, breaking the silence. “I wanted to tell you before I told the kids.”

Lucy took another drag. “Look, don’t tell the kids. Okay? Please don’t tell them. Rachel’s going to break up with him anyway, and that will just upset the kids. They don’t want to know when people break up. A break up would be hard on the kids.”

I held the phone from my ear to ponder that last sentence.

“So please don’t tell the kids, okay?”

“Well, I’ll have to tell them soon. Rachel and Ray are coming for New Year’s.”

“Jesus, really? Well,” she laughed ruefully, “Hopefully they’ll break up before that, right?”

“I don’t think so. But I’ll hold off for now.”

“Okay. So, thanks for telling me. Can I talk to Jason?”

“Sure, one second.” I found Jason playing Xbox with Collie. I told him to take a break to talk with his mother.

That night, I sent a note to Rachel.

Part one of my mission is accomplished. I told Lucy about your engagement. She took it well—but I’m glad I broke the news for you.

She suggested I wait on telling the kids. I’ll let you know when they know.

I love you.
Dad


A day or so later, Rachel replied.

Dad, I don’t understand why you don’t tell the kids. How can I talk to them on the phone when they don’t know??

Lucy was a bitch, wasn’t she? She can go to hell. Sorry, but it’s true. Ray says so too!

Ray got me a ring. I’ll send you a picture. It’s pretty awesome!! He was so sweet when he gave it to me. It’s big, too. I shoulda told him I was already marrying him, he coulda saved some money. But whatever . . . I got a nice ring. LOL.

Love you!!


In placating Lucy, I had not anticipated that my hesitation to tell the children might hurt Rachel’s feelings. Of course she wanted her siblings to know; getting engaged was the biggest decision she had ever made. My delay in telling them suggested that perhaps I didn’t appreciate the seriousness of Rachel’s intentions.

On the one hand, I had Lucy’s direction to hold off in the event that Rachel broke up with her fiancé. On the other, Rachel was bursting to celebrate her betrothal.

In about six weeks, the kids would be seeing their sister and meeting their future brother in law.

I decided against further delay.

That night, over dinner, I raised my wine glass. “Kids, I would like to make a toast.”

Lillie jumped to grab her Hello Kitty cup. Collie raised his Han Solo glass in the air.

“What’s up, Dad?” Jason asked, lifting his Kool Aid Fruit Punch.

“I would like to toast a new member of our family,” I said. Their eyes looked at me, confused. I paused for effect. “Your sister . . . Rachel . . . is engaged!”

Collie and Jason looked at one another. Lillie looked at the boys, then to me.

“What does that mean?” she asked.

“That, little girl, means that she is getting married. She’s going to marry her boyfriend Ray. And they are coming to see us for New Year’s!”

Lillie looked back to the boys. “I’m going to be an aunt?” she asked.

“No, no,” I laughed. I touched her arm. “Not yet. You are going to be a sister in law, not an aunt.”

She looked at Collie. He giggled.

“Whoa, I’m going to be a brother in law?” he asked. “A ten-year-old brother in law?”

“That’s right,” I said, holding my glass aloft. “To becoming in laws.”

Jason slapped the table. “Man, that means you’re going to be . . .”

“Don’t, please.”

“ . . . you’re going to be a grandfather! Oh, snap!” He snapped his fingers in midair, laughing.

Lillie put down her cup and stared at me. “You’re a grandfather?”

“No, no, that’s not true,” I began.

“So what do we call Granddad now?” Collie asked.

“Wow, you are old, Dad,” Jason pointed.

“Now wait, hold on,” I said. I raised my glass again. “We are not toasting a new baby. There is no new baby. We are toasting a new family member. Ray is marrying your sister . . .”

“Our half sister,” Collie corrected.

“Your sister,” I asserted. “And that means we are all about to become in laws. So cheers!”

“Cheers!” Lillie echoed.

I sipped cabernet as they tipped Kool Aid.

“So wait,” Jason said. He looked down to count his fingers. “So this makes Mom . . . wait a minute. This makes Mom my half sister’s husband’s ex stepmother in law. Right?”

I looked at him. I looked down to count my fingers. I looked back.

“Uh, let’s eat,” I said.







16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm drinking a toast to the young lovers. It really is such a beautiful thing. Right now their world is full of wonderful possibilities and dreams that could become reality. I hope that their dreams do come true and they have a wonderful life together... and that they take their sweet time in making you a granddad.

You should tell Rachel that having kids adds a new dynamic to every relationship and that it is quite alright to be selfish with each other for a while. To just focus on one another. Travel, make love in exotic and unusual places, treasure every minute. Once the kids start coming those times alone will be rare so they should definitely make the most of this time before they move into baby-making mode.

Good luck with Lucy. I wonder if she will realize what an incredible opportunity she is letting slip by. If she can't realize it at least you can. Make Rachel feel special now. This should be the most wonderful and magical time of her life. I know she'll love it even more if you seem excited about it too. What a great experience you two will share.

Thinking of you tonight.

HER

Anonymous said...

Hiya, my names Lexy. I read your blog nearly everyday and thought i would leave you a little comment.

Congrats to Rachel and Ray....and i think you did the right thing telling your kids.

At the end of the day, you ex doesnt seem to get that if your daughter is happy, thats all that matters.

Have a great day!!

xXx Lexy xXx

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see this conversation happen one day:

"Lucy? You're a bitch."

She exhaled. "Yes, I know."

Jefferson said...

Nice to meet you, Lexy. Thanks for stepping out of the shadows.

Avah, that coversation has already been scheduled for August 23, 2017--the day after Lillie's eighteenth birthday.

Maybe I should book an arena and sell tickets.

marcus said...

i'm marking my calendar. THAT'S the day i'm gonna propose.

that Lillie is hot, man!

Viviane said...

Repeat after me, Jason: machetunim, a Yiddish word that encompasses the relationship between the two sets of parents. In English there is no such word.

Lucy's response is sad, especially all she did to expedite that relationship. I'm glad she spent time with them when they were up here.

Lil_Bit said...

Well, hell, I'll buy one of those tickets Jefferson.

Anonymous said...

Dude, I'm so there. Can you hook me up with some sideline seats? I wanna be right up close so I don't miss anything!

Anonymous said...

This would make the best movie EVER!!

Lucy is so mean.

Happy almost birthday.

From One Capricorn to another.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog because it is hot!

...But I love you because you're obviously a wonderful father.

Anonymous said...

I can relate, Jefferson. My older brother is getting married to his girlfriend soon. He's on 21, she's 22, and they're both graduating from college later than they originally intended. Sure, my brother is a full-time employee and is getting substantial income, but support themselves will be hard. I think they're being a bit foolish, but I guess that's just me.

They're also planning on some children decently soon, they hope to have one by the time they're 32ish. I hope they last, they're both good people, but it's not written in stone or anything. I hope the same for you.

-Neil

Anonymous said...

You should've told Lucy that Rachel was having quints...1 for the lucky parents, and 3 for the grandparents, including her.

Asian Big Girl said...

No no, you've already heard *my* comments on the whole Lucy thing...

But obviously I've already looked into booking the arena, have the possible program titles in mind, and am already deciding on the color for the commerative plates.

And don't think I'm not going to finance the haircut each of those children want one day when they each turn 16 and want to piss off their mom.

Coz you know I'll drive 'em. ;)

Where was I, besides that happy little place I go when I think of annoying Lucy....

Oh. Yes. Rachael and Ray are the cutest, and we can only hope for the best, knowing we'll be there for the worst, if it ever comes to pass.

I mean, that's what (grand)fathers and favored Ex Chief Concubines are for, right? ;)

Dude. I am *so* tempted to have a baby just so I can teach him/her, "Now honey, this is Granddad Snookums...not *your* granddad, but since he *is* one, we're justttt gonna call him that from now on."

*running away now from the empty bourbon glass you're throwing at me* ;)

Ahhhhh. You missed. Heh heh.

Lil_Bit said...

To the Chief Concubine:

Are you sure you don't girls? I just adore you!!

lil bit

Asian Big Girl said...

Lil Bit ... you are the *cutest* thing! ;)

Sadly, and even *with* Jefferson's gentle prodding, alas, girls have so far eluded me as an object of lust...

Well, ok. So I have a thing for Nigella Lawson, but that's a foodie thing. And I want her kitchen.

And ok, I have a thing for Deanna Troi of ST: TNG, but that's a "I wanna fuck Riker" thing.

It's the long black hair, big boobs and pale skin thing.

I think both Jefferson and my current boy would both love if one day I *did* turn to them and said, "Hey, you know what? Go find me a big boobie girl I can squishy boobies with."

Maybe one day. ;) I'll make sure you get an invite. :)

Anonymous said...

I have read your entire blog from start to now. I love it. My only selfish complaint is its not safe for work anymore, but I understand your reasons for changing.

Your ex is a total bitch. You are more or a man than me brother! I would have killed her by now. Being married for 13 years myself, I know that there are two sides to every story. But I can't get past the way she suddenly wanted the divorce, but yet continues to blame you and talk to you like you are less than human. I don't advocate violence, but slapping her would be more satisfying than a night at one of your parties!

Love you bro! Congrats to you and your daughter.