For Better or For Worse (MM)
It was just going to be a simple Spanish fabada bean and chorizo soup from his grandmother’s favorite recipe. Jake hoped for a nice meal and a better time with his widower father. His dad didn’t seem homophobic, but he just didn’t get that Jake was gay. A quiet dinner might clear the air.
But the trip to the supermarket was a disaster involving a bear and some sausage. Then his dad showed up accompanied by a health aide who isn’t quite what she seems. And the bear shows up, too.
Stress and rum piles up. Will Jake’s father get a new grandson? Does Jake have a bear in the kitchen and in the bedroom, too? Is this meal one big happy family gathering, or an even bigger disaster?
There I was, standing at the stove, stirring my beans, my Dad's old family recipe that his mother had had from her mother. I turned the radio on to my favorite station, and my current favorite song came on. It was full of pumping and jiving and rocking and yet new, all at the same time. The singer blared out, "Drink all the rum! Grab that bottle, grab that butt, be a pirate and strut, strut, strut! Yeah!" And I just had to move to its rhythm, had to dance. I grabbed for the olive oil and added it to the beans, just a touch! Voila! "Yeah, grab that booty, grab that butt!" the song went on. "Drink the rum! Drink it up!" Dancing over to the liquor cabinet, I grabbed the bottle and took a glug. The doorbell rang and my cat jumped up on the counter at the same time as the song finished up with a crescendo of drums and electronic huffing. "Crap!" I shouted. "Get down!" I added. I reached for the cat, but the cat moved, and I grabbed the rum. Another glug! I swallowed and shouted, "Hell yeah!" and as the song died in my ears, the doorbell rang again, and I was getting so stressed out and wound up that I poured the rest of the rum into the beans.
Although I had moments of sentient potato time, as I called it, I was usually up and happy. Tonight was no exception. The afternoon's festivities had brought joy into my heart. The laughter and excitement of finding a kindred spirit while grocery shopping had been an amazing gift, fulfilling my dearly held philosophy that you never know when there's going to be a party. And, of course, a party can be anything at all.
A party could be Larry at the door with a big sausage, right? I was giggling when I opened the door, but it wasn't Larry; it was my father and -- someone. A woman; his aide, I presumed. At least, I thought so. My father and mother had been divorced for years, but still, if my father had started dating he should have told me. I felt a bit huffy, put out. "Well come in, and who's this?" I barked heartily, if with a large amount of what the hell are you doing to me?
The woman towered over both of us, and her hair was swirled up and out like Daisy Duke dressed up for church. Her make-up was gobs thick. Her hands were huge, and they had curly hair on the backs. My father was giggling. "This is my friend Chomolungma," which he pronounced wrong, "Mount Everest, that is."
Oh my God, I thought. I almost whimpered. I nearly said it out loud. I covered it with a well-timed burp. I could have sworn that the woman winked at me. "Call me Eve," she boomed.
Still in a bit of a trance, I got out, "Uhhh, come in and have some rum. I mean, gin, the rum is all gone."
Eve raised one eyebrow. A brief whiff of my breath had likely told her where the rum had gone. But wait, I thought as I led them into the living room. Does my father… this was his aide, right? There was some sort of ID badge on her hefty bosom, so I guess so. Did he know that she was not what she seemed? Just how bad off was my father now? I know he had some memory issues and also didn't see well, but come on.
As they sat down, I said something about drinks and pointed at the cabinet, and the doorbell rang again.
Picture it: My father was at the bar, Eve was admiring my artwork. Felicia was standing in the middle of the back of the couch, her fur and tail out, hissing in the general direction of my father. I opened the door to see Larry standing there holding a flowers in one hand and a jug of red wine in the other; I could hear the air stir behind me as they all turned to look.
"Howdy, hot stuff! I brought my big sausage over!" He shoved the flowers at me and leaned in for a kiss, never quite finishing the move but close enough for me to watch his eyes rove over the room behind me. Watching his face change color was adorable. "Oh you have a cat, how cute. I forgot your cat's name but isn't he cute? I just adore cats." Larry was babbling nervously now, which I thought was funny, and I liked him for it.
The moment was over, but as I turned, I saw it would never be quite over, as my father's eyes had narrowed and his lips were pursed in the way he had when he was thinking hard.
Eve just smiled and walked over, extended a long-clawed hand, and said, "So sweet to see you again, Lars."