I ate dinner with Mother and Father. Mother sat at one end of the ten foot cherry table. Father at the other end. Me on the side placed exactly the middle. My place setting was not one centimeter to the left or to the right. It sat exactly in the middle. Mother is obsessive compulsive about order. According to Mother, everyone eating dinner arrives precisely at seven-thirty. Arriving a fraction of a minute late brings an icy glare from the ice maiden. Father and I stood behind our chairs until Mother nodded. She nodded in a way that let both Father and I know she is in charge. I notice she has a bit of a glow, then I remembered today was her day with Oscar. I wonder if she had a happy ending. I decide this may not be an appropriate question for the heir apparent to ask his mother.
Once we sat, Mother placed her two cold, passionless hands palm down on the table. I wondered if there was any blood circulating in her fingers. I saw similar fingers several years ago on an episode of the walking dead. She looked first at me and said, “Martin, where is your tie?”
I said, “I don’t know. The last time I wore a tie was for Grandmother Houston’s funeral. Nicole tied it for me.”
“Martin, you are going to have to be comfortable wearing a tie if you want to go anyplace in this world.”
“Can Nicole tie it for me?”
“Martin, Nicole is not in your class. You have to stop fixating on her body. Think about her net wealth,” said Mother. She has a way of making clear what is important to her.
I was feeling feisty. I get it. I’m upset over J going drinking without me. I’m worried J will quit. I don’t know what I’ll do with my life If J walks out of it. I made a mental note to ask her about her net worth.
I reacted to Mother and said, “Mother, I am thirty-three years old. I am living at home. Each time I bring a woman home to spend the night you lecture me the next morning about practicing safe sex. I don’t know how to work. I’ve worked for two days and I’m overwhelmed. I’m burned out. I want a life. I want my trust fund. I want J to accept my marriage proposal. I don’t want to live with you and Father. I don’t mind Nicole, but you two will be history.”
Mother’s back stiffened. She moved her head slightly away from me toward Father. She looked like a Canadian goose. Unlike a Canadian goose’s neck, her’s is wrinkled. If I mention the wrinkles she’ll be in surgery tomorrow to have them removed. She pointed her beak at Father. “Father?”
“We’re you listening to Martin?”
“I didn’t miss a word, Mother.”
“Please correct his thinking so I won’t lose my appetite.”
I didn’t know what my thinking had to do with her appetite. I spoke before Father had a chance to speak, “If I may?” I said not asking permission. “Mother, did Oscar cut the massage session short today?”
“Why, yes. How did you know,” she said.
“I have a feeling you didn’t get everything you expected from the massage and you are taking this out on me. I have not worn a tie to the dinner table since I went to college.”
Mother looked at me and said, “Let’s leave Oscar and my massage out of this. Father?”
“Son?” Father started right on cue.
“I know work is maddening, I’ve never experienced it and I never had a trust fund. Grandfather Sanderstuff didn’t believe in work for the wealthy. He always said, “The wealthy need time to think. Those not wealthy need to serve the wealthy. These words are as true today as when he sat me on his knee and made me memorize them.”
“You made me memorize it when I was three, Father. What’s your point.”
“Mother and I had a long talk last night. We want to meet your betrothed.”
“That’s my problem, Father. I betrothed her. She didn’t accept my brothel. She said she’d rather betroth a gorilla than betroth me if we were the last two people on earth.”
Mother chuckled, “Oh, Martin. Surely, you can see through the very flimsy façade she placed in front of you?”
Suddenly I saw J dressed in only stilettos, her body gesturing and gyrating back and forth toward me. Then, the voice of the ice maiden.
“Martin! Martin! You’re glazed over. Pay attention. When you see Ms. J tomorrow, casually ask her how much she will inherent. I assume she is an only child.”
“She has a brother, Mother. His name is Dante.”
Mother clasped her right hand over her tiny right breast. A look of rapture filled her face. She said, “Oh good heavens, he was named after the Italian poet Dante Alighieri. I can’t wait to meet this family. Is Dante a poet like his name sake? Please invite him for dinner, Martin.”
How do I tell Mother and Father Dante is doing 8 to 15 years for burglary with a deadly weapon. I took an evasive course of action, “Dante’s calendar is filled to the maximum for the next ten years.”
“Surely, Martin, Ms. J can pull some strings and help her brother break some of those appointments. After all, it’s not everyday a Sanderstuff invites you to dine. Tell Ms. J to tell Dante that we’ll invite only the wealthy to dinner, those who believe a million dollars is spare cash.”
“Good one, Mother,” said Father giving a chuckle that sounded more like a gerbil grunting when it’s having a bowel movement.
“I’ll mention it, Mother.”
“Very good. I’ll have Victor get started on planning the wedding for Ms. J and you. We’ll make it two years from now. It will be perfect. Of course, I’ll have to have a nip and tuck here and there. Oscar will have to help me firm up. It’s time to eat, I’m famished. Isn’t wonderful how we can talk about difficult issues and resolve them. It’s what the wealthy do, Martin. Never forget that.”
“I won’t, Mother,” I said relegating myself to living the rest of my life as an adult child living in my Mother and Father’s mansion. At the peak moment of self-loathing, my cell phone vibrated, I checked my text message and my heart did three orbits around planet Earth. The text read, Sorry I left the way I did. I should have smacked you aside the head and given you a good kick in the ass instead of walking out. Don’t think you have my phone number, this text is from a throw away phone. I still don’t trust you.
It was J’s way of saying she loves me.