Within Close Range – Dad and the Double Date

Home from college and my dance card empty, as usual, Jean has ignored my protests and arranged a double date with her latest boyfriend’s best friend. So, I’m making my way toward the kitchen to rehydrate my bone-dry nerves before they arrive.

Dad’s in the den, sitting in the swivel chair with his back to the window, pretending to be engrossed in a book. He’s also pretending not to see me as I slow and look his way. I know he isn’t happy about this evening.

With boys ever at the heels of Chris and Mia, he takes great comfort in my being almost invariably dateless. But really… is he finding The Gardeners’ Dictionary so captivating that he can’t even look up at the sound of my way-too-high heels skidding across the floor?

Unbelievable.

Can’t suppress eye roll.

And what about Mom? Still hovering in the kitchen, without a purpose in sight. For god’s sake! This isn’t my first date. I just need to keep moving. Rein in those jitters, drink lots of water, and think happy thoughts.

But how can I think happy thoughts when each step on this godforsaken brick floor – now dangerously slippery, thanks to my newly lost ability to swallow – feels like burning coals on my wish-they-were-bare feet?

Through my water glass, I watch Dad slowly swivel his chair around to face the oncoming headlights bouncing off the dimly lit den walls, as the car makes its final turn toward the front circle.

A swivel further left, he can see Jean and our dates get out of the car and step onto the patio, just of few feet from where he’s sitting.

The doorbell’s ringing, but Dad’s not budging.

Passing him on my way to the front door, I can see he’s swiveled the chair back around and is fake reading again (that book might as well be upside down), still no eye contact.

Unreal.

Can’t suppress eye roll.

Take a deep breath, Anne, and turn the knob.

Jean’s smile is enormous. And frightening. As if there’s something she’s hiding – such as my date being about as happy to be here as I am.

Lame handshake. (What’s this guys name again?)

I hear swiveling. Dad’s up and he’s coming… and passing. No greetings? No teasing?

Unheard of.

(Eye roll mentally happening.)

And why is he stopping at the front hall dresser and pretending to be rummaging for something? What a sham. And now he’s coming back with empty hands?

I can almost hear the growl as Dad passes; keeping his fixed glare, swiveling like the chair, on both males until he quietly disappears.

I hope stepping out beneath the night sky will hide my humiliation and breathe new life into this double date situation, but I’m not counting on it.

Is Dad really peeking through the curtains, which he just closed to spy on us? Even from here, I can see him shake his head and call to Mom, “Well, she won’t be marrying THAT one.”

Unlikely.

Can’t suppress eye roll.