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I picked up my wine glass and tilted it bottoms up. Then I kissed Winnie and before rising from the patio couch declared, “I’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere, okay?”

“I’ll be right her. Just bring the bottle, won’t you?” she answered.

“That’s the plan,” I said as I retreated to the kitchen. I was out of wine but I also wanted a few seconds to consider what five items to use for our little game of one-hundred-sixty proof truth. ‘Four true things and one lie, huh?’ I thought. ‘Now what have I told her in the last four months that I have to look out for?’

I grabbed the bottle, nodded to the cat, returned to the deck and refilled both our glasses before kissing Winnie and saying, “Four truths and a lie, huh? Okay, hotshot, here goes. My mother won’t leave me alone. I find you to be an amazingly intriguing woman. I have been to forty-three of the lower forty-eight states. Since my wife left me I find that I have frequent violent urges and I’m afraid that my daughter is gay.” Finished with my laundry list of four truths and one lie I took my seat and announced, “Go!”

“So, four of those things are true, huh? Well, you just told me your folks are dead so that makes me want to say that your first answer was a lie,” Winnie says contemplatively. “But perhaps your truth, like my lie, is partially true. People can certainly haunt us from beyond the grave.

“You told me that you selected my astrology answer partially because you hoped it wasn’t true so I’m going to do the same and say that you do not have frequent violent urges?”

I smile and shake my head. “No, sorry. I really do. Scary ones sometimes. Nope, the lie was that I’m afraid my daughter’s gay. I don’t think she is and even if she were I think, I repeat, ‘I think,’ I’d be okay with that so long as she finds someone terrific.”

“You really get violent?” she asked, subtly pulling away.

“I didn’t say that. I said I get violent urges. We all have urges, it’s how we respond to them that counts.”

“Like how violent?”

“You don’t want to know.”

“Really?” she asked flatly. “That’s not a great answer.”

“It’s not a great feeling.”

“And your mother, what did you say? ‘Won’t leave you alone’? What does that mean?”

“She is a frequent voice in my head that reminds me of things. Sometimes they are good things, sometimes bad. She’s like a little old lady conscience who thinks that it’s still 1950. Sometimes I listen. Sometimes I don’t.”

“Oh, we all have that.”

“Maybe. I just know that Mom talks to me more frequently and with greater fervor of late. That’s probably a good thing because she’s the one who keeps telling me to be nice. Nice balance for the angry, violent voice.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“Me too. Too much?”

“No. No, I don’t think so. So, which states haven’t you been to?”

“Washington, Oregon, Maine, New Hampshire and North Dakota. I have no plans to visit North Dakota.”

“Really? That’s where I’m from. Near Bismarck. Can’t say that I blame you. Are you okay?”

“Right now? With you? I’m great. I don’t know when I I’ve felt better. You’re just what the doctor ordered.”

“And you’d really be fine if your daughter was gay?”

“I think so. No way of knowing of course.”

“How about your son?”

“He’s not. He’s married, remember?”

“Doesn’t prove a thing; even now a days. And that wasn’t the question. It was a what if; would you feel the same way if your son was gay?”

“I don’t know. No. I don’t think so. I’d think the same way but I wouldn’t feel it. Neanderthal thinking, huh?’

“At least you’re being honest.”

“I wouldn’t love him any less. I’d try. I promise you that.”

“I guess that’s all we can ask of ourselves, right? To try?”

“Yes,” I agreed. And then I turned my body towards Winnie’s, slipped my hand up her shirt, cupped her breast and kissed her deeply. “We can only try.”

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