“You know,” John declared, as he and Joni removed the white and blue Dresden that she’d returned to the china hutch less than an hour back, “I haven’t felt this optimistic in like, forever. I hope my ebullience isn’t bothering you?” he asked as the couple set the big dining room table.
Joni’s head shot back an inch. “Why would it? I’m ecstatic to see you like this.”
“Wellll, I just didn’t want to come across as disrespectful, that’s all. It’s got to be tough what with being an orphan and all.”
Joni stopped laying silverware and tilted her head to the side. “I am, amn’t I? An orphan that is. Weird. But, seriously, sweetie, no. I can’t imagine you ever being intentionally disrespectful to anybody, let alone me or my parents.”
John nodded. “Good. Good. Just wanted to make sure, that’s all. I’ve never lost a parent.”
Joni’s shoulders sagged and she reached her right hand up to tousle John’s hair. “Yeah. It sucks. The big one. I hope you don’t find out just how much for a long, long time, sweetie,” she said, adding a wink. “But your folks are younger than mine; and in better shape. Well, they were. I mean yours are in good shape but just not better than Mom and Dad anymore. You know what I mean!” she said quickly before John could come up with a humorous quip. “Smart ass,” she added without malice.
John opened his eyes as widely as he could and placed his right hand on his sternum. “Moi?” he asked. “How could you ever say such a thing?” he added, throwing Joni a kiss. “So what do you think the first topic of conversation is going to be?”
Joni didn’t hesitate. “After Amber makes snide remarks about us not having any kids, you not having a ‘real’ job and how terrible the neighborhood is? Selling the house. For sure. Probably before we even talk about the funeral arrangements.”
“I thought the arrangements were all set?” John asked.
“Since when does that prevent people from talking about something? I read once that 25% of conversation are about the weather. The weather! Like we can do anything about that!”
“I hear it’s even worse in The U.K.”
“No.” John rolled his eyes. “People talking about it, goose. I read once that 95% of statistics are made up.”
“I read that it was only 80%.”
“Mine was from an online post Jesus made,” John said, tucking his chin to his chest and furrowing his brow.
Joni raised her left arm, elbow bent to a ninety-degree angle and extended her index finger so that it pointed toward the ceiling. “Mine was from Ronald Fisher.”
John pulled his head back in surprise. “Who?”
“Ah-ha! Better write this down!” Joni declared, first clapping her hands together one time and then thrusting her right fist into the air. “I stumped the chump! Sir Ronald Aloysius Fisher? Considered the founder of modern statistics? Notice the Sir at the beginning of his name? Dude was hoity-toity-hoi-polloi.”
John crossed his arms in front of him and leaned to his left side. “I thought Edward Deming was the founder of modern statistics?” He spread his arms open, forearms pressed against his trunk, hands facing palms upward. “You know, red bead, white bead man? Yes? No? Maybe so?”
Joni’s lips developed a tiny smirk and she shook her head minutely five times. “Fisher came before Deming.”
“We’ll Google it later.”
“Fine,” she answered, her voice unwavering.
“Along with how far I ran.”
“And Denby, Iowa,” John said.
“Denby? The small town in Some Luck? You know.”
“Better write it down.”
“What’s my guy’s name?” Joni demanded.
“What?” John’s face scrunched up in disbelief and his ears rose a quarter inch. “No!”
“We’ll Google. After your brudders and sistah are gone.”
“Fine. Speaking of which,” he added, checking his watch “what time is it?”
It was four ten. Joni’s hand darted to her left, rear pants’ pocket. Pulling out her phone she said, “Text,” she declared, waving her phone in the air. “Bet this is them now.”