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TWENTY-FIVE

Jean has nursed her sparkling wine and I my beer to extinction while Sean has finished both his drink and Lauren’s mis-ordered gin and tonic while Lauren’s sipped away all but the ice in her gin and soda. “Another round?” Sean asks, eyebrows raised.

I sigh. “You know, we have alcoholics on both sides of the family, right?”

“Sure!” he responds. “Another round?”

“I’m ready,” Lauren says with a nod, sliding her empty toward Sean.

I shake my head. “I’m already at two-hundred percent of my usual. I’m done and I’m done in, late night last night and already past my bedtime. Think I’m going to hit it.”

Sean pulls Jean’s arm his way, looks at her watch, smiles, and says, “Yeah! It’s going on a quarter to ten! Sure you can make it back to the hotel or should we call you an Uber?” Lauren looks away to hide her smirk but I catch a glimpse. I am not offended; I have horrendous sleep patterns.

“It’s around the corner, right?” I deadpan. “I’ll make it, thanks. You coming with me or hanging with the young’uns?” I ask Jean.

“No, I’m good too. Lot of driving today. Plus, you do have to cross a street, I’d hate for you to get lost.”

“You’re a peach,” I reply. “Game’s at one tomorrow? What time do we want to head over?”

“If we were hanging with Brad I’d say get there around ten,” Sean replies with a smirk. “We’d chill in his parentals’ RV, Adria would cook us up a big breakfast, we’d have mimosas. You got all that covered, Madre?”

“If by covered you mean free breakfast- oops! TANSTAFL breakfast at the Hampton,” she says smirking at me, “taking a water taxi to the stadium and you buying your own drinks then yes, I’ve got it covered.”

“TANSTAFL-” Lauren says tentatively, “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch? Did I get it right?”

“Bingo!” I cry too loudly, causing heads to turn our way. “Give this girl a kewpie doll.”

Lauren looks at me quizzically, head tilted in interrogative.

“Really? No kewpies dolls? Ever see Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The toon with the big stogie is a kewpie doll. Baby, baby, Baby Herman? I think.”

“Oh!” Lauren says, nodding. Sure! And yes, Baby Herman. That’s what he’s called? A kewpie doll?”

“Sure? I think so, right?” I ask Jean.

“Don’t ask me, I just live here. By the way, ‘I’m not bad-’”

“‘I’m just drawn that way!’” Sean and I holler in response.

Sean shakes his head, declaring, “‘Problem is I got a fifty-year-old lust and a three-year-old dinky!’ Uh, head out around eleven? That should get us in our seats by noon if we want.”

“That would be fine,” Jean says, “but remember they stop serving breakfast at ten. Want me to call you around nine-thirty?”

“Geeze, Mom!” Sean exclaims with feigned ire, “What do you think I am, a kid?!” Reverting to normal tones he continues, “Yeah, better not. Nine-thirty sounds pretty ambitious. I can always buy breakfast if we don’t make it down before ten o’clock.”

“And there goes the TANSTAFAL,” I reply, shaking my head. “Maybe we can trade your free breakfast for some cookies over at the Double Tree.”

Sean slides out of the booth, holds up his left index finger and asks, “You’re sure you don’t want another round? On me.”

“No,” I reply, shaking my head. “Home again, home again, jiggity-jig for me. Two late nights is at least one late night too many.”

We all stand and Jean hugs Sean while I hug Lauren before we trade partners. “Love you, buddy,” I say, adding, “don’t drink too much.”

“Who, me? Never! Plus we’re walking, how much trouble can we get in?”

I give him the head lowered and tilted to the side, three second stink-eye stare before smiling with half my mouth. Breaking from Sean’s gaze I look to Jean and sing, “‘Show me the way to go home, I’m tired and I want to go to bed, I had a little drink about an hour ago and it went right to my head.’ Ready?”

“Ready. Loren?” She adds, “be sure to look out for bad guys, Tony won’t be on watch.”

“Smart ass. Goodnight,” I declare, walking to the Southern Grill’s door and holding it open as the best thing that ever happened to me exits into the cool Florida night.