With the addition of the senior Knopicks both the character and content of conversation at 136th Street East turned. John began to wonder if Bilhah’s tongue was bleeding from all the times she had metaphorically bitten it over some of Amber’s conversational tidbits. With Sean and his sister-in-law in the love seat to his right his straight ahead visual perspective rested squarely on Bilhah and Joni, who snuggled against one another in the couch’s far, right corner.
Every time Amber said something childish, derisive or condescending he could see Bilhah come up with a biting retort which, for the sake of John’s parents’ emotional comfort, she chose to chew and swallow rather than utter. As the night progressed he’d actually tried to keep track of how many times Bilhah obviously chose to display the better part of valor by embracing discretion but after a few dozen incidents he lost track and decide to enjoy the spectacle of his favorite almost-sister-in-law controlling her vicious tongue. It surprised him how much he enjoyed the pageant.
“Well, what do you think, John?” his father asked.
Caught in contemplative visual observation John realized that he had no idea what anyone was actually talking about. Feeling like a delinquent student staring out a classroom window he decided to come clean. “I’m sorry, Dad. I was lost in thought for a minute. Would you ask me that again, please?”
Dave exhaled, the exhalation was longer and more forceful than mere breathing required but fell short of an unmitigated sigh, then smiled at his son. “I said,” Dave emphasized ‘said,’ “how about those Saints? They’ve been all over the board since Katrina; haven’t they?”
“Oh,” John replied. “Oh. Yeah. I thought they did a great job of coming back in oh six, you know? Division champs and ten and six after the flood? But it seems like seven and nine could be their motto.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Jacob challenged. “Division champs, what? Three times? And winning Super Bowl forty-three seems pretty good to me. And how about two-thousand eleven? Thirteen three is nothing to sneeze at.”
“Hmm,” John said. “Two-thousand eleven was their Big Hit Bounty debacle, wasn’t it?”
“Oh crap!” Jake exclaimed. “That was so blown out of proportion. It’s the NFL, man! People hit!”
“And, what?” Payton interjected, “Five playoffs since Katrina? Five in ten years? That’s good.”
“Eleven years. If we’re counting 2005,” Dave corrected.
Payton’s head visibly retracted. “Huh? 2005 to 2015? Isn’t that ten years?”
Dave’s face grew a half smile and he shook his head minutely left to right five times. “No. It’s inclusive, not exclusive. You have to count five and fifteen and everything in between. It’s like voting. Even though John here voted for the first time in, what? Ninety-eight, right? By oh six he’d voted three times. Inclusive, you know?”
Payton’s eyes narrowed minutely and his fingers wiggled. Then his eyes grew wide as he tilted his head back and to the right and a big grin eclipsed his face. “Oh, sure, sure! Makes total sense. Maybe I should cut back on the beer.”
“Not me, hermano,” Jacob pronounced. “I’m just getting started. Anybody else?”
The only response Jake received was small, silent, head shakes. “Dave? You? You’re only on one, man!”
“Better not,” Dave said. “If I drink too much before bed I get GERD.”
Ambers face scrunched up to the point of a throwing dart as she demanded, “What’s that?”
“GERD?” Dave responded. “I don’t remember: Gastro intestinal reflux disease? Acid reflux? I, well, it’s when you spit up a little in the back of your throat. Nasty feeling and not good for your esophagus. Ever hear of Prilosec? Big fat dude does the commercials. If I watch my diet I’m usually good but drinking just before bed is a big no-no.”
“Oh! Larry the cable guy! I love Larry the cable guy,” Amber replied. “And yuck. That sounds disgusting.”
“Getting old gets ugly,” Dave answered, raising his left eyebrow and letting it fall.
“Oh crap, Dave! You’re not old,” Bilhah insisted.
Dave shrugged. “It’s all relative, I guess. I’m way past two thirds of three score and sixteen.”
“Huh?” Amber replied.
“’Three score and sixteen?’” Dave replied. “That’s in the Bible, right, John?”
John bobbled his head back and forth. “Sort of. Close enough. Bible says between seventy and eighty years unless we’re Methuselah. I think there’s like five people in Genesis who are said to have lived past nine-hundred.”
“Nu-uh!” Amber declared. “You don’t really believe that, do you?”
John shrugged. “While I have great faith in God and look to the Bible for wisdom I do not look at it as literal truth. One of the advantages to growing up Catholic, eh, Mom?”
Deb smiled at her son. “I wouldn’t know, son. I didn’t; now did I?”
“That’s right!” Joni said. “I forgot. You told me that when I was going through RCIA before John and I got married.”
“And I meant to ask you earlier,” Dave declared. “Speaking of old as dirt, where in the Sam Hill did you get that suit, son?”
All heads swiveled toward John, who jerked his head back in surprise, looked down, looked up, grinned, ran his fingers down the front of his wool suit jacket and emitted a single, barking laugh. “Ha! I forgot I had this on. I found it upstairs in the chiffarobe this morning and I was literally asking everybody if I could keep it when you guys showed up. Sharp, isn’t it? I’m going to wear it at tomorrow’s service.”
“Well, that’s one word for it,” his dad conceded, brow wrinkled, head tilted and mouth quirked. “And did you say, ‘chiffarobe’?”
“Don’t go there!” Amber commanded.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!” Jake declared. “You all can talk about whatever you want but please, just answer my question first. Anybody need a drink?”
“No!” Bilhah hollered at him. “We’re fine. But I’ll take a kiss,” she added offering him her lips.
Jake winked at her, leaned over, kissed her lips and then gently took her lower lip between his top and bottom incisor teeth where he held it for two seconds. Upon release of her lip he stood and declared, “And don’t yell at me. I’m very sensitive!”