Friday, December 03, 2004

It's not a holiday unless there's a fight

Tiffany was an awesome screw. I am thinking of trying to hook up with her again.

It's Wednesday, the 24th, 10:00am. I am leaving for home in about 15 minutes. I stop by her cubicle.

"Hi," I say.

"Heyyy, hi, Steve!" she says, smiling brightly.

"Hey listen, when is your audit scheduled to be done?"

"Twelve twenty-three," she says.

"I'll be back down in January, probably. Do you wanna hang out some night then?"

She narrows her eyes at me. "Are you married?" she says.

"No!" I say, holding out my left hand, palm in.

"Well, I....I mean, I have a boyfriend," she says.

"Ohh, ok."

"It's's not serious, but we've been together for a while, and he just....we just....."

What the fuck am I doing? I am sneaking around the office, hitting on an auditor. I'm speaking in hushed tones so no one will overhear. I'm eavesdropping while she leaves her boyfriend voice mail in my hotel suite bathroom.

Maybe I'll keep fucking around, maybe I won't. Maybe I will make it work with Steph. But no matter what I do, no good can come of me taking chances like this.

".....and he just, didn't really understand. He didn't get the concept. You know?" Tiffany says.

"Yeah, I know, Tiff."


Wednesday, November 24. 11:30. Steph calls.

"Hey hon! Are you on your way home?" she says.

"Yeah. What'cha doin?"

"Studying. Getting ready to go to Mom's. Actually, could I ask you a MAJOR favor?"

"What's that?"

"Could I just chill with you tonight? I know it's last minute but I really need to de-stress."

"But you have to go to your mom's house tonight."

"It's not that far. I'll go in the morning."

"Hey," I say. I can't believe I'm about to say this.


"You wanna come to my dad's for Thanksgiving?"

"Are you serious, Steve?"

"Of course!"


"You want me to... meet your family?" she says.


"Oh my God! Stee-eeve! That is so sweet! I'll DEFINITELY come to your house! Oh! And I guess that means..."

"What?" I say.

"I get to snuggle with you all night tonight."

"If you're lucky," I say.


I love the hours before dinnertime on Thanksgiving Day.

There's something really relaxing about the oven-heat that fills the house, the smoky turkey-smell that manages to drift everywhere, even the most remote reaches of the ground floor. And everyone is happy and relaxed, carefree and filled with nothing but love for each other, if only for this one day.

Yeah, right.

There's ALWAYS a fight at my house on a holiday. A nasty one, usually. Of course, mom or Aunt Shirley is usually the instigator, and obviously mom is gone now, but I still have a bad feeling, especially since I happen to be very pissed off about Aunt Shirley throwing me under the bus with Dawn.

Steph and I walk into dad's house at 11:30. She's nervous. She's been asking questions all morning about what to expect.

We walk into the TV room, and Steph pulls off her black cotton gloves and long leather coat. Everyone else is already here: Greg, Nancy, Chris, Janet, Dad, Jenny, Bill, and aunt Shirley. They all stare wordlessly at Steph.

"Happy Thanksgiving!" I say.

"Happy Thanksgiving," Five or six people say back, smiling. The mood lightens a little.

"Guys, this is my girlfriend Stephanie," I say. I introduce her around the room.

Nancy smiles hugely at her and goes out of her way to be friendly. She even lets her hold MacKenzie.

"OOooooooh, she's so cute!" Steph says, rocking the baby gently.

Steph takes a seat on the couch next to Chris. He's asking her all about law school, and they are hitting it off really well. Everyone else seems to like her too. Stephanie makes a great first impression. She is smart, polite, and respectful. She's....CHARMING.

I take a seat on the floor, watching the parade on dad's TiVo. I glance back and look at Steph and I'm overcome with guilt.

She's got a cranberry-colored sweater on. The turtleneck is so long that it actually covers the tip of her chin. Her long blondish hair hangs down, shiny and perfectly straight. She's wearing a black skirt and stockings, and she's already kicked her shoes off. She is.....comfortable. Just like always.

I keep thinking of what she said in that card she sent me: "Who could ask for more than you have to offer?" The question should be, how could I ask for more than her? How COULD I? Stephanie is beautiful, and friendly, and interesting, and she cares about me very much. How could I have fucked some skanky auditor chick? How could I have dismissed her so easily?

I walk over to her and touch her arm to get her attention. She looks up at me and kisses me. "You want a drink?" I say.

"No thanks."

I go to the kitchen, pour my water, and wallow in my guilt.


3:00. Dinner is served.

"Steve," dad says, "did you ever go and talk to that retarded girl about mom?"

"I did," I say, glancing across the table. "Had to tell her ALLLL by myself."

"I wouldn't've done that," Aunt Shirley says. "I would've made those people do it."

"I woudn't've blown it off," I say, angrily.

"I forgot," she says dismissively, shrugging.

"You never returned his call. Or mine," Jenny says. "That's RUDE, mom."

"What's the sense returning a phone call? It's already done and over with."

"Never mind the phone call," I snap. "If you didn't want to go, you should've told me you didn't want to go."


"Rude, mom!" Jenny says.


"Yeah, well, remind me to forget the next time you ask me for something," I say.

She drops her fork on her plate with a loud CLANG!

"Yeah, well, you're one to talk. From what I hear, you have a different girl here every week!" she says.

All eyes turn to Stephanie.

Let the games begin.