Monday, December 06, 2004

Steve's Thanksgiving beatdown

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

Everyone turns to look at Steph. She, in turn, is staring intently at Shirley. She's not embarrassed, or humiliated, or angry: She's interested. She's observing. She's learning.

That's one thing I really like about Steph: Her grace under pressure. Her ability to face a situation like this bravely.

"Assume you're right," I say. "Assume I am some womanizer." (Perish the thought, right, guys?) "Assume I'm the biggest jerk in the world. How does that make YOU less inconsiderate?"

"Never you mind," Shirley says. "Your mother, God rest her soul, told me things. She told me plenty about you. I heard plenty, don't you worry," she says, nodding her head, slowly.

"Yeah, well, the two of you were probably pissing in your pants drunk at the time, so I'm sure you don't remember," I say.

"ooooooooo," say a few people.

Dad bangs his fist on the table. "STEVEN!" He shouts. "Kitchen! Now!"

I turn to Steph. She looks scared. I wink at her, then get up and follow dad.

Dad is standing by the fridge, clenching his jaw angrily. "You're NOT gonna ruin Thanksgiving, Steve. You're NOT. You understand me?" He says, in a harsh whisper.

"Dad, this is your house, and I'll play by your rules. I just hope you understand why I said that."

"Of COURSE I know why you said it. But it wasn't appropriate. You KNOW how Shirley is. You ought to know you're not gonna get anywhere acting like that, Steve. YOU know better; SHE doesn't."

"I know, dad."

"Then would you PLEASE reel it in, Steve?"

"Sure, dad." I hug him.

We walk back out to the dining room. I might as well get this over with.

"Sorry, everyone. Sorry, aunt Shirley," I say. A few heads nod. Shirley doesn't answer.

"Shirley, I need to talk to you, too," dad says.

"Gimme a break, Frank," Shirley says.

"NOW," dad says. Dad can be pretty intimidating when he wants to be.

She gets up and walks into the kitchen with him. I'm pretty sure I hear the words "fault", "care" and "apologize".

They walk back in. Shirley takes her seat, and there is total silence for several minutes. "I'm sorry I called you a male slut," she says, finally.

We all burst out laughing. Shirley can actually be pretty funny at times.

I have to say that I really admire the way dad took control of the situation and got us both under control so quickly. It could have been a lot worse.


10:30, Thanksgiving night. Steph and I are laying in bed together. It's the classic guy-on-his-back, girl-with-head-on-his-chest position.

"I like your family," she says.

"Even aunt Shirley?" I ask.

"It's ok," she says.

Long pause.

"What did she mean about a different girl every week? And what did your mom tell her?" She asks, finally.

"I brought Lila to dad's house. ONCE," I say. "That's IT. I've never brought another girl home to meet the family. "

"Lila. The one I'm most jealous of," she says.


"I feel like she had you wrapped around her little finger."


"I MEAN it! You told her you loved her, Steve!"

"I know."

"So what if she came back tomorrow and told you she wanted to get back together? Would you?"

"No," I say, immediately.

This is NOT an optional answer, guys. You have to answer "No," and you have to answer quickly and decisively, without thinking, or you can forget ever seeing your significant other naked again.

"OK," she says. "Will you just make me a promise?"

"What's that?"

"Will you promise to tell me everything, no matter what? No matter what happens I want to know the truth. Even if it's gonna make me upset."

"Will you promise the same to me?"


"OK," I say. "I promise."

I intend to keep my promise. With those two little words, I think I just took a big step towards emotional maturity.

The big question is, do I have to tell her about Tiffany? I made the promise TODAY, but I fucked Tiff a couple of days ago. So technically, that screw should be grandfathered in, right?

I am fooling myself. I really like the idea of Steph knowing EVERYthing. The older I get, the more I hate lies, and anything remotely resembling lies. If there is going to be a blood-letting, let there be a blood-letting now, not at some unexpected point in the future. I hate unpleasant surprises.

"Steph," I say, "I need to tell you something."