Friday, June 17, 2005

The case of the missing asshole

My brother Chris is nothing like me.

As long as I can remember, he has been steadfastly monogamous. He's always loved being a one-woman man.

He had a very serious girlfriend in high school, and on the weekends, while other kids their age were drinking and partying, they were out looking at furniture. They were both 16 the first time I heard them discuss marriage, and I thought they were crazy.

Jackie and Chris went to different colleges, and she ended up dumping him in the middle of freshman year. She came home for Christmas a few weeks later, and we started hearing rumors that she was dating some other guy. Chris was devastated for a very long time, and still doesn't like to talk about her.

When he was not with anyone, he was very slow and methodical about growing his relationships. He tended to them carefully, like wounded birds. Sometimes the bird died; sometimes it grew up and became beautiful.

He was always very happy with his girlfriends, and very loyal. But, to be truthful, I've never liked any of them.

It's amazing how similar Chris's girlfriends have all been. They tend to be tall, intelligent, and well-spoken. They also happen to be cold, snotty, emotionally unavailable bitches. He loves stuck-up chicks, and always has.

Janet is no exception. I remember years ago, when I was jogging on a hot summer day, and I had underestimated just how sweltering it was. After a mile, I gave up, and started walking slowly back to my dad's house (where I lived at the time), huffing and puffing to get my wind back, my hands on my head.

Janet pulled up alongside me in her air-conditioned Jetta to say hello. She was on her way to see Chris at my dad's house. "I'd give you a ride," she said, "but you're all sweaty." I never forget shit like that.

She and Chris have been married for almost 10 years. They have always seemed genuinely happy. They still sit ass-to-ass on the couch, and she still dozes off with her head on his shoulder late on a holiday night when we're all at dad's. Thing is, she and I have never truly hit it off. I don't like talking to her; it feels... forced somehow, like neither of us wants to be there.

When the family is together, I can predict almost exactly what she'll talk to me about:

1. How's my job;
2. How's [insert girlfriend's name here]; and,
3. Terribly [nasty/beautiful] weather we're having.

After those topics are exhausted, we stand around, rocking back and forth on our heels, waiting for someone to save our asses from the boredom. Sometimes I try to go outside the box, talking about a great movie I saw, or an old friend I ran into, and she just kind of stares at me, as if to say, "We're not supposed to be talking about THAT!" Even Nancy, my other sister-in-law, who is prone to bitchiness in her own right, comments all the time about how hard Janet is to talk to.

I've only seen Chris and Janet once or twice this year, and the last time was on Easter Sunday. Things seemed different between them. He talked to Amanda all day, as I remember, and Janet didn't appear to notice. Each of them acted as if they had come alone.

Monday, June 6, 2005, 7:00pm
Steve's house

My home phone rings.


"Steve, it's Janet. I need to talk to Chris," she says sharply.

What the hell is she talking about? Chris isn't here! Chris NEVER comes here, except on special occasions. They don't exactly live around the corner from me; in fact, we're not even in the same state.

Chris isn't here! I almost exclaim, and at the very last second I stop myself.

Chris must have told her he was coming here. He MUST have, because I can count on one hand the number of times Janet has called this house. She would never do so randomly.

But I haven't talked to Chris in a week or two, which isn't unusual, so if he told her he was visiting me, he must have been lying. And if he's lying, he must be doing something he doesn't want her to know about. But why didn't he fill me in on his little plot?

".....STEVE!" she shouts. I pull the phone away from my ear for a second so as not to go deaf.

I better be very careful what I say. I have no idea what he told her he was coming over here for. The less information I give her, the better.

"Janet. I'm on the other line long distance. Lemme call you right back." Hopefully, I can hang up with her and get Chris on the phone so we can get our stories straight.

"Steve, I NEED to talk to him. He brought my migraine medicine home from the drug store, and I don't know where he put it, and my head is KILLING me!"

NOW what? I'm gonna have to tell her something. Chris is a real idiot for not telling me what he was doing. He's going to get an earful from me when I get hold of him.

I think of telling her Chris isn't here yet. But I have no idea when he left. Better play it safe.

"He stepped out for five minutes. Did you try his cell?"

"I did. No answer. Where did he go?"

"OK, I'll get him to call you. Migraine medicine, right?"


"I'm on it. I'll have him call you right away."



I dial Chris's cell number.

"Hi, sorry I can't get to the phone right now, but if you'll-"


I plop down on the couch. NOW what the fuck do I do? Janet needs an answer quick, and will get suspicious if she doesn't get one.

Maybe I can call whoever he's with. But who IS he with?

Then it hits me. It's obvious! If he's cheating on his snotty, bitchy wife, it must be with another snotty, bitchy woman. And when I saw them together, their body language seemed to give them away; I swore they were fucking. Maybe I was right after all. I hope I am. It's my only chance.

I call dad.



"Hiya, Steve."

"Dad, I need Amanda's cell phone number."

"Amanda who?"

"Your girlfriend's daughter, dad!"

"Oohhhhh, DAT Amanda."

"Yeah, dad."

"Well, I don't have that. Call Anna, she'll give it to you. Here's the number."

I write it down. "Thanks, dad, talk to you later."

I call Anna. "Hello?"

"Anna, it's Steve. Frank's son."

"Steve, hi!"

"Hi. Listen, by any chance do you have Amanda's cell phone number?"

She hesitates. "Yeeeess..."

Time to make up a little story. "She's helping me get my house appraised, and I was supposed to get some information to her a week ago..."

"Ohh, ok." she gives me the number.

I dial it. Please, please fucking answer!

One ring. Two rings. "Hello?" says a haughty-sounding female voice.


"Yes?" There is concern in her voice.

"It's Steve. Frank's son."

There's a long pause. "Hi, Steve."

"Amanda, by any chance is there anyone with you?"