So one of the things that's difficult for me as a parent is that I am often forced—despite the personality I was born with—to be a social creature. I cannot, for example, say to the boy who assails me after school with a really very sweet request to join me and two of my daughters for lunch, "Are you out of your little 5-year-old mind? It's Friday, it's raining, the hems of my jeans are soaked, and all I want to do is go home, so no. No, you cannot join us for lunch. Ya little shit."
I can't say it for a bunch of reasons, not the least of which is because the two daughters in question are tugging on my sweater sleeve and saying, "Please Mom? Please? Please can B come to lunch with us?" over and over and over again. And I also can't say it because the kid is standing there wearing his little Independent skateboard hoodie, and his Dad is standing next to him wearing the exact same one, and they are sort of forlorn and hapless, the two of them. And also there is the fact that though this kid raises such a ruckus in the classroom, he is unfailingly gallant in all things concerning R & V. In fact, I have seen him on the playground tending to Risa when she falls, and taking other boys to task when they are what he judges too rough for my girls.
So instead of saying what I want to say, I say, "Of course, B! That would be excellent!" and then I tell his Dad which restaurant we are heading to, and they follow us in the exact kind of car that you would suspect a father and son who wear matching Independent skateboard hoodies to follow us in.
And everything goes okay conversation-wise, until it becomes apparent that B has taken R & V into his confidence on several personal family matters, and though Risa is admirably discreet, Vida is decidedly not. "So," she says between bites of her hamburger, "you and your wife split up?"
Oh. My. Gouda. Blindsided. I am completely blindsided. How do I gracefully extricate us from the direction in which this is going, oh how, how, how, I panic. Before I can think of a way, B's father says, "Uh-huh. Except we were never married."
This is when I realize the plain truth: there is no way to extricate us from the direction in which this is going. Don't you know who this is? I want to tell him. This is Vida. When it comes to shizz like this, she is nothing short of a dog with a bone.
And sure enough:
"You weren't?" she says. She mulls it over. "But you were in love."
"That must have been difficult," she says.
"Yeah. It was."
And then—finally—before she can ask the guy to explain in excruciating detail exactly how it feels to have one's still-beating heart ripped out of one's chest and stomped on in full view of friends and family, all while trying to protect his beloved son from the fallout, I think of an escape:
"Who wants a milkshake," I scream. "Does anyone want a milkshake? Let's get milkshakes! Milkshakes for everyone!"