(page 5 of 11)
Michael shrugged and said, “Yeah, why not?” while Jeremy perked up. “Yeah!”
I slapped butter into the frying pan and punched holes out of the centers of slices of bread, ready to drop the eggs in. When I set their plates in front of them, Michael was giving me a cold, studied look.
“What’s the matter?” I said.
After the boys left, Joe put down his magazine and said, “You know, I had a crush on you in school.”
“Yeah, right,” I snapped. “You rarely spoke to me.” Who was he kidding? Football players never paid attention to me. I was a semi-geek, sort of on the fringes of things. Some of my friends were “popular” and some weren’t. “When was this - while you were dating Chrissy like mad?”
“No, before that,” he said.
Oh. Well, so what? He wasn’t my type anyway. I wasn’t attracted to dominant, arrogant guys. Instead of commenting, I wiped up the table, which meant that I had to reach around him, which made me more uneasy.
He watched me intently. “Yeah, you never noticed. So I gave up.”
Did he think I was an idiot? His type, if he liked somebody that way, would have come on strong. There’s no way he would have shied off like a scared little reject. But I didn’t want to call him a liar. All I really desired at this moment was to get out of there.
“You dating anyone?” he asked. “You were married for a while, weren’t you? Do you mind if I ask what happened?”
Yes, I mind, you intrusive bore. But I said, “It didn’t work out, that’s all. I’m not exclusively dating anyone.” Actually, I wasn’t seeing anyone at all, but married men were not remotely on my list of potentials and anyone with a molecule of gray matter could see what Joe was up to here.
“You must get frustrated,” he said. “I mean without anyone.”
Oh for crying out loud. “It hasn’t been that long,” I said, still in my nicer tone of voice. Though any minute...
“A nice, sexy, good looking woman like yourself in the prime of her life...”
I stopped wiping. He had the look of any male animal on the rut. I hadn’t seen that for a while, but it was like riding a bicycle, you never forget it.
“Joe,” I said. “Your daughter is in serious condition in the hospital and you’re coming on to me.”
This didn’t seem to faze him. “Look,” he said. “Even before Susie had the accident, Chrissy and I...well, we had our problems.”
I sat down across from him, still gripping the dishcloth. “What marriage doesn’t have problems?” I said hopefully, trying to get him onto a more abstract path.
I Stopped Reading the Newspaper continues...