I don’t believe in penance because I am not catholic, neither was Shannon, but she believed in penance. That’s why I woke up to Metallica playing ‘No leaf Clover.’ If you had a no leaf clover wouldn’t you just have a stem? Normally I liked Metallica. Lars Ulrich was my hero, but I had a hangover that the devil himself could probably feel, and he was probably downing Advil like no tomorrow and sleeping it off. I on the other hand didn’t have that luxury. Shannon wanted me to face the music, quite literally. I found Shannon in the kitchen, baking. “Do you think you could please turn it down, since you were the one getting me drunk in the first place.”
“How would I know you would act like an idiot.” she pounded the dough with her fist.
I turned down the radio, then ducked into the fridge for some orange juice. I had a bad case of cotton mouth. “You know exactly how I act when I am drunk. Why did you invite Evan?” I asked her outright. Shortly after dinner, I had passed out somewhere in the proximity of the couch, so I couldn’t quiz her. Unfortunately, I missed Evan’s departure.
“We needed a fourth.” she evaded the answer. Since waking up only minutes earlier, and not totally on my own reconnaissance I was feeling a bit bitchy, “Fourth my ass. You could have invited Greg for that, and you wouldn’t have gotten me liquored up for it either.” Shannon rolled out the dough fiercely.
“I don’t know why I did it. I talked to Evan on the phone yesterday and he seemed to want to see you,” she said.
“Yeah, well he saw me, are you satisfied, can you stop meddling in my love life?” I scolded. I noticed she wouldn’t look at me, then it dawned on me. “Shan, you didn’t. Please tell me you didn’t tell my mom about all this.”
Shannon looked even more sheepishly. “Oh god.” My head hit the table. “How much?” I groaned. Shannon peered at me over the baking sheet. “All of it.” she ducked, before I found something to throw at her. After I settled down, I asked, “So when can I expect the call?”
“Mary- Ann and company will be here at noon.” Shannon said this as she ran out of the room.
Okay I love my mother, but my mom coming across town to visit was not, and I repeat NOT good. Mary- Ann Concannon James Fairfield Gates, or my mother believed in the institution of marriage, and in the institute of divorce, she had been married three times, divorced twice, and widowed once, and in that order. My mother had only had one child, me, and I was suppose to drop everything to get married and have her grandchild. Like I said before, you don’t get any respect in my family until you are married and have a kid, you just don’t exist. I could be the president of the freaking United States of America and my grandfather the proud patriarch who had fathered nine children to four different women, would still manage to come to the white house and brag about my cousin Melinda’s twins. And thanks to Shannon, my mother and maybe my aunts were coming here so she could kick some sense into my butt.
Mom had been happy when I was ‘dating’ Greg, but heaven help me if she knew anything about Evan, which she probably did thanks to my best friend’s big mouth. I could just imaging the colorful phrases coming off of my mother’s tongue. “Why are you screwing things up with such a nice boy. He’s the mayor ya know.” Like I didn’t know, because I didn’t work at The Globe or anything. I was not ready for my mother’s lecture, or my Aunt Pru’s giving me the ‘look,’ which accompanied the ‘you’re acting like a slut’ talk. My Aunt Diane would just sit there, pretending to agree with her sisters but would pull me aside and tell me that she was proud that I stuck up for myself and didn’t cave to the family pressure. Nope. I was not looking forward to the whole event.
“Hey Shan, does your mom know about Noel?” if I was going down, I was taking her with me.
My mom, aunts and Shirley, Shannon’s mom showed at 2 minutes before twelve. I was ready for the them, They all sat in the living room like a council for the inquisition. I was situated on the floor listening to their chit chat. Mom had given me that motherly expression when she had arrived, the one that said, ‘I am very disappointed in you.’ I was now waiting for the other shoe to fall. Shannon slinked into the room giving her mother a peck on the cheek. Yeah, she was trying to score any bonus points she could, the trader.
“Miranda, what are you doing with these boys.” Oh yes, my mother was disgusted, well at least she wasn’t using my middle name... yet. I started to point out that they weren’t boys, but I was cut off buy Aunt Prudence, who lived up to her name, she should have been named hypocrite, with as many marriages and children she had. “it’s floating all around town how you embarrassed that darling Greg Phillips at the last council meeting.” Usually I would be placid and let my Aunt speak, because usually she didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but Aunt Pru wasn’t even there, and I wasn’t going to feed the gossip mill.
“And how did I embarrass Greg? Because I yelled back at him, or how I got a ride home with Harry?”
Aunt Prudence fluffed herself all up like a peacock, “No, because you went to dinner with another man,” she wouldn’t even say the other man’s name. I was laughing too much on the inside. just the fact that I had to argue this point was amusing.
“I don’t know what Mom told you Aunt Pru and Aunt Diane, but Greg and I are just friends. hell I don’t know if I am going to do that anymore. As for the other man, he has a name, and you know it so please use it.”
“Well it’s about time you did settle down,” my mother began. “Dating two men is a bit much missy.”
“Who said I am dating Evan, we are barely friends, and if you are going to yell at anyone for throwing me together with him, you can yell at Shannon.” Shannon tried to look innocent, but my mother knew her since diaper hood, didn’t buy it, but I wasn’t finished defending myself, “As for me settling down, I will do it when I am ready, and when I have found that right guy that LOVES me,” I could now see where I had gotten my cynical sensibilities. My mother and aunts looked at me as if I was terribly naive. “Yes , he has to LOVE me. And if you don’t let me alone I might do something desperate.”
Horrified my mother said in a low voice, “You aren’t going to turn into one of those lesbians are you Randy?” I tried really hard not to laugh but I was unsuccessful. “No mom, but I might go take a vow of chastity if you don’t stop giving me this lectures. Honestly, you all haven’t had any luck with marriage, but yet you want me to take that plunge. I’m 28, can I live my life?”
“You tell them. “ Aunt Diane said. “She is older than any of us when we got married, and she is happy Mary-Ann. If she wants to date two guys, or no guys let her.” I could have hugged my Aunt Diane, she was my one woman pep squad.
I didn’t expect my mother or my aunt Prudence to have an epiphany and see the errors of their ways, or that they would stop harping me, that would be too easy. What it did do was signal the end of the argument, at least for me.
Shannon’s mother than quizzed her about Noel and my mom and aunt Prudence joined in, but like me they couldn’t get anything out of her.
Satisfied with our answers my mother was ready to do something else. “Come on girls, let’s go shopping.” That invitation included Shannon and I, I was anything less than enthused, but conceded because I needed to get some gifts, and I always needed more clothes.
Two hours and several clothes stores later, I was trying on clothes with the help of Shannon, our mothers and my aunts were somewhere else, probably hassling the poor store clerk.
“How does this look?” Shannon asked about the tight turtle necked sweater she had tried on. I was stepping into a pair of pleather pants, and was zipping them up. “Hold on,” I opened the door to the stall. “it looks pretty good, what about these pants?” I didn’t have anything that would go with them, and they were a far cry from what I normally wore that I couldn’t resist.
Shannon looked me up and down, “Yeah, they look pretty good, if you were going to go to a club or something.” She looked over at one of the racks and pointed to a flashy silk camisole, “Try that too.” I bought them, as well some other new clothes, that didn’t blend well with my ‘professional’ image. I had also bought some presents like a sweater for Shannon and a necklace for my mom, all and all, I was ready to go home. Mom wanted to treat us to dinner out, but I made an excuse, and since Shannon and I had drove in her car we left.
Shannon checked the telephone messages as soon as we got home. While I took my purchases into my room. There must have been quite a few because Shannon was still waiting by the machine when I came out of my room. She had a perplexed look to her face. “You’re suppose to call Greg. He called five times.”
“You’re kidding, we have only been gone for a little while.” This was very unusual for Greg. Shannon still looked disturbed. “What?”
“Nothing. Call Greg.” She said, getting up and going into the kitchen. She wasn’t telling me something. I pushed the play button my the answering machine, but Shannon had already erased them from the electronic memory. So I picked up the phone to call Greg. I probably shouldn’t have.
“Hello Greg,” I said when he answered his phone.
“Where have you been?” He demanded right off the bat. He sounded incredibly angry.
“I was shopping.” I said defensively. Not that is was any of his business, but again, I kept my mouth shut.
“My mom and Shannon.”
“Well you could have told me you wouldn’t be home this afternoon, I wanted to go to a basketball game.”
“Then why didn’t you?” I was getting very irritated at his tone of voice, and his accusations.
“Never mind, next time tell me where you are going.” I held the receiver out from my arm and looked at is as if it were an alien being distorting what Greg was saying.
“Excuse me, I don’t have to tell you were I am going or where I have been, you aren’t my father.” Bad move, I should have kept my mouth shut. Greg mumbled something then harshly hung up the phone. I hung up the phone, shaking my head. He was acting very strangely. I joined Shannon in the kitchen. “Greg was acting weird,”
Shannon shook her head, not really paying attention to what I said. “What’s wrong Shan?”
“What did Greg say?”
“He wanted to know where I was, he was all huffy about it, then he hung up on me.” Shannon nodded again. As if tallying it all up in her head. She didn’t say anything else, but somehow her mood was warning me.