Seems that my parents and Mary did some bonding whilst Mary worked her sneaky wiles around the surprise party she threw for my birthday.
“When are you picking her up?”
“Mary!” I can hear my mother moving around her kitchen. Putting away the silverware would be my guess. “Aren’t you bringing Mary with you for lunch tomorrow?”
“What? When did this happen?”
“Oh, you know,” my mother says. “At the party. I said you were coming up for lunch and she said she wished she was coming up for lunch and, well, you’ve seen her, haven’t you. All big eyes and – Paul! Close that door! For cryin’ out loud!” She sighs. “Your father enjoys aggravating me.”
And so I pick Mary up for the two hours’ ride north to my parent’s.
She climbs into the passenger seat.
“You look nice,” I say.
She pulls down the sun visor. “I’ll have you know,” she says, smiling at the image she finds in the mirror there, “that I am wearing lipstick just for your mom.”
“Not for me?”
Mary, a woman notoriously good at taking care of everyone but herself, has had chapped lips since we met.
She shakes her head, flips the visor up. “I used to wear it for you, but now I wear it for your mom.”
“Well whoever you’re wearing it for, it looks nice.”
It’s quiet as we let this sink in.
“You’re lucky, you know.”
I know what she’s talking about. Mary lost her mother when she was quite young, her father a number of years ago.
“You can –“
“Can I –“
I keep my eyes on the road, hands at 10 and 2. “You can use them, if you like.”
Mary stares out the passenger window. “They know stuff, you know,” she says. “Parents and older people. Like how many cups to a quart.” She looks at me. “Do you think your mom knows that?”
“I’ll bet she makes the best desserts.”
I don’t say anything.
“Does she know how many feet to a mile?”
“Maybe not, but I’m pretty sure my dad does.”
This seems to satisfy her. “Seems like a Dad question, doesn’t it,” she murmurs.
I smile. “Hey, and if you’re going to ask my dad questions, be sure to ask him about his collection of literature, in particular his henways.”
Mary frowns. “What’s a henway?”
I smile. My father, the king of the clean joke, is going to love this.
“Oh, Mary,” I say. “Just be sure to ask. My dad loves questions like that.”
4 hours ago