It seemed like an ordinary night. There were no harbingers of doom — a murder of black crows on the telephone wires outside, a vanity mirror broken jaggedly down its center. No, all was as it usually was. Henry was reading to Bridget in the next room and Clare and I were snuggling in her room before she went to sleep and I could drink a tankard of Thunderbird in the dark of our outdoor office (but that’s a tale for another time).
Just as I leaned in to kiss my daughter goodnight, she became somber. Tears welled in her eyes. Was she sad I was leaving her side? Was she worried about a failing score in long division she’d hidden from me far too long?
“Mommy,” she said, her voice thick with tears.
“What is it sweetheart?” I asked tenderly, sure I was about to have another after-school-special kind of great mommy moment.
“I wish you and daddy weren’t so …”
“Yes, what is it darling?” (Perfect? Wonderful? Kickass?)
“I wish you and daddy weren’t so … weren’t so … old.”
“Weren’t so what?”
A keening wail, “Olllllldddddd!”
“Are you worried we’ll die?”
“No. You won’t die for a long time because great gram was almost 100, but daddy showed up to pick me up from school and his shirt was too short and everyone could see his tummy which is kind of … well … kind of fat … and hairy and it was so embarrassing!”
“Well, yes, honey, your father is five years older than me.”
“And he always wears those old-man grandpa shoes and mommy?”
“Yes, you can tell me anything about your geriatric father …”
“He doesn’t even wear them with socks!”
“I will definitely talk to that wizened bastard about that.”
“And then he wears that light blue baseball hat and it doesn’t match anything else and he’s the only daddy who can’t hit the softball out of the Little League park.”
“Yes, well the althleticism comes from the Bradley side of the family I’m afraid.”
“And mommy, he’s a little bald.”
“While I still have a thick mane of hair. Yes, poor chap. Well, listen, we’ll tell daddy he has to get better shirts, longer ones, we’ll make him stop eating ice cream at midnight and we’ll take him to the batting cages, so goodnight.”
“Goodnight, mom, thanks.”
“I love you, sweetheart.”
“I love you too, mommy. But, just one more thing.”
“No, sweetheart, it’s too late for one more thing. I’m halfway out the door.”
“You know when you’re in your pajamas and you’re not wearing your bra?…”
“I can’t hear you, I’m in my own bedroom now!”
“Could you please not set your boobs on the table when we’re playing Monopoly? Because you act like no one can see you putting your boobs on the table, but all of us can see you and it’s kind of gross.”
“The only reason I have to put my boobs on the table is because you and your sister sucked the life out of them, you little greedy shits! Now go the f#$k to sleep!”
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