Tuesday, January 13, 2015

ROY G BIV (Part 1 of Maybe)

"Do you have everything?"


"Are you sure? You haven't left anything behind?"

"Dad, yes," Rachel Madison said.

"You have your lunch and all your books?"


"I'm not going to have to drive back here and then drive back to the school because you forgot something, am I?"


"Ray, go through your checklist. I'm not moving until you're positive you have everything."



Rachel sighed defiantly and searched her memory of this cold February morning. She was sure she had everything for school. Then --

"Oh, shit, wait," she said and darted out of the car and back into the house. When she reemerged, her head was hanging solemnly on her chest. She opened the backseat door and sat down.

"I can't find my ballet stuff," she said.

"Ray, we had a deal. You stop losing stuff and I stop having to try to find it, remember? This is, what, the third time this week? First it was your science textbook, then it was your daily planner. By my count, this would be your third strike. You know what that means."

"Just drive. I don't need to be late for school on top of everything else about this crummy morning."

"Crummy. Hmm. That's a lot less colorful word than the one you used before."


"Eh, it happens. But I get to take back the two dollars I put into the swear jar last week for calling the ref of the Bulls-Sixers game a bad word, deal?"

"You called him a motherf--"

"Hey now, I know what I called him. No need for a reminder."

"Jocasta is going to murder me."

"No she won't," George Madison said as he reversed the car down the driveway. "Why would she without a motive?" He put the car into drive and picked up a faded pink drawstring bag from the passenger seat. "Looking for this?"

"Daddy!" Rachel shouted in elation. Then, "Wait, how long did you know it was there?"

"Since last Thursday when you left it there after we stopped by Subway on our way home. Take better care of your stuff, kiddo."

"I will," Rachel said.

"I'm giving you a Mulligan here, Rachey. The call has been reversed. Looks like you're still sitting on two strikes."

"So, milkshakes later?"

"Milkshakes later. Have a good day at school. I'll see you at four o'clock."

"Bye Dad."



George didn't mind sitting in the ballet studio waiting room. Usually there were other parents he could make small talk with: Mike Olynyk, who worked for a cable company; Emily Barnes, who taught third-grade math out in Noble Square; sometimes Jenny Conrad showed up, and they'd talk about pleating. George had no idea what pleating was -- his best guess was a Greek philosopher -- but he listened raptly to Jenny speak on the subject. Her blue eyes were as big and deep as a pristine Olympic swimming pool. George was in love with her, but he was in love with her the same way people are in love with Marylin Monroe or Elvis Presley. Or Jesus Christ. Jenny Conrad was real, but she was not available. She was married to a radio station executive and had two daughters, Gracie, 4, and Francine, 12, the latter with whom Rachel shared ballet class.

None of these regular parents were there on this particular Tuesday night, however. Not even George, who had fallen asleep not long after returning home from work that day. He woke up on the sofa just after five-thirty with a foam food container filled with chicken bones resting on his chest like an unfunny approximation of funeral flowers.

"Oh, shit," he said as he threw on his jacket and snatched his car keys.


"Kid, I'm sorry."

"You always are."

"I fell asleep watching Family Feud."

"How many strikes is that for you?"

"For the week?"

"For your life."

"Hey, low blow."

"Jocasta wants to talk to you."

"Well why didn't she say so when we were just in there?"

"Obviously because she didn't want me to hear it. Maybe she wants use foul language. Maybe she wants to have sex with you."



"Mr. George, hi again."

"I'm just George. My last name is Madison."

"Okay. Mr. Madison, Rachel has trouble with her feet."

"Like...how? Her feet look fine to me."

"Her pointe shoes are decrepit. The ribbons are all ratty, like mice chewed on them. And the heel is falling apart."

"I'll fix it."

"Mr. Madison, can you sew?"

"No. At least not professionally. I'll learn. Is that what you wanted to talk about?"

"With the right direction and support, she could go to Juilliard."

"I'll keep that in mind."


"What did she say?"

"Your shoes are fu-- damaged. They're damaged. They need to get fixed."

"I knew that."

"Well thank you, Einstein. I didn't. And I can't afford to buy you a new pair of shoes. Which makes me an asshole."


"Yeah, what?"

"Two bucks in the swear jar."

"I know."


"Try this milkshake. It's really good."

"Mm, that is good."

"I like good stuff."

"So do I. Know what I like more than good stuff?"


"Funny girl. Besides that."


"Better stuff."

"Like what?"

"Better grades."

"Here we go..."

"Ray, your teacher called. The last time you turned in a homework assignment Muhammad Ali was still Cassius Clay."


"Exactly! Kid, you need to smarten up. You're my baby girl, and I love you and everything, but you have to see the picture through the trees...the big picture. You have to work harder. Get stuff done. Elbow grease."

"Does that hard work include falling asleep and forgetting to pick your daughter up from ballet? Because I think I could handle that."

"Get in the car."

"Can I drive?"



"We asked a hundred people. Top four answers are on the board. Name the most embarrassing situation for your dirty parts to be exposed."

"What does he mean by dirty parts?"

"It's a double entendre."

"What's that?"

"Ask me later. RED CARPET!"

"What's a double entendre?"


"You told me to ask you later. Now is later."

"MEMOIR! Sorry, sweetie, what?"

"Never mind. I found it on Wikipedia."

"That's good. SEX TAPE!"

"I'm going to bed."



"Ray, wake up, kid. Time for school."

"Mnidonwannagotaschooltoday. Cannijussleepin?"

"Not on the itinerary. I don't want to go to work, either, but we all have our fate. The sword of Damocles hangs over both our heads."

"Can I drive?"

"Maybe when you're older."

"Who's Damocles?"

"He was before your time. Mine, too. He played jazz. Had a cleft lip, but he played the trumpet better than Gabriel."

"Who's Gabriel?"

"He's an asshole, don't worry about him. Have a good day at school, Small Fry."

"Have a good day at whatever you do, Big Fry."


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