Our last morning in the country, I woke up before Jack. When I walked into the kitchen, my dad was sitting at the counter, already on his third cup of coffee. “So Jack’s pretty amazing, isn’t he?” I said, filling a mug.
“I know this might not be what you want to hear,” he started.
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“Dad, please,” I said. But he went on.
“It’s just something Mom noticed. Did you know that when he thought no one was looking, he took her salad, removed all the vegetables and tossed them into the garbage?”
“It was his dinner!” I said. “He didn’t even ask her to make the salad, but she did anyway!”
“That’s not the point,” my dad said. “Do you think it’s a good idea to be involved with someone so narrow-minded? If you two get married, there will be a lot of decisions you’ll have to make together, and it will be hard when he shows such a total lack of permeability!”
I stormed downstairs. A few minutes later, I heard the Weed-wacker. My dad always weeds when he’s stressed. It helps him, but it doesn’t help the garden, since he has no idea what he’s doing.
In late June, about nine months after we met, Jack proposed. There was no engagement ring because he didn’t have the money and at first this bothered me, but then I read about the evil history of diamonds and decided it was all right. A few days after our engagement, we went over to my parents’ to tell them our news.
“They’re going to be so happy for us,” I said, in the elevator.
“I’m not so sure,” he said. “I’m not Jewish, and I’m an artist. I think we should decide now if we’re asking them or telling them.”
“We’re telling them,” I said. “I’m 29 years old. That’s too old to ask permission.”
“Good,” he said.
When we got to the apartment, my mother opened the door. “Dad’s not here,” she said. It was just like my dad to cock-block my engagement.
“What?” I said.
“He’s running errands, but he should be home soon.”
“Oh,” I said.
We sat on the living room couch. Jack held my hand. My mother asked what was new. I started to answer, and then my dad came in the door and disappeared into the bedroom.
“Come out here!” my mom shouted, and finally he did. He sat down opposite us and just as I was about to announce our engagement he said, “Did Mom tell you I saw Spellbound last night? Excellent documentary, about these kids in a spelling bee. There was this one scene where this girl couldn’t spell viand. I swear to you I was on the edge of my seat.”
“We’ve decided to get engaged,” I said.
“Mazel tov!” my mother said, rising to embrace us. My dad didn’t say anything. My mother turned to him and said, “Come over here and congratulate them.”
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Before we left Jack took a picture of the four of us, using his long arm to hold the camera. My mom, Jack, and me were all grinning ear to ear but my dad looked like he was constipated.