Please enjoy this post where I tell you a story about an event from my life. Nothing more, nothing less.
Today’s story is the first in a series about some of the women my dad dated. At first I didn’t know if I wanted to write these out but some of them were pretty odd. We’ll start at the beginning, with Sandy.
My parents aren’t really divorced yet when my dad starts “dating” again. They’re not properly divorced. Not legally divorced. I don’t care because I’m 6. I don’t care about much actually. I know there is a part of me that wanted to be sad because everyone expected me to be sad but I can’t find it in myself to feel it. My parents live in a separate places and have separate lives, it doesn’t seem earth shattering. Instead it seems fine, if a bit boring.
The first time I meet Sandy (Sandy I because there will be a Sandy II in our future, we just don’t know it yet), she is standing in our driveway. I don’t like her right away because she is smiling with her face but not with her eyes until she slips on a pair of giant black tinted sunglasses, and then she’s not smiling at all. She is older than I expect, older than my mother at least. She is a bottle blond. Tall, thin, poised, with a thick Brooklyn accent that is always betraying her. She coughs when she talks, she moves her hands when she talks, she calls me “sweetheart” when she talks.
I don’t know where he met her, she just appears one day and that’s the end of that. We spend every weekend with her for several weekends in a row but she leaves at the end of the day each time. I feel relief when she leaves but I don’t know why.
One weekend we drive to a mansion. I can hear her thin, raspy voice explaining to my father that she won it in her last divorce as I wander the house. I double back to the entrance way twice, complete with table and tacky vase. The ceilings stretch up three floors and I hear a muffled wailing and cursing echoing from somewhere inside the vast structure. It’s her son, a 20 something “musician” who smokes and noodles on his guitar every day after he wakes up at 2pm. I hate him too so I smile very politely when we’re introduced. He has a cat who just had kittens though so I absolve to hate him less if he lets me play with the kittens. He does. Like a Pavlovian response, any time I see Sandy, I ask if we can see the kittens too.
Sandy is a non-entity to me. She is often around when I see my dad but she rarely says anything I’m interested in. She doesn’t seem to mind that I exist but she doesn’t go out of her way to interact with me either. She has a granddaughter who is my age, from her other son, and we all go to the amusement park together one time. Her name is Alessa or Alyessa. She has brown curly hair and wants to be my friend. I smile at her but I secretly do not want to be her friend. For three weekends we are forced friends. We go to mini golf, to a petting zoo, and finally to a playground. I push her off the top of the playground “by mistake” but after that I don’t have to hang out with Alessa/Alyessa any more.
Sandy lives a very high class lifestyle. She is mimosas with brunch and expensive lipsticks in her designer bag. My dad is struggling to make ends meet and we’re about to lose the house we got after the house we lost already. The divorce is lingering and expensive. I don’t understand how the dichotomy between them works but sometimes we go to a club and they dance together while I throw quarters in a pinball machine and I guess that works just fine.
Until of course one day it doesn’t. We go to a dinner party or maybe it’s a wedding or a christening of some sort. It’s in a big garden and all the tables are lined with bright yellow tablecloths. Sandy watches me eat a small sandwich and tells me that I eat too much and I’m getting fat. I wiggle away from her and hide under one of the long tables of food. My hand goes poking up through the cloth to sneak fruit and cheese and chocolates from the buffet above. Just to spite her, I wildly and greedily shove each piece in to my wide mouth. I make loud and exaggerated chewing noises in case she can secretly hear me.
She can’t. She’s on the other side of the field, next to a large fountain and she is yelling. Face bright red. Her hands are clutching a rectangular piece of plastic too tight. Her tanned, thin skin seems to be boiling over but I can’t hear anything she’s saying to the person she’s yelling at. He turns suddenly and I realize it’s my father who is getting the brunt of her anger. I assume they are yelling about me and I take another handful of fruit from the top of the table but this time I almost feel bad about it. I crawl my way back out to join the rest of the guests and we all try to ignore the drama.
My dad never yells so eventually instead he just lower his shoulder, sighs, and comes to collect me – strawberry and chocolate stains pressed in to the sides of my dress where I wiped my hands. We drive home with only the radio between us. He tells me later that it had nothing to do with me, she lied about her age and some other things. I almost believe him and we never see her again so it all becomes a moot point soon enough.