Text message to Rosie Yes, come home. Yes, bring your new boyfriend. Xo Mom
Text message to Mom Derrick and I want to take u out to dinner – Noseworthy’s Bistro. Don’t cook.
Text message to Rosie Anything I should know/avoid/praise about Derrick?
Text message to Mom He’s from Newfoundland. He’s an orphan.
It hit me hard, like she had disconnected all the valves in my heart and then reattached them to the wrong arteries. Another boyfriend – an orphan boyfriend. Upside: No in-laws. Downside: Unknown gene-pool. But at least she’s coming home.
Thank God they want to go out for dinner. Upside: I don’t have to cook. Downside: I’ll have to drive and won’t be able to drink. Upside: We’ll be in public so we won’t fight and we won’t talk about what she does for a living.
Derrick. Sounds prosperous. Maybe something in oil? The last boyfriend was a d.j.-bouncer in that strip club. I never met him but Rosie showed me a picture of his music booth. It had a table with a crowbar and his knitting. He taught her to knit, too. She said she was a loose knitter, her stitches slide all over the place and she constantly drops them. I couldn’t teach her. That is, she wouldn’t let me teach her.
He’s from Newfoundland. This: A priest standing over rows of cribs lined up like used cars.
And this: How many Newfoundlanders does it take to change a light bulb? Five: One to hold the bulb and four to turn the lamp.
I can’t hear Derrick over the jabbering jerk at the table behind me. If he asks his girlfriend one more time whether she wants crème caramel when she told him love is making her fat ….
I wasn’t thinking of the hard-luck-to-happy-ending orphan story of Harold Noseworthy on the inside cover of the menu when Derrick commented “Not everyone’s story ends up on a menu.”
Shit. Suddenly the kitschy décor with its tinned corn on the cob and Purity biscuits looked like the contents of an institutional pantry.
“I got out, sure. Went to a foster home on Allandale Road which sounds like something from Robin-fucking-hood. They were good enough, I suppose. I aged out of the system.”
Aged out – like a cheddar not good enough quality to commit to seven years.
“How’re your cod cakes?” I ask.
“Alright, I guess. Not hundred mile diet, eh Rose? D’you think the savory is fresh or dried? I wonder if we grew herbs on the llama farm if they’d cover the stink of wet wool?”
The guy at the next table is telling his wife he’s processing her words, and I feel like a malfunctioning microchip. What llama farm? Rosie works in a club as a … you know… a performance artist.
“Beats the shit out of the smell of stale beer and sweat in a lust stew,” Rosie said.
“Lust Stew. Sounds like a male stripper’s name.”
“You should know.”
“The good thing about shaving a llama is at least it produces something other than lust. Unless you’re a knitter.”
Derrick said, “One spit at me. Now I stay on the other side of the fence when I’m fixing it. I’d rather not step on llama patties.”
I thought about Rosie’s taste in men. Crowbar and hammer wielders, knitters and fence menders. Upside: Good with their hands. Downside: Their hands are rough.
“Do you want dessert?” Rosie asked. “They have gluten-free brownies.”
“Yes, girl. Better than Mount Cashel figgy pudding full of raisins that remind me of priests. Fruit gone bad.
The guy behind me said “I digest all your words.” Suddenly I need Pepto-Bismal – anything pastel would do, like those melty mints in baby-bootie yellow and gender neutral green.
Text message to Rosie: I love you, baby girl. Next time you come home, let’s knit together. We can teach Derrick. I can show you how to tighten up your stitches.