You must login to vote
By Chris Wood
Mr. Thomas walked across the living room of his house, looked at how his 17–year-old daughter was dressed and placed his hands on his sides. Delilah stood in front of the easy chair's ottoman, looking down at the floor and not at her father.
"You're not going out dressed like that," Mr. Thomas spoke.
"But Daddy," Delilah pleaded with her father, "Daddy, there's nothing wrong with what I'm wearing. All girls my age wear clothes like this."
"I'll not hear it. Now go change!" He was at shouting level.
"Daddy, you're embarrassing me!" She shrieked, looking over his shoulder to her date, Samuel, waiting in the hallway of their house.
Samuel, one year her senior, was very much looking forward to their evening and couldn't care how she was dressed. Nevertheless, he could feel his own cheeks becoming flush at her father's curt tone of disapproval. Teenage embarrassment can be transferred by osmosis from one party to the next. It's a fact.
Mr. Thomas continued to disapprovingly eyeball his little girl until she finally threw up her hands and stomped across the carpet, past Samuel, to the staircase. As she turned the corner she flipped back her hair and moaned.
Mr. Thomas turned to Samuel, counted her stomping feet up the stairs then punched his hand in the air at the same time her door slammed shut. He knew his daughter only too well. Mr. Thomas smirked.
"Um," Mr. Thomas motioned with his hand toward Samuel.
"Sam?" Samuel responded, as if he were unsure of his own name.
"Sam. Sam, come sit down while Delilah makes herself ready." Mr. Thomas moved behind the coffee table to the three-seat couch. "Please," Mr. Thomas again motioned with his hands toward the couch.
"Thanks!" Samuel said, with way too much enthusiasm for simply being offered a seat. He crossed the living room floor and sat as far away from Mr. Thomas as possible. Mr. Thomas was a bit imposing, being a large heavy-set man with a gruff voice. His knuckles were heavily lined and hairy as they lay across his crossed legs.
"So, Sam, just graduated, did ya?" Mr. Thomas asked.
"Yes sir," Samuel responded.
"Enjoying the summer so far?"
"Where are you going to college?"
"Emerson," Sam paused, "sir."
"Hmm, where's that…up there in Mass?"
"Oh yea, and what do you plan to study?"
"Well if that don't beat all! I didn't know that was a real profession," Mr. Thomas leaned in toward Samuel. "Sam, you know, before I met Mrs. Thomas, Delilah's mother, I had this crazy notion of being an environmentalist. You know, 'Save the Trees' and that sort of thing. Do you know what happened?"
"No," Sam said, sitting on his hands due to his nervous habit of biting his nails.
"Mrs. Thomas, that's what!" With that, Mr. Thomas let out a roar of laughter.
"Oh," Samuel started.
"Where did you meet Delilah, Sam?" Mr. Thomas cut Samuel off, switching gears back to his previously under clad daughter.
"Um, at the pool, sir. See, I deliver pizza and she, as you know, lifeguards there…so one day, um, I was delivering to the pool and she happened to be the one who ordered the pizza…" Samuel trailed off. His monotone speech was like that of a robot's and he could feel his brow wet with perspiration.
"Pizza? Thought you wanted to work with fishes?" Mr. Thomas said.
"Just a summer job," Samuel said back.
Then, there was a moment of silence that felt like a million moments of silence to Samuel. Mr. Thomas grunted and got up from his seated position. He walked to the bar across from the couch and poured a shot sized amount of Jameson's Whiskey into a sifter glass. He took it into his outsized fingers and gently gyrated the glass.
At this point, Samuel had come to the conclusion that he had not been breathing throughout the entire conversation with Mr. Thomas. Even more dismaying, though, was how to refill his lungs, in desperate need of oxygen, without taking a deep breath. Mr. Thomas might think him a bit queer, in the vernacular sense of the word, if he were to suddenly gasp in a breath. Or maybe it was deemed impolite, rude or it might piss Mr. Thomas off! Samuel didn’t know and didn’t care to find out. He was getting light headed with what to do, and with a lack of air. So Samuel decided to take little short breaths in and out, in and out. He felt like an idiot and moreover Mr. Thomas had taken notice.
"You all right?" Mr. Thomas asked.
"Fine, sir," Samuel, out of breath, cheeks red as a fire engine and hot as the sun, managed to say.
"You want a drink, son?"
"Um, yes please."
"What can I get for you?"
Samuel wanted a beer, being quite familiar with its taste and how it might relax him, but he didn't think Mr. Thomas would serve him that particular beverage. Aiding underage kids with alcohol did not seem like something Mr. Thomas would ever be guilty of. He reminded Samuel of a character in an old black and white movie -- staunch and steadfast to the rules.
"Glass of water?" Samuel questioned, as if there were a chance the Thomas household did not have that particular item in mass quanities flowing from every faucet.
"You like drinks that have no taste, do ya?"
"Um, my throat is just dry, that's all. That's all."
"Suit yourself…one water coming up."
Mr. Thomas left the living room and went into the kitchen. Samuel was left wondering why in God's good name did it take girls so long to get ready! "She could come down those stairs in a garbage bag for all I care," Samuel said to himself. And this was true for most boys. Sure it would be great if they went out sparkling, but all guys really want is the girl…the wrapping on the package, for all its splendor, is not what's inside the parcel.
Samuel could hear the faucet running in the kitchen and Mr. Thomas was whistling randomly. Samuel began taking in all the air he could. If he had to go another round with Mr. Thomas, there might be a knock out.
The sound of heavy feet against the floor, like a Clydesdale, could be heard and through the awning came Mr. Thomas. With a glass of water in one hand and his sifter in the other, Mr. Thomas strolled over to Samuel and handed him the glass.
"Bottoms up!" Mr. Thomas chanted.
"Bottoms…" Samuel started, but Mr. Thomas had already begun drinking. In an effort to catch up, Samuel thrust his glass toward his mouth, dripping water down his chin.
"You need a bib there Sammy boy!" Mr. Thomas chuckled.
Samuel came to another conclusion that Mr. Thomas was not the type to overlook embarrassment in any capacity.
"You know why they take so long, don't ya," Mr. Thomas again switched gears.
"I'm sorry?" Samuel questioned.
"The girls Sammy, the girls!" Mr. Thomas walked back to the opposite side of the couch and sat down.
"They like to look good?"
"No, no, no…well, yes, but no, no, no! It's because – and Sammy, this is a little secret," Mr. Thomas motioned for Samuel to lean in a bit, "Sammy, they simply like to make us wait. That's it!"
"I don't understand?"
"Of coarse not, you're only 18 for God's sake. You barely even know them yet, and you never will. Ah, youth! Okay, let me break it down for you: How'd ya feel when you came to the door to pick up Delilah? " Mr. Thomas became a bit giddy during the explanation.
"Well, I felt…"
"Anxious, right? "
"That's how we're supposed to feel. But, if when you come to the door the girl just pops out and off you go, then she looses control. But, but, if she makes you wait, you’re off balance. She has control, and a stage too when she makes her appearance!"
Samuel's eyes were glazing over. It was like Mr. Thomas was a mad scientist throwing equations up on a chalkboard, except backwards and reading left to right. It might as well have been Latin.
Mr. Thomas got up from the couch and began explaining some more. He became quite into it. As Samuel watched this middle aged man clarify the intricacies of the birds and the bees, he noticed that Delilah had been watching from the bottom of the staircase, undetected by the two. Ah, it was worth the wait. Not that her previous outfit of a very short summer dress with a plunging neckline was objectionable, but this was just better. She mouthed the words, "I'm sorry, Samuel," over her father's shoulder. Samuel, now completely ignoring Mr. Thomas, smiled and mouthed back, "It's okay," but pointed to his watch. They would be late for the movie if detained any more by her father.
"Daddy?" Delilah asked, hiding her smile.
"…Wha," Mr. Thomas spun around. He turned his head to the side and folded his arms. Delilah emerged fully from the staircase and walked right by her father to where Samuel was sitting.
"You look beautiful," Samuel said, taken aback by her current demeanor.
"That's better," Mr. Thomas said.
"What is?" Delilah innocently said, wearing a devil's smile.
"Your outfit. It looks better."
"Okay Daddy. I'll see you in the morning."
Samuel got up from the couch and angled his arm so that Delilah could entwine hers in his. She did so. As they walked by, Mr. Thomas grabbed at Samuel's free arm and whispered: "I'll see her in the morning, but I better not see you. You get me Sammy boy!" He finished with a grin.
At this, Samuel stopped breathing again.