Friday, August 05, 2011


A lovely couple, I suppose. She had the same colour hair as his teenage daughter, and was roughly the same height. A cynic would've suspected him of marrying her so that he could save on clothing costs or something.
Well, a sick mind too. Everyone knows that the only "old person" stuff a teenager wears is retro or goth.
And the daughter did not really like her step-mom.

I didn't know that at the time.

He was someone I had gotten to know via the company where I was employed. We had drinks after work a couple of times. Whenever I stepped out of the bar to have a smoke, he followed. It was the pipe, you see. He mentioned that he used to smoke a pipe too, but had given it up when he proposed to the woman who was now his wife. He loved the smell of an English blend - yes, he had heard of Drucquers, but had never made it over to the Eastbay before that venerable institution closed. And shortly after that he had met Ashley.
Ashley HATED smoking. Smoking was icky.
Smokers were weak and depraved.

Which meant that one time, when he invited me over to break bread, we headed out to the veranda after dinner.
Me with my depravity, a fully loaded pipe, and a cup of coffee.
My hosts with just coffee (him) and chamomile tea (her) - she didn't like coffee, it gave her palpitations.
The teenage daughter came too, with what may have been an attitude.


I could tell that his wife (Ashley) was incredibly uncomfortable once my pipe was lit. But I had considerately positioned myself just right so that the smoke drifted in the opposite direction, away from her and away from the house. After all, that's why we were outside - to keep the horrid smell from haunting her dreams.
The teenage daughter lurked behind me at the edge of the veranda. My friend and I drank our coffee, and talked.
He looked forlorn, and I could tell that the faint whisps of smoke gave him pleasure.
Ashley just sat as far away as she could while still listening in.

When the neighbors' cats came over, she almost spat. In addition to disliking tobacco, and avoiding caffeine because of her fragile nerves, it turns out she was also extremely allergic to cats.
She said she was going in, she had a headache.
At this point, the teenage daughter, who had been standing right inside my dense cloud of Latakia fumes, cooed sympathetically and went over to give her a hug.
I've never seen anybody look so repulsed as the step-mom. The kid noticed it too, and put her face up against Ashley's, murmuring sweetly "oh, you POOR thing! I hope your head feels better SOON!"
Followed by a BIG warm kiss.

After the woman went inside, my friend turned to his daughter and said reproachfully 'that wasn't nice - you probably REEKED of smoke. You were downwind, you know'.

"Oh was I? I didn't notice."

The kid just about radiated innocence. Studied, smooth-faced, totally artificial innocence.
We returned to our conversation, and the teenage daughter sat on the edge of the veranda playing footsie with the cats. I noticed she was still within the fume-trail of my pipe.
A short while later, she went inside, returning with a big bucket of ice-cream.

"Want some?"

"No, that's alright. Ashley says it makes my skin smell, and you know she can't have dairy...."
When I demurred too, because I had a pipe in my mouth, the girl said "Okay, all mine!" and happily set about demolishing the pint.

Harry decided that it wasn't good for his wife to be staring at him reproachfully from the other side of the glass, and went in to join her on the couch.

The kid was making loud slurping sounds as she finished the bucket. "Mmmmmmmm, CA-RA-MEL!!!"
One of the cats was on her lap, the other one was rubbing up against her.
I continued smoking my pipe. I had seen the tobacco-lust in Harry's eyes as he went in, he didn't want to go. But domestic harmony requires effort, and it seemed like it was his role to be the sacrifice.
I knew he had enjoyed our little time together out on the patio, so I felt no guilt whatsoever about calmly finishing my smoke.

And the teenage daughter also enjoyed it immensely.

When I left, she remarked "tobacco stink, dairy, and cat dander - bitch gonna stay out of my way for at least a week".

I found out later that Ashley was determined that the teenager should LIKE her, dammit. Which is why she made the girl stay home instead of going out with her friends. "A mother is supposed to keep a watchful eye on her daughter, right? And children nowadays.... "
A teenage girl needed firm guidance, lest she do certain things, and make regrettable mistakes.
Everything I heard, however, indicated that the daughter was winning the battle.
Tobacco stink, dairy, and cat dander.
Plus sheer gallons of coffee.

A few weeks later Harry told me that his daughter had asked when 'that nice pipe smoker' was coming over again. She really liked me, I was funny. And the cats liked me too, because I smelled good.
I never did go over for dinner again. I didn't want to get involved in World War Three.
There would've been only ONE winner in that conflict.
That girl, she'll go far.

Pity I never got the daughter's name. She's probably already graduated from college by now.
More than likely they sent her to a school all the way across the country.
I hope she's living in sin with a pipe-smoking cheese merchant.
Sucking down buckets of coffee till late in the night.
They're probably having a glorious time.
Them and their MANY cats.


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:

All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


Anonymous said...

Oh I've been there. As a single guy, I hate that feeling of being used as a pawn in a game where I don't know the rules. I've come to understand that, unlike maiden aunts or fat cat-lady sisters who are grateful for the socialization when brought in as guests, single guys are powerful destabilizing forces to the houses of cards that characterize most domestic arrangements. That dangerous whiff of independence. Reminds me of why I'm single.

Anonymous said...

Smoke as a psycho war weapon.

Search This Blog


There is a new sign at the front desk at my eye-doctor's office begging people to not abuse the staff there. Subtext: if you're goin...