Mom and Dad love Sookie. They’ve been telling her stupid adolescent Eric stories and I don’t even mind. I like seeing them get along. They adored Nora and weren’t so happy with me when she left. We all knew it was my fault. At the same time they understood if she was a hundred percent committed to me she would’ve stuck it out. Either way, Sookie is the first serious girlfriend since her and I can tell by the way Dad is flirting he approves.
We’re sitting on the couch waiting for pizza. I’m leaning on Sookie with my legs over Mom’s lap and Dad is sitting in what I call the sex chair… He doesn’t know that. I’ve missed the fuck out of them. As parents go, I fuckin’ lucked out.
“He was eleven the first time I found him in the bathroom with one of Lisel’s catal–”
“Dad! Really?” I laugh. “She doesn’t need to know that much about me.”
“Sure I do,” Sookie giggles.
“She’s seen it enou–”
“Bryan Joseph!” Mom cuts him off.
“I’m just saying,” Dad shrugs. “We’ve all met him. We know who his best buddy is.”
Really? Really? This is what we’re talking about.
“Nah, he’s traded for another baker that wears manliner and a bandana,” Sookie snorts.
“He does not wear manliner. I asked,” I snort. “He has almost black hair with green eyes and a lot of fuckin’ eyelashes. Sookie’s just jealous he doesn’t have to wear mascara,” I tease her.
“Hardly. He’s jealous I don’t have to shave my back,” she retorts.
“No offense, Sookie, if you had to shave your back I think I’d have a talk with my son,” Bryan tells her.
She laughs and says, “If I needed to shave my back y’all wouldn’t be here.”
“No, ’cause you would be too busy shaving… I’m way too fuckin’ tired. That made zero fuckin’ sense,” I laugh.
“Do you want to lie down?” Sookie asks. “I can come wake you when the pizza gets here.”
“No, I’m fine,” I reply, smiling up at her. I’m ridiculously fuckin’ happy.
“Okay.” She rubs the back of my neck, pressing her thumb along the top of my spine just right.
“Mama, rub my feet and I’ll be a happy fuckin’ camper,” I grin at her.
Of course she does because my mom is amazing.
“So Sookie, tell us about your parents,” Mom says.
“They’ve been married almost forty years. Dad works for the parks department as the landscaping director. Mom is an accountant for a construction company,” she says.
“That’s nice, Lisel and I are pushing forty-five years married,” Dad tells her.
I stay quiet. I like listening to Sookie talk. I like that my parents want to know so much about her. I still haven’t met her mom and dad, but we plan on going to their place for dinner on Christmas Eve. I just hope I don’t cuss too much or say something offensive.
“Do you have any other siblings besides the brother you mentioned?” Mom asks.
“No. Frankly, after Jason, it’s amazing they had me,” Sookie laughs.
“I like him,” I throw out.
“I know you do, honey.” Sookie pats my chest.
“How long have you owned your salon?” Mom asks Sookie.
“Almost eight years now. It’s remarkable how big it’s grown since we opened. We’ve expanded twice in that time and it’s been a lot of work, but it’s been worth it,” Sookie answers.
“Maybe you can do something with Lisel’s mop,” Dad teases. Mom has had the same hair style my entire life.
“My hair is just fine,” Mom scoffs.
I let out a quiet snort. She knows I love her more than anyone in the world, but that shit went out in the seventies and she’s not letting go.
“Sookie, I’ve even bought the woman gift cards for hair stylists. She’s scared to look old if she changes it. I keep telling her I want an old Lisel, not the seventeen-year-old I met.”
“Awww… well I get it. Changing hairstyles can be difficult if you’re not ready to let go,” Sookie says sympathetically. “My natural hair color is honey blonde but I wanted a change. If you change your mind while you’re here, I would be happy to cut your hair for you, Lisel.”
“That’s very nice of you, Sookie,” Mom says.
“Mama, do it. She’s really good and if you hate it you can blame me. She made me look like GQ, she can make you look like Vogue,” I tell her and nuzzle into Sookie’s stomach. “Plus, it’ll grow back in no time if you can’t stand it.”
Sookie runs her fingers through my hair in a slow, soothing way.
“I’ll consider it,” Mom says, but I doubt she’ll do anything.
“I’ll give you my card before you leave. No pressure to use it,” Sookie tells her.
“I’ll cut her hair in her sleep,” Dad winks.
“You do that and I cut your balls off,” Mom retorts.
“You’ve threatened me with worse,” he shrugs.
The buzzer sounds, signaling the arrival of the pizza.
“I’ll get it,” Sookie says, tapping me to get up.
I reluctantly lift my head to let her up. Dad gets up with her. I have a feeling he’s going to fight her on paying.
“You like her?” I ask Mom when they get outside her front door.
“She’s adorable,” Mom answers. “And she puts up with your grumpy behind. Yes, I like her.”
“I’m not always grumpy,” I pout. “She’ll be glad you like her. She’s been so fuckin’ nervous.”
“That’s normal. The first time I met Grandma Northman I almost threw up in her hydrangea bushes out front.”
“She was enough to terrify anyone,” I laugh.
“She kept calling me Leslie.”
I’m chuckling at that when Dad and Sookie come back in. Dad has a proud smile on his face. He won the money argument.
“Fuck, that smells good.” I get up from the couch to get us some plates and napkins while Dad sets the pizza on the coffee table.
“We should order these on the internet and have them shipped, Bryan,” Mom says.
Sookie opens the bag with mozzarella sticks, fried mushrooms, fried zucchini and the fried cauliflower she drooled over before Dad even called in the order.
“Or your son can bring it to us when he takes some time off of work and comes to visit us,” Dad says absently as he opens the box with the combo pizza.
“I will,” I promise. I’ve been telling them I’d come to Oregon since they moved and I haven’t yet.
“Honey, if we wait for Eric to deliver us pizza we may not have teeth by the time it arrives,” Mom says.
“It’ll be soft enough to eat,” Dad laughs.
“I swear I’ll come out by the end of the year. Sookie makes me leave the bakery at a fairly reasonable hour every day and I have Alcide. I’ll be able to take time off.”
I pass out the plates and slide four pieces of pizza onto my plate and one onto Sookie’s since she has the sides she’s going to devour. I get a refill for Dad’s scotch and Mom’s wine. Sookie’s on water now. I take a seat on the floor next to Sookie’s feet so I can lean on her if I fuckin’ pass out. I get like this every year at Christmas. Spring and fall aren’t much better with wedding season. I love that Sookie seems to get it. Having the business owner aspect in common is something I didn’t think I’d ever think mattered. It makes a world of difference.
“Good. I’m glad someone’s getting you to take a step back. God knows Nora never could,” Mom says.
“Let’s not dwell on Nora,” Dad says and shoves a mushroom in his mouth.
“Who’s dwelling? I was making an observation.”
“If Nora and I were meant to be she wouldn’t have left, or I would’ve argued when she moved out,” I point out. Plus I don’t care what’s being said, it’s not fair to Sookie to talk about my ex.
“It was a compliment to Sookie, Mr. Grumpypants.”
“I’m not grumpy, Mama, I’m tired.”
“You’re a little grumpy.”
I’m not going to argue. We could go back and forth for hours.
“Okay,” I agree reluctantly and steal one of Sookie’s cauliflowers.
“You’re lucky I love you or I’d be keeping your hand,” Sookie says, then freezes when she realizes what she said.
I lean over and kiss her knee. I don’t want to make a big deal in front of my parents. I wink at her and take another bite of my pizza. Internally I’m jumping for fuckin’ joy that she loves me back. Just a couple weeks ago I wasn’t sure if we’d even stay together when I fucked up. I think I’ve earned that trust back. The key, free access to my phone, computer, whatever the fuck she wants, it’s at her fingertips. Of course she hasn’t gone snooping and I appreciate that. It makes me feel good that she realizes what she said sunk in with me.
“Dad, Sookie likes those freaky horror movies you like,” I tell him to break whatever tension she might be feeling over her admission.
“Oh yeah, what’s your favorite?” he asks her with a smile.
“That’s tough,” Sookie says. “I sort of go through phases with horror movies. Lately I’ve been watching a lot of Kubrick movies. So far I think my favorite is A Clockwork Orange. I like movies where the victim gets payback in the end. Hostel II is another favorite for that reason.”
“A Clockwork Orange is my favorite too. I like the campy B movies too,” he answers. “I still haven’t taken the time to watch Hostel II. It’s in my queue at home.”
“It’s better than the first one, in my opinion,” Sookie says.
“I’m excited to see it now. You clearly have good taste,” he says, nodding at me, making me snort.
“I don’t know how you stomach those things,” Mom says. “There’s enough terror in the news.”
“That’s why I stopped watching the news when I retired,” Dad shrugs.
“I don’t watch them all the time. My favorite movie is Forrest Gump,” Sookie tells Mom.
“She’s watched three times this month,” I chuckle.
“What? It’s a good movie,” Sookie says.
“It’s cute,” I smile up at her.
“You didn’t complain last time,” she winks.
“If there was any skin showing it would be hard pressed to hear Eric complain about anything,” Dad says.
“I like naked girls,” I shrug, earning a flying mushroom in my forehead from my mom. “It’s true, Mom. Sookie knows.”
“Sometimes you’re too much like Grams,” Mom says.
“She was a cool ass chick,” I laugh. That’s actually a compliment. She gave me my real first sex talk. Dad’s was just the facts. Grams gave me the best positions for maximum pleasure.
“She got you a Playboy subscription for your sixteenth birthday; of course you thought she was cool.” Mom confiscated every issue.
“I appreciate that,” Dad laughs. “I had them in a box until we moved.”
“And you didn’t give them back?” I ask.
“Mom wouldn’t let me.” I glare at Mom for that.
“What do you need them for anyway?” Mom rolls her eyes.
“It’s the principle,” I tell her.
“Well they’re somewhere near the furnace in the basement. Come get them anytime,” she says.
That might get me to Oregon.
“I’m sure they’re hardly used,” Mom snickers.
“Pretty girl, do you want to go to Oregon with me?” I grin.
“Not to pick up sticky porn mags,” she giggles.
“I’ll have Dad mail them. We can go to the ocean,” I say and reach up to move her hand to my shoulder.
My parents live right outside of Astoria two miles from the ocean. I want to go. I will go.
“I’m sure I can take some time off in the summer,” Sookie says.
“I’ll do it if you do,” I tell her. It’s not the best time to take off since it’s in the middle of wedding season, but I can do it. I can practically feel my Mother’s excitement.
“Then it’s settled,” Mom says like it’s a done deal.
“We aren’t setting anything in stone, Mama.” I’m a lot more likely to go with Sookie pushing me.
Mom waves me off and starts chattering away about all the things to do in Oregon in the summertime. When everyone is done eating I get up to start cleaning our mess much to Sookie’s dismay. It’s my family and I’m not going to make her clean up after them. She catches me in the kitchen as I search for a spot for the leftover pizza. It’s been a long day so I should get my parents home.
“So you love me, huh?” I ask quietly.
“Seems so,” she replies with a little smile.
“Thank you,” I smile back. I stand up and turn to kiss her head.
“You’re welcome. Are you sure you’re okay to drive home?”
“I’m sure I’ll be fine. I’ve had a whole pot of coffee,” I shrug.
“Okay.” Sookie gives me a tight hug.
I hug her too, rubbing my hands up and down her back. Fuck. I don’t want to leave.
“I don’t want to go,” I whisper.
“Want me to pack a bag and come with you?” Sookie offers.
“Yeah,” I answer without hesitation.
“Give me five minutes and I’ll be ready to go.”
I kiss her head quickly and let her go so she can run up to her room. I go to the living room to tell my parents Sookie is coming home with us. Thankfully they don’t mind. My dad is too tall for the backseat so Mom is excited to have company back there with her.
This has been a good first meeting. When they met Nora it wasn’t bad, but she was so fuckin’ nervous she barely said anything. Mom likes someone that isn’t intimidated by them. If Sookie is, she hasn’t let on, which is a very good thing. Plus Dad has someone to talk about sports and horror movies with. That makes him a happy fuckin’ camper.