Her parents, in town, staying with her. Their relationship: strained lately. But only a three-day visit this time.
On my bike, tried to make good time home through heavy traffic. Her voicemail earlier that afternoon asked what time I'd be over for dinner and dominos. I texted: 6:30
does that mean 7
means i will hurry
Showered and changed but still sweaty, I picked up a riesling for them, a pinot noir for us. A good one. Grabbed requested baguette, the rosemary garlic one we like. Checkout aisle clock said 6:25. She's right, I never make it on time. I try.
Outside, fishing for keys, the paper handles broke. A muffled clank as the bag hit the sidewalk, my mood along with it. Puddle of dark liquid seeping. Riesling survived. Rescued baguette. Dropped mess in trash, watch said 6:30. Spared a minute to replace the bag.
Smooth traffic driving, but frustrated at being pissed over the wine. Vibe was good when I came in (6:45), but she could sense my edginess. Did us good to see each other: a team, now. Watched them finish a game, managed some curt, but jovial, small talk. Hoped I wasn't coming off smarmy or rude.
I relaxed as we ate, then continued my smack talk from the night before about the after-dinner domino game. (I then proceeded to get creamed, served me right.)
Her mother doesn't give compliments, or express gratitude. At least not in the handful of times I've been around her. And not for Nic's cooking last night, or even when she made a point to mention that I picked the wine and asked if the baguette was good. Just her nature, maybe. Maybe it's me.
They said goodnight about 10:30. I wouldn't see them again before they left. I wished them safe travel and told them to enjoy their trip. A handshake from her Dad.
We talked alone a bit before I left, even though we both had early mornings. This visit had gone ok. They amicably discussed an issue, and asked her, for the first time in the eight or so months we'd been dating, how things were going between us.
She produced a Stein Mart bag, explained that her Dad got me something, asked her to give it to me.
A red, embroidered hoodie. "WIILLAMETTE LAW."