"Marcie, I've seen pictures of you since you... changed, but seeing you in person is..." Dad looked at me for a few moments, then hugged me and pulled Mom into the hug. "... so much better!" he finished.
Maisie Beale's Diary, excerpt:
Parents think that children are stupid, or that they don't hear or register or understand things. I have news for them: everybody misses things. Everyone is stupid sometime. But nobody is stupid all the time.
Since they've started shouting about divorce, I've discovered a lot of things about my parents that I didn't know before. Some of those things I don't particularly care to know, but I've written them all down in a little notebook just in case they might be important later.
The first thing is that my father is very rich. His salary is a quarter of a million dollars a year (!), plus big quarterly bonuses, stock options, benefits, and "perks" which I guess are presents of some kind. He owns three OTHER houses "free and clear" and two boats. I've never seen any of those things. According to my mother, Dad is trying to "hide" them. The boats are supposedly big, like yachts — they sound too big to hide. Still, when I asked him when I could see one of his boats and go for a ride, he told me that he doesn't own any boats.
Fine. Lie to your own daughter.
Something that I would like to know — just out of curiosity — is: how do you hide a house? I mean, the thing is on a street somewhere. Anyone could drive by and look at it. You can't pick it up and move it to the middle of a forest. I'd like to discuss that, Ms. Goldenflower. Seriously, I want to know.
Dad also has several bank accounts and investment accounts. Some of them are in other countries. Mom cleverly got the details on those before the subject of divorce arose.
She likes to brag about that to her friends. I've heard it many times.
My mother doesn't exactly have nothing, either. She owns a time-share and her parents' old house in New Jersey. She also has a lot of jewelry, paintings, and money she's put away (hidden) over the years.
The problem for both of my parents is that California is a community-property state, which means that husbands and wives own everything 50/50. Now that they're splitting up, Dad doesn't want to lose half of what he owns to Mom, and Mom doesn't want to lose any of what she has. So they're each trying to hide stuff, but they're not doing a very good job of it.
The biggest surprise of all, though, was finding out that *I* have something, too...
Thanksgiving was nice. It was really nice, in fact. Dad was so happy to have us back! He was shocked when he saw me, but I could see it was a happy/proud shock. I can't blame him for his surprise: after all, last time he saw me, I didn't have any breasts or hips to speak of. Plus — even though he probably didn't notice — my skin and hair are a lot softer.
"Marcie, I've seen pictures of you since you... changed, but seeing you in person is..." he looked at me for a few moments, then hugged me and pulled Mom into the hug. "... so much better!" he finished. "I'm glad you're both finally here!"
He'd made reservations for dinner at a nice restaurant. It was a little bit of a drive, but worth it.
"I'm glad Janey had that idea about explaining the Mark/Marcie business," Dad began.
"I still don't get it," I interrupted.
"Marcie, give up on it," Mom said. "It makes sense to everybody else!"
Aunt Jane's idea was to say that I've always been Marcie — that I've always been a girl — but that I had a long tomboy phase: during that phase, I wanted to be a boy so much that I insisted on being called "Mark" and always dressed in boy clothes. Once I started growing breasts, I changed my mind and turned into a girly girl.
Mom says that "it happens" and "people can relate to that."
I guess it's just another weird thing from the strange world of parents.
"It was a huge relief to me," Dad said. "In fact, this weekend we have an appointment to get a new family portrait so that on Monday I can put it on my desk.
"And speaking of work, one or two of the people I work with are going to be at this restaurant — including my boss — so you might get to meet them."
Mom started quizzing Dad about names, making sure she knew who was who before she met them.
I tuned it out and stared at the scenery. I'd never seen so much snow. I mean, aside from up in the mountains. Here in New Jersey, it could snow anywhere. I understood that this was an early snow, but shouldn't an early snow be a light snow?
Everyone was bundled up, including me. I don't know how Dad knew how to choose them, but he bought me a pair of very cool black snowboots with a fur trim. I was wearing a knee-length kilt, black tights, and a soft red turtleneck. It wasn't just soft — it was supernaturally soft!
"Hey, Mom!" I said, "What is this sweater made of? What material?"
"Marcie," Dad cautioned, "You interrupted your mother."
"Sorry," I said. "I was daydreaming."
"That's okay," Mom said. "It's silk and cashmire. Isn't it nice?"
I murmured agreement. The last item in my outfit was a black faux-fur bomber jacket — also chosen by Dad! I never knew he had such good taste in clothes!
I have to say, the best thing about being a girl is the clothes. And the hair. And — well, everything.
The car skidded slightly. Mom said, "I guess we have to get used to winter driving."
"The hardest thing is the black ice," he told her.
"What's black ice?" I asked.
"It's ice on the road that you can't see. I don't know what makes it that way, but you can't count on seeing the ice patches. Sometimes you just feel them."
That sounded pretty weird and nonsensical until I got out of the car. I took one step, slipped, and almost landed on my butt. Almost. Some wild wiggling and arm waving kept me vertical.
"Good save," Dad commented.
"Um, Dad," I asked, embarrassed, "Can I take your arm? I'm afraid I'll fall."
"Me, too," Mom grinned. I don't think she really needed the help, but for sure I did. My boots didn't have much of a grip. I should have guessed that real snowboots wouldn't have heels, but what do I know about winter clothes?
I made a desperate grab for Dad's arm. Thank God he's a big guy.
"That's quite a grip you've got there," he told me.
"Sorry," I told him, loosening my hold.
Mom strolled over (without slipping!) and took his other arm.
"What's the deal?" I asked. "Am I the only one having trouble?"
"It's okay," Dad said, which didn't really answer my question.
I had several more slips on the way in, with all the associated wiggles and wobbles and waves.
It was a distinct relief when my feet were on a normal floor. We checked our coats and moved inside.
"This place used to be a railroad station," Dad explained as I gawked.
"Cool!" I said, with awe.
The ceilings were high — really high, and made of dark wood. There were heavy iron lamps in the walls and actual lamp posts here and there. They looked like gas lamps, but had electric bulbs inside. It was very old-timey, like something out of the 1800s: solid, heavy, substantial. At the same time it was warm and welcoming. The staff was friendly. They ushered us to our table, pointed out the buffet, and took our drink orders.
"There are live plants everywhere," Mom observed, looking up. "Even the ones way up there are real. No plastic."
I followed her gaze, and saw vines extending from planters high in the walls. Some of them must have been 30 feet up or higher.
"I wonder how they water them — they're so high up," I said, "and how do they change the light bulbs way up there in the ceiling?"
Our waiter, who had just arrived with our drinks, heard me and answered, "We've got a cart that's like a little elevator. It lifts people most of the way up. Then they use long poles with special attachments."
"Thanks," I said, and he smiled.
We loaded our plates at the buffet. I tried to take a small taste of everything... there were so many choices! I was afraid of overdoing it, but I wanted to try it all.
When we were settled with our meals and drinks, Mom asked Dad, "Do you see anyone you know?"
He looked around, scanning the dinners, and when he turned his gaze over his right shoulder, someone waved to him. He smiled and waved back.
"That's Rhonda Means," he told Mom, who also smiled and waved.
Rhonda made signs that we should eat first and talk later, which I was glad to do.
"I didn't know your boss is a woman," I commented. "Or that she's black."
"Are either of those things problems for you?" he asked.
"No, no," I said. "I was just surprised. I thought you'd mention something."
"Well," he said, as he dug into his turkey, "You've been pretty involved in your own life lately."
"Sorry," I said.
"It's okay," he sighed. "It's part of being young. I actually did tell you, but I guess you don't remember. In any case, she's a good boss. So far, one of the best I've had. Smart, no baloney, tells it like it is. She keeps meetings short, doesn't let other groups hassle us..."
I realized I didn't know much about my father's job. "Do you think I could come in some day and see what you do?"
He looked up and smiled, "Yeah, that would be good. A 'take your daughter to work day'." He laughed. "We could do that during your winter break."
"Cool!" I replied, and we turned our attention to the food.
© 2007 by Kaleigh Way
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