Keith decides things could be worse


Right now, Lesli had raised something else to deal with. “Would you like,” he asked, “to tell me about this your-mother’s-not-going-to-like-me business?”

Turned out this was not something to which Lesli had looked forward. Since Mari, her mom, deliberately found something about all her boyfriends to intently dislike. You could count on it. Hence, she simply stopped introducing them to her.

There wasn’t any two ways around this, though. Because she’d never been this sold on a guy. And knew there was no point delaying the inevitable. Knew it from the day she’d basically badgered Keith into proposing. That she’d finally landed that ever-elusive great catch, even if it took two years and change to reel him in.

“So,” she said, “guess we better bite the bullet, hunh?’

“Well.” Keith sipped at his drink. “What about your dad?”

She shrugged. “Good old easygoing Hank Hall? He tends to stay out of it. Not that he’s whipped or anything. He just doesn’t want to hear her mouth if he doesn’t have to. Let’s say he picks his spots.”

Keith nodded. Sounds like a smart man. It might not hurt to take a page from his book.

Munching collard greens, she swallowed, then said, “I think you and Dad’ll get along. Fact is, in some ways you remind me of each other. Laid back, doesn’t run off at the mouth much. And, now that I do think about it…”  She wiped her mouth and took a sip. “He does the same thing you do when my mom starts going off. Sits there, watches her until she regains a modicum of sense.”

“One out of the two ain’t bad.” Bottom line, he refused to get but so worried. He wasn’t marrying either of them, just their daughter. If they got along, wonderful. If not, it sure wouldn’t be the first time in history something like that happened when two folk fell in love.

At least they didn’t have the other side of the equation to contend with. Keith’s parents had died long before he met her. His mom from cancer, his dad in an auto accident. “We’ll work it out.”

She touched his hand. “I know. Hell, we got this far. We’re not going to let a little thing like Hurricane Mari slow us down.”

“Hurricane Mari. Yeah, right.” He forced himself to push past it. They enjoyed the rest of their meal. Went home, fed the cats and went straight to bed — getting to sleep a few hours later. Next morning, she told him she’d call her mom, doing her best to sound confident. But she walked out the door looking a little more serious than usual.

He padded around the place, puttering back and forth from room to room. Finally sat down on the couch over a cup of coffee with a lapful of Butch. Pondering, I got myself a pregnant, jealous, about-to-be wife whose mother I never met but who already don’t like me. He couldn’t wait to get out of the house and go to rehearsal.

He cabbed it over to 72nd St. on the West Side. Got out and, at Nedick’s, grabbed hisself a dog with relish, mustard and an Orange Julius. Then, walked over to Eighth Ave., munching, slurping, and taking in the sights like some sort of tourist, deliberately keeping his mind blank. When he walked into the studio, the receptionist, Mona, a petite, frowsy-haired, blonde-skinned beauty with hips to burn, looked up from her magazine, eyes widening and fairly leaped out of her seat. “Hi, stranger. How ya been?” Squeezed him with a sweet bear-hug. “So. You and…what’s her name again, Lesli? You’re back together, hunh?”

How come half of New York knew where he did or didn’t leave his underwear? “Uh, yeah.”

He’d’ve been glad to get to the studio, strap on, and let that be that. No such luck. Everywhere, his whole world reminded him of her. There was Sam, sitting in a corner. Lesli hated her on sight. Helen standing around, bullshitting — Lesli hated her, too.

He wondered whether being in love was worth the loss of his peace of mind. And, wondered about life without Lesli. Well, he figured, there sure could be worser circumstance. Just what, he wasn’t sure. But, yeah, there had to be worse.


Next week: Keith has to rein in a counterproductive Helen St. James.

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