“Life’s a shit-storm and you just hope for some toilet paper.” Paul says.
“Paul! Watch your mouth. That doesn’t even make sense.” Jillian scolds. “I’m sorry.” She says to her guests, sitting quietly across the dinner table.
“My point is,” Paul continues, “you can just pray that you smile more then not, eat more than not, get a wife or a pet and every once in awhile, get your willy wet.”
“PAUL!” Jillian says, flicking her cloth napkin at him.
“I mean it. Life’s not that bad if a few things go right. If you’re alone and hungry, life stinks. But dating homecoming queens..” He smiles.
“Damn it, Paul!” Jillian shouts. She looks at the couple in front of her. “He’s very, uh, loquacious when he drinks too much.”
The younger man looks across the table at the older couple and settles his vision on Jillian, his face placid. “It’s quite all right, ma’am.” Marcus says politely. He looks to his wife on his wife and gives her a reassuring squeeze on his hand.
Paul reaches for his scotch and soda and Jillian swats his hand away. Shunned, he decides the silence has been long enough. “You two seem like a fine couple. I’m happy for you both. I’m just not sure why Jill had you over for dinner.”
“To be neighborly, of course.” Jillian says.
“We sat here for 20 minutes and barely said anything to each other.” Paul says.
Jillian dabs her mouth with a cloth napkin. “You seemed to get plenty off your chest.” She says.
The young woman is familiar with this story, having watched her parents divorce. The couple, however– Paul and Jill–seem to genuinely dislike each other and yet would never consider separating. Given their age, substantial girth, dress or their standards for chicken marsala. Be polite and get out, she thinks. “It was a terrific meal. I really appreciate you inviting us over for such great–marsala.” Katie utters, immediately regretting her tone on the word marsala.
Jillian studies Katie. “Was everything okay?”
“Great, thank you.” Katie smiles.
“Ok. It just sounded like you– nevermind.” Jillian filters herself.
“Oh Jesus, Jill. Just ask her if she didn’t like the marsala. I’d say by the look on her face, she not only hated the marsala, she probably thought the wine was cheap, that I’m an ass, you’re a nag and she wants to get the hell out of here so she can order takeout and have a Goober deliver it.”
“It’s Uber, honey.” Jillian says.
“I like Goober better. It makes me smile.” Paul grins broadly.
“It’s like I always say–life’s a shitstorm–” Paul begins.
Marcus and Katie stand together and in unison speak. “We’ve got to be going.”
“I’ll show you out.” Jillian says before dabbing her mouth with her napkin.
“Thank you for coming. At least I hope we can be civil neighbors if not grow into best friends.”
“Of course.” Katie replies with her friendliest look.
“Let’m go, Jill. They’re adults and can find the way out.”
Paul smiles and sips his scotch.