I miss getting loaded. I’ve been wanting to drink all week. When I arrived at the cabin on Friday, I went directly to the kitchen to get a martini then remembered I wasn’t drinking. It felt weird not grabbing the vodka bottle and pouring myself a stiff one. Saturday night, while we were having dinner, my dad asked, “Where’s the wine?” I’m the wino who always supplied it. My dad doesn’t drink wine if I’m not around. I wanted a glass of pinot grigio so bad I could feel its icy dryness on my tongue. I made a trip to Triggs to buy groceries on Sunday and my dad said, “Pick me up some vodka,” as I was walking out the door. I didn’t buy him any, so yesterday he purchased a liter of vodka. Before dinner last night, my dad took the kids and me for a boat ride and on our way back, he said, “I’m gonna fix Charlie and me a nice martini. Charlie’s about ready for one, I’m sure.” This morning, my dad and I went out on the boat and docked at a restaurant to check its dinner hours. “Last year we stopped here for Bloody Marys,” he said. “Remember?”
My father has been grinding me down for four days. He’d love to have me back as his drinking buddy, and part of me feels guilty for not drinking with him, like it’s the least I could do for a dying man.
When my dad and I got back to the cabin, Charlie and I loaded our bikes on our Jeep and took Seth and Max biking in Boulder Junction. We rode to Cathedral Point, a gorgeous secluded lake spot, and ate a picnic lunch there. We waded into the water and Seth and I decided to swim. Seth, Max, and I were wearing quick-dry shorts. Charlie was wearing heavy cotton shorts.
“Take them off and swim in your boxers,” I said.
Charlie, for whatever reason, was in one of his pissy moods. He shook his head and I turned away from his crabby face. Max was agitated, too. Seth was riding a brand new bike that was twice the size of Max’s and Max was pedaling twice as hard as the rest of us to keep up. Max said he didn’t want to swim either.
“Come on Max,” I said. “A swim will feel good. Go into the woods, take your underwear off, put your shorts back on, and come in. You’ll be all nice and cool during the ride back. It’s not going to be fun sitting here like a bump on a log with dad watching Seth and me.”
“I’m going to swim in my underwear,” Seth said, peeling off his shorts and wading in.
Max shook his head at Seth and reluctantly walked into the woods to change out of his underwear. I walked to a different spot in the woods, took off my underwear, put my shorts back on, removed my shirt, and walked out in my shorts and bra.
“Mom!” Max said, appalled. “What are you doing? Are you crazy?”
“What? Pretend it’s a bathing suit top.”
The water felt great. Charlie sat on the bank fidgeting irritably. I continued to ignore him. Fuck him if he won’t tell me what’s wrong. I’m not going to wheedle information out of him like he’s a child. On the ride back, the boys and I were cool and refreshed and Charlie was sweating and grimy.
We got back to the cabin, showered up for dinner, and hopped into my dad’s Suburban. We drove to the Norwood Pines restaurant, but there was an hour wait for a table.
“You got all these tables here,” my father said to the hostess and gestured at a closed dining room. “Can’t you open this up?”
“We can’t do that to our wait staff or our kitchen,” the hostess answered. “We don’t have enough people tonight.”
“Well, we’re not waiting an hour,” my dad snapped. He was already lit.
“Would you like a menu to take with?” the hostess asked. “You could call for a reservation next time.”
My father waved his hand at her in disgust and stalked out the door. My mother took the menu.
“Who ever heard of a reservation on a Tuesday night,” my father growled. “If they know they’re going to be busy, plan for it. No reason they couldn’t open a fucking table for us.”
We had dinner at The Plantation instead. Charlie paid the check and we piled back into my dad’s Suburban. Charlie, Van, and I climbed into the backseat, and my dad opened the hatch for Max and Seth to hop in the cargo area. My dad drove off. We were on the road two minutes when police lights began flashing. My father, who’d had many cocktails, began yelling for someone to give him a piece of gum. My mother had given Charlie a stick of gum at the restaurant and was frantically digging through her purse trying to find another piece.
“Fuck!” my dad shouted. “Give me the piece in your mouth Charlie.” Charlie spit his gum out and handed it to my dad. My father popped it in his mouth and got out of the car. “What did I do?” he asked the officer, who was standing next to the Suburban.
“I need to see your license, your vehicle registration, your proof of insurance,” the officer said.
My father stalked around the front of the Suburban, opened the passenger side door, and started rifling through the glove compartment. After handing the documents to the officer, my father and the cop exchanged some testy words I couldn’t make out and the officer told my dad to get back in the car.
“Fucking asshole,” my father ranted from the driver’s seat. “Said I improperly entered the highway, that I pulled out right in front of him. He’s giving me a warning for that and writing me up for the kids in back. Cocksucker! The cocksucker was laying for me. Son of a bitch. Fucking asshole. ‘How many drinks have you had tonight?’ my dad mimicked. I’d tell him where to fucking go if I didn’t have drinks in me.”
“So you could go to jail, spend the night in jail?” my mother asked sarcastically.
“That’s right,” my father spat. “Because I’m in the right here and I’d tell him where to stick it.”
“Jerry, calm down,” Charlie said. “You’re going to make this worse. You just don’t say anything. When a policeman gives you a ticket, you say thank-you and drive away.”
“Shut-up,” I hissed at Charlie.
“Thank-you!?” my father shouted. “I’m going to say thank-you to that cocksucker? I don’t fucking believe it.”
“You don’t say thank-you,” I snapped and looked at Charlie like he was a moron. “But don’t get upset. Don’t let the cop have that kind of power over you.”
We sat in silence for a few minutes.
“What the hell is taking that asshole so long?” my dad asked. “He’s just fucking with me now. I’d like to fuck with him.”
The cop was sitting in his vehicle parked behind us. The windows of the Suburban were all open.
“Somebody else better get in the back because I can’t leave here with minors in the cargo area,” my father growled.
“It’s okay if adults are back there?” I asked.
“Yes,” he snapped.
Charlie and I traded places with Max and Seth. The cop walked up to my dad’s window and gave him the ticket. We drove off.
“Cocksucker,” my dad muttered.