#24 – “Hey, Girlfriend!”
I was cleaning up the kitchen after dinner while Bradley and
Pierpont were bonding together over some sports recap show on ESPN when
there was a knock on the kitchen door.
“Come in!” I shouted before I even considered whether or not the door was
locked. I tend to keep it locked but Bradley doesn’t, so whether or not it was
actually locked at the time was anyone’s guess.
Jake’s mother poked her head into the door before walking in. “Hi, Terrence. Is
this a good time?” she asked.
I guess it was unlocked. “If it wasn’t, it would be now,” I replied with a
Jake’s mother walks in rather tentatively. She generally seems nervous about
something – owing nothing to her son’s best friend’s gay fathers. But I guess I
can understand. After losing a spouse who is presumably the love your life, I
imagine there’s an element of just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
“I won’t stay long, but I did want to talk to you about something,” she began,
standing by the door as if she wasn’t a welcome guest. I wiped my hands off,
walked over to her, grabbed her by the hand and led her to the table to sit
down – which she did once I pulled the chair out for her. I nodded my head and
smiled because I like that she did that.
“Can I get you anything? Coffee? Tea? Ice cream?” I asked.
“A cup of tea will be nice – if you’re having one too.”
“Sure thing,” I said. I filled up our bright red tea kettle with water and
heated it up on the stove. “What would you like to talk about?”
“Jake tells me he and Pierpont had some sort of falling out,” she began as I
grabbed three mugs out of the cupboard.
I looked at her incredulously. “Over what?” I asked, bringing a over a basket
of herbal teas to the table for her to choose from.
“A girl named Liana.”
“Liana?” I asked. I tilted my head a little bit. Lately I had seen
him talking to a female classmate when I went to pick him up from school, but
it didn’t register to me as anything more than just two children talking.
Besides, outside of Jake, he’d never really exhibited much excitement in anyone
– male or female.
“I don’t know all the details but Jake came home really upset yesterday. I
finally was able to get him to at least ‘high-level’ it for me today. I don’t
think they’re fighting over her, but outside of telling me what happened
between him and Pierpont, all he kept saying was that he didn’t like her.”
The tea kettle whistled and I poured her a cup and poured Bradley a cup. “Let
me go talk to Pierpont. I’ll have Bradley come out here so you can fill him in.”
I handed a mug to Jake’s mother, set one next to her for Bradley and walked
over to the back room where he and Pierpont were ESPNing.
“Bradley, if you’d like a cup of tea, there’s one in the kitchen where Jake’s
mother is waiting to say ‘hello’...if you’d like to go in and say ‘hello’,” I
said. I waited for a response before continuing. “Normally, I would just bring
the tea in here but then she’d be sitting out there...by herself.”
Bradley looked at me incredulously for a moment and then turned his attention
to Pierpont. “Your dad wants to talk to you,” he said. “Why he didn’t just say
so is beyond me.”
Bradley got up and winked at me as he walked by. I playfully smacked him on his
wise ass as he exited and sat down next to Pierpont. “Do you know why Jake’s
mother is here?” I asked.
Pierpont nodded, but offered nothing further.
I stared at him for moment waiting for more. “How about you tell me what you
know about why Jake’s mother is here.”
“Jake and I had a fight,” he said more nonchalantly that I would expect for
someone who had a fight with their best friend.
“What was this fight about?”
“Who is Liana?”
I was taken aback by both the bold revelation and the continued nonchalance. “You’re
nine. How do you have a girlfriend? I’m 34. I didn’t have a girlfriend until I
met your daddy. And I was 25 then.”
Pierpont looked at me in confusion. “Daddy’s not a girl.”
“I know,” I said, chuckling to myself. “So what makes Liana your girlfriend?”
“Because we sit next to each other at lunch.”
“That’s cute,” I said, chuckling to myself again. “But why are you and Jake
fighting over her?”
“He doesn’t like her.”
“That doesn’t mean you two can’t be friends.”
“He called her ugly and Liana my girlfriend said that I have to defend her
honor like they do in the movies by beating him up, but then I told her I can’t
get in trouble again until next year so then she told me that I couldn’t be
friends with him anymore.”
“Do you still want to be friends with him?”
“Then you be friends with him. And she’ll either accept it or she won’t. Either
way, it sounds to me like you’ll be better off keeping Jake as your best friend
than keeping Liana as your girlfriend.”
Jake thought about this for a moment and then started smiling. “Ok, dad.”
“Why don’t we go to the kitchen so you can ask Jake’s mother if Jake can come
over for dinner tomorrow night.”
Jake jumped off the couch and ran into the kitchen to talk to Jake’s mother.
I listened to the footsteps of my excited nine-year-old as he stormed through
the house and into the kitchen. I turned to face the camera and addressed the
audience: “At least Bradley and I – of all people – have a few more years
before we have to explain the innerworkings of women to him,” I said. “But it
could be worse: we could have adopted a daughter and then we’d have to explain
#25 – “Pierpont’s Crisis”
"How was your sleepover at Jake's?" I asked
Pierpont as he climbed into the passenger seat of the car and buckled up.
Being the grown up nine-year-old he desperately wants to be,
Pierpont recently told me that I no longer needed to meet him at the door
whenever I picked him up from anywhere because he'd rather walk to the car by
himself. I told him that I was fine (or as fine as I could be) with that as
long as I could see the door he's walking out of from the car. Between this and
the weekly visits to his school, he's asked me to give up a lot this year. I
don't know what I'm going to do when he asks me to stop hugging him in public.
Hopefully we have a few more years before I become that type of embarrassment
"It was fine," he replied matter-of-factly as if I
should just assume he and Jake had a great time. They're best friends, so I
suppose I should but it's either that, ask him if anything bad happened or not
ask anything at all.
I left it at that, but he was silent for most of the ride
home and staring off into space. He's usually so much more gregarious after
spending time with Jake. But as I pulled into the driveway, Pierpont finally
"Dad, what's it all mean?" he asked.
I was taken a bit aback by the question -- more out of
confusion than anything else. "I'm not following."
"What does it all mean?" he repeated.
"What does all what mean?"
Now I wish I hadn't wished he'd say something. "Life?
What about life?"
"Yeah, Dad. Life. What's it all mean? What's the
I looked back and forth between the front door of the house
I wanted to escape to and my nine-year-old son whose existential crisis I
wanted to escape from.
"Where is all this coming from?" I asked.
"Jake doesn't have a dad, but I have two."
"Are you looking to trade one of us in?"
"No, Dad. That's just silly."
"Well, you could look at Jake's situation in two ways:
either he has a dad who exists in another form to guide and protect Jake in
ways he never could while he was alive or Jake once had a dad and no longer
"Jake must not know about his dad still existing. He
was so sad talking about him last night."
"It's the holidays. People get sad over certain things.
Perhaps someone they loved died this year or during this time of year any
number of years ago. Or maybe Jake's just remembering the great Christmases he
had with his Dad and is saddened by the fact that he'll never have another one
with him. It's a sad thing but maybe in some way we were all brought into his
life as a makegood from whoever is in charge of this sort of thing to help make
up for the loss of his Dad."
"But there has to be more to it than that."
"Honey, you're nine years old. There isn't. I have
twenty-five years on you and sometimes I still search for that 'more to life'
you're looking for."
Pierpont and I sat in a momentary silence that was broken by
a light rapping on the driver's side window. It was Bradley, who had just come
back from the gym. I turned on the car and lowered the window.
"What's going on?" Bradley asked.
I turned to Bradley. "We're having an existential
Bradley leaned into the car. "Isn't he a bit young for
one of those?" he whispered to me.
"I would imagine so but I guess the sooner he has one
the sooner he figures it all out."
"What's he trying to figure out?"
"What it all means."
"What all what means?"
Bradley looked over at Pierpont. "Hey, bud."
"You want to go get some Cold Stone with me?"
Pierpont's eyes brightened and he perked up. "Can I get
it with brownies and sprinkles?"
"Whatever you want," Bradley replied with a smile.
Bradley opened up the door, took me by the hand and pulled
me out of the car. He handed me his gym bag. "Can you take this inside for
me?" he asked.
"What if I want ice cream?"
He gave me a quick peck on the mouth. "You handled his
crisis your way, now it's my turn," he teased with a wink and then started
I watched as he and Pierpont pulled out of the driveway into
the street and drove off. "But I like brownies and sprinkles too," I
said crestfallenly to myself.