Author's Note: I was told by the fellow Writinger's that I had been very bleak for almost all my stories, so I decided that it was high time to be "nice". In fact, the plot coincides nicely with some good life events, so that the happiness that comes through is a good indication of my general feelings as I wrote it. Also, the name of the character, was gifted to me so I had to use it. I am quietly happy with the way this turned out.
I wish her Dad would stop looking at me waiting for me to say something. I know I’m a little rough around the edges for his youngest daughter, but I am me and I suppose that’s the person she loves. There’s another conversation going on at the other end of the table that I am not able to quite get into as he’s blocking me off. She’s in her element here, so beautiful and content amongst her family, why can’t it ever feel like that for me here? Is it because I am sleeping with his daughter that he hates me?
Since I met her and we started dating I knew. She was so in tune to me and the way that I handle myself that it actually frightened me. My girlfriends before her were always hard and I just assumed that was how it was supposed to be but with Tracey everything comes naturally to me. I can just be me, and I know she can just be her self; there’s no pretence. Does he know this? Does he think that I am just sleeping with her because of who he is? I hope not – I didn’t even know who Manchester United were until she told me –a little of out the sporting loop, being American and all.
Maybe it’s because I am American that he finds me so suspicious. Maybe it’s because of my accent – I have a terrible Baltimore drawl that I have worked hard at to massage out but it creeps back in when I have a drink. Or three like tonight – I have to steady my nerves somehow.
Or does he know what I am going to ask him tonight? It’s scary thinking about it and the most daunting thing I’ve ever had to do but “it’s tradition” my friends assured me and, well, we have to keep to at least one tradition I guess. Is he preparing himself to say no or is he preparing himself to say yes?
I’m over thinking it. It’s no big deal, we’ve been dating seriously for 4 years and I’m 28, she’s 26, to it’s no problem – this is the time we are supposed to be wanting to get married, and move away and get jobs, creating our own life together. There’s nothing more I want than that – to have her waiting for me at home, or for me to be waiting for her. The romantic night’s readings books or even the expected arguments, I am even looking forward to those. She gets so cute when she’s angry because she actually can’t do it very well at all. That’s one thing she doesn’t get from her dad.
He stands up to leave the table – he goes for a smoke on his pipe every night after the meal to let the ladies clear the table and get it all cleaned up. Sometimes he has a brandy. Well, it’s now or never.
“Hey, George, can I have a word with you?” I ask, just out of ear shot of the ladies taking the dishes away.
“Sure Charlie, sure, I’m just going for a smoke” he says, motioning me to follow him. We walk out into the hallway as he reaches into his pocket for his tobacco and pipe.
“Meal was lovely thanks again” I say. Stop talking you idiot I think. “You always welcome us so warmly you know?” Shut up!
“It’s no problem, you’re always welcome”.
“Thanks”. We walk out into the front garden as the night is darkening. It’s quite light for late September and the night’s a little chilly. It is fall. My palms feel like they’ve been dropped in a bucket of water and my heart is jumping out of my chest – I wonder if he notices I’m nervous. Too much time’s passed since we spoke, oh God.
“So… Charlie, you wanted to say something? Ask me something?”
“Yes. Look George, I really appreciate you being so welcoming and stuff, but I think this is the correct way to do things, so here goes. I love Tracey so much, and I love your family, your wife, and even you… and I want to ask you if it would be okay to marry your daughter.”
The night wind is picking up and he looks at me.
“Oh wow Charlie I –“
“George, I’m never sure if we are ever on the same wavelength, so I just wanted to let you know that I care for her so much and I worry you don’t think that I do.”
“No, Charlie, it’s not that, I know you love her with all your heart.”
“I really do” I implore. He’s still stuffing tobacco into his pipe as he appears to be searching for words.
“I also know that she is in love with you” he says. I look at him still playing with the now full pipe. “So I don’t know why this is so hard, I really don’t”.
“What do you mean? I make enough money George, I make more than enough, we can live in my flat, the wedding can be modest and my family can pay for some of it, there’s so much that we can do to help things out” I ramble. He is shaking his head.
“No, Charlie, it’s not that at all either. It’s… it’s hard for me, as a 58 year old man from a different era not to be slightly confused by it all. You and Trace I mean. I’ve never seen her as happy as she is with you in my life or her life, and I really thank you for that, but I guess it’s only now I get it”.
“That… she’ll never be a bride to a groom, you know?”
“Charlie, I don’t mind she’s gay, I really don’t, you have to understand that, but I am being honest with you. She came out a long time ago and, for shame, I might’ve been hard on her but I’ve grown to love her and love you, so this is a big thing. And yes, yes Christ you can marry her, you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to this family Charlie, really, but I need you to understand that this will be another thing I’ll just have to get used to.”
“George, I know, I understand – it’s hard enough for us to come out to people, it’s almost as hard to accept it”.
“Look, forget I said anything – you’re an amazing person Charlie and she deserves you completely. So, yes, you can marry my daughter and I’ll be so proud when you ask her.”
“Oh thanks George!” I say as I hug him. He barely hugs back, resisting slightly, but then gives in. I hold him tighter than ever before.