This is what my father has told me ever since he and my mother got divorced: "I will never get married again. I'm done. It no longer interests me."
This is what my father told me last week when he called from Florida, where he was vacationing with his lady love: "I'm getting married."
This news struck me as surprising for several reasons. First, I've had his I'm never getting married again mantra driven into my head for the last seven years. Second, he never mentioned a thing about it. He was stealthy in his secrecy, a regular James Bond--just without fancy gun-pens or floating cars.
As soon as he told me, I hung up the phone and called Amy and Keith to break the news. "How do we feel about this?" I asked.
Amy was happy. "When's the wedding?" she exclaimed. I could tell she was seeing summer dresses and strappy shoes and another reason to drink Bacardi-Cokes in the warm summer afternoon. I could tell she was thinking, Yessss. We get to see the girlfriend's hot son in dress-up clothes! I could tell she was thinking that because I was thinking that, too.
Keith was happy, too, but for different reasons. The news meant he could gloat. He'd been predicting this for months, and I'd been repeating the same words my father had drilled into my head since the divorce. "No, Keith," I would say. "He's never getting married again. He told me so. They might live together, but that's it."
"We'll see," Keith would say in one of those irritating sing-song voices. "We'll just see about that!"
When I told him the news, Keith yelled into my ear. "Ha!" he said. "I told you so!" Then he said, "Can I sleep with your mom now?" and I had to inform him that no, he could not sleep with my mother now. He couldn't sleep with my mother ever, no matter how much he might want to or how much he liked to say that to irritate me.
They both went on to ask me how I felt. How was I dealing with it? What did I think?
I felt fine with it. I like my father's girlfriend. He's had some girlfriends I really wasn't fond of--for example, the girlfriend I nicknamed Rafiki because she resembled the blue-butted monkey from The Lion King--but this one is an all-around good time. And she has a hot son. Really, it's a win-win situation for everyone. So, I feel good about this. I am happy for my father, happy that he gets a second-go at marriage, even if that's what he spent years thinking he didn't want.
Really, I suppose, there were hints, and I should've seen this coming. About a month ago my father walked into the kitchen balancing his and my mother's wedding album on his palm. "I think," he said, "it might be time to get rid of this."
"Are you freaking kidding me?" I exclaimed, snatching the album from him. I could see him tossing it in the garbage. I could see the album getting buried in the landfill, underneath a cascade of rotten bananas, socks with holes in the heels, forgotten furniture. I told my father I was taking over custody of the album, and I pushed it underneath my bed, where it would be safe forever.
He must have been considering it--a new start with a new woman--for awhile now, and if I had paid closer attention maybe I would've guessed it. But that's okay. The surprise was fine. And last night I decided it was extra fine because we all sat around figuring out our porn-names, and my father's would be Bootsie Smith and his girlfriend's would be Taffy Miles, and let's face it--that's a good-sounding couple. I can see the invitations, the headlines now: Bootsie Smith Weds Taffy Miles; Children Smoky Place, Dusty Place, and Squeaky Kelly Throw Reception in Their Honor.
Let's hope, though, that my father picks a more attractive outfit and hair situation than he did the first time around, when he married my mother: