“That’s one tall drink of water,” she said under her breath. I looked up from the toothbrushes I was labeling. The director’s accountant looked as she always had; sort of school marm-y, eyes always on the page. I’d heard her voice but she gave no indication of having spoken. “Excuse me?” I whispered, assuring myself if she doesn’t seem to know what you’re referring to you can just say did you hear something? and then that will be it.
“You must not know the expression,” she answered, adding figures in some dark corner of her brain, pen moving continuously, eyes still down. “I’m saying that’s a damn good-looking man, Lola.” Her eyes met mine, narrowed slightly. “Haven’t you noticed?”
I shrugged a little. “He’s a dad, Darla, a dad . . . ”
“A hot dad,” she muttered, resuming her additions.
I am not always brilliant or well spoken. I think the people that are – it has to be affectation.
Sometimes life is very simple. Sometimes you will be asked very practical questions and to expound upon your answers will leave your audience breathless with annoyance. As in, “Could you go for a hamburger?”
There is no dishonor is answering “Sure,” or even “Could totally go for that,” or some variant with ‘bro’, ‘dude’, or ‘man’.
“So how’s our new family?” I asked the director, excited and sorry I hadn’t met them. “Well,” she began slowly, and I waited for the caveat. “They’re very nice – according to Elsa.”
“You didn’t meet them yourself then?”
“Then what did Elsa say, exactly?”
“She said,” the director sighed, began organizing the new file in front of her, “that the lady was very nice and was some sort of mixed, and that the man was very polite and some kind of black.”
“She – um, what? Did you just say ‘some kind of black’ or is it the fan?” She gave me a long look. The fan was not that loud, really. “No. It isn’t the fan. That’s what she said.”
I chewed the inside of my cheek (gently) and thought. “I’ve got it!” I said, sitting up suddenly. “You had this conversation in another language! Something in which ‘some kind of black’ translates to dark-skinned gentleman, right?” She shook her head. “Or – or – you’ve never wanted to tell me but Elsa’s native language isn’t English!” She sighed. “No, Lola. Her mother tongue is English and the conversation was in English and she said exactly that: ‘some sort of mixed’ and ‘some kind of black.’ ” I slumped in my chair. It was hard and wooden anyway. “Don’t tell me she was scared, too?”
“Oh no – not remotely. She was excited. Said something about how exciting it was to have parents from Hawaii.”
“And how does she know they’re from Hawaii? When did they say this?”
“She said mixes are from Hawaii.”
I put my head down on the desk, on top of the papers. “I just can’t believe . . . I don’t know what to . . . ”
“I don’t either, Lola. Like I told you – a college education isn’t what it used to be.”