Craving Vera(2)

By: Nicole Jacquelyn


“Charlie?” Molly asked, reminding me that we were surrounded by a table full of women.

“My dad,” Farrah said. She saluted the ceiling and took a drink.

“I thought—” Molly glanced around the table. “I thought your dad’s name was Slider.”

Amy laughed.

“What? Was I wrong?” Molly asked in confusion.

“Charlie and Slider are one and the same,” Amy explained.

“Oh.”

“We all know it would’ve been Vera waking Gramps up anyway,” Trix said, smiling at Amy. “Slider would’ve left him where he fell.”

“Wait, why do you call him Charlie?” Hawk asked, pointing her beer bottle in Amy’s direction.

“Ach,” Amy said, her slight accent that my pop said she’d picked up from my grandmother coming through. “I met Charlie and Vera in Ireland before any of you were born. They were still honeymooners back then, just like me and Patrick.”

“Really?” I said, raising my eyebrows. I’d heard the story of when they’d met my honorary aunt and uncle, back when my pop and Amy were first married and hadn’t immigrated to America yet, but I hadn’t given much thought to how long Vera and Slider had been together. In my mind, I’d just always pictured them that way. I couldn’t imagine one without the other. Unfortunately, it was one of those things that I now wished I would’ve asked about before it was too late—like Vera’s pizza dough recipe and which soap bar she’d used to get the stains out of my clothes.

“They’d been together for a few years by the time they came to Ireland,” Amy clarified. “But they’d still had that look about them. You know the one, like these youngsters have.”

I knew the look she was talking about. It was the one that was still tentative, a little dazed, a lot lustful, and totally wide-eyed. Like they weren’t sure if things would work, but they were hoping like hell that they’d get to wake up next to their partner for the rest of their lives.

“I don’t know how my dad landed Vera,” Farrah said, her voice a little bit quieter than it was before. “The man stepped up when it counted, but she was still way too good for him.”

I wanted to say something, because by the tone of her voice, it wasn’t a good natured comment. She’d meant what she said. But, I’d been around when Farrah and Slider had reconnected. They’d eventually come to have a relationship, and it was a good one from what I’d seen, but there was baggage there that I had no right to judge or argue with.

“He wasn’t perfect,” Amy said with a small sniff. “But he was what she needed. He screwed up plenty, the man was a philanderer, but he eventually got his head on straight.”

“I can’t believe she stayed,” Rose said, shaking her head. “No offense, Auntie.”

“None taken,” Farrah replied. Farrah was the result of one of Slider’s affairs.

The rest of the table was silent. All of the women in that room—and I was sure this was true for most of women outside that room too—had put up with a lot more from their partner than they’d ever imagined they would. When you’re single, you have a lot of ideas about what your life with your man will be like, the things you’re willing to forgive and the things you aren’t. It’s rarely ever that cut and dry when you’re in the thick of it. Rose hadn’t learned that lesson yet, but by what I’d seen lately, she would be learning it very soon.

“He was beautiful back then. Charming, if a bit rough around the edges. A jokester, if you can believe that. Your pop didn’t want to like him when they met, you know,” Amy said to me. “But back in those days, you couldn’t help but eventually like Charlie.”

“He always seemed so serious,” Callie said. She was sitting next to Rose, running her fingers through her daughter’s hair absentmindedly. I wished Trix was sitting closer to me, so I could do the same, or at least run my fingers over the long black braids hanging down her back.

“He was when you knew him.” Amy nodded. “But when they got together, he wasn’t president. He wouldn’t be president for a few years. Taking on that responsibility changes a man.”

“I can’t even imagine him hitting on someone,” Farrah mumbled, scratching her chest like a man. “Like, ‘Yo, wanna see my bike?’”

We laughed at her spot-on impersonation.

“She was young,” Amy said. “And looking for a way out of the life she was living.”

“Wait,” I said, taking my eyes off Trix as I realized that Amy wasn’t using generalizations. “You know the story of how they met?”