Fathers and First Dates

“Help. It’s an emergency!” Fat’s voice shouts on the other end of the line.

My back hunches over as I hold the cell phone up to my ear and turn to look out the passenger side window at the storefronts we drive past. There really is no way to get privacy in a car other than turn your back to the other person and pretend to be alone. Gentle thuds from the rainy and grey day patter against the roof of the Mazda – way to be cliché, Vancouver. I’m delighted that we’re planning on going to dinner and a movie tonight; a stroll by the ocean is less romantic during a monsoon.

“Calm down. What’s wrong?” The silver lining to an emergency: James only picked me up from my place ten minutes ago – it won’t take long to get back home to fix whatever catastrophe has befallen the apartment. I go through the rolodex in my head of all the possibilities of things that could go awry leaving Fat at home without supervision. Any number of disasters could have occurred in my absence. For some reason, I’m quick to assume arson – and if that’s my first assumption, why on earth would I ever trust the feline home alone? She’s called me an idiot before. I’m sad to report that it could be true; maybe I am an idiot.

It’s our first time hanging out and here I am taking a personal call from my housecat. Awesome. Depending on how this goes could really affect how things move forward with this fella. I’m not really sure how I’m feeling about him yet. Better keep the ol’ pro/con list on standby.

“Is everything okay?” James turns down the car stereo and the Foo Fighters are forced into near-silence. In a normal circumstance, this would never happen. Foo Fighters are meant to be loud; if this guy is willing to mute a great band for my benefit – that’s a tally in the pro column.

I glance over my left shoulder and shrug. James alternates between navigating the busy street and throwing quick looks of concern my way before his attention returns to the road. His blue eyes widen with questions. He cares – another pro for the gent.

“I don’t know.” I turn back to my phone, “Faaa…” I can’t say her name, this date will be over instantly if he finds out who’s ringing me at this moment, “…ather, what’s going on?”

“Father? Is that what you call me behind my back? It’s my wisdom, isn’t it?” I hear the smile in her voice. “You didn’t have a fancy English childhood, just call me dad like a normal Canadian.”

My concern evaporates instantly. If something was actually wrong, she wouldn’t be dicking me around like this. “What’s the emergency, Fat?”

“Should I find a place to pull over?” James shoulder checks in preparation to get to the next side street. He makes no mention of me calling my pretend father Fat. That speaks to his overabundance of politeness – con. I need a dude that shoots from the hip.

I pull away from my phone, albeit briefly, and minutely shake my head, “You can just keep heading to the restaurant.” Good driver – pro.

“So how’s the date going?” Fat’s words are weighted with intrigue and gossip.

“Tell me why that’s not the reason you’re calling.” I wave my hand forward, reassuring James that he’s good to keep driving. The windshield wipers move in their rhythmic pattern. “I’m kind of busy at the moment.”

“Boss. I’m giving you an out here if it’s not going well. I noticed he was blond. If you need this phone call to be an emergency to get away from the man bimbo, take it.” The feline makes a point: blonde – con.

“It’s only been a few minutes,” my words hiss into the phone, and I adjust course when I catch the look on James’ face at my sudden change of tone. “It’s hard to tell so soon…father. Stay positive. I’m sure your team will win.”

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Fat’s words are clipped and she clearly does not understand what I’m trying to do. “You hate sports. There isn’t even a game on right now, dumb ass.”

I roll my eyes and try to spell it out for her. “The game (massive emphasis to let her know we’re not discussing something on TSN) just started. Anything can happen. I’m sure it will be fine.”

“Have I told you recently that you’re an idiot?” The sound of buttons accidently being pushed on her end rings in my ears.

“I love you too. Bye.” I end the call, turn the ringer off and drop the phone in my lap. “I’m really sorry about that. I shouldn’t have answered.”

James searches for a tactful thing to say, “Your dad sounds like an… interesting guy.” There’s that politeness again – con.

Another call from Fat lights up my phone. I hit ignore.

“Huh? Oh yeah. My dad is a real cupcake.”

Proud Cat Mom… No Thanks

“I saw the stupidest thing on my way home today.” I take off my work I.D. badge and throw it and my cardigan on the hall table as I pass directly into the bedroom.

“Finally get a sober look at your reflection?” Fat trots into the room after me and jumps up onto the bed.

I’ve already taken my shirt off; I scrunch it into a ball and throw it with all the strength and instant outrage I can muster. Were it not an article of clothing, my vigorous pitch would have granted her a concussion. Unfortunately for me it was a thin, cotton tank top with polka dots; sadly, this doesn’t have the brutal force of a shot put. The shirt unravels itself upon soft impact with Fat’s head.

Fat stares at the tank top for several seconds. “Well that was anti-climactic.” Her green eyes sweep up to my face, lit with intrigue. “Tell me about the stupidest thing you saw today.”

I finish changing out of work pants and into some shorts. A gigantic smile takes up half my face; as I speak, laughter seeps in between some of the words. “I was behind a car that had a blinding blue bumper sticker that read, ‘Proud Cat Mom’.”

Fat’s face changes; her mouth hangs open as her eyes rattle around searching her brain for understanding. “I don’t get it. How is that stupid?”

My laughter ceases instantly. “You’re kidding, right? It’s right up there with Crazy Dog Lady’s terrier stroller.” I bend down into the lowest dresser drawer to find a different top to wear.

The feline gives up trying to comprehend the absurdity of such a display. “You flagged them down to ask where they bought it I assume. Did you go right out and buy one?”

“Where would you suggest I put it? On my ass?” I stop flipping through folded shirts long enough to turn and see Fat blatantly staring at my backside as I’m bent over.

“It would be a nice gesture.” Her eyes remain fixed as I rummage and grab a green tank top from the drawer. “Awful lot of real estate back there.”

I slip the shirt over my head. “Do you consider yourself more of a kettle or pot, Fat?”

Fat jumps off the bed and makes her way to the kitchen, knowing the after work routine well: change clothes, feed cat, walk dog. “You really don’t like to advertise your feelings, do you? I’ll make a note of that in your file.”