Apr 14 2006


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“So I’m guessing you must be Greg,” said the small-but-sturdy woman at the door. “At least I hope you are.”

“Er, yes,” said Greg, smiling somewhat awkwardly. “I’m guessing you must be Brigid’s mother. Won’t you come in?”

“I was wondering how long I was going to have to stand out here in the hallway,” the woman replied, and picked up several paper grocery bags from around her feet. “I brought Brigid some food, where’s the kitchen?”

“It’s just to the left there,” said Greg, wondering why he bothered since she was already making a beeline for it.

“This place is awfully small,” the woman said. “I guess it’s hard to get a decent-sized place any more. You can’t live on anything less than a CEO’s salary, it seems like.”

“Well, yes, it is a bit on the small side,” Greg agreed, “but it’s handy to the store and such.”

“Huh!” said the woman.

Greg scratched his ear absentmindedly; he couldn’t tell what had annoyed her so much. “Um,” he said, trying to keep conversation alive. “I’m terribly sorry, but Brigid just mentioned to me barely an hour ago that you were coming, and I didn’t think to ask her your name. What should I call you?”

“She didn’t even tell you my name?” said the woman, opening up the refrigerator and putting what appeared to be a large carton of tangerines into it. “Well, that’s typical I suppose. People just don’t think of these things. My husband was like that, he could tell you everything you wanted to know about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s influence on the modern art movement, but he couldn’t remember his own name without being prompted.”

Greg grinned at that. “Sounds like somebody I know.”

“I’m Isadora, nice to meet you,” said Brigid’s mother. “Where is Brigid, anyway?”

“She gets off from work at five, so she should be here any moment now, she’s a bit late.”

“Well, I’m not surprised, traffic’s getting worse every day.”

“Mmm,” said Greg.

“So are you coming with us tonight, or what?”

“Um, I don’t know, actually. Where are you going?”

“To dinner of course,” Isadora said. “I’m taking Brigid out for her birthday.”

“It’s her birthday!” said Greg. “Is it really?”

“You didn’t know?”

“Well, no, actually. She’s never mentioned that, either.”

“You don’t know her birthday?” Isadora said. “Well if that isn’t the saddest thing I’ve ever heard. What kind of boyfriend are you?”

“Boyfriend?” said Greg, blinking. “I’m not her boyfriend.”

“What do you mean, you’re not her boyfriend? The two of you live together, don’t you?”

“Well, only in the most grammatical sense,” said Greg. “We’re roomies, yes … cohabitating, no.”

Isadora looked Greg up and down with a critical, penetrating eye. “You’re not, eh? Huh.” She resumed her refrigerator-stocking, now putting what appeared to be a largish ham wrapped in aluminum foil on top of the carton of tangerines. “When she told me she lived with some guy named Greg, I assumed you were shacked up.”

“We get that a lot,” said Greg.

“I suppose she’s not pretty enough for you, huh?”

Greg blinked several times. “I can’t think of any response to that comment, that won’t get me into big, big trouble.”

Isadora laughed. “That does it, you’re coming to dinner with us.”

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