“How would I know?” dad responds, very defensively. “I would assume so,” he adds, regaining some of his usual measured manner.
“You’d assume so?!”
“Well, it’s not something you simply come out and ask someone you’re just getting to know now, is it.”
“What do you mean, just getting to know? You’ve been seeing her for nearly—”
“So now it’s just awkward!” dad states in a way to signal he’s done with this conversation. My siblings have other thoughts on the topic however.
Let me just say that, stepping away from the ensuing hubbub, my sister’s vaccination question didn’t emerge entirely out of the blue, a non sequitur branding exercise. After learning about our father’s obvious loss of mental acuity (quote, end quote), Lianne and Avrum decided to case the joint, so to speak, virtual dumpster diving through Beverli Lee Devine’s online presence. I abjured, of course, contending that our father was a big boy. He’d been properly cautious as far as we could tell during Covid. But that was then. We were his children not babysitters. It wasn’t up to us to arrange and oversee his playdates.
“He’s an old man, Tristan,” Lianne chided me. “He’s still vulnerable. The nutty anti-vaxxer could kill him.”
But despite all the unearthings in Beverli Lee’s social media dossier she and Avrum had compiled, while not pretty, they weren’t entirely unhinged either, by current day standards, in earlier times I might be more hard-pressed to defend such an assessment. No smoking gun. Nothing truly incriminating. Her views on science and evidence skewed skeptical rather than outright anti, and her notion of the concept of ‘freedom’ wasn’t exactly traditional.
“Being able to use a four syllable word?” Lianne pokes. “In the general direction of correctly?”
“WHY ARE YOU BEING SO EVEN-HANDED HERE?!!” brother & sister demand to know from me, in unison, as I recall. “She’s deranged!” Lianne reiterates, as much for her own benefit as mine. “What’s dad doing with her?” Avrum chimes in, not for the first time on that particular line of questioning.
I had no answers. Life’s funny. Like quantum mechanics, the rules of attraction defy human logic and sensibility. It’s probably just a fling. Dad’s one last kick at the can of mindless monkey love, letting loose on those primal urges.
Lianne and Avrum just stare at me, horrified.
“Why would you even start with tha—”
“Well, what else could it be?” I push on, truly at a loss to explain the state of affairs before us.
Life’s funny. Like quantum mechanics, the rules of attraction defy human logic and sensibility.
If only the explanation was that simple. Life’s funny because it seldom is simple when it comes to afflictions of the heart. (“What are you, Faulkner here?” I hear chirped from the cheap seats.) There were no straightforward answers. Baseless assumptions rule. What did William of Occam know about the strange roots of sexual entanglement anyway? He was a monk, after all. I think.
“From what I can tell from all her postings,” Lianne says—
“More than y—”
“Yes. Way more.”
“Her politics are abhorrent,” Lianne assesses. “Do you think dad knows? Maybe we should—”
Dad knew. He was well aware. I’d witnessed it. Avrum had seen it. We’d informed Lianne about it, all equally baffled and a little troubled.
“F*ck Trudeau, eh!” dad said one day when we were sitting out on his grand balcony looking out over the Humber, a bottle in on a white, the three of us, I think, I don’t remember Avrum being there, dad, me and Beverli Lee. Enjoying the beautiful warm day in the sun, awkwardly chatting before what was likely to be an awkward dinner. Dad’s insistence.
“He said it just like that,” I later informed Avrum (I believe) and Lianne (definitely, as she’d moved west a long time ago, most her adult life, so wasn’t a regular hands-on participant in the proceedings). “With the asterisk. Somehow. I don’t know. You could just hear it.”
“And he used ‘eh’?” Lianne asks, incredulous.
If I’m lying, I’m dying.
Dad had never been a curser, rarely so much as a damn or hell. Shit meant he’d hurt something, probably requiring stitches or splint. He also wasn’t one for the colloquial. Now here we were, all f*ck and eh.
“Just out of the blue?” one of my siblings asks.
No. It popped up during the course of a very tentative, guarded discussion, a passing nod to some current affairs item or other, mostly between dad and Beverli Lee. Verbal jousting, as far as I could tell. A challenge thrown down, a gently truculent jibe.
“Does she have the bumper sticker?” Lianne wanted to know, clearly expecting the worst.
“God! I hope not!” Avrum shrieked, yes, shrieked. “She drives a Tesla!”
As did my brother. And it caused him no end of consternation that they shared the same vehicular passion.