Part IV — Pre-Dinner Cocktails

[The saga of sorts continues, part i, part ii, part iii. Follow along in order but not necessarily.]

*  *  *

With our drinks ordered, Dad fell into a quick funk which was not at all a usual state for him. Dad did not possess an into a funk kind of personality. If he did, he kept it from us all these years. Beverli Lee, the object of dad’s unsubtle ridicule, took it more than in stride. She buoyed up into chipper mode, relentlessly carrying the conversation, talking about anything other than Teslas.

The real estate market, naturally. Her line of work. It was bad at the moment, she informed us. Unsustainable and harmful interest rate hikes in an attempt to deal with completely out-of-control inflation caused by misguided and vote-driven government spending.

“Federal government spending,” she specifies.

Later, Avrum will claim she used the term Justinflation. I’m absolutely certain she did not. Lianne accuses me of taking her side. Again.

“It’s alright though,” Beverli Lee continues. “The market’s bottomed for sure. Spring’ll surprise us, just you watch.” And for good measure, “Believe you me, boys.”

And so on.

These days, real estate really being the only safe place to put your money. Everything else was so volatile, you never knew what was coming next? The war in Ukraine. Chinese spy balloons and election interference. Train derailments blowing up supply chains as well as toxic chemical plumes of smoke. Might as well hide your money under your mattress! Just avoid getting all caught up in the housing bubble, ride out the exuberance and know when to strike. You’ll do alright. Better than alright in fact.

“I’m mean look at your old man!” Beverli Lee thumbs our attention toward dad who’s basically kept his head buried in the menu, throughout the conversation, sure, OK, the monologue, the drinks arrival, curtly telling Kelsey he’ll need a couple more minutes before even deciding on an appetizer. “It’s like an Eaton’s catalogue!” he mumbles almost grumpily.

Avrum and I catch eyes. What’s with dad?

“Made out like a bandit, selling the old place at almost the peak,” Beverli Lee informs us, “and bought the new one during the ripples of the downturn. Paid for it outright against my professional advice, I might add, stubborn as a mule, this one. But now, no mortgage and the condo’s never going to lose value, believe you me. It’ll return a pretty penny when he kicks it. And then somebody’s going to scoop up a healthy chunk of inheritance.”

“SHE DID NOT!” Lianne bellows when we give her a blow-by-blow of the birthday bash.

She did although Avrum and I adamantly disagree about her intention behind the remark.

“She so meant herself! She was going to inherit it,” he declared, no doubt in his mind.

“That’s not how I heard it,” I push back.

“Then why didn’t she say something like, ‘You kids are going to inherit a fortune!’ then,” Avrum demanded to know. “Instead she said it like the set-up in some murder-mystery. ‘Sommmme-body’s stands to inherit a fortune!’ Who does that right in front of his kids? Like she was issuing a challenge.”

That was a down the road concern. Right now, I couldn’t get a handle on dad’s behaviour at the table. He’d become a moody teenager.

“I don’t understand this place!” he cracks, tossing his menu down and nearly knocking over Beverli Lee’s glass of wine which was surprisingly on the table and not in her hand.

“Catty,” Lianne growls. “I like it.”

Now, this isn’t coming from a place of temperance, believe you me, in the parlance of Beverli Lee. I drink. We drink. Lianne less so once she became a mom. She could knock it back in her day, though. Dad and mom, I am now convinced with decades of regular and, at times, nosing up to worrisome imbibing, the type with self-enforced dry spells, my parents very likely spent much of our youth snapped. After work cocktails, two rounds most evenings, sometimes three, healthy belts always. There was no way, looking at it from this vantage point that they weren’t .08+ drunk. Never sloppy. Never loud. But they had to have gone through life with a glow.

Beverli Lee, on the other hand, dove deep into her cups. Always wine, colour determined by occasion and weather. She didn’t sip. She gulped. Tore into a glass or bottle with gusto.

“Like she was prepping for a Roman orgy,” Avrum described it.

As I’ve said, we are hardly ones to be casting aspersions in that general direction.

She once boasted in my presence that she wasn’t so worried about drinking-and-driving since she bought the Tesla.

“Just stay awake and keep your hands on the wheel,” she whispered conspiratorily. “No one will be the wiser.”

This precipitated an animated discussion between them when dad pointed out that it still constituted drunk driving, could get some innocent person killed, no matter how much she tried justifying it in her high-tech rationalization, ‘Don’t Get MADD’, he pitched as an advertising slogan, ‘Get a Tesla!’, and, as all these Tesla/politically-tinged conversations tended to wind up, a raucous disagreement over Elon Musk. Just when it seemed like things might come to blows (she would kick his bony ass, no doubt about it), one of them would pull back, usually the one who’d instigated the fracas, and laugh as if the funniest thing they’d ever seen just happened. Moments later, the other one would join in.

Their schtick.

“What the hell’s a double baked potato anyway?” dad demands to know.

He seemed determined to make his birthday outing a misery. So, no one was more surprised than I was, all said and done, at who winded up precipitating the Keg blow up. Me. That’s who. No. Not surprised. The one blowing shit up. That would be me.


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