She raced down the stairs, panicked. Almost slipping as she took the corner on the lower landing, she headed for her husband in his den, and finding him, she panted, “It’s . . . Mom . . and Dad!”
“Mom and Dad what, honey?” he asked, turning around in surprise. “Is somebody in the hospital?”
“No, no!” she gasped, “They’ll be here in five minutes!”
“Oh, Jeez,” he exclaimed as he jumped out his chair and brushed past her moving quickly towards the family room. CNN was on the television and he fumbled with the remote until he finally got The Fox News Channel as she desperately went about collecting the sections of this morning’s Washington Post scattered about and replacing them with the Wall Street Journal.
As she rushed to the living room, he busied himself with replacing the pictures of President Obama with pictures of Presidents Trump and Reagan. In the living room, she changed the channel on the internet radio from Rush Limbaugh to NPR and as the doorbell rang, she hid the copy of June’s New Republic under the sofa cushion and replaced it on the coffee table with the National Review and The Bible.
Gathering themselves, they stood together at the front door as he opened it and she excitedly said, “Mom, Dad, how wonderful to see you! And on such short notice, too. C’mon in.”
The afternoon visit went fine. They managed to navigate the political issues her folks brought up without much consternation. The toughest part was trying to remember which colleges she had told them her kids were attending. She always got West Point confused with Annapolis. She felt guilty about those little lies, but if she had told them they were really at Berkeley and Oberlin College, it would have been too much for the old couple to take.
After the parents left, they sat down on the sofa, sighed, looked at each other and laughed. “Five minutes, our new record,” she joked. Just then his phone vibrated with a new text. “It’s my boss!” he yelled. “He’s on his way with his new girlfriend for a short visit. We don’t have much time!”
He retreated to the den to rehang President Obama’s picture and to hide the other ones while she went to the closet to retrieve copies of Ebony magazine which she put on the coffee table after removing the National Review and the Bible. As she got out the faux African masks to put up on the wall, her husband changed the channel on the television to Netflix and brought up BlackAF. Then, he raced to change the internet radio to the Barry White channel just as the doorbell rang.
“Well, hi, you guys,” he said as they met his boss and his new girlfriend at the door. “C’mon in. I know what you like, DeMarcus, but what will your lady be drinking?”
As his wife fixed the drinks, the three of them settled in on the sofa. DeMarcus introduced his girlfriend, Janelle, who was a recent graduate of Morehouse College. “Say, doesn’t one of your kids go to Morehouse?” Demarcus asked. “Oh, no, our boy goes to Dillard College and our daughter is going to Claflin University,” he replied proudly.
And for the next thirty minutes or so, the four of them had a great time and Janelle was particularly enchanting and knew quite a bit about African masks and Barry White. They planned to get together again real soon and hugged at the front door.
Collapsing on the sofa again, they said nothing for a few moments. Finally, chuckling to himself, he patted her on the knee and congratulated her on putting out the African masks. “Sheer genius,” he quipped as she smiled and just said, “Barry White, not bad either, cutie!”
As they slowly put the house back together to its original condition, they heard a quiet knocking on the front door. He tiptoed to the door and peeked out through the peep hole as she waited cautiously about ten feet away. She mouthed ‘Who Is It?’ He mouthed back ‘The Gay Couple Next Door!’ She nodded and moved next to him as he opened the door.
“Hi, we just moved in next door. I’m Randy and this is Charles. We just thought we’d introduce ourselves and maybe plan to get together soon with you to get to know each other better,” the thin one said.
Without any hesitation, he answered, “Great idea! How about this Saturday afternoon, here at our place, say about fourish? Just informal snacks and wine. We’d love to get to know you guys better, wouldn’t we, honey?” She quickly nodded and introduced themselves as the Millers, Bill, and Joanie. And soon the door was closed and they were alone again.
“Any ideas?” he wondered. She just shrugged, crossed her arms and replied, “Nope. This one’s going to take a little research. But we don’t have much time, so let’s divide the workload. You checkout Etsy and I’ll go see what I can borrow from Billy’s old music teacher in high school, you know, that Mr. Whatshisname, the bachelor! But the kids will be easy. We’ll just say we don’t have any, okay?”