Dropping the Bomb
“You did WHAT”?! I spluttered at my high school girlfriend, Karine, shaking my head in disbelief.
“I told my Mom that you and I have started having sex”.
“Don’t be silly. Mom loves you. You know that. Andrew – you’re turning blue. Are… are you holding your breath”?
“Ahhhhhhhh”, I exhaled heavily. “Can’t kill myself that way. Maybe I can flee the country before sundown…”
“What’s your problem”? asked Karine sternly, becoming annoyed.
“Your Dad”, I said bitterly, lighting a cigarette. “He’s going to dismember me and feed me to your damn dogs. And I’m pretty sure I can guess which bits he’ll start with”.
Karine and I had been dating from around the beginning of our final year of high school but only started having sex (i.e. full intercourse sex) in the spring, not long before graduation. There were two reasons we waited so long. The first was that she lived an hour-long drive away from me and so we only saw each other once a week on the weekends. In other words, because we didn’t see each other very often, everything was still relatively fresh and new between us even after several months. The second was that Karine was a virgin and took losing her virginity extremely seriously (unlike some other girls I could mention who I encountered throughout high school).
Almost always, when I was over at her parents’, I was subjected to a “family dinner” before Karine and I could go off and do our own thing. Invariably, the seating arrangement was like this:
|Melanie (Karine’s younger sister)||Karine|
It was the classic setup of the consummate patriarch (still smarting from not having sired a male heir): him at the head of the table, dutiful wife to his right; eldest daughter (the favourite and heiress apparent) to his left; trouble-making younger daughter further away and beside her sister; trouble-making boyfriend of eldest daughter, whose corrupting influence was a blight on his household, beside Karine’s mother and not so much as in footsie range of his beloved eldest daughter.
Karine’s father cut quite the image at the head of the table. He was a big, burly man who had played football in university. I always thought he bore an uncanny resemblance to Leonid Brezhnev – jowly face, iron gray hair slicked straight back and the most remarkable thick, brown knitted eyebrows which were extremely disarming when he glared down the table at me, frowning (which was often). Due to his appearance, I always thought of him as an old Soviet bear that I would be unwise to poke (for example, by poking his daughter).
This dinner table setup actually kind of backfired on the old grouch because I really hit it off with Karine’s younger sister, Melanie. She was only 14 and therefore 3-4 years younger than Karine and I. Still, I loved her because we were interested in the same things: books, theatre, art, etc. We were also bad asses who liked to drink and smoke and party it up. I think I knew, deep down, that had she been older we would have been a much better match than Karine and I as Karine was very proper, polite and ever-respectful to convention. Melanie was also prettier than Karine. Anyway, Melanie totally adored me and drove her father (and Karine) nuts with her shameless flirting with me across the table during those dinners.
“You’re being ridiculous, Andrew”, said Karine firmly. “Inside, I’m sure Daddy really likes you too. See you at dinner next Friday – 7:00 sharp”!
KARINE’S MOTHER: [breaking an awkward silence since the meal had begun] So how are you, Andrew, my dear?
ME: I’m very well, thank you. How…
MELANIE [interrupting, giggling]: I bet you are!!! Hee hee!
KARINE [blushing]: Daddy, Andrew’s going to be in a new show at the school.
KARINE’S FATHER [fiercely glaring down the table at me]: You’re not prancing around in tights as a gay dancer again, are you?
KARINE’S MOTHER: Dear…
KARINE: That was Chorus Line last term, Daddy.
KARINE’S FATHER: Hrrrmph!
MELANIE: Oh, I think you know pretty well Andrew’s not gay, Daddy!!! Wah haahhaa ha!
KARINE: Shut up, Mel. Andrew’s going to be performing Killer’s Head by Sam Shepard.
KARINE’S FATHER: Killer’s Head? What in God’s name is that?
KARINE: Tell him, Andrew.
ME: I, um – well, it’s a monologue. It’s a man’s last thoughts before he’s executed in the electric chair.
KARINE: Yes! I’ve been helping him practice!
ME [forgetting about Karine’s father for a moment]: Yeah, at the end, when I’m electrocuted, all the lights go up in full and then the audience is in total darkness. When the lights come back on again, I’m gone.
KARINE’S FATHER: Oh, I like this one.
KARINE’S MOTHER: Dear!
ME: Anyway, it’s very short but it packs a lot in there.
MELANIE: I bet it does, Andrew! Ha ha ha! And I bet it’s not that short either! Wah haaha!
KARINE & KARINE’S MOTHER: Mel!!!
ME [blushing]: “I mean, um. It’s very stripped down…
MELANIE: Whaah haa ha!
ME: No wait, I mean it’s very simple – yes, that’s it – simple. No other characters and no set or props except the chair I’m strapped in to”.
MELANIE: Ooh La La big sister! Who knew you were so kinky?!
KARINE’S MOTHER: Melanie!!!
KARINE [trying to ignore Melanie]: It’s very interesting because it’s just Andrew talking until the execution.
MELANIE: All oral until the big bang at the end! Ohaha haaaaa! Oh!
KARINE: Be quiet, Mel. This has been very hard for Andrew!
MELANIE: Oh, I’m SURE it has!!! Hee hee!
KARINE’S MOTHER: Melanie!
MELANIE: Don’t worry, Mom. He’s had Karine helping him practice! I, oh God –Ha ha ha ha ha!
Dinner went downhill from there and Melanie was sent to her room not long after (I can only imagine the bawling out she got from both Karine and her mother later on). After dinner, I had the misfortune of being left alone with Karine’s father. Neither of us wanted to be there and he actually made it mercifully short. He reached over to a bowl of assorted nuts in the middle of the table and selected a large chestnut. He gripped it in an ornate silver nut cracker between his enormous, hairy paws. “Andrew, don’t you ever,” he said, pausing as the chestnut exploded bits of shell fragments across the room and my testicles fearfully retreated inside my body, “hurt my daughter. Ever. Now, get out of my sight”.
A few weeks later, Karine went away for the summer and I started seeing someone else. When she came back, we got back together and headed to Montreal to begin our studies at McGill. We soon drifted apart again, though, and split for good halfway through the first semester. Luckily the break-up was mutual and amicable so I didn’t have to fear Karine’s father coming after me with his nut cracker in the small hours of the night. Nevertheless, about 3-4 years later, I bumped into Melanie at a party. She was only in Montreal for the night but we were delighted to see each other again. She had grown up to be a beautiful woman, she was as interesting as ever and I ended up sleeping with her.
If I know Melanie, I can only imagine she made a point of telling her family about it and I pity the poor chestnuts if my name has ever been dropped over any “family dinners” since…