Shannon sneers at the cake. After she baked and iced it, she gave me only one job.
“That’s inappropriate,” she says.
“What do you mean?” I say. “Dev’s a Celtics fan.”
“Don’t play stupid,” Shannon says.
” I say.
“Oh come on, he’s turning thirteen,” I say. “He knows language like that. Besides, I used asterisks.”
“Younger kids are eating that cake, and we’re guests in this house,” Shannon says. “I’m not serving EFF L.A.
to Colleen and her family. Change that to beat, please.”
Reluctantly, I swipe the F-asterisk-asterisk-asterisk off the cake with a butter knife.
“Thank you,” Shannon says.
I grab the icing tube. Beat L.A.
is so 80’s, but I guess it’ll do.
Colleen, Shannon’s old college friend and the woman of the house, enters the kitchen. “Finding everything you need?” she asks.
"Yup,” I say, finishing off the B.
“Doug’s excited,” Shannon says. “That room Gary finished downstairs is going to be a great place to watch the game.”
“I know. He’s so proud of it,” Colleen says. “I’m so sorry he had that business trip.”
“Yeah, bummer,” I say, trying to feign disappointment as I squirt out the E.
Talk about perfect. The climate-controlled, high tech man-land features a 52-inch hi-def widescreen, a plush leather sectional couch, a billiard table, a dart board, and a wet bar.
And Dev and I will have it all to ourselves.
Yeah, what a shame Gary had that business trip.
It’s as if God looked down, smiled, and said “You have suffered enough, Douglas. You will watch Game 7 in private luxury.”
I swipe my finger along the edge of the plate and eat a dollop of chocolate frosting.
“Oh my God,” I say.
Shannon looks at me, confused.
I take another swipe and show her my finger. “Here, try this,” I say. She nibbles the chocolate from the tip of my finger.
“What’s that taste like?” I say.
“Chocolate frosting,” she says.
chocolate frosting?” I say.
“Yeah,” she says. “Why? What did it taste like to you?”
“It didn’t taste like anything,” I say, staring down at the cake, devastated.
“Are you ok?” Shannon says.
I back away from the cake. “I knew I was feeling a little weird,” I say. “I just, I didn’t realize it was this bad.”
Realization sweeps over Shannon’s eyes. “Aawww,” she says. “Game 7?”
“What’s the matter?” Colleen says.
Shannon waves off the urgency. “Sometimes when there’s a big game, Doug loses his sense of taste,” she says, rubbing my back as I brace myself against the countertop. “During Super Bowl 42, I made Auntie Theresa’s famous sugar soy chicken wings, and he couldn’t even taste them.”
“I might as well have eaten fruit,” I say, shaking my head at the floor. “That was a bad day.”
“Wow,” Colleen says, trying to look concerned, but clearly she’s creeped out. “Well, if you need anything, Doug, let me know.”
“It’ll go away by tomorrow,” Shannon says. “But in the meantime, if you have any day old food in the fridge to get rid of, you might as well give it to Doug. He won’t know the difference.”
Colleen masks her revulsion with a fake smile, and heads out to the backyard where the children are playing. Shannon continues to rub my back.
I slide the cake aside and rest my head on my forearms.
“I’m sorry,” I say. “I know that was embarrassing.”
“No, it’s fine, honey,” Shannon says. “You can’t control it. It’s the stuff you do that you can
control that embarrasses me.”
I look up to offer Shannon an affectionate smile.
But she’s no longer there.
Annie has replaced her.
“How in the hell are you still married?” Annie says.
“This from a woman who can’t keep her lunch down,” I say.
“Not anymore,” Annie says. “After seeing how pathetic you look, I’m cured.”
I look up at Annie, dubious. It’s never that easy.
“Your daughter came in second,” I say.
Annie’s gag reflex kicks in. I slide away as she retches onto the kitchen floor. Breathing heavily, she sidesteps the chunky mess and lowers her head onto the counter near mine.
“That wasn’t fair,” she says.
“You opened the door,” I say.
“True,” she concedes.
“What’s wrong with us?” I say.
“We care too much,” Annie says.
“Maybe everyone else just doesn’t care enough
,” I say.
“Maybe,” she says.
Links: Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket
, Chapter 1: Cribbagegate
, Chapter 2: Two e-mails
, Chapter 3: Pattern
, Chapter 4: Shattered
, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee
, Chapter 6: Suicide
, Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers
, Chapter 9: June
, Chapter 10: 18 and oh no
, Chapter 11: DNA
, Chapter 12: Peanut Butter Sandwiches
, Chapter 13: Tom Brady and the McGuffin
, Chapter 14: Game 1
, Chapter 15: Who the H is John Havlicek?
, Chapters 16 - 17
, Chapter 18: Game 2: Great White
, Chapter 19: Pickle
, Chapter 20: Marty McFly
, Chapter 21 / 22: standard deviation, all the pretty flowers
, Chapter 23: Game 3: Black Hills
, Chapter 24: Twister
, Chapter 25: Game 4
, Chapter 26: Patriotic Agony
, Chapter 27: Locusts
, Chapter 28: skype
, Chapter 29: Click
, Chapter 30: Superman
, Chapter 30: Ass Brunch Chapter 32: Mammoth
, Chapter 33: Pathetic
, Chapter 34: Purple and Gold
, Chapter 35: Chowdah
, Chapter 36: Mastermind
, Chapter 37: m&m cookie dough
, Chapter 38: taste
, Chapter 39: Dance with the Devil
Labels: chapter 38, taste, traveling