It's 4 a.m. and I'm riding in a car with my parents. We've just crossed the Wisconsin border and my father is telling us about his latest visit to the proctologist. My mother and I have warned him repeatedly that we do not want to hear the word 'prostate' until after we've had a cup of coffee, but there is no quieting my father, who is gleefully comparing the size of his prostate against his friends' glands as if it were a golf handicap.
I am resting my head against the cool surface of the car window considering whether to shout 'menstrual blood' just to shock him into silence, but instead I let him drone on. At least he's not telling us tales of his randy youth—stories of horrifying misogyny that he recently decided my brother and I are old enough to hear. We have assured him, however, that we are not now—and never will be— old enough to listen to our father use the words 'fondle' and 'cocktail waitress' in the same sentence.
My parents and I left their home at 3 a.m. so we could arrive in Northern Wisconsin in time for me to play in a bridge tournament with my aunt, who asked me to pinch hit after her bridge partner dropped dead of a heart attack. (My low blood pressure and relative youth have made me the darling of the competitive bridge world, and I'm often asked to fill in for the recently deceased.) The reason I agreed to play isn't because I love my aunt (which I do), or because I enjoy taking extended road trips with my parents (which I don't), but because Wisconsin is next to Minnesota, home of my first lover. And since I'll be in the neighborhood (when you live in Minnesota, any place south of the Arctic Circle and north of Iowa City is considered 'in the neighborhood'), I'll have a good excuse to pop in on her.
It is a stupid plan on so many levels. My first lover—who I refer to as The Original Wound—is married, has a child, and keeps a couple wolves as pets. We haven't seen each other in over 10 years, and yet I am working under the delusion that she—and the wolves—will be happy to see me when I show up (unannounced) at her door tomorrow evening. To make matters even more complicated, I've added my parents and my aunt (and, by extension, the entire Midwestern bridge community) to the mix. This means I'll have to figure out a way to shake them for the evening, an almost impossible feat given that my mother is already giving me the ole fish eye and whispered 'I know you're up to something, Missy,' as my father chased away some nocturnal animals circling the Town Car before we departed.
This whole crackpot scheme is based on one ambiguously worded email I received from The Original Wound last week. She sent a brief note that pleasantly inquired about my welfare. Naturally, I took this to mean that she wants to sleep with me. 'I knew she'd come crawling back,' I said to myself, ignoring the fact that it is me who is crawling up the seam of the Midwest to see her.
Next time: Opening an old wound!