Screwdrivered Page 2

My type and my mother’s type were as different as tuna fish and a curling iron. I liked a bad boy, and had enjoyed some a time or two. I preferred them a bit rough, tough looking. Messy hair? Yes, please. Artistic? Yes, please—musician, painter, performance artist, what have you.

My mother’s type was everyone’s type: good provider, steady, accomplished, smart, sociable at parties, and enough sperm to breed Catholic guilt into the next generation several times over.

And in this latest surge of motherly influence, no doubt spawned by the birth of her third grandchild and her wild desire to have a baker’s dozen, lately she had been setting up dates for me like it was going out of style. In the last two weeks alone I’d been out with Harry Thomson, Tommy Dickerson, and now Richard Harrison. A financial planner, a tax lawyer, and now a CPA. Same guy, same pants, same brain. Tom, Dick, and Harry? Oh hell, no . . .

“So I said to the guy, if you want to roll over all of this into a 401(k) I’ll do that, but you’d miss out on the more attractive shelter over here! So what I proposed was—”

“Dick? Can I call you Dick?”

“Actually, I’d prefer Richard, but—”

“Dick, I’m going to stop you right here. This was a mistake.”

He looked crestfallen. “Darn it all, I knew we should have ordered the chicken fingers. This berretta cheese is a little too exotic for my taste too. Let me see if I can get our waitress and—”

He held up his hand for some help with his “berretta,” and I slapped mine on the table.

“It’s not the cheese, it’s not the restaurant, it’s not even you, Dick. It’s me. I should never have let my mother talk me into this.”

“Your mother is terrific. Great assets.”

“No more asset talk. I want to be romanced; I want to be swept away—I want something special, rare, passionate, out of the ordinary!” I replied, my voice rising as I got worked up. I leaned across the table. “I want someone who will sweep everything off the table, throw me across it, and ravage me to within an inch of my life. Can you do that, Dick?” I slammed down the rest of my Scotch, meeting his eyes in challenge.

“Passionate? Out of the ordinary?” He gulped, pulling at his tie. Then a strange look came over his face. “You mean like, in the butt?” he whispered with an exaggerated wink.

Oh. My. God.

“How we doing over here?” a cheerful voice asked, and I looked up into the face of our waitress.

“Dick needs some chicken fingers.” I sighed, taking a twenty out of my purse and setting it on the table next to my empty glass. I pushed back from the table, went around to his side, and patted him on the shoulder. “Sorry this didn’t work out.” The relief was so very evident on his face it was almost comical. He started to stand, and I waved him off as I grabbed my jacket and headed for the door.

Another one bites the dust. Or chicken finger, in this case.

As I shut the front door to my home, the silence was palpable. My shoes rang out dully against polished concrete, the lights low and a bit lonely. I peeled off my jacket, snickering once more when I thought of Dick’s face when I took it off. Tattoos were commonplace in this day and age, but there’s nothing like neck ink on a girl to make a guy in a suit blink. I shouldn’t snicker; he didn’t deserve total annihilation like that. Not over appetizers. I tamped the snicker down as I passed by the wall photo of my mom on my way to kitchen. “Sorry, Ma, but come on. Berretta?”

I may have snickered once more. Just the one.

Contemplating the effects tomorrow morning of having one more bump of Scotch tonight, and deciding the hell with it, I splashed a little more into a glass and leaned back against the counter. Polished concrete, like the floor. My home had an industrial feel to it: clean, uncluttered, orderly. Steel, chrome, blacks, and shades of—you know.

Along one wall was a line of pictures, all in black frames with black mattes. Spaced exactly three inches apart (above, below, and in between) were photos of my family. Five older brothers. Mom. Dad. All of us together.

It had been interesting, growing up. By the time my parents got around to having me, they were so used to football, hockey, and baseball, that into the jerseys I went, and never even entertained the idea of a dress. I wore dresses sometimes now, but they were the skintight-over-fishnets-and-combat-boots type. Courtney Love circa 1996. Without the smeared lipstick. Or the heroin.

Growing up with five older brothers meant that everyone in town saw me as one of the “Franklin Boys.” Something that became harder to lump me into when I developed serious lumps of my own when I hit puberty, but the fact that I ran around in ball caps and sweatshirts continued the myth. Following in my brothers’ footsteps also meant that I excelled at school, particularly math and science, taking calculus in tenth grade. Franklins are good at math and science, therefore as a Franklin, I was too. The hitch in the giddy-up was that I also loved art. Drawing, painting, you name it, I loved it. There’s a symmetry to drawing, an innate sense of placement and scale that appealed to my inner math geek. But between after-school sports and advanced placement college prep classes, it was a side that I didn’t have much time to explore.

And frankly wasn’t encouraged to explore. The family business was computers, and that’s what all of us were groomed for. And I followed suit—for a while.

Next to the framed pictures of my family was the single piece of artwork in the room, the only piece that was in color. Bold splashes of bright corals, cotton-candy pinks, soft curling puffs of white. April in Paris. I let my eyes follow the swoops and swirls of color, remembering what it felt like to spend my days in a studio in France. Heaven. A heaven that was a world and a computer software company away.

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