Monday, January 30, 2012
Taking a stand
Rob and Celia are preparing to move into a new house along with her mother. They are caught in a minor power struggle between the two of them over whose job it is to manage Mom as, yet again, Celia looks to Rob to intervene.
“I needed your help there,” Celia was saying. “I’ve been trying to get her off my back all evening about the boy or girl thing.” Rob and Celia had chosen not to find out the sex of their baby, but Mom could not let it go. Tonight, the reason to know had to do with decorating, and while Celia agreed it might be easier, she was also happy with yellows and greens. Why could Mom not just accept that? It just didn’t matter!
“I can’t manage every little thing that goes on between you,” Rob said. His voice had an edge and Celia could see him looking around the Starbucks where he worked to make sure no one could overhear them. “Especially here.”
Rob looked up to greet the next patron who walked in while Celia stepped back so Rob could take their order.
She watched him smile and chat amiably with the customers as he made their coffees. He looked tired, which was understandable given two jobs, buying a house and dealing with a pregnant wife—not that she considered herself that much of an extra burden – but watching him now, Celia wondered if part of Rob was glad to be at work if only to be free from worrying about everything else.
When the customers had left Celia stepped back up to the counter and opened her mouth to say as much, when Rob looked her in the eye and picked up on the previous conversation in the same edgy tone. “I can only do so much at once,” he said. “ I need your help.” He turned around and filled two cups with hot water and grabbed a pair of tea bags. “So please go sit down with your mother,” he said, unwrapping the bags and putting them in the water, “and tell her that we will all find out if it’s a boy or girl in about four months. And tell her the tea’s on me.” He looked up and smiled.
Celia smiled back and took the tea back to the table.
“Really, I don’t know why anyone would want a boy,” Mom said. “I wouldn’t have known what do to with a boy. I’m glad I had girls, and my mother had girls, and”—
“Mom,” Celia said, keenly aware that Rob’s eyes were on her. “We will know in May.”
“Oh, I know, but”—
“Mom.” Celia said, raising her voice. “Please stop talking about whether it’s a boy or girl. It is duly noted that you’re disappointed. But it’s your job to live with that.”
Celia watched as tears welled up in her mother’s eyes. She resisted the urge to take back everything she said and sat silently, glancing up at Rob. I love you, he mouthed.
I love you too, she answered with her eyes.
She turned back to her mother.
What does Celia say?