Last week was parent-teacher conferences and I had Grace, David and Spencer's teachers lined up in a row Thursday afternoon. At the end of talking with David’s first grade teacher, Mrs. Sims asked me if I had any questions as I turned to go. My hand was on the door knob when she said, “I hope your husband’s having fun."
I paused and turned to look at her. “Excuse me?”
“Your husband. I said I hope he’s having fun on his trip.”
“What trip?” I asked with that strange gaping feeling that I’m missing something that must be perfectly obvious to anyone else.
“His trip to Florida. He left last night.” She said this as if it were a statement made to a wife who must have blacked out the night before and lost track of her husband in the process.
I finally had to smile and admit that I had no idea what she was talking about. Now it was her turn to give me a puzzled look and she said, “David told me all about your husband’s trip to Florida. He said his Dad left last night at midnight and would be gone for two days.”
My mouth opened slightly as I turned that bit around in a quick mental 360. “He said my husband was on a trip?”
“You mean he’s not?”
“Not to Florida?”
“Not even to Florida.”
“Well he told me his Dad was going down to fish and when I asked him if it was for business or pleasure he told me that sometimes his Dad gets tired of his job and takes off a day or two and goes fishing to relax.”
I sat down at the closest desk and thought. I examined all aspects of this new information and wondered if somehow one of us was talking about a different David but then when that came up as an obvious negative I realized that no, my son--the cute one with the missing front two teeth--had just pulled off a Class A Fib.
She began to chuckle and let me know that David has filled her in on many of Andrew’s trips over the past two months and that she had greatly envied a man who had the luxury of taking off to Florida whenever The Man got under his skin. The irony of this conversation was heightened by the fact that Mrs. Sims had just finished mentioning how she couldn't believe half of what came out of her students' mouths, so her embarassment rivaled my own when she realized how thoroughly he'd hooked her.
During the drive home the only question in my mind was how could I confront David with this piece of information to gain the maximum level of discomfort on his behalf? It wasn’t difficult, I had filled Andrew in via phone and then that night during dinner when the conversation had magically turned to naming state capitols I innocently asked, “David what’s the capitol of Florida?”
He didn’t get it immediately so I casually took a bite, chewed thoughtfully and asked with a suggestion of hidden meaning to my voice, “Have you been to Florida lately?” I looked down at him out of the corner of my eye on my right. He'd stopped eating and was sitting there thinking hard. I could read his thoughts as if they were in little thought bubbles above his head.
Florida, Florida, Florida? Why does that sound so familiar?
She couldn't possibly be referring to that . . .
So he shook his head. I tightened the screws a bit and said, “How ‘bout you Andrew? Have you been to Florida lately?”
This time, I had him. He jerked his head up to look at me and I saw that whole transition of thought from Playing it Cool into Raw Animal Fear.
Oh my gosh she knows!
And his chubby face grew pale and his eyes grew wide and his fork dropped as he realized that somehow, somewhere he’d been caught. At first he thought about denying it and saying that he’d meant to tell Mrs. Sims that it was another trip, another month, another father, anything to ameliorate the circumstances in which he was now trapped but realized it was hopeless. I have to say I got a great deal of satisfaction in twirling him over the pit for that second or two before telling him we’d be taking the matter up after dinner when there would be no witnesses to what awaited him.
Funny thing is, as a family we had had a detailed discussion at the beginning of the school year about cheating and dishonesty and what constituted being completely honest. I guess we didn’t make clear that little part about making up parallel universes and passing them off as reality. I guess we should be glad, he could have told his teacher his parents are dead or something equally horrible and at least he's wishing Andrew the best. And after all, who wouldn't like a week of fishing in Florida?
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