Mirandas fiancé, George, possessed the emotional
availability of a deepwater squid. Although he had once been employed as a high
school algebra teacher and drama coach, George was better known, at least at
Harrys Pub and Grill, as That Navy Seal Commando. Within
Mirandas boudoir, though, his appellation continued to be That
George had seen more quadratic equations and misshaped costumes
than he had witnessed aquatic exploits. His aunt, an assistant federal clerk,
had ranked as enough of a bureaucrat to insure that her sisters boy saw
no action. Not incongruously, always, mere moments after George had finished
the deed, he fell immediately to sleep, leaving Miranda to
contemplate just why George was sharing her pillows.
When not being comforted by a marijuana haze, George busied
himself with a part-time job selling cards and CDs at a local gift store and
with trying to figure out new ways to stuff a months worth of laundry
into a pillowcase. The proprietor of his neighborhood laundromat gladly cleaned
Georges socks and tighty whities whenever George bothered to
haul them to that establishment.
As for the professor, Georges girl, she was
preoccupied with trying to extricate herself from an inherited scandal of
sorts. She had ten days to remove all traces of her father from a school-owned
Dad had taught at the same institute as did Miranda until
becoming lethally yellow from liver failure, which Miranda attributed to
Dads incessant fondness for Jack Daniels, for cream doughnuts and for
fried calamari. Dad had agitated their school over a plethora of issues, the
least of which had been complaining undergraduates and an annoyed dean.
There had been troubles with Dads favorite graduate
assistant, the girl with whom he slept when being divorced by Mom. There had
been troubles with the family business, which marketed pens and ski caps on
campus and which, eventually, had to be taken over by Uncle Ralph. There had
been, most of all, trouble with the university-owned house issued to Dad.
Shortly before his demise, the university had informed Dad of
its intention to reclaim that unit. An incoming, ivy class professor had
insisted upon looking out at cedars while smoking cigars. He had overtly
coveted Dads nest and the two university-owned acres upon which it
Dad, however, had rejected the compensatory three bedroom split
level, on half of an acre, within a nearby suburban development. Whats
more, he balked loudly.
The school owed him for his four decades of ceaselessly guiding
new faculty and spearheading community relations efforts. Plus, there was that
matter of the semantics journal he had founded. Few of the colleges
employees had brought to life a publication which had earned and retained such
scholarly ranking. As far as Dad was concerned, there would be no relocation.
The administrators answered bluntly. Dad was given a new set of
behaviors from which to choose; either he could elect early retirement and its
associated loss of faculty housing or they could broadcast their knowledge that
the footnotes for Dads opus on urban rhetoric had been forged. The
universitys management was tired of having to negotiate with doctoral
candidates stung from Dads rough remarks about their research and who,
accordingly wanted to slap the school with sexual harassment suits. The
universitys executives had paid fifteen women, over as many years, to
forget about Dads deeds.
The school and the elderly professor never settled. Rather than
acquiesce, Dad died.
Consequently, Miranda found herself sorting through her
fathers bottles, crusted dishes and borrowed research. She
would have preferred to have spent her time facing down rapid hedgehogs.
In addition, George, that man-critter of strange design,
provided little help. Every time Miranda asked him to take a bag to the curb,
to call a charity to pick up a few boxes, or to sweep out a closet, he
countered with a request for his favorite food, for a back rub, or for some
couples time. He forgot to lower the toilet seat and to load the
soap in the dish washer, too. His greatest contribution to his gals
efforts was the quasi-entertaining diatribe he spoke to a stuffed pink and
yellow tiger perched atop an empty bookcase.
While sliding Dads cellphone and laptop into a suitcase,
Miranda readjusted her dungarees, out of which her belly was starting to
protrude. She sent her future husband down the block to the university. He
could scout her office for rubber bands and other useful devices, while she
debated the sagacity of telling him she was pregnant.
George smiled beatifically. Miranda, though emblematic of gender
liberation, would remain unequal to him in aptitude. She was fortunate that
such a do-gooder as himself had appeared in her life; she was, after all, the
product of a broken home.
Miranda shook her head as her babys father jagged down the
sidewalk. It was probably wise to stay coupled. George was not attractive or
even smart, but his aunt was connected to useful people. As Dad had
demonstrated, there was more than one way to acquire academic standing.