Courtney hadn’t seen her mother in almost a year and a half. It’s the sacrifice you make when you move from one coast to the next to pursue a job, or in her case, a relationship. That whole thing had blown up in her face. two years after the big move from upstate New York to southern California. She hadn’t been back home since she jumped ship moved up to San Francisco. Soon thereafter, Courtney gave way to the pangs of loneliness and got back on the dating scene.
The interrogation began over breakfast the first morning of her visit.
“I’ve been held in suspense for more than a year now. You’re dating, right?” her mother said, biting into a strawberry.
Courtney had only been seeing Brad for two months, not long enough, she thought, to tell her mother about. Here in her childhood kitchen, standing face-to-face with the woman for the first time in a year and a half, she figured it she owed it to her.
“Kinda sorta, yeah,” she said, looking down at the bagel she was slicing.
Her mother let out an exaggerated sigh of relief. “Anyone exclusive?”
“Yeah, I mean,” she’d halved it and moved to the toaster, “there’s this guy, Brad.”
“Courtney! Spill. You know I’m surrounded by men in the house, deprived of gossip, and I dare not read that those smutty novels all the other women my age devour. Plus, your brother hasn’t brought any girls around yet.”
He daughter scoffed. “Francis is 11. And his name is Francis. I think you’ll be waiting awhile,” she said, laughing.
“All the more reason I rely on you,” her mother said, smirking, “now spill. How’d you meet?”
The toaster sprung.
“Well, Mom, actually, we…we met on the phone,” she went for a plate and dropped the halves atop.
“Oh, wait, let me guess. It was when you were doing that stint in sales. This guy Brad was on the other end of the last of a week-long string of dead-end cold calls, and after a few minutes he stopped you to wax poetic about the way your voice sounded, said that it was so ironic he happened to be in San Francisco for the weekend, and told you he would just be heart broken if you didn’t agree to meet him for a romantic dinner?” She was out of breath, patiently waiting for her daughter’s response.
Courtney looked at her mother, radiating disbelief. She really had been deprived of romance, hadn’t she? “Not exactly, Mom,” she said. “See, we met on the phone,” Courtney paused, hearing feet shuffle from the living room.
A pudgy mass, covered with an oversized tee shirt and sweat pants trotted to the jar of chocolate-covered pretzels that sat on the corner of the kitchen counter and lifted out three pieces.
“What’s happening, little brother? That breakfast?”
Sticking a pretzel in his mouth, Francis turned to face his sister. He grinned wide, crumbs tumbling onto his shirt. “Oh, you know, just eavesdropping,” he said and swallowed. “Eavesdropping and wondering how long it’ll take you to tell Mom you met this Brad guy on Tinder.”