Book Creative Writing

Book Excerpt: A Week in the Life – Chapter 3

Steak Dinner

THREE

Don’t feel bad if you don’t know much about me so far. Not many people do. But really, how many people really know you? And I don’t mean knowing things about you; I mean someone, anyone, who knows YOU. In and out.

I’ll wait.

Or I won’t because I have a bad attention span.

Oh, look! A squirrel!

Diane doesn’t know me. She thinks she does, but it’s not her fault. We all wear masks, pretending who we are as we pass each other. She doesn’t know I once sold my sister’s bra to Billy Culpepper back in 6th grade. She’s practically sleeping with a stranger.

What a hussy!

Diane’s parents definitely don’t know me. They barely tolerate me. Tolerate is actually a strong word. They slightly less than care about me. I’m like a fly in a room with no swatter; they’d rather not have me around, but they’re willing to wait me out until I fly back out an open window. The feeling is more than mutual.

Funny, I say her parents when I really mean her dad. Mrs. Pringle is more the type to be entranced by pretty lights.

Hmm, 5:22. Right on time.

“Damn it, John, you’re late.”

“Yeah, but I brought my shining personality.”

I give her a kiss because it’s what normal couples do, right?

Everything in Diane’s apartment is perfect. She’s one of the most premeditated people I’ve ever met and I’m absolutely pleased she’s not a super villain because she’d always be one step ahead of me. Always. You don’t understand; this woman has sex sheets. And by that I mean we change the sheets before we have sex (yes, she forced this ridiculous practice on me in my own home and, no, my balls are no longer mine) and we change them back after we’re done.

Fun times. Fun times.

Almost as fun as having dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Pringle.

And doilies. Ladies and gentlemen, we have doilies.

I feel Mr. Pringle’s impatient gaze before I even set foot into the dining room. Maybe I can win him over with my boyish charm.

“Hey M-“

“Glad you could finally make it, John. The food shouldn’t be too cold.”

Damn it. How was he able to resist? He’s good. Real good.

Quick, fake a mournful look. Then an apology. Then a smile. Try the boyish charm thing again.

“Yeah, I’m really sorry, Mr. Pringle. Work had me ki-“

“I’m pretty hungry. Is anyone else hungry? I’m sure you are, John, with all your work and such.”

Tough crowd.

“Now, Dad,” Diane says while placing a dish of flank steak and crispy onions on the dinner table. She’s a weirdo about what we have sex on, but the woman can cook her narrow little ass off.

Mrs. Pringle chimes in with, “Who wants to say grace?”

Useless, useless woman.

A rare twinkle emerges in Mr. Pringle’s eye as he suggests, “John.”

What a shock.

These people have no clue that I don’t believe in god. Their food is about to be blessed by the words of a heathen. I hope you find it delicious, Mr. Pringle.

“God, thank you for blessing us with this food and good company.”

“That was really creative, John,” Mr. Pringle states flatly.

Good company, indeed.

I wonder how long I have to wait until I can make an excuse to leave. Mr. Pringle will hate me either way, so why not make an exit as quickly as possible? Because Diane makes damn good flank steak and I like eating. Sometimes a little too much. Don’t judge me or my waistline.

“Babe, your cooking is great as always.” Who doesn’t like a compliment?

Mr. Pringle barely glances up from his plate and says, “Yes ‘babe’, it’s delicious.”

Assholes don’t like compliments.

Screw the flank steak; I need to think of an exit strategy. I already used work as an excuse for being late so maybe it can be my way out as well.  If I can subtly send my buddy Chase a text message saying to call me, I can pretend it’s a call from my boss and-

“So, John, you and Diane have been dating for a few years now. Have you given any thought to your future together?”

God damn it.

Mrs. Pringle, why would you do this to me? After all those times I pretended to be interested in your opinions on kitty litter and applesauce. Mind you, those two things were being discussed in the same conversation.

“Mom, do we really have to discuss this now?” Diane with the save! Way to come through!

“Yes,” Mr. Pringle said with a renewed vigor, “I’m curious as well.”

God. Damn it.

Engage bullshit mode.

“Well, I think right now Diane and I both have professional goals we want to achieve before we take our next step in life. Once we decide we’re ready to make that next step, you’ll be the first to know.”

“Very detailed plan you have there, John,” Mr. Pringle says while diverting his attention back to his food.

And another failure. I’m seriously going to tell this guy to go to hell if he keeps this up.

Whatever. Maybe if I keep my head down and continue shoveling food into my gullet, I can avoid any future interrogation sessions. And don’t make eye contact; that’s a sure-fire way to provoke the cold-blooded Mr. Pringle.

As much as I hate to admit it, there may be a teeny tiny, somewhat legitimate reason as to why he seems to have it in for me. You see, I first met Diane’s dad over four years ago, and while he was still a passive aggressive old goat, in retrospect, I could see how he was doing his best to at least play along with his daughter’s significant other.

The key phrase is “in retrospect.”

At the time, I thought he was simply emotionless, but at least he could maintain some semblance of semi-confrontational small talk. But of course, being the occasional idiot I am, one afternoon after brunch with her parents, I texted Diane…

u kno the best thing about small talk with ur dad is that teh conversations arent long enuff for his coffee breath to knock me out lmao =P

I then received a text saying…

You should watch what you text when your girlfriend is showing her father pictures on her phone.

And here we are today.

I’ve tried apologizing; trust me I-

“John! Have some respect when someone is addressing you.”

Damn it.

“Sorry, Mr. Pringle. I was just thinking about, um…”

“Right. Diane, I believe your mother and I will take our leave.”

“Dad, no! We’re trying to have a nice dinner!”

Nice is a strong word.

Mr. Pringle promptly removes his napkin from his lap and begins walking toward the front door while Mrs. Pringle shovels a couple spoons of garlic mashed potatoes before following suit. Makes me wonder if that type of behavior is trained because of the number of dinners Mr. Pringle left while in a huff. She must be famished.

“Goodbye, hun. I’ll call you later once the rest of your company has left.”

I suppose he’s referring to me.

A Week in the Life
Chapters 1 and 2

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