Open House

The generic wash of the soft jazz suited the party. Faces she didn’t know chattering indistinctly between gulps of cheap red wine. She couldn’t even get a shot of Jamesons. No mercy in this place.

Jasmina only agreed to come because her daughter, Frances, was going out with their son. Gorgeous idiot that he was, she still made it clear to Fran that this favor would require ample payback. She did not mingle. She did not chat.

Jasmina wedged herself into the vintage couch in such a way that getting up to socialize would be a physical challenge. Still, a mousy woman scooted over with a pâté plate and two small cups of red wine. She stuffed a huge wad of cocktail napkins into her pocket as she flopped down next to her on the couch. Jasmina pretended to be on her phone in the hopes that the lady would ignore her and eat her food quietly. She did eat-smacking and dropping chunks on the couch-all while asking if Jasmina wanted any. She politely declined and decided it was time to talk to the hosts. It was the only way she could get out of there and be sure to get credit with Fran.

She edged through the guests in the living room and made her way over to the kitchen. Sure enough, Bob and Marsha were holding court around the massive island. She waited for a break in the discussion about porcelain versus ceramic tiles, but it seemed to be a topic Marsha had quite a few opinions about. Opinions that lasted ten minutes with no break, not even for a sip of wine. Jasmina sat down and observed as Bob silently nodded and grinned while Marsha told the other two couples exactly why they should follow her advice if they were to renovate. “Trust me,” she declared before finishing, “You don’t want to know the agony of having to re-tile.” “The agony of having to sit through this.” That is all Jasmina could think as she built up the nerve to stand up and say her hello and goodbye.

At last, she stood up and forced her way over to the island, only to see Marsha swish out of the kitchen with a fresh plate of appetizers. Bob stayed behind, exhaling just a bit in what Jasmina took as a sign of relief. “Bob. Guess we won’t go with the ceramic, huh? I’m Fran’s mom, Jasmina. Just wanted to to say hi and thank you for having me.” She stuck out her hand and Bob laughed politely and shook it with the kind of weak grip her father would have made fun of. “I’m just the wallet, here. Glad you could make it. Fran is a delightful kid.” “Thank you. I’m just the mom, here.” Bob smiled and told her he needed to grab some more drinks out of the garage. She took this as the sign she was waiting for: she could duck out and go home. She turned on her heel and rushed over to the foyer and grabbed her purse. She couldn’t wait to get home, have a few shots and just melt into her bed.

© 2022 Jeff E. Brown. All rights reserved.

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