Oh my God. I can't believe it. My sociological clock is ticking. I want a baby. Now, I've always liked kids (OK, when I was a kid, they were pretty shitty), but I'd always said that it was because they weren't mine. But I was just trying to be funny. I just love children. I don't know if it's that perpetuating the circle of life thing or their innocence or the sense of wonder they possess. I just love the little buggers.
I just hadn't realized the urge to have one of my own was so strong. It was always “a couple years from now” with Samara. I agreed. We couldn't afford one. She had her acting. I had my writing. We just didn't have the time nor the means. Now I don't care. Siobhan made me realize that. She's such an adorable, little thing. You can't help but fall in love. Her moms on the other hand…
Yanely's red Mini Cooper pulled up around noon. Run, nigger, run was echoing in my brain. But I stayed put and opened the door. Kevin was right. I am Catholic. I'd never really had a one-night stand. It wasn't like I've been willing to marry every woman I've ever slept with—like Pops had advised. I've just had to always wear a sports coat or tie with my casual sex. I could never hit it and quit it, like Kev. Or graze on chickenheads. That kind of conduct was more for the dog species of the male kingdom.
Something I never wanted to be. My dad was a dog, and I knew what kind of pain that could cause. The humiliation. And I never wanted to be the source of so much hurt. But looking back on it and on the horrible afternoon I'd just had with Yanely, I realize now that I'd been fooling myself. Granted, I'd never had a one-nighter. But how much better was the two-night, three-night, or four-week stand? Or just because I'd stay a little while, did it make it any better? And what the hell were fuck buddies like Mayrav? Just another way to have fun and not commit and to sit imperiously in the amen corner when my women friends would testify to the sins of my brothers. I was never like that.
I mean hell, I knew from the moment I met Yanely I didn't want a future with her. She's too young. We have nothing in common. But it was my wedding night, I was drunk and depressed, and I just wanted to have a little fun. I'm pretty sure she didn't want a future with me, either. It was just a good time to have. There was no way it could be more. Why couldn't I just let it be that? There were no professions of love. No deception on anybody's part. There was absolutely no reason for me to feel guilty. Yet, I did. I probably always will. And sleeping with Yanely one more time wouldn't change that.
But a brother had to try, right? :)
My heart wasn't in it, though. It's just that the world is so different sober. My vision was no longer blurry and frayed. She wasn't as attractive as I'd remembered. Not Strobe light Honey territory, but still … Not like I minded so much, though. It's not like anybody has ever confused me for a Playgirl model. And I would never cringe with having her on my arm. Besides, I always hated it when guys dissected women into meat like they were Kobe steak. Like that three hundred-pound slob who's not on anybody's offensive line, talking about, “Yeah, she'd be kinda cute if she lost a coupla pounds.” Yanely, though, had a layer of frost on her that chilled me to the bone. It was probably the stench from the rotted cheese that was apparently my face to her. She was probably thinking, Damn, I was trying to hook up with Kevin and I got this , instead. I need to stop drinking.
Her daughter, on the other hand, was all warmth. All smiles. She was a lot lighter than her mother with incredibly blue eyes. I was taken aback.
“Her father's Irish,” Yanely said icily, pulling on a Marlboro Light. “So, where did you want to go again? Coffee, right?”
“Actually, I was thinking about the zoo.”
“Ooooh, Mommy, could we?!”
Youbastardsonofabitchcocksucker, Yanely's eyes said to me. Damian, fake a headache, heart attack, gunshot wound, and let's get outta here, my head said to me. But where was I going to go?
“The zoo's open? It's like, November.”
“That's the advantage of living down here. It's warm enough to stay open ‘til December.”
“So, can we go, Mommy?”
Infinity ticked by as Yanely and I looked at each other. Finally, she looked down at Siobhan with a smile. “Sure we can, sweetie.”
“I'll drive,” I volunteered.
“No, I got it.”
Siobhan squealed in delight and grabbed my hand to lead me to Lord knows where. Yanely grabbed her jean jacket tighter to her voluptuous frame and trudged forward.
Lions and tigers and bears. Siobhan loved them all. She looked at everything with wide-eyed wonder. She was so full of exuberance and curiosity. I was actually excited, and I hate zoos. I had no clue animals could be so fascinating—outside of being medium rare on my dinner plate. “What's that?!” “A porcupine.” “What's that?!” “A lemur.” “What's that?!” “A red panda.” “Pandas aren't red. They're black and white.” “Well, it's not really a panda. They just call it that.” “That's stupid.” “Tell me about it.” But she didn't like elephants.
“I don't like elephants.”
“Why's that, Siobhan?”
“They probably think you smell, too.”
“Nuh-uh. I took my bath today.”
One of the elephants seemed to trumpet in dissent. It looked like she wanted her kid off her teats. Yanely gave a look of sympathy.
“See. You know what it said?” I asked Siobhan.
“It said, ‘Get that smelly Siobhan away from me. She stiiiinks .”
“It did not.”
“I'm telling you. That's what it said. I know. I speak Elephant.”
“You do not,” she gasped.
I stepped back and gave the best elephant call I could, spraying spit to the four winds. Siobhan laughed. Even Yanely smirked. Mama elephant seemed to shake her head in reply.
Siobhan was all laughs. “You're silly.”
If this girl was a terror, she definitely left the horror flick at home. She grabbed my and her mother's hands, and we walked on through the bright, autumn day. Yanely was warming up, smoking less and less, and really seemed to be enjoying herself. We found ourselves smiling more and more at each other. We were looking like one, big, happy, blended family. Onlookers were probably baffled about how the brown Mexican and black black dude had a virtually white kid. But we didn't seem to be minding. We were just basking in Siobhan's joy, and I was wondering if it made any sense to date a woman out of affection for her daughter.
“Wow! Look at those!”
“They're so pink! Why isn't that one pink?!”
“She's too young. See, flamingoes eat stuff with things called car-o-te-noids that make them turn pink. When that one grows up, eating that stuff, she'll be pink, too.”
“If I eat car-car-car-noids, will I grow up and be pink, too?”
“Sure. You can be Pink Siobhan, Super Hero. You can fly through the air and beat up bad guys.”
“I hate bad guys.”
“Me, too. Let's go get ‘em.” I picked her up and flew her through the air. She giggled all the way to the car, where she promptly fell asleep.
We drove back—mainly in silence—with Maná playing in the background. The sheen of the day quickly lost its luster, and a tension settled in the Mini. Conversation spasmed for a few minutes and quickly died. Yanely pulled up to my place with a deep exhalation.
“Well, thanks for a really cool day, Damian,” she finally said. “I really enjoyed myself.”
“Yeah. Me, too. Siobhan's a great kid.”
“I see she's got you fooled.”
I don't know. She is the girl's mother. Clearly, she knows the child better than I do. But I found it hard to believe that that little darling was Bad Seed material.
“Well, yeah,” I hedged. “Let's do it again some time.”
Yanely's bronze face darkened. “Yeah, well…”
“Her father's back in the picture,” she confessed, in one, quick breath.
“Well, he's always been in the picture. I moved up here ‘cause a him. But he'd moved out on Friday.”
Wow, you don't waste any time.
“But he came back this morning. Said he wants to work things out. He's a real prick, you know. I don't even know if I want him in our lives. But what can I do? He is Siobhan's father. You … you understand, don't you?”
I tried to hide my glee under a show of disappointment. This was really a situation I wanted no parts of. “Yeah. Of course, I do, Yanely,” I said, chin dramatically low on my chest.
“Good,” she exhaled deeply, and offered up a tearful smile.
“Well, good luck with that.”
I gave her a peck on the cheek and bound out the car. My steps were really too light on the way to the porch. I heard her annoying, little horn, and turned. Yanely was vigorously puffing on a cigarette. The car whipped around. Little Siobhan whipped around with it, waving enthusiastically until they were out of sight.
Damn, I'm gonna miss that kid.