Saturday, August 1, 2015

Good Enough

"I'd like you to meet my parents," Brittany said, sitting across from me at the oak-shaded picnic table. We'd strolled to the park, only a block away from our building, for a picnic lunch on this warm, sunny afternoon.
I smiled at her. What a gorgeous, blue-eyed redhead she was.
I couldn't believe she was so interested in me she wanted me to meet her parents.
"Are you going to tell them about us before we make the trip? We've been together, what, maybe two months now?"
Brittany studied the paper plate in front of her: hotdog, potato salad, beans, and chips. Like my plate. Then she looked at me and bit her full, luscious bottom lip. "I think we'll surprise them."
I puffed out a sigh. "I'm not sure that's a good idea."
Here's the deal. Brittany and I are from different worlds. I'm a blue-collar guy—a mechanic who owns his own garage and tow truck. I also have three other mechanics working for me. At age twenty-eight, I'm doing well. CENTRAL AUTO SERVICE. But Brittany's a paralegal, on her way to becoming a lawyer. We met when she brought her ailing car in to be serviced and I got it running again like it was new. As a bonus, we discovered we lived in the same apartment building, she on the fourth floor, me on the seventh. What can say? Chemistry took over.
The thing is, I work in coveralls and steel-toed work boots and come home grimy and greasy, smelling of exhaust. She wears dress, blouses, skirts, and heels and smells of flowery perfume. My hands are thick, gnarly, and calloused, nails grimy. Hers are dainty, soft, and beautiful, nails painted. She doesn't seem to mind our differences, but what will her folks think?
Brittany's parents lived two hours away. I suggested we take her car, a sporty little red sedan, but she said my old pickup was fine. I said I'd wear my finest pair of slacks, a shirt with a collar, and my shiny black loafers. She said my baseball cap, a T-shirt, jeans, and my cowboy boots would be okay. She wanted her folks to see the real me.
Oh man!
See, the other thing is that from what Brittany has told me about her folks, I'm sure elegance surrounds them. They're retired doctors living in a gated community. I'm also sure they expect their only child—the most beautiful girl in the world—to snag a guy who is sophisticated and smooth, someone with a great job, and even better prospects. Like a junior partner in a well-established law firm.
I'm none of the above.
On Saturday, Brittany called her folks early in the morning, asked if she could come for lunch, and said she had someone important she wanted them to meet.
I sat at her kitchen table and flashed a big grin. "I'm important? Me? Levi Jones? I feel honored. But why did you wait so long to call?"
"I didn't want to give them time to plan anything. Like invite a mysterious stranger over to the house for me to meet." She made an adorable pouty face. "That's happened before."
"Ahh! I understand."
After we'd driven out of town, headed across county in my pickup, Brittany at my side dressed in white shorts and a red top, she said, "You don't need to be nervous, you know?"
But I was a bundle of nerves, my fingers continually flexing on top of the steering wheel. "Look, I'm not what your folks are expecting."
I glanced at her. Her chin lifted. "What do you think they expect?"
"Someone older. Someone with an education, well-spoken, and well-established. Big bank account."
"Well," she said, "they'll have to settle for a hunk with curly black hair and a wicked sense of humor—a guy who is kind, generous, and gentle? A guy named Levi."
An ear-to-ear grin raced across my face, and my chest exploded with pride. "You talking about me?"
Brittany laughed and playfully fist-bumped me on the shoulder. "Who else?"
After the guard at the Crestwood Community gate let us by and I parked in front of her parents' palatial residence, I gulped and thought I might lose my nerve. I cannot do this! I said to myself. But Brittany flung her arms around my neck. "Look, everything will be fine." She kissed me quickly. "Just because I'm in love with you doesn't mean my folks have to be."
My breath caught. That's the first time in our two months together either of us had mentioned the L-word.
"Love?" I said, bewildered but happy.
"Love! Don't you just love the sound of the word? L-O-V-E!"
"I do! I love it!"
"Well," Brittany said, kissing me again, then reaching for her door handle. "Let's see if my parents are good enough for you."

The End
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