The Sunday Lunch
“Hey dad, I am back.” The girl called, letting herself and a dog into the house using her key.
“Hi Kate. I left a towel by the door for Bruno – I don’t want muddy footprints on the carpet if I can help it.” Her father called back to her from the kitchen. He continued to prepare his gravy for their meal.
His daughter poked her head around the door of the kitchen. She was in her early twenties, and like her mother was petite with Mediterranean looking skin. “I think I am going to need a bigger towel.”
Leaving his kitchen he walked to the hallway. His retriever ‘Bruno’ was waiting obediently, soaking wet, and apparently covered in green slime.
“What the hell did you do to him?”
“I didn’t do anything to him.” She replied irritably. “He was off his lead in the park, and caught sight of a bitch and jumped into the pond. I think he was showing off to her. Typical male.”
“Which one was it?”
“A brown lab.”
“Yes, he does get a bit giddy if he sees her, especially if she is in season.” He bent down to talk to the dog. “You are too old for her, mate. If you see a pretty bitch with a nice...” he glanced at his daughter, who looked disapproving of what he was about to say. “...tail, you need to settle down and just enjoy the view at your age.”
Bruno licked the father’s face, oblivious of the advice he was being given.
The father opened a closet and found a large old towel. He tossed it to his daughter. “Here – you better clean him up quickly – the roast is going to be on the table in 10 minutes.”
“Can’t you help?”
“I told you when you got that dog that he was your responsibility. Just because you left him here when you moved out doesn’t make him any less your dog.”
The girl grumbled, tossing the towel over the dripping mutt, whilst the father returned to his gravy.
“Ah, you are ready – is he presentable now?” the father asked, placing a steaming roast chicken on the table and pouring their wine. The dog was now sitting in his basket, looking drier if a bit dishevelled.
His daughter had been sitting in an armchair, but approached the table to sit down. She was wearing an expensive looking cardigan over a white blouse, and a pencil skirt that hugged her figure perfectly. He never failed to marvel how good she looked with seemingly so little effort – something else she inherited from her mother perhaps. He was so proud of her.
“So who is she?” his daughter asked.
“The new woman in your life?”
“What makes you say there is a new woman in my life?”
“You were singing in the kitchen, dad. Abba songs. It is such a giveaway. ‘Here I go again...’ - Please!”
“I could ask you the same question. You have a bit of a glow about you.” He retorted.
“I told you I was seeing someone new last Sunday.”
“You didn’t even tell me her name.”
“Now I know there is a new woman. You were singing Abba songs AND you avoided the question.”
She took some chicken and added it to her vegetables on her plate. Her father sighed – sometimes it seemed like he would never have even the tiniest bit of privacy. He had thought that when he had helped his daughter move into a flat of her own things would change. Admittedly there were no longer embarrassing incidents of walking in on each other with their respective lovers now, but even so – didn’t he deserve to keep this to himself for a little while? He sighed again. “You tell me yours, and I will tell you mine.”
She seemed just as annoyed at this compromise as he was. She had talked herself into this one, so it was difficult to refuse him now though. “Her name is Chrissy. She is 18...”
“A bit young for you?” he interrupted, instantly wishing he had kept quiet.
His daughter glared at him. “As I was saying, she is 18. She has not been in a relationship with a woman before, and she is petrified of anyone finding out. Hence my desire for privacy.”
“Do I know her?” he asked, pouring some gravy.
“No, I don’t think so.”
“And is it serious?” he tried to ask casually.
“By which you mean ‘are we having sex’. Yes, dad, we are having sex. Do you want me to draw a diagram?” she answered tetchily.
He ignored her tone. “You should invite her over next Sunday. Let me meet her.”
“To see if she meets your approval? You always hate my girlfriends. Besides, she isn’t ready to be seen by anyone else in a ‘gay’ context.”
“I don’t hate your girlfriends when I meet them. One or two I start to dislike after I get to know them.”
The father wondered how had this had turned into another argument about Cathleen. Kate and her girlfriend at the time ‘Cathleen’ had stayed over at his house together for a few days last Christmas. Cathleen was tall, beautiful, and had a lilting Irish accent. Kate had followed her around like a lovesick puppy – there was no question of who was the Alpha Female when she was in Kate’s bedroom. Worst of all, Cathleen had an infuriating line in sarcasm – when the three of them were watching a Christmas film together, the two women had started smooching on the sofa opposite him. He had ignored it, but when it progressed to something more sexual, he had suggested they continue in the privacy of their room. Cathleen had said something about thinking he was ‘enjoying the show’, and how he had avoided blowing his top with her he didn’t know.
“I just didn’t like the way she treated you. Especially when she dumped you.” He summed up.
“We decided to take a break, dad. It was a mutual thing.” Kate snapped.
The father took a deep breath. “Let’s not argue, love.” Kate shrugged.
“As I was saying, you could invite Chrissy as a friend – tell her that I don’t know you are gay.” They had done this a couple of times in the past with some success, although each time it had always been perfectly obvious that the new girlfriend and his daughter were an item.
“I already told her you know about me. I told her how good you were about me being gay when I came out to you – I was trying to get her to relax a bit.”
Her father smiled and accepted the compliment. “You didn’t exactly tell me though, did you?”
“I suppose not, but being ‘outed’ by my mother shrieking down the phone at you to ‘take this Jezebel out of my house’ was hardly an advert for tolerant parenting.”
“To be fair to your mother, it was a bit of a shock to find you like that with Alice. She thought you were doing homework, not... you know.”
“It was a bit of shock for us too.”
“Do you hear from Alice at all? It never seemed right that her parents made her change schools like that.”
“I saw her profile on Facebook a while ago, but she wouldn’t accept my friend request.”
Kate ate some vegetables then said “I wish you had taken me with you when you left mum.”
“You weren’t even 2 by then – that is no age to leave your mother, and I had no idea how to look after you – at least your mother had her family to support her.”
“And they were a right bunch of nutters.”
“You never even asked me if I would like to live with you, dad, not even when I was older. I just got a crummy visit to the zoo with you once a month.”
“I am sorry – that’s how things were back then.”
They paused their conversation to eat some more of their meal.
“Do you have a picture of this Chrissy girl? A clean one!” he joked. His daughter pulled a mobile phone from her pocket and thumbed through some pictures.
“Here.” She said, passing him her phone.
It was an uncomfortable truth that he and his daughter shared similar tastes in women. Slim, dark or red hair, usually small breasted, curvaceous hips, and a smile with personality. He looked at the picture on the phone and saw a beautiful young woman with short red hair, and wearing a low cut top at what looked like a nightclub. She was laughing into the lense. She had a smattering of freckles on her nose, neck and her cleavage. He didn’t hate his daughter’s girlfriends as she had asserted. He usually found them sexually attractive. As he had aged, he had started recognising that older women were also sexually eye-catching, and that at least he would have this appreciation for himself, but somewhat to his dismay, about a year ago his daughter had bought a girlfriend to Sunday lunch who was nearer to his own age than hers. That particular relationship seemed quite serious, coming as it did with a ready-made family of the woman’s two young daughters. Kate had been devastated when it had ended, and had sobbed onto his shoulder for an hour. He too had felt the loss – the two girls had treated him like an honorary grandfather, and he had discovered he rather liked it. Sadly, being unable to keep a relationship for more than six months was something his daughter must have inherited from him.
“Yes, she is cute.” He said in a non-committal way, passing back the phone.
“So now you know who is sharing my bed, you have to tell me who is sharing yours.”
The father sighed again. He hated this aspect of a new relationship, having to tell people who he was an item with now. Sometimes people didn’t already know he had split up with his previous girlfriend and he had to explain that too.
“It is early days yet, Kate.”
“She isn’t married is she?” his daughter asked suspiciously. A few years ago, he had been in an affair with a married woman and it had gotten a bit ugly.
“No. She was, but her husband died a few years ago in a motorcycle accident.”
“Do I know her?”
“I think her older son was in your year at school. Josh McInley.”
“Josh! You are shagging Josh’s mum! I know her! I thought she was well out of your league. Way to go dad!”
“You make it sound so... seedy....” he paused a moment. “How do you know Jane?”
“Josh had a bit of a thing for me at school... he kept asking me out, and I kept saying no.”
“For obvious reasons...”
“Yes, but he didn’t know that. Then I got an invite from his mum, to go to the coast with her, Josh and his little brother. I think she was trying to help Josh to ‘get the girl’. I accepted of course. Josh spent the day showing off and staring at my boobs in my bikini, and I spent the day staring at his mum’s boobs in hers. So now you are playing ‘hide the sausage’ with her. What on earth does she see in you?”
“Thanks for that. She is lonely. I had just split up from Anne...”
“Wow... I mean... Jane McInley, dad!” she paused and looked at him carefully. “You did use protection didn’t you?”
“I had the snip years ago. I don’t need to.”
“Dad, you are such a dinosaur. Protection isn’t just about birth control, it is about stopping diseases.”
“Jane hasn’t slept with a man since her husband died.”
“So her being desperate makes it alright, does it?”
“I don’t think I need to discuss that with my daughter.”
“Well, someone needs to look out for you!”
They sat a while longer completing their meal in stony silence, which the daughter finally broke. “So what do Jane McInley’s sons think of you screwing their mum?”
“They don’t know. Josh doesn’t live at home any more, and we made sure Ian isn’t around while we...” He looked for a delicate word.
“Fuck?” Kate contributed.
“Make love.” Her father insisted. “Jane doesn’t want Ian to know yet, so we are keeping it to ourselves.”
“You are her dirty little secret.” She teased.
“And you are Chrissy’s.” He countered.
Finishing his last mouthful, the father noticed an aroma. It was the unmistakable smell of ‘wet dog’. Bruno was no longer in his basket.
“Are you feeding Bruno from the table?”
The daughter’s guilty look was the reply.
“How many times have I told you about that? He will get bad habits.”
“He also stinks from that pond. You had better rinse him off.”
“But dad, I am going out straight after...” she whined, just as she did when she lived at home.
“When I got you that dog, I told you that you were responsible for him. Besides, he got in that state while you were looking after him.”
“Fine!” she stomped into the bathroom dragging Bruno by his collar.
The father started carrying the dinner things back to the kitchen to start the washing up, then heard a shout and Bruno barking. He rushed back to the bathroom.
“Are you ok?” he asked, bursting in to the bathroom.
“Look at me!” she said. She was dripping with green stained water. Bruno was standing, out of the bath, next to her, causing a wet puddle to grow beneath him. He shook himself, making both father and daughter wetter still.
“Fucking dog!” Kate shouted, nearly crying. “This top cost a fortune.”
“Is it new?” the father asked.
“This is the first time I have worn it.”
The cardigan was soaking wet and flecked with green slime.
“It will be fine after a wash. Give it to me.”
“I wanted to wear it today though!” she pulled the sodden garment from her arms and passed it to her dad. Although not stained green, her blouse underneath was wet as well, and Kate was unmistakably not wearing a bra beneath it. Of course he knew his daughter had breasts, but having them so obviously visible through the clinging, transparent material left him not knowing where to look.
“I am going to look like a bloody homeless person like this! Fucking dog!” Tears were rolling down her cheeks now.
“Come here love.” He held his arms open, and she accepted the hug. She was a confident, grown woman now. She had her own job, her own friends, her own flat, and her own sex life, but it always worried him when he saw her confidence drain from her so quickly. “I take it you are seeing Chrissy when you leave here?”
“Yes.” She said, muffled by his shirt. “She helped me choose the top last week. I wanted to model it for her.”
“And you are seriously are worried she may not want to get into your knickers if you don’t wear that top?”
“Sort of.” She sniffed.
“Trust me – I have being chasing pretty girls since before you were born. If you turn up looking like that, your knickers will last about three seconds.”
She looked up at him, wiping her eyes. “But I am not wearing any, dad.”
“What? You went to the park with Bruno like that? You will catch your death...”
“You are not too old to put across my knee you know. Trying to make me worry like that.”
“You are too chicken.” She laughed.
“You go off and see Chrissy now – I will sort out Bruno.”
“See if you can get her to come around next week.”
“I will try.” She answered, towelling herself off as best she could. “You see if you can get Mrs McInley to come over, but...”
Kate kissed him on the cheek, then whispered “Tell her to wear a low cut top.”
He smacked her bottom smartly as she scampered past him, causing her to yelp.
“Same time next week dad?” she called as she opened the front door to leave.