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This is my entry for this week of LJ Idol, Season 9. Please check out the entries of my fellow competitors and consider joining the therealljidol community. This week's topic was "Step on a crack."

"What's your connection to the groom?" the bride's father asked her at the wedding rehearsal dinner, and she froze, holding a fork-full of salad in front of her open mouth. Such a simple question, but she had no simple answer.

Nora let the fork continue its journey, chewing her iceberg slowly, nodding her head and making those "mmm" sounds that mean, "I'd love to answer your question, but I'm masticating some delicious greenery right now. Wow, it's really chewy. Maybe they cut down a forest or something?"

If God had been merciful, She would have distracted the bridal dad at that moment with a well-wisher, to talk his ear off about his lovely, intelligent daughter, or perhaps a serendipitous spitball sent from down the table, where the bride's teenage nephews laughed, gesticulating wildly as if driven to take up more space than their wiry bodies required. But God was messing with Nora.

"He's a friend of the family," she said, hoping that would be enough. It probably would have been, for anyone else, but he'd been drinking, and even though Nora had just met him, she could tell he was a rambunctious drunk.

He gave her the sort of nod that a police interrogator gives when he's not buying the suspect's story. Leaning across the table at her, he raised his voice just a little bit, attracting the attention of the bride's mom, who was seated two places down next to her new beau. "Your son's the ring bearer," he said, "so I thought you must be family. But you're telling me he's a friend. How do you know him?" With one hand, he hit the place mat, playing bad cop.

She could feel her face flushing, as she searched for an answer. Hopefully, she glanced down the table at her mom, sitting next to the groom's mom. But they were too far away to hear or intervene. Why hadn't she asked, before arriving, exactly what the bride had told her parents? She knew the bride was fully aware that her children would have two paternal grandmothers, but had she told them that? Or had Nora's mom simply been introduced as a "good friend"?

If Nora said the wrong thing, it wouldn't matter how supportive she'd always tried to be. It wouldn't matter that, when her mom had tearfully struggled to come out to her on a long car ride, she'd stuck a swamp-boot-clad foot on the dashboard and replied, "I know, Mom, and your daughter wears Army boots."

It wouldn't matter how many parties she'd attended with her mother's Women's Spirituality Group, chatting and swimming with all the lesbian couples to broadcast to her mom that she accepted them and, by inference, her.

It wouldn't matter how she'd held back the hurt when, during her own divorce, all her mom could talk about was her new girlfriend, the woman destined to be the love of her life. The woman whose son, all these years later, was getting married. He wasn't like family. He was family. But Nora wasn't allowed to say that.

The problem was that her mom's life partner, Lynn, held a Very Important Community Position. And this Very Important Position prohibited her from being honest about her choice of love. Or at least, that's what she told the family. Truly, Nora had always thought it was more than that. She'd never heard Lynn use the word "lesbian," and she suspected that maybe her mom's partner was still in her own special realm of denial, where keeping quiet about the "love that dared not speak its name" kept you safe from both societal repercussions and deep soul searching.

These, however, were not Nora's choices to make. She couldn't make such a proclamation for someone else, especially one that, should it come as a surprise, could poison family relationships for years to come. And looking into the red-rimmed eyes of bridal Daddy, she doubted he was the type to understand.

Finally, she found an answer that was not even a lie. "I know him through his mother," she said. And she went back to munching that all-consuming salad, hoping it would end with that.

He tried one more time, "But HOW do you know his mother?"

Then, God finally intervened, in the shape of the bride's mother, telling her ex to "Leave the girl alone. Can't you see she's trying to eat?"

For the moment, that was the end of the interrogation. For now, at least, she'd forded the danger and saved her mother -- and her mother's partner -- from whatever pain the truth might bring. But just in case, Nora made a mental note to stay away from the bride's dad for the duration of the wedding weekend, and to always keep a salad fork handy.

Speaking of family, kfp_rawr's Home Game entry this week is a homemade Thomas and Friends video that would make Gomez Adams proud.

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( 55 comments — Leave a comment )
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Apr. 21st, 2014 11:24 pm (UTC)
Awkward! As a child of a nontraditional family, I could definitely relate to the emotions here.
Apr. 21st, 2014 11:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Let's hope that someday family will just be considered family, no matter what.
Apr. 22nd, 2014 12:31 am (UTC)
It's quite different, but I know this kind of feeling. These days, I...things are in process so, am I married? My students ask questions like that. I say, "Yes" as the reality gets complicated.

Everyone wants to define others by relationships, when there are so many layers to who someone is.

I like how you wrote this :)
Apr. 22nd, 2014 12:36 am (UTC)
Exactly! And it's hard when there aren't clear answers, for whatever reasons, or when a family falls outside of the "accepted" definitions. Hang in there, and remember that you only have to reveal what you want to reveal to your students, and if that frustrates them it's really not your concern.

Thanks. I was hoping the approach would take it out of the "polemical" realm that could have made a straight-up essay boring.

ETA: After a lot of thought, it was also the only approach that I felt good about writing.

Edited at 2014-04-22 12:46 am (UTC)
Apr. 22nd, 2014 05:01 am (UTC)
It's always awkward when people have to beat around the bush for whatever reason, but you wrote it well, and I like that Nora was as honest as she could be about the relationship!
Apr. 25th, 2014 01:47 am (UTC)
Thank you! Yes, it is certainly an awkward position to be put in, especially for someone like Nora, who would rather not have to lie.
Apr. 22nd, 2014 01:21 pm (UTC)
This is really well written - you get the story successfully out between the dialogue.
Apr. 25th, 2014 01:48 am (UTC)
Thank you! I tried to remember to provide some detail, as well.
Apr. 22nd, 2014 01:52 pm (UTC)
That's an awkward situation!

You wrote this story well.
Apr. 25th, 2014 01:48 am (UTC)
Thank you! Definitely a very awkward situation.
Apr. 22nd, 2014 07:06 pm (UTC)
You wrote this really well- so that the awkwardness came right through!
Apr. 25th, 2014 01:49 am (UTC)
Thanks. That was the goal. Glad that came across.
Apr. 22nd, 2014 07:26 pm (UTC)
This was so intriguing. Was fully invested from start to finish!
Apr. 25th, 2014 01:49 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad to hear that it kept you reading. I wasn't sure it had enough action.
Apr. 22nd, 2014 08:44 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed this, especially the narration. I guess the lesson here is never eat salad at a wedding.
Apr. 25th, 2014 01:50 am (UTC)
If only the salad were the problem! Now that you bring it up, I wonder if he would have been easier on her if she'd eaten a hamburger. Glad that you enjoyed it.
Apr. 22nd, 2014 09:04 pm (UTC)
Super awkward! Poor girl. I never like those questions, it's like you have to have an acceptable way to be friends with someone.
Apr. 25th, 2014 01:51 am (UTC)
Right! Like you have to be tolerant of people's intolerance. Crazy, right?
Apr. 22nd, 2014 09:34 pm (UTC)
I like how you wrote this. The awkwardness came through really well.

Father of the Bride seems to be a bit of a bully.
Apr. 25th, 2014 01:52 am (UTC)
Good. That's what I was trying for. I'm glad his character came across and that the awkwardness did, too.
Apr. 22nd, 2014 10:49 pm (UTC)
I like how the info was slowly revealed. Nice descriptions. AW

Edited at 2014-04-22 10:49 pm (UTC)
Apr. 25th, 2014 01:52 am (UTC)
Thank you! I've been trying to remember to use more descriptions, because I tend to be a "no flowers" kind of girl. :)
Apr. 22nd, 2014 11:04 pm (UTC)
I thought this was going to end with Nora being an ex-girlfriend of the groom or something sexily nefarious, but you totally surprised me, and I liked the surprise. Well-done piece.
Apr. 25th, 2014 01:54 am (UTC)
Oh, cool! I like that it kept you guessing and that the ending came as a surprise. Makes you wonder what he really thought and why he kept pushing her: did he have a similar misconception?
Apr. 22nd, 2014 11:17 pm (UTC)
I can't even imagine the awkwardness of trying to give an acceptable answer to that. I'm glad you managed to avoid more questions.
Apr. 25th, 2014 01:55 am (UTC)
That sort of a situation is not one anyone should have to experience. Maybe in our lifetimes it will be a lot less of a "big deal."
Apr. 23rd, 2014 01:14 am (UTC)
I look where you went with the prompt. As a lesbian, I wouldn't want to be outed by someone else, but, at the same time, I definitely understand how difficult it would be if I chose to keep my life and my partner a secret.
Apr. 25th, 2014 01:56 am (UTC)
That's the rub. In order to respect her mom's wishes, Nora has to keep quiet about a huge aspect of her own life, as well. I'm glad that this came over as genuine to someone with direct experience; I was hoping that it would.
Apr. 23rd, 2014 07:02 am (UTC)
I like the last line, nice to end with some humor! I've known people in this situation, and it's a tough one for sure.
Apr. 25th, 2014 01:57 am (UTC)
Definitely! You know, I almost didn't write the last line, but then I thought that I really wanted a call-back to the opening. Humor seemed like the best approach to avoid coming off as preachy.
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