You Can’t Choose Them

Simon was racing down the street, his tie flapping in the wind. He wasn’t smiling as he usually was. The corner store was about to close and his girlfriend of about a year would not receive a Valentine’s gift. Simon threw off his pin striped blazer and reached for his tie. As he pulled it from his neck he felt his toe hit something solid and his face met the sidewalk with a smack. His high prescription glasses snapped and part of the plastic penetrated the side of his head. Without a flinch, he ripped the shard out of his head releasing many drops of blood. The glasses landed with a click. Throwing his tie to the ground, he breathed heavily and began to run again. He reached the store at 2 minutes until closing. He leapt through one of the store’s windows mistaking it for the automatic double doors. More blood was shed but he didn’t feel the pain. Simon got off his knees and sprinted to the blurry red blots that he understood as flowers. There were only roses and he felt them to be cliché so he sprinted to the chocolates. He checked out with a box of Ferrero Rocher and a large teddy bear hugging a heart. Security appeared just as he was running out the door. He didn’t look back because he thought it would waste time and that’s when he smacked the ground for the third time. A security guard rugby tackled him to the ground. It was the guard’s first day on duty and he was extremely excited to take down his first culprit. Simon was infuriated. He fisted the guard’s face and as he was stunned, body slammed him with all his weight. He left the guard, swiping his items as he did and jumped out a different window of the store. Simon had a reason for going through all this trouble for a girl. It was not because this was his first girlfriend. The reason was that this girlfriend was the one of his dreams. Simon caught the closest bus in his nebulous sight and out of excitement hopped up and down on his toes throughout the ride home. Upon arrival he was welcomed with the smell of his favorite Thai food. He languorously strolled into the kitchen to find Lindsey in pajamas, seductively holding a box set of Stargate Atlantis. She adored the gifts he bought and they snuggled up to watch the entire first season. The following Saturday was probably the most influential day in their so far perfect relationship. It was time, Simon thought for Lindsey to meet his parents. He had planned a dinner

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with them and ignoring his pleads, they invited the entire extended family (eighteen people). All of this was simply to see Simon’s girlfriend.

Simon’s parents arranged a grand buffet for dinner. Lindsey was scavenging shrimp and other small appetizers when Aunt Nina snuck right up beside her. “So how is he in the bedroom?” “Umm excuse m-” “Oh come on. He’s small isn’t he?” Lindsey looked up from the shrimp slightly, as if suddenly realizing something. “I knew it,” Nina walked away. Simon was at the far end of the buffet gathering salad on his clean plate when Grandma Lily put her hands on his shoulders. “My boy, my boy, you finally found yourself a girl.” “Hey Grandma, how are you doing?” “How am I doing? I’m seventy-nine and expecting grandchildren before I die. This girl better be a keeper because I don’t have much time left. Did you know the life expectancy for a woman in Toronto is 80?” “Haa alright Grandma,” Simon patted her on the back as he inched away. The family assembled at the massive mahogany dinner table with their collections of food. Simon and Lindsey sat down and all eighteen members of Simon’s family starred at them. There was a moment of silence, then Simon’s mom sweetly said, “Lindsey, we all welcome you to our table tonight. Would you like to lead us into prayer?” “Oh thank you, but I’m not a Christian.” There was a silent gasp among the table. Grandma Lily’s jaw dropped. Simon’s mom looked as if she had been pricked in the side. Grandpa Jack mustered the strength to say, “Well what are yah?” “I’m Agnostic.” Fifteen year old Mike burst out with a “pffff!” as Grandma Lily nearly gagged on her wine.

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“Something out there must’ve made the poor foxes for her overcoat,” Simon’s Mom said under her breath. Two year old Nicholas began to cry. Lindsey retracted into her chair feeling unwelcome and Simon was beginning to get annoyed. “I’ll just do the prayer,” he said. As the family closed their eyes in peaceful prayer, Mike looked under the table at Lindsey’s legs. Aunt Nina caught him near the end and gave him a knee to the side. Mike’s head came up instinctively and banged the table. The cutlery and plates clattered making Nicholas cry harder than before. Everyone’s eyes opened mid-prayer and they simply began to eat. “So, Lindsey what do you do for a living?” Simon’s Dad asked. “I’m a proctologist.” “What’s a proctologist?” Mike asked. “An ass doctor,” Aunt Nina quickly replied. Simon’s Mom gave her a look and Grandpa Jack chuckled. “Uh yes, essentially,” Lindsey frowned down at her plate. Grandma Lily couldn’t hold it in any longer, “When are you going to make kids?!” Everyone looked up from their plates staring at Lindsey and Simon in an awkward pause that seemed to take up the entire night. Thirty-six bright eyes looked fixedly at the young couple. Simon quickly excused himself to meet with the liquor cabinet while Lindsey remained stone. “Maybe she’s already pregnant, look she’s not drinking any wine,” Mike said. Simon’s parents and grandparents both looked at Mike as if accepting his suggestion and then back at Lindsey. “This is ridiculous,” she stammered. “So you’re a whore, eh?” Grandma Lily accused, “People like you disgust me. On the other hand, grandchildren!” Lindsey pressed her lips together tightly and continued to look down at her plate. She could feel tears rushing to her eyes. Everyone at the table was silent again. The sound of a glass

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against marble was heard from the kitchen and Simon waltzed into the room without his glasses on. “Why can’t we be friends, why can’t we be friends,” Simon sang. The attention of the entire table minus Lindsey was on him. “What you don’t like music?” Nicholas was the only one to respond, by slapping the small plate in front of him. “How about a knock knock joke. Knock, knock... Mike knock, knock...” The family simply watched in soundless ah. “You know what you guys are, you’re a bunch of squares. All of you. You, Grandpa Jack, go wash your teeth in a cup. And you Aunt Nina, go take a shower and put on a bra. You guys are so messed up I can’t even fathom it (Nicholas began to cry) so stop messing with my girlfriend.” Lindsey looked up at him with a little smile. “Nicholas, stop efing crying! You’re a fricken baby, you’ve got nothing to worry about.” Nicholas ceased to cry and the room returned to tranquility. Simon took a moment to catch his breath and then went on, “Ok, ok you guys are all my slaves, watch this. I have complete control.” He raised his hands like a king and yelled, “Silence!” “Thank you, thank you. I’ll be here all week.” He collapsed into his chair beside Lindsey and she looked at him like she was holding in a laugh. Eighteen stunned faces and Simon was not finished, “At my wedding I want you all to be there, just like this. It’ll be beautiful.” Simon was getting comfortable again when Lindsey grabbed his arm and yanked him right out of his seat. She pulled him into the hall and he said, “I’m sor-” but then she kissed him. For a minute there lips and tongue met in a passionate embrace. When they pulled apart, Simon opened his eyes with a dazed expression and she pulled him to the front door clasping his hand. A cool rush of wind swept through the main hall and reached a smugly smiling Mike who crouched just behind the wall with his Flipcam pointed right where Simon and Lindsey had been. Back at the dinner table, Grandpa Jack started talking about how excited he was that the Leafs had a chance for the playoffs. Grandma Lily said,

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“You know what Jack? You really should go wash your teeth.” Back at home, Lindsey and Simon made love while the teddy bear hugging the heart happily watched.

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