Bobby grew up with an inability to make small talk. He saw that as a quality. He lies on the rug, rubbing his hand over the shag, becoming mesmorized by the feeling, acknowledging what he is, what he’s become, who he is, a husband and father, anti-social, with perhaps one close friend in the world, and even at that he doesn’t keep up, he can’t be bothered, or he couldn’t, but now that he’s home, he wonders, he thinks about Zederbaum, about how close he is to Eitan Zederbaum, a thought that surprises him, because Zederbaum’s otherness is there, always, laid out before them like the distinct form of his shadow.
He is drunk. And he has to get dinner. But more than that, he has to speak to his wife. He has to fix things. He wants to hug Dee and he’s not sure why he doesn’t. He wants to assert his sympathy, but not in a way that undermines Mimi, and that’s why he wants to speak to her first. He is home all the time and he feels not in control of it.
He decides to take a shower first. Because after that, he’s going to drink a coffee and then maybe drive to get food and he’s thinking he’s even going to stop in at Mimi’s store, and try and talk to her there, it’s possible she’s not as busy at work as she is at home, isn’t that possible? He wants to see what she’s building, he’s curious, he would never admit it to her but he wants to see what her empire looks like, what something looks like before it blows up into something much larger. He wants to better understand his wife, and her ambition, he wants to understand her ambition because it’s new, it’s something that is flowing out of her now, it’s like someone put a Mentos into her Coke and that’s Mimi, she’s overflowing with ambition and its spraying itself everywhere and her entire family is getting wet and sticky.
Bobby climbs the stairs. He walks the hall, past the family photos, the chronological neatness of his family assembled over the years by Mimi, the order, the simple frames, sometimes it’s as if she was chronicling the partners of some blue chip law firm, the photos go back in time to Bobby and Mimi’s own parents and their children, and it is here where Mimi’s family’s history feels more exotic and cosmopolitan. And yet it is Bobby’s blood that has traveled further, that has mixed more, intermingling both Old and New Worlds, a family with a Mexican spiced haggis in its lore, the jokes about what cumin does to the pale Scottish tongue, and then the inevitable and asinine comparisons of scotch to tequila.
At the entrance to his bedroom he stops and holds his breath. He listens for signs of something from Dee’s bedroom, of anything, of a reminder that she is alive and well and he hears nothing, and he enters his bedroom, sad, because his daughter is in pain, because he doesn’t know what to do about it, because he loves his wife, because now it is Abbie he doesn’t need to worry about, suddenly, he’s without a job and his daughter is in a deep and perilous pain and his wife is oblivious to the world outside of her work, and his son appears content with his lot, though Bobby would give anything to understand what that lot was.
Bobby walks to the washroom and strips down. He stares at his naked body in the mirror, notices a few more soft spots around his waist, thinks about jogging, again with the jogging, but he doesn’t want to let the body go, he knows he’s at that age where letting go means he’ll never be healthy again, there is history in his family, heart troubles and tumors and all sorts of ailments that don’t cut lives short, just create misery, and much of it.
There was a gym in his building downtown and his company paid for a membership, it was part of the benefits package, and he joined every year and never once set foot in the gym.
The closest gym that Bobby knows of is the dingy basement gym in the stripmall where Mimi works and while he’s sure there are closer, he can only imagine the clientel, and then he realizes he is going to let his body go to pot because he’s a snob, one who would rather grow fat than sweat next to strangers, to people he will never befriend, because he’s like that, anti-social, he’d rather spend the money on his own equipment, and build a room at home, and hire a personal trainer to set up a regimen, then to go to the local gym, because gyms are intimate places and Bobby has troubles with intimacy.
At work, Vachon once said he was like jerky made out of filet mignon.
He turns on the shower.