Revenge of the Nerd Ch. 67byrpsuch©
We didn't call my father and ask him to come home. There had been enough challenges to his authority. We waited for him to return. If he didn't ask what we had discussed I would bring it up.
When we were most of the way through dinner it was pretty obvious he wasn't going to bring it up. He had relented and agreed not to use my wedding as a commercial promotion. What more could possibly be expected of him? He didn't say that; it's how I interpreted his silence.
I'd had time to think about how to position it and decided I needed to be forceful if he had no interest in reason and cooperation. I decided on my bottom line and was willing to threaten the ultimate sanction - cancel his wedding and hold our own elopement with the Goldberg family. I didn't know how I felt about having to exercise it and hoped I would not have to find out.
I had asked Mom to get the ball rolling.
"Ebenezer, I told the children about your wise decision to defer your concept of a wedding promotion until after their wedding. They were pleased."
Children? We certainly hadn't discussed using that word. I worried the infantilization would undercut my ability to negotiate, but it was out there and I couldn't think of any way to fix it.
"Good. I'm gratified they appreciated my efforts." He was aloof.
That was an effort? Declining to make my wedding a marketing circus was an effort? He was gratified? I knew efforts was an attempt to spin his backing down as going out of his way to do something nice for us. That I could stomach. Gratified was just pompous. Jeff would have been gratified I didn't burst into flame and call my father an asshole.
My newfound ability not to fly off the handle was a measure both of how far I had come and how far I had needed to come. I was embarrassed at who I used to be.
"Dad, you have a lot of business friends and associates coming to my wedding. I think you're not doing them justice by inviting them this way."
Since I hadn't had a lot of time to prepare for this, I had discussed the wording with Jeff. He agreed with my analysis. Having a lot of people did not accuse my father of having too many, though the need to reduce the number was still required. Calling it my wedding would reinforce my right to have a say in how it was celebrated.
Most of the discussion concerned whether to say I think you're not doing them justice as opposed to I don't think you're doing them justice.
The former seemed to say he was doing something good, but I had found a flaw and wanted to point it out to help correct the problem.
The latter felt like it implied he was screwing up and I had to step in to fix it for him. Also, don't think seemed to suggest some uncertainty whereas think did not.
They were pretty much the same damn thing. That you could predict such different interpretations from such a subtle difference in wording was gratifying.
I had been looking to pursue a career in which I could influence the course of events, though I had no idea what course of events I hoped to influence. Trying out some of the tools of the trade was exhilarating.
"Oh, and just how would I go about doing them justice?"
Success! Though he was being sarcastic, he was talking about it and permitting further discussion.
My experience told me the other wording would have resulted in something like, "With all my experience you're telling me I don't know what I'm doing and you're going to tell me what to do?" That would have led to a discussion of his experience, my experience and what credentials I had to be telling him what to do.
Instead I had been invited, albeit insincerely, to offer my considered substantive suggestion instead of a procedural argument as to whether I should be listened to at all.
"Throw a post-wedding party just for them. You can show a video of wedding highlights; have a cameo appearance of the happy couple back from the honeymoon. That's all you need to provide your pretext for a good time without having to dwell on bride this and bride that."
He hadn't interrupted. I was astonished. He didn't have a murderous, hateful look. He was annoyed, but that might just have been him living his life to the fullest.
"Make it as independent of the wedding as you can. That will take up less extraneous time than a most-loyal-customer dinner banquet. And in the final analysis everyone will be celebrating their business camaraderie, and talking about how to promote more business with each other.
"With the affair less tied to the wedding you can have the Fine Bank certificates, Fine Bank centerpieces and napkins, silverware and whatever you think would make an effective location for the logo."
I finished and awaited his response. He was thinking. He came perilously close to smiling. Even his eyes seemed to light up.
"After all those years of fighting us every step of the way, refusing to cooperate, refusing to participate and showing no interest whatever in our family business, you have shown remarkable insight into this business opportunity. I'm very impressed. You might turn out to be a Fine after all.
"I hope this means I will have the opportunity to take you under my wing and mentor you in the ways the Fines have done business for hundreds of years."