Revenge of the Nerd Ch. 73byrpsuch©
Two weeks before the wedding, family started drifting into town. We had guests at dinner almost every night. Sabrina was among the early arrivals. She seemed fascinated with Jeff and tried to be subtle when asking about him. I guess in a way she was subtle. I couldn't figure out her agenda. It was even possible she didn't have one.
"Jeff is so different from every other guy you've ever gone out with. What led to this change?"
"Jeff is pretty much different from every other guy. It would have been impossible to go out with somebody like him before."
"What attracted or attracts you to him?" she asked.
"Well, of course, you can see he's the hottest guy out there."
She looked at me with surprise and quickly covered it up by smiling. "I can see that," she said slowly.
"I'm just screwing with you," I said.
She laughed. "You know, he actually is kind of adorable. The way he thinks about things and the stuff he knows. And he is pretty funny. That's quite a package."
"I guess you have your answer," I said.
It was not like Sabrina to take this kind of interest in someone. It gave me an uneasy feeling. On the other hand, she sounded completely sincere. I really believed it was obvious to her how somebody could be in love with him.
Jeff's company, Second Foundation Biomed, had a corporate condo for important visitors. Jeff had arranged to rent it from them starting when we returned from our honeymoon until we found a place we liked. I saw it the week after graduation and agreed it would do nicely.
When we left the car to enter the building we were greeted by people we didn't know in the parking lot. They said hi to Ashley and Jeff. It was a strange experience.
It kept on getting stranger. As we walked from the condo to a restaurant for breakfast, people on the street were greeting us by name. Jeff had a look of confusion. I know I did.
Our waitress came over and said, "Hey, Jeff and Ashley. I'm Monica. I'll be your waitress. What can I get for you?"
"Do we know you?" I asked.
"Oh, no," she laughed. "The video."
When we still had looks of confusion on our faces, she said, "The graduation video; that steaming hot kiss."
Jeff had been right. We just never thought to check.
The manager came over to our table.
"Would it be alright to take your picture? I'd like to put it on the wall. You know, a display of famous people who ate here."
"Oh, my God, we're really famous?" I asked, my face scrunched in that universal look of doubt.
"Look at the window," he said.
A small crowd had gathered and was looking at us. Some pointed.
If this was our fifteen minutes of fame, at least it had resulted from a lovely moment.
"Shoot away," Jeff said.
We pressed our cheeks together and flashed our biggest, most sincere smiles for the camera. This was kind of fun.
When we were clearly ready to go, Monica came to our table and said, "You come back. It was nice having you here."
"Where is our check?" asked Jeff.
"It's on the house."
"You don't have to do that," he said.
"My manager said it's our policy."
We thanked her. Jeff left her twenty dollars.
"So, tell me about what you learned in school. What do you want to do with it?" asked my father.
"I… haven't given it much thought lately." I sounded surprised because I was.
I was having dinner at home and nothing like this had ever come up in the thousands of dinners we had. They were mostly impersonal and boring. We usually talked about… I had no idea what we talked about. The conversations were so dry I barely paid attention.
"I'm trying to figure out where to start you in the organization. I mean, it would certainly be easier to mentor you if you worked for me."
What the hell was he talking about? When had I said I would work for him?
"I'm just trying to figure out the best place to start you off; something that would fit in with whatever specialty you may have developed."
I nodded as if to indicate that was a reasonable way to look at it. And it was, if I had been interested in starting a life of suffering.
This was not excitement on his part that I had finally found myself and, serendipitously, it gave us the opportunity to work together and forge a bond that had been missing. I knew him all too well. It was his satisfaction at being able to impose his will.
I smiled, anticipating the opportunity to toy with his delusion. Maybe I could actually learn something from him while I figured out what I wanted to do and whom I wanted to work with.
I could not discern any deception in his attitude. I had not felt any from Sabrina, whom he could easily have convinced to undermine me. He could weave a tale that would move the hearts of even the most principled individuals. Sabrina had no semblance of such principle.
If I had to assess the situation at this point, I would say my father had recognized he was not going to break Jeff and me up and had acquiesced in that realization.
Jeff didn't buy it when I told him what I thought. He argued that Ebenezer was too used to winning and had too much experience coming up with new plans after old ones had failed to just give up.
"You know, sometimes you can give somebody the benefit of the doubt," I said.
"It is very inexpensive to be skeptical and cautious. Being naive can be exorbitant."