My First What You’d Call Social Contact With Deep-dyed Georgians
The evening after Dawson talked to me, Corinne came back to the kitchen after the first dinner rush and drew a cup of coffee and stood around like she had something on her mind too. I wondered if Dawson had talked to her too. I was still trying to figure out what to think about what he had told me.
“You goin’ to be around the Beaches this weekend?” she said.
“I guess so. I’m supposed to play poker Friday night. Why?”
“Mama wants you to come for dinner,” she said. “Daddy got her a new barbecue grill for their anniversary. She’s gonna fix some hamburgers and stuff.”
You just never knew which direction Corinne was going to come from next.
“Well,” I said. I thought about Ombear in the hospital and about Rennie knocked out with one punch. “I don’t know, “ I said finally. “I wouldn’t want to intrude.”
“You ain’t intruding. I’m inviting you.”
“Does your daddy know you are?”
“What’s that got to do with it?”
“I don’t want to intrude on people who can beat up Bill Ombear and Rennie Cross in the same fight,” I said.
Her face got tight. “Look: I do what I want to do. I’m a grown woman. I’m thirty years old. Ombear got way out of line and if Daddy had of let me calm down first, I would have gone back and taken care of that son-of-bitch myself.”
“Bill Ombear? How?”
“I would have cut his heart out, by God. But Daddy just blew up and took off. Ombear got lucky because somebody got Daddy to stop. But if you’re afraid of Daddy, don’t worry. He’s going fishing Saturday and won’t be back home until late.”
The way she said that got my goat. “I’m not afraid.”
“All right. I’ll tell Mama you’re coming for sure, then. I told both of them you were a nice guy. Daddy thinks you’re crazy to let a woman drive your new car. He only let me drive that Plymouth of his once and swore never again. Mama never learned how. He don’t like women driving. She never drove teams of horses when he was young and he don’t see no difference.”
“All right, I’ll be there,” I said. “I’ll wear my glasses, though.”
“That wouldn’t make no difference if he started after you,” she said. “Don’t get smart.”
She finished her coffee and went back on the floor and left me wondering what the hell I was getting into now. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be presented to the parents of a thirty-year-old woman. We just drove around so that I got to drink beer and she got to drive. That was all. It was simple and I liked it and would miss it if she quit going riding with me. I had enjoyed going to that movie with her, too.
Now it was getting more complicated. I wondered what Chris would say if she knew I was going to visit another woman’s parents on the weekend. To hell with it. It was just grilled hamburgers in the backyard. I might as well go.
I could go and eat their hamburgers and be polite and then leave. I was just letting Corinne drive my car until she got her license, that was all. It was nothing. These Georgians meant nothing to me, and I wasn’t after their daughter. Besides, I was a grown man. Way past grown. I didn’t have to answer to anybody. And Corinne was a grown woman who could ask whoever she wanted over for hamburgers. I might as well go. It might look bad if I didn’t. They might get their Georgia feelings hurt. That would really be something, if I didn’t go and Bull Valland came and beat hell out of me for insulting their hospitality.
It was my first what you’d call social contact with deep-dyed Georgians. I wasn’t sure what might set them off. All right, I would go.