Friday, July 08, 2005

Guy Talk

I came along to join this family about 8 years ago, in 1997, just about the time my step-son Blaine was graduating from Wilson High School here in Portland, Oregon. I was still the new guy on the exact day of his graduation, so I didn’t feel as though I was entitled to go. But suffice it to say that, even then, not knowing him very well yet, I was impressed and amazed that, given his disabilities, he (and his Mom) had pulled graduation off.

As time went by that summer, Marie and I continued our courtship, staying up too late at night to watch the sunset from her front porch. Many times, Blaine would wheel out, and we three would tell stories and giggle as the moon drew near.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that Blaine liked having me in his life, and as he approached his 20s, we became great friends, talking sports, participating in things we both enjoyed, as guys, like, for example, teasing each other mercilously about all manner of things, while Marie hung her head in disbelief. In fact, I would proudly go so far as to say that I have had a significant impact on Blaine, teaching him the ways of manhood, like making him treat his Mom right, showing her the respect she deserves, and other things, like how to put a new electronic device together without reading the instructions. He is a great student, a natural.

About a year after I had moved in, we were all watching TV one evening, a National Geographic special. Each time they broke for commercial, the show would pose an animal question, like, how fast does an ocelot run, and then give you three answers to choose from. We would each choose one, just ‘cause we are typical TV watching suckers who won’t change channels during a commercial when there is a big burning question to be answered. Each time, we would wait patiently to find out which one of us got the answer right.

On about the third question, which was something like how many quills does a porcupine have, I went into a rant, as the commercial played, about how smart I am, about how I was certain I had chosen the correct anwer cuz, well, “Some people are just brilliant, smarter than others. Some people actually READ now and then, something besides stupid chess books and bodice rippers, something where they might LEARN something, like how many quills a porcupine has”, on and on, just to make them both squirm, especially Blaine, as Marie laid on the couch and Blaine sat, arms folded, not saying a word.

When the show resumed, the announcer came on and, much to my feigned embarrassment, tipped his hat to Blaine, whose chosen answer was correct. Suddenly, as quick as a jackrabbit, and without mercy, as he sat perched in his wheelchair, Blaine turned, and from the very depths of his being, shot up his hand and middle finger my way, forming the universal sign for FUCK YOU RIC, right there in front of his mother, to my dismay and approval.

Marie, whose former relations with her son had been, shall we say, less worldly, opened her eyes about as wide as dinner plate dahlias, and sat there totally silent for a moment, before shouting, B L A I N E! At that moment, I knew I had been playing the role of step-dad to perfection.

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