“I’ll keep that mind.”
“I hope you do.” Just when she turns to leave, I add, “Say hi to Frankie for me.”
Her feet stop on the pavement, and she looks back with a smile. “I will. Bye, Joshua.”
I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, but I like the feeling. I try to slip back inside undetected, but I suspect my mom can sense me in the area because she’s right back in here. Most of our conversations are interrupted by orders needing to be delivered, and she picks up where she left off earlier. “Look, Joshua, I know you’re around a lot of rich kids, and you got into an Ivy League school. Our home wasn’t expensive, but it’s ours. You’re not less than anyone, but some people in this town will look down on you because you’re my kid, or you’re a townie to the upper New Haven folk. Money doesn’t make them better.”
“It only makes them richer. I know, Mom. I’ve heard this a thousand times. Don’t worry, I’m sticking to my own kind.”
I see how unsettled the conversation makes her. She was burned by rich kids attending the university, including the man who donated his sperm to make me. He used to tell me to call him Dad, and although it’s descriptively close to what he is, the name never feels right. Neither does calling him David, so I’m fucked either way. Though I can surmise that the little taste of his good life I’ve had also added to my bitterness. I don’t want to be in that world anyway.
Chicks don’t care about my baggage. Most people don’t even know. They have issues of their own. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t fucked with my head. It’s easier to mess around casually than to commit and be abandoned again.
“Your kind is whoever you want it to be. Just be careful when you start mixing with those who make you feel less,” Mom says.
“Don’t worry. She didn’t make me feel anything,” I lie, feeling more interested than I’ve been toward anyone else in a while. “I delivered food to a girl. So what? There are a lot of hot girls in this town. I’m not marrying her and I’m not fuc—”
“Zip it. Don’t talk like that. It’s beneath your intelligence and disrespectful to a girl I can tell you dig.”
Dig? I roll my eyes. “You swear.”
A grin sidles up one of her cheeks, the lines deeper these days. “Do as I say, kid. Not as I do.”
Saluting her with my spatula, I say, “Aye aye, captain.” I plate two dishes and hand them to her. “Best served hot.”
She winks, seemingly satisfied with my answers, and walks out of the kitchen. I glance over at T, who’s grinning, but I know that smile. “Don’t even say it, T. My mom’s bad enough. I don’t need your teasing.”
“Doesn’t matter how old you get, Josh, you’ll always be her baby.”
“Times like these, I wish I had siblings to take some of the heat off that mama bear attention.” Chloe’s probably right about me craving it. I just don’t want it from my mom anymore.
That keeps him laughing, and having a good time while spending hours over this hot grill is the only way to get through a long shift. After putting a pan of cornbread in the oven, I move to the swinging door and peek through the porthole to where Chloe was sitting.
Good-looking is an understatement, I finally admit. But judging by that fancy looking bag she had clinging to her shoulder, my mom’s right. She’s out of my league. Not that she was saying that, but I get the drift of “don’t mix.”
The rich college kids like to toy with the townies. Doesn’t matter if you’re born in New Haven or from the outskirts of the suburbs. Locals will never be considered equal in their eyes. So it might be fun to banter with her but getting closer will only get me burned.
I’ve seen it happen enough to others not to test the fates. I’m just curious why I’m suddenly willing to test that theory with her?
Pursuing anything with her would be a bad idea because I’ll be the one who pays the price. I’m not in her league, so what would a girl like her see in me?
Anyway, I know damn well that dating from the other side of the tracks isn’t my scene. So why am I still thinking about her?
“I told him in the ass!” Ruby giggles, barreling over in laughter on the other side of the couch from me. “How was I to know he meant a location like a kitchen or something boring like that when he asked where’s the craziest place I’ve had sex?”
“You actually said that?” I ask wide-eyed.
“You should have seen his face, Clo. Priceless. Who said New Yorkers are jaded?”