Dinner Table Dialogue-by Zack Thompson
“This is delicious. Thanks, Mom,” John said. Thanks chorused around the table as steaks were stabbed and potatoes scooped to be flopped and plopped onto plates. Rolls were buttered, honey was squeezed in turn, and vegetables were left alone for now.
“So how is Abubakir, Rie?” Scott asked, and John cut in with, “Is he mad you value eating more than talking to him?”
Mom’s glare and low, rising, “Jooooohn,” were earnestly reproachful though they hadn’t been effective in years.
Scott contained his amusement to the corner of his mouth, and Marie turned up her chin slightly and looked past John before responding with controlled pleasantry, “He’s good. He says to say hi.”
“He can’t hear us still, can he?” Scott asked, as the chance to banter began to undermine his attempt at cordial curiosity.
“No,” Marie glowered. “My computer is off. See how it’s closed?”
“Good, I don’t want him to hate me already if we are going to visit him.”
“You’re going back to Morocco, are you?” Dad said with a hint of challenge that may just have been the attitude he attacked steaks with.
“Don’t worry, I’ll bring my scimitar to guard her sleeping chambers at night,” Scott quipped, and then looked thoughtful, “It’s going to be a tiring trip.” No one had anything to say to this, so he continued into the awkward chewing, clinking interlude, “What are we going to do if we go there anyway? Will we stay with his family or will he take time off from work and travel around with us?”
“I don’t know if he’ll be able to take time off, but he said we can stay with his family and he will show us around Rabat. We can go to the beach.” Marie’s plaintive voice was awakening and irking John.
“So you’re not going to spend the whole time talking and kissing,” Scott teased, “I don’t know if I could entertain myself while chaperoning if that was going on.”
“I thought they weren’t allowed to kiss until they were married,” Mom contributed, leaving everyone to guess whether she was still being earnest and naïve or whether she was instigating subtly.
“No, I think if she kisses him before they are married he’s not allowed to marry her,” Scott said and watched Mom’s forehead to see which it was.
John, visibly annoyed, overrode Scott’s experiment with his own provocation, “Yes, that would make her a whore.”
“Well, what does it make him?” Dad asked, seeming gruffly perturbed, though likely he was actually trying to cover his distaste for John’s tack.
“The man who the woman caught in adultery was caught with,” Scott said smoothly, self-satisfied. “There’s always been a double standard.”
“There’s no double standard now,” Mom interjected. “Now, you just do whatever you want with whoever.”
“True enough,” Scott replied. “The developing world is still developing its depravity too.”
“I think there are plenty of third world dictators who can show you—who would love to prove to you just how advanced they are at being depraved,” John contradicted with a gleeful, ironic sneer.
“Could someone please pass the rolls?” Marie asked gruffly to no one in particular.