September 2008 Our wedding week. Sly and Doris are here; my family has not arrived. They have taken us out to eat. Very nice of them. Primo wants them to hear him sing. Sly and Doris met when they were both singing in a church choir. Not a church where they were congregants. Just a church where they were singers. Sly was married at the time, Doris was I believe a voice student at the music school.
Anyhow. Primo is excited. He wants to show his mom and dad that he shares their passion and their talent. Doris, who is lonely and likes to be around people, agrees eagerly, Sly, reluctantly. We drive to the American Legion. It's a Wednesday night. It won't be too crowded, too noisy, too smokey. Sly shouldn't have too many things to complain about. Always we are on eggshells with Sly. Always.
We get there. Hardly anyone in the club. Primo buys beer for everyone but me. Just what Sly needs: more booze. Doris sits, looks around, smiles, talks to me, to Primo. Happy to be out, out! In the world! This is what it's like not to be trapped in her house with nobody but a grouch for company.
Doris sparkles when she is away from Sly.
Sly finds something to criticize immediately. "Too loud in here! Too loud!"
We move to a different table further from the speakers. Always we must satisfy Sly.
He doesn't like the singer. Bad, bad singer. Well, yes, Sly. Most singers are not to your level. This is a karaoke bar. People here sing for fun. You were a semi-professional singer of classical music. She is a middle-aged bar patron singing a pop tune on a karaoke sound system in a basement bar. No, she is not a trained musician with your talent. Cut her some slack. Aren't you one of the Tolerant ones?
No. I guess not.
Primo puts his name on the list.
Sly goes to the bathroom.
Primo is called to sing while Sly is gone.
He is singing when Sly returns. He is standing four feet away from Sly when Sly begins to rage. "It's too loud in here! I can't stand it! I can't stand it! I'm leaving!"
I, who am drugged with vicodin, have had enough, and say something I might not otherwise have said. "Damnit, Sly! You will listen to your son sing! Shut up! Shut up and listen! What is wrong with you?"
Sly yells, "I can't see him! I'm leaving!"
I scream. "He's right in front of you!"
Sly stomps out.
Doris puts her face in her hands.
Primo watches his father walk away while he sings.
My feelings for Sly solidify.
I will not forget. Or forgive.