I hand the newspaper to Sly, eat some crackers, take one quarter of a Vicodin, and go up to Primo’s office.
Primo: Maybe it’s for the best. We would be starting on social security when the kid would be in college.
Me: We would never get to sleep late again. And you would always be worried about the kid touching your stereo and your records. You would totally freak out. You would be all, “Don’t touch my stereo! Don’t touch my records! Don’t touch my CDs!” The poor kid would be scared to move.
Primo: I hope not. I don’t want to be like my father. I know he’s not now, but when I was a kid, he was really physically imposing. He worked out with weights. And I was really skinny and short. He towered over me. He had a horrible temper. I was scared of him. My mom was scared of him. My mom is still scared of him. You’ve seen how mean he can be. I do not want to be like him.
Me: Don’t worry. You are not like your dad. You don’t get drunk every afternoon. You don’t scream at people. You do not criticize other people all the time.
Primo: I used to be. When I got to college, I was a jerk. I was really critical and mean. I thought my dad was doing it right and that’s how I should do it.
Me: By being hyper-critical, you mean?
Primo: Yes. And then I discovered that nobody wanted to be around me. I was not making any friends.
Me: Because you were a jerk.
Primo: Yes. I decided I did not want to be like that. I changed. I don’t want to be that bitter, angry old man with no friends and whose own son and grandchildren don’-t want to be around him.
Sly, shouting up the stairs: How do I log onto this computer?
Me: I have already shown your dad how to long on twice. I gave him the password. It’s YOUR BIRTHDAY!  You’d think he could remember that.
Primo: I know. I better take care of this or he will keep yelling.
He leaves and returns.
Primo: They are getting cranky because they hadn’t been able to watch TV since they got here.
Me: But – they knew you would be working the first half of the week they were here. Did they really plan to spend all their time just watching TV?
Primo: That’s what they do at home.
Me: How does anyone do that? I tried that at your place after I was laid off and it is really boring – even with Bridezillas and that show where they moms trade places and What Not to Wear.
Primo: They like PBS. And tennis.
Me: Still boring. Besides, didn’t you haul the stereo upstairs and set it up just for them? Has that not been enough?
Primo: Would it be enough for you?
Me: No sir, it would not, which is why I would not visit someone who could not take vacation or where I could not otherwise entertain myself. And if I did, I would make sure to have some books with me. And I would offer to help around the house and with supper. And I would help with other chores, the way my mom does. One time she visited and I came home from work to find that she had repaired all the doorknobs that had lost screws. I had learned to live with wobbly doorknobs, but she decided to take action. And she cleaned out my flowerbeds. That’s what I would do – I would fix stuff and help. Otherwise, I would be bored.
Primo: They are bored. They’ll start drinking soon. I don’t want the day to end badly. You know how they get.
Me: I don’t want to entertain them. We talked about this. And that was before the miscarriage.
Primo: I know, but the only way around it is to tell them the truth. I can’t take them anywhere – I have to finish this project and I had never planned to take today off anyhow.
Me: You warned them that you would not be able to take Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off. They should have been prepared.
Primo: I know. We’re kind of stuck now. Maybe you could take my mom somewhere. You’ve never been alone with her when my dad isn’t around. She’s not so bad. My dad can take care of himself. I really don’t care about him. But maybe if you and my mom spend some time together without him, she’ll see how great you are.
Me: She confuses me. Sometimes she is nice and other times, she is mean.
Primo: She is scared to contradict my dad.
Me: Yeah, you’re right. The times we have been alone, like working in the yard, she has been OK.
Primo: Maybe you could take her somewhere? Just the two of you? Neither of you will have to deal with my dad and he’ll have to figure out how to entertain himself without anyone to criticize.
Me: Oh to be a fly on the wall.
The Vicodin has kicked in. It has warmed me enough that I can perhaps stand a few hours alone with Doris.
Me: I guess I can take her to the botanical gardens. It’s not far and there are benches so she can rest. We can talk about gardening. She can talk. I’ll listen. That should make her happy. She better not whine, though.
Primo: Thank you. I owe you.
Me: Yes you do. I won’t let you forget.
 I have since changed it, so hackers, you are out of luck.
 Unfortunately, the miscarriage card is not as useful as you might think it would be if you want to keep said miscarriage a secret.