We were standing in front of my mom’s gas fireplace, toasting our buns.
Our buns were cold because a few flakes had flurried.
My friend Giselle and I’d gone into the city to have pedicures that afternoon.
My sister Louisa had spent the day watching snowmobile races on the lake.
My mother and my aunts had pieced together the frame of an unforgiving jigsaw puzzle of a psychedelic walrus.
And then we met at The Log Tavern.
“The roads are pretty slippery,” says Louisa, who just walked in with her husband, Pierre.
My mother’s soft gray-green eyes widened.
“We’ll be fine,” I said.
And then came a frown.
“What about the hill?” she says. “I think we should order our pizza to go.”
And so we did.
One for my mother’s condo and one for Giselle to take to home.
Victoria and Susie Le Q, my aunts, and my mom traipsed through the snow, into Victoria’s car.
The four of us were seated under the shade of a palm tree, around a white plastic table, on white plastic chairs, in Key West. Tourists wandered past on a narrow sidewalk a few feet below, on that tropical afternoon.
That’s when he said it.
My sweet Sven and I were on vacation.
We’d driven all the way to Fort Meyers Beach, Florida, from Wisconsin with my parents.
“They lied!” says my mom upon arrival, as cars whizzed by the screened in porch that faced a court yard and a pool.
“Genvieve, the brochure said the place had access to the water. It didn’t say it was on the water,” replied my dad.
That pissed my mom off more.
For some reason he still hadn’t figured out that when his wife was bitching, it was not the best time to defend who or whatever she was bitching about.
She pulled the brochure out of her purse and held it in front of us.
“It says seaside. Right here. Look. And what access to the water? I don’t see any access to any water.”
Charlie, the white-heron-neighbor was peering in through the screened door.
“It’ll be fine,” says my dad. “We can make do.”
“But Kerm,” she says softly, “you love listening to the waves when you go to bed. That’s your favorite part.”
I had to agree. The whole seaside description was a bit of a stretch.
Although technically there was access to the ocean.
My sweet Sven has been accused of resembling Clint.
The movie star.
My heart throb.
The last time it happened he was crossing the street to mail a letter.
“I told you so,” I said.
“Well Millie,” he says, “isn’t he about eighty now?”
To be honest, Sven and Clint are not blood relatives.
And Sven’s last name is not Eastwood.
But I call him Sven Eastwood anyway.
Because in the big picture we are all related.
And the only difference between my sweet Sven and Cool hand Luke is that Sven has no interest in riding a horse. He is a terrible aim. And some of his outfits just don’t fit the gun fighter bill.