On the Fourth of July, E.S.’s parents came to visit from New Jersey. We did our best to make the house presentable before they got here, but, given that we moved in less than a month ago, there was only so much we could do. They generously ignored the boxes and buckets and papers strewn about every room and expressed only delight with the progress we’d made.
At one point, however, as E.S. was out getting us lunch, his father started toying with a big plastic cup sitting on the coffee table and found that it was full of wrinkled singles. He joked, “oh, it’s your tip jar!” He was, unfortunately, correct; the bills were, in fact, the tips from my most recent engagement dancing naked. Then E.S.’s mother asked, “Have you been tickling the ivories somewhere and making lots of money?”
I stared at them and tried not to strangle. For an instant I considered telling the truth and then laughing, because of course they would take it as a joke, but then I wasn’t sure whether they’d think the joke was in poor taste or not, and besides why tempt fate when it’s so much easier to be deceitful?
I couldn’t think of a decent lie, however, and so I choked out, “Um, I wish!” and had nothing else to say.
Thank God for my dog, A., who at that very moment came running in so cutely she effected an irrevocable change of subject.