I guess she wasn’t always that good.
It was too hot for the white cardigan I was wearing, but I was playing by my fathers rules tonight which meant covering up any signs that I wasn’t the picture perfect daughter of the picture perfect senator. Several people came up to me to welcome me home and shake my hand. I smiled politely and asked them how their summer was and what their plans were for the fall. The senator had told me a secret of his, which was when you don’t remember the person, name or face, ask them about themselves.
“Ramie! So good to see you!” A short plump man wearing an off white linen suit stepped into my line of view. He grabbed a glass of champagne off the tray of a passing waiter and handed it to me. “How was Paris?” he asked.
“Parisian?” I said. His laugh came out in one big burst, like a shot through a cannon.
“I see you gained a sense of humor in France. Hard to do. The French aren’t exactly known for their humor,” he said. “Are you still considering art school? Francine said your drawings are quite impressive. How long has it been since you’ve seen her?”
My father came over and stood by my side. With a smile still on his face he waved to the passers-by who called out greetings and returned them with his own. With a stealth-like move, he took the champagne glass out of my hand and held it in his, like the drink was his own.
Shit. Drinking age. Not allowed. I mentally chastised myself. “George, my friend, how have you been? Ramie was just saying how she and Francine needed to catch up. And art school is so far away in Rhode Island. I think now that she has a family of her own, she’ll be sticking close to home.”
“Ah, then you will be joining your father on the campaign trail?” he asked me.
“We haven’t really talked about it yet,” I answered as sweetly as I could manage.
“Well, I think you should consider it. Seeing this man behind a podium is a wondrous thing to behold,” George said, holding up his glass to my father.
“Ah, you are too kind George. Let’s have lunch this week, if you’re up for it.”
“Always am,” George said. “Ah, I see Nathan over there. He owes me twenty pounds of stone crab claws for losing our bet on the Rays game. Oops…” He said covering his mouth. “I shouldn’t tell our future president about my betting habits should I?”
“I’m a politician George, not the police. And Nathan’s stone crabs are the best, so I can’t fault you for that wager.”
“I look forward to hearing you speak,” George said. “Lovely to see you again, Ramie. I will tell Francine to give you a call.”
“That would be great,” I said. When George was out of earshot, my father, with his smile still plastered on his face, leaned in so only I could hear him.
“Champagne?” he asked through his teeth.
“He handed it to me. I wasn’t thinking,” I said apologetically. “I’m trying here, so cut me some slack. I did what you asked of me. Besides, I have a kid and technically a husband, and I can’t have a glass of champagne? Maybe you need to add that to your political platform.”
“Yeah, and then I’ll make sure to go ahead and legalize prostitution and call the cartels to see if maybe they want to set up some coke shops. Like a 7-11 for illegal drugs.”
“Holy shit. If you weren’t such a prick, you’d actually be kind of funny,” I said. A loud cackling ripped through the air and the senator’s eyes darted over to where my mother and the other women, who looked like stepford wives and drank like members of the Beach Bastards, were reaching their limits. “And if you’re really dead set on the booze thing, maybe you should think about reinstating prohibition.”
“Noted,” he said, making his way over to my mother. I watched as he used the same technique to take away her drink as he did with me. My mother shot him a glare when no one else was looking, and at one point, pinched his arm behind his back far enough to where I saw him visibly wince.
One thing was for sure, this life was turning me into a raging bitch.
“Champagne, ma’am?” A familiar voice asked from behind me. I turned around and found myself eye level with a black dress shirt and a school bus yellow bow tie with pink stripes. I looked to the tray he was holding and I could’ve sworn that I saw colorful tattoos peeking out on the upturned wrist holding the tray of champagne flutes.
I sucked in a breath.
My hands trembled.
Just as I was about to look up at the waiters face the screeching feedback from the microphone came blaring over the speakers. I covered my ears and turned around to where my father had made his way up to the makeshift stage set up on the side of Tanner’s pool house.