Writing for a living may not be physically challenging, but it is one of the hardest things I have ever done. Once I told Emilee Hamada that I was changing careers, I really had little choice but to do so.
Ok, that isn’t entirely fair. I can’t blame this career switch on my desire to impress Emilee. I really had wanted a change in my job. I just didn’t realize that writing would be so stressful.
Some people might think that writing would be the dream job because you don’t even have to get dressed to do it. I felt that way. I have to admit that there were many days that I didn’t even bother to put anything on besides my boxers. Thank goodness it was just me and Homer in the house.
Working from home isn’t what it’s made out to be, though. I mean, I was always getting distracted.
“Hey Dad, can you help me with my homework? I’m stuck on this story problem.”
“I’m writing Homer.”
“I know, but I just thought…”
“You know that I’m working here, right?”
“Yeah, sure Dad. But I just thought that since you keep switching from your writing to your online chess game, you’d be able to pause for a bit and help me out.”
Damn it. Caught out by an 8 year old boy!
I really was working, however. I mean, since I had started on this new path, I’d actually finished a whole manuscript. Based on the success of the short pieces I’d published before changing careers, I’d managed to get an agent, too. My agent informed me that it was normal for a manuscript to go through several publishers’ desks before being picked up. I just had to have faith.
Thank god for virtual chess. Whenever I got stuck, I’d switch screens and play a match. I swear, I really didn’t spend all day playing games. I really was writing! I just couldn’t write for 8 solid hours. I doubt if any author really does that!
In the meantime, Emilee and I had gone out a few times. I’d taken her to the café for pastries and coffee. We’d gone to the movies a few times. We’d even gone boating. I took her for a spin on my new speed boat. I wasn’t sure how she’d like it, but one of the things I’d always liked about her even as a kid was how much we both liked being outdoors.
The one thing I hadn’t done was bring Emilee home to meet Homer. I’d told her all about him, and I’d told him all about her, but the two had never met.
The night Emilee was supposed to meet Homer, I was terrified. What if Homer didn’t like her? I didn’t think he wanted me to get together with his mother, but I really had no idea how he felt about me seeing other women. Most of his life I’d lived sort of like a monk. Did he even understand what was happening between me and Em? Should I sit him down and talk to him…was it time for “the talk”?
As I prepared our dinner of chili dogs, I’m shocked I didn’t cut my hand off, I was so distracted by my nerves. I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t burning everything. I was only a passable cook. I could have made a real mess of everything!
“Relax Dad,” Homer said, coming into the kitchen. “I just heard a car drive up. I bet that’s her. Should I get the door or do you want me to set the table?”
“Set the table. I’ll get the door,” I said. Was it too late to call this whole thing off?
Scared out of my mind, I opened my front door. Emilee smiled, and all of my fears evaporated. “You’re here,” I said. I couldn’t help myself, I had to kiss her. It was a just a small peck, but feeling her lips on mine, I knew everything would be ok.
“Something smells delicious,” Emilee said, inhaling. The fragrant smell of spicy chili wafted throughout the house.
“I made my mom’s chili. I hope you like it. It’s spicy, but it’s really good. You used to like spicy food, I remember. I’m not as good a cook as Mom was, but I do ok. You like chili, don’t you?”
“Relax Ares. Sheesh. It’s like you’ve never had me over for dinner before.”
“Well, the last time was when we were 16. Just before prom and…well…and Martina.”
“Ah. I remember.”
“Yeah, so…um…Homer is setting the table.”
“Ok. And for the record, I love chili.”
Chili dogs were a hit. I was so nervous, I ate mine in like 2 bites. I don’t think I’ve ever scarfed down food so quickly. Emilee and Homer at at a more leisurely pace. They spent most of the meal talking to each other. Emilee asked Homer about school and his scouting troupe. Homer asked her about her work and what I was like as a kid. Pretty soon she was telling him all kinds of embarrassing stories about me as a child.
“Your dad wasn’t the best student at school,” Emilee said. “He was always trying to copy my homework. I think math was his worst subject.”
“Oh, I know!” Homer giggled. “He tries to help me with my homework. I let him think he’s doing everything right, but he’s mostly wrong.”
“Hey!” I protested. “I can see how this is going. I think I’ll do the dishes and clean up my cooking mess.”
I was relieved that Emilee and Homer were getting along. I have no idea why I was so stressed out about it. Homer’s a great kid. Why wouldn’t Emilee like him? And she was wonderful. Homer would definitely notice.
The two of them kept talking about me as I cleaned up. Then Homer mentioned that I’d finally had my book published. I’d told Emilee about it already, but Homer was really proud of me. He made me get out the laptop and show her some of the pages of my next story.
“It’s a spin-off of the first one. You know, he’s writing about high school athletes. His agent says there’s a market for those types of books and kids like to read series.”
The night was a huge success. I sent Homer up to take a shower and get ready for bed. I promised I’d read to him later. He rolled his eyes in protest, but he went without too much complaint. He did, however, take a parting shot at me.
“You just want to get rid of me so you can kiss! Dad and Emilee sitting in a tree…K-I-S-S…”
“Get up stairs kid!” I yelled, but I was laughing. Emilee was chuckling too.
“He’s a good kid, Ares. You’ve done a good job.”
“Thanks. I’m glad you guys got along so well. It’s a good idea for a man’s kid to like his girlfriend.”
“Oh? Is that what I am now?”
“Is that ok?”
“Oh Ares. You can be so clueless sometimes.”
She reached out and pulled me in for a kiss. With her body pressed up against mine, I wished that I hadn’t promised Homer I’d read to him. He could get to bed on his own, right?
“You could stay…” I murmured when we finally drew apart. “I’ll kiss Homer goodnight and then I’ll meet you back here on the couch.”
Emilee laughed. “I’d love to Ares, but don’t you think it’s a bit too soon? I mean, Homer just met me. What sort of message would that send to him?”
“It would send the message that you should always make time to make out with a pretty girl.”
“He’s 8, Ares. He still thinks girls are filled with cooties.”
“Ugh! You’re right. Well, I guess this is goodnight then. But next time…next time we’re going to make out. Cooties or no cooties!”
“Go read to your son!”
The next time Emilee came over to our house, we did not make out on the couch. Instead, Emilee stopped over one afternoon with a gift for Homer.
“I found this little guy wandering around my parents’ house. I think he was abandoned. I know you said you don’t want another cat, Ares, but you’ve kept all the cat stuff of Moonie’s so I just thought…you know… maybe you’d change your mind?”
“Dad! Look at him, he’s so tiny and cute!”
“It might be a girl,” I muttered. Just what I needed, another cat.
“It’s a boy,” Emilee told Homer. “Should we let him go and see if he likes it here?”
Well, how was I supposed to resist the little scamp? Homer was immediately in love with the thing. He named the cat Felix, and the two of them became instant buddies.
“You don’t mind that I brought a cat?” Emilee asked me as Homer picked it up and disappeared into his room.
“I suppose it’s as good an excuse as any to get you to come over more often. It will be your cat and you will have to take care of it.”
“So you want me to come over more often, do you?” Emilee asked. She leaned into me. “I think that could be arranged.”
Before Emilee spent the night, though, I really needed to have a talk with Homer about it. Emilee had been right that Homer might misunderstand and get the wrong message about it.
I decided to approach him while he was distracted by his homework. Maybe he wouldn’t ask too many questions if his mind was occupied with math problems. I pulled out a left-over tri-tip sandwich from our previous night’s dinner. I needed to have an excuse to sit down. Homer already knew that I wasn’t going to be there to help him do his math.
“Son,” I said around a mouth-full of food. “It’s time we have a talk.”
“About what, Dad? I’m doing my math.”
“You can keep doing it. This talk won’t take too long. It won’t interfere with your homework.”
“So, it’s about Emilee.”
“Is she coming over tonight?”
I coughed. “Actually…that’s what we need to talk about.”
“Do you mind if she comes over? Maybe spends the night sometimes?”
“Like a sleep over?”
I shrugged. “Sort of. But instead of sleeping in sleeping bags, Emilee will sleep in my bed.”
“Oh. Will you be making some babies?”
This time I choked on my sandwich. It took me awhile to clear my airways. Homer was looking at me, concerned. “Are you ok, Dad?”
“Sure. Um…what did you mean when you said that about the babies?”
“Well, Roger says that when men and women sleep in the same bed, they make babies.”
Roger was Homer’s older cousin. He was Juno’s youngest and the closest aged cousin that Homer had. I was going to call my sister when I got done talking to Homer and tell her what her son was saying about babies!
“No. There won’t be any babies,” I said.
“Oh. That’s ok. It will be fun if Emilee sleeps over.”
“So you don’t mind then?”
“Nah. Can she come over tonight?”
I laughed. “I don’t think so. But before I asked her, I wanted your permission.”
“Oh. Kinda like I have to have permission for Roger to stay the night?”
I brought Emilee home after our next date. When we came in, Homer was asleep and his cousin Ami was watching TV. I paid her and sent her on her way.
“Be careful,” I said. “I know you have your license, but Juno would kill me if anything happened to you.”
“I promise, Uncle Ares. I’ll watch the road. Homer was good tonight. See you later!”
Once Ami was gone, I pulled Emilee close and whispered in her ear, “There’s the couch. I think I promised you a make out session the last time you were here.”
“Yes, you did,” she giggled.
Always take time to make out with a pretty girl. I’d learned that lesson long ago. But, another lesson I had learned was that a bed is a lot more comfortable than a couch.
“Let’s go upstairs,” I said, breathing heavily. My shirt was open and I’d removed Emilee’s vest had pulled her shirt down below her breasts so I’d have easier access to them. Her skirt was hiked up around us and I was running my hands up and down her thighs, teasingly.
“Did you have that talk with Homer?”
“I did. He gave me permission to have a sleep over with you.”
“Oh. Good thing. Let’s go!”
Waking up with Emilee next to me was indescribable. The sex the previous night was pretty unbelievable, but it was nothing next to having her next to me in my bed all sleep-mussed and softly snoring.
I woke up and just looked at her. I had to think about it for a second, but I wasn’t sure that I had ever woken up next to a woman before. The one night that Martina had stayed over night with me, she’d gotten up before I did. None of the girls in college had ever let me stay with them in their beds…if we made it to a bed!
No. Emilee was my first. I fell back to sleep smiling.
When I next woke up, Emilee wasn’t in bed anymore and I started to panic. Her side of the bed was made and for a moment I thought I might have dreamed the whole thing. Then I leaned over and smelled her pillow. It smelled like the flowery scent of her shampoo. I let out a relieved sigh.
Then I headed downstairs to see if she was still in the house or if she had gone home already. I hoped she hadn’t left, so I was very happy to find her in my kitchen making pancakes.
“There you are!” I said. “I was afraid you’d left.”
“No, I wanted to surprise you and Homer with breakfast.”
“Thank goodness. I could really eat.” Then I swooped in for a kiss…because I could.
“Ares! Stop! Homer will be down soon.”
“Let him find his own girl to kiss!”
“Dad! Ick! Girls have cooties.”
Emilee and I sprang apart. We faced my son, both of our faces red. “Sorry kid. Emilee made breakfast. I get excited for breakfast you know.”
“You’re gross.” Homer rolled his eyes and sat down at the table.
After that, having Emilee spend the night was pretty normal. I couldn’t get enough of her, but I couldn’t leave Homer home alone. I considered having Emilee move in with us, but then I realized that living with her was not at all what I wanted.
“Emilee Hamada, will you be my wife?”