======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ==== ======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ====
“Your parents seem really nice.” Eric said hesitantly, not taking his eyes off the Fiesta Scramble in front of him. Alyssa was sitting across from him, hair in a messy bun, wearing an oversized sweatshirt emblazoned with the name of her alma mater. They were both tucked into a booth at their favorite greasy diner, desperately trying to assuage their hangover with carbs and salt.
Alyssa looked up, her fork breakfast-sausage-laden fork hovering above the lake of syrup surrounding her Cinnamon Bun French Toast. “Yeah, they’re a good time. Too good of a time, sometimes.” She said with a tired grin. “I don’t even remember getting home last night. I hope you had a good time even though Cheryl kept feeding us drinks.”
Eric smiled as he leaned back in his chair, attempting to stretch out his aching legs. He was surprised at how sore he was just from a few hours of dancing. Cheryl had a motor, that’s for sure. She was still ready to party when he had made the executive decision to call it a night after seeing Alyssa’s eyes drooping at the bar. What time was that? God, even he didn’t know. It had to be at least 1am. He wondered if Cheryl was even hungover this morning. If he felt this bad, surely she had to feel worse? Somehow, he doubted it.
“I had a great time!” He responded a touch too enthusiastically. “I actually managed to have a conversation with your dad after a few drinks, and your mom is, uh, very enthusiastic.” He immediately regretted his phrasing. He knew it was an awkward way to describe her, but he almost wanted her to call him out on it. He was still on the fence about whether to tell his girlfriend about how her mom had acted with him. On one hand, it could have been harmless teasing. But on the other hand, there was a definite flirty element to it that toed the line.
“Should I tell Alyssa that I think her mom was hitting on me?” he wondered. “If she doesn’t believe me, she’s going to assume I was the one hitting on her mom. Which…I guess I kind of was? But not of my own volition. I was just trying to not make it weird. Fuck, should I have just told her I wasn’t comfortable with how she was acting? No way that was the move. Maybe I should have told Alyssa last night, but then both her and her mom would think I was a bitch.”
His mind continued to race as he watched Alyssa slowly finish chewing and process what he had said. “Then again, if I tell her now, will she ask why I didn’t tell her last night? Maybe I should just never tell her. Unless her mom tells her, and then I look like the creep that was hiding something. But why would her mom tell her? Why does she do anything? Who knows with that woman.”
Alyssa finished her bite and looked at him quizzically. “You had a conversation with my dad? That’s…actually very impressive. Usually, it takes him a lot longer to warm up to people. What did you guys – what do you mean my mom is enthusiastic? What does that mean? What did she do?”
Eric swallowed hard, partly out of nervousness, but mainly because he had a mouthful of Chorizo and eggs. Well, that made up his decision for him. Still, he was relieved. He tried to abide by an “honesty is the best policy” approach to relationships, and he knew the burden of a guilty secret would bother him.
“Oh, nothing really,” he responded nonchalantly. “She was just a little flirty. Nothing serious, of course.” Alyssa’s eyes narrowed, making it clear she didn’t buy his casual tone one bit. “A little flirty? What does that mean? What did she say?”
“I don’t know. I was pretty drunk, so I could have just been misreading it. She winked at me a few times and, like, jokingly grabbed my ass when we were dancing. And she talked about how you two look similar, so I have good taste. She was mainly just complimenting you I-“
Eric’s attempt to mitigate the situation was cut off. “Excuse me? She grabbed your ass? Ugh, damn it, mom. What did you do? Why didn’t you tell me this last night?”
“Uhh,” Eric’s mouth stalled as his brain tried to shed its hangover at get moving. “It was barely a grab, and I figured she was just drunk and didn’t want to make it weird. I just went to get a drink from the bar. I feel like I’m blowing it out of proportion telling the story now. It really wasn’t that bad.”
Alyssa went silent and returned to her food. “Fuck,” Eric thought. “This is even worse. Definitely should not have told her. God, I hope I don’t get broken up with during a wine hangover. This is a nightmare.”
Taking a chance, he slowly reached across the table and put his hand on Alyssa’s. She looked up at him with an expression of embarrassment and annoyance as she spoke. “Sorry my mom is so weird. I think she just needs attention that she doesn’t get from my dad and it comes out when she drinks. She once even ‘accidentally’ flashed my ex when we spent a weekend at the beach house. I’m sorry she acted that way to you.”
Relieved at her response, Eric squeezed her hand. He was glad she wasn’t mad at him but felt bad about her complicated relationship with her mom. He was the furthest thing from a therapist, but he knew he needed to step up and help his girlfriend. He needed something that would make her feel better about a weird situation. Something to make her laugh.
“Babe, seriously don’t worry about it. I wasn’t weirded out, and I really enjoyed hanging with your parents. Plus, if she ‘accidentally’ flashed me, I wouldn’t mind…” He finished with a joking tone and an exaggerated wink, knowing the joke would make her laugh and break it out of her funk. It did not perform as expected.
Alyssa pulled her hand back and rolled her eyes. “Can you just stop? I’m going back to my place. You can cover this food.” Deaf to Eric’s stammering, she stood up, grabbed his piece of toast, and walked out of the restaurant. Eric cursed his hungover brain for its idiocy. “Damn it, Cheryl.” .