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“Hello, you two, how are you?” said Mrs. Megan with her trademark warm smile. “Grant, are you excited to meet everyone?”
Grant smiled back, “Where’s the ice cream?!?”
They’d just arrived at the “Back 2 School Ice Cream Social” for Great Hills Academy, something which Grant had been looking forward to ever since he noticed the postcard-sized invitation with a giant ice cream cone picture on it in his acceptance packet from the school. His father had actually been looking forward to it as well, hoping that he’d vibe with some of the other parents in Grant’s class.
Mrs. Megan wrote their names on nametags and handed them off. Grant slapped his upside down on his stomach and said “Let’s go get ice cream!” then began to march like a soldier. Mrs. Megan smiled and looked at his father, replying, “You guys have a great time tonight!”
“Hey, hold on, guys!” came a sickeningly familiar voice from behind them in the parking lot. Everyone turned to see Frank speed-walking towards the group, wearing a full suit and tie. “Wait up, thought this thing didn’t start until 6:30?”
“Uncle Frank!” Grant ran over to give Frank a fist bump, then grabbed his hand and led him over to Mrs. Megan.
His father looked at her and mumbled, “Uh, yeah, this is Grant’s godfather… he’s uh… here, I guess,” while trying to apologize with his eyes. Still cheerful but slightly bewildered, she bequeathed Frank a nametag of his own then sent the group on their way toward Grant’s future classroom near the back of the grounds.
The adults each held one of Grant’s hands while holding a whispered conversation two feet above his head.
“Frank, like, why? I said you could come over later, why are you here?”
He grinned. “Thought you guys could use the company, man, plus I love ice cream. Just wanted to hang out with my favorite dude,” he said, as he pointed down at Grant and threw him a big wink and a grin, then looked back at his father and whispered, “Plus this seems like it’d be a cool place to meet women.”
“Frank I literally can’t think of a worse place for you to meet women, and I’m trying to make a good impression and keep Grant in this school, so just eat ice cream and talk to no one,” he whispered with a bit more intent as they got closer to the building. “Also why are you wearing a suit? You look ridiculous.”
“Dress for the job you want dude, isn’t that right, Grant?”
Grant responded, “That’s right Uncle Frank!” while his father exhaled deeply with defeat.
Right before they entered the building, he asked, “When did you even get a suit, Frank? I haven’t seen you in anything besides a button-down short-sleeve and chinos in at least four years.”
Frank grabbed for the door handle. “My lawyer said I should get one.” He tugged the door open and walked into the room first, followed by Grant and his father.
One or two of the other parents looked up and gave a half-wave and smile to acknowledge their arrival. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Mrs. Winters showed up, first squatting down to address Grant eye-to-eye.
“Well, how are you Mr. Grant?” she said, extending her hand for him to give her a shake. “I was hoping I’d be seeing you here tonight, are you looking forward to meeting some new friends?” Mrs. Winters was making a concerted effort to maintain eye contact with Grant, who was doing his very best to peer over her head and spot the ice cream, which she obviously noticed. “Grant, why don’t you come over here with me to the learning carpet and meet some friends, and then you and your Dad and…” she looked at Frank, unsure of who he was.
Frank stuck out his hand. “His Godfather, ma’am. Frank. Such a lovely learning environment that’s exuding from your classroom.”
She raised her eyebrows slightly to let him know that this wasn’t her first rodeo and she knew how full of shit he was. Meanwhile, Grant’s father rubbed his eyes with borderline embarrassment but also amusement. If there was one thing you could say about Frank, it’s that the guy tried to give you his best.
Mrs. Winters walked Grant over with the other children while he and Frank made the rounds shaking hands and introducing themselves to other parents. Frank, it turned out, wasn’t the only man in a suit as three other fathers looked like they’d come directly from Wall St. to an ice cream social. Frank made sure to tell each one, “Wow, what a great suit,” as he shook their hands.
What little legitimate conversation was being had (which schools each kid had attended before Great Hills, if they were playing soccer or tee ball, “So what do you do?”) took a backseat when the ice cream started being dished out. Grant put the whole room on alert that he could go toe-to-toe with Joey Chestnut in an ice cream eating contest by inhaling a Styrofoam bowl full of vanilla ice cream with zero problem. His father, ignoring the wishes from his sweet tooth to also inhale the bowl, nibbled around and kept a slow pace in order to not have a mouth full of ice cream if addressed by another adult, as did Frank.
The two-dozen or so children, now working with a vigorous sugar high, were escorted to the playground by a teacher’s aide and a few parents. Mrs. Winters took the time without loud ass kids to address the parents with a fairly standard “expectations for the school year” speech. Lots of learning, lots of growing, etc. Frank nodded emphatically with every point she made and whispered to himself a few times, “Mmm, wow, that’s really impressive.”
As she concluded her speech, she added, “That’s all we’ve got for tonight, everyone, but if your children would like to keep wearing themselves out over on the playground, by all means, stay as long as you’d like!” Parents shuffled out to head towards the playground, most motioning for their children to join them in heading towards the parking lot.
He and Frank shook hands and exchanged pleasant goodbyes with people whose names they already had forgotten, and then stood on the edge of the metal fence surrounding the playground, letting Grant continue to play with the few remaining children.
Out of earshot of everyone, Frank dropped the facade he’d been admirably displaying for the past hour. “Man, that was boring as hell. Bunch of good looking women there though.”
He looked at Frank. “Yeah, there were. Did you notice their husbands too?”
“Yeah, bunch of handsome ass dudes too,” responded Frank, not missing a beat.
“Pretty sure every parent in there was married except me. Either that or just putting on a really good cordial display of divorced co-parenting.”
Frank sighed. “Yeah, I think you’re right. Except her, of course.” He motioned slightly with his head at the woman on the far side of the fence watching her child play. Cute, early 30s, no wedding ring or spouse in sight. How had he not noticed her earlier?
At that moment, like she sensed two desperate men looking at her, she looked over. Surprisingly, she gave them closed mouth smile.
“Dibs,” whispered Frank. .
If you’re enjoying following “PostGrad Single Dad,” be sure to go listen to the latest episode of “The DadGum Podcast,” live on Grandex Labs.