My daughter, Sally is a pretty girl. She is also shy, and managed to get through high school without having a real date. Her only close friend was Susan. Once, Susan arranged for the same boy to take both of them to a school dance. Sally wanted to go. She was also nervous about it, and almost relieved when the boy got the flu, and could not attend. Susan came over, and spent the night with my daughter.
Like many girls, Sally feels self conscious about her weight. Susan, who dated several boys in high school, has the pencil thin body of a professional model, and a face to go with it. Sally is what they call in Yiddish, "zaftig." She is buxom, rather than fat, with large breasts, and a waist that is much thinner than her full, rounded hips. I liked to show her pictures of German beer maids to try to convince her that many men preferred women like her, but I was unconvincing, because boys did not ask her for dates. Her face is not as beautiful as her mother's, but pretty in the same way, and with a shy smile that I wished she would show the world more often.
Susan tried to get a boy friend to ask Sally to the senior prom. It did not work out. Susan went with another boy. At the dinner table, the night of her senior prom, Sally did not feel like talking. She ate quickly, and went to her bedroom, and closed the door. When I saw her several hours later, I could tell she had been crying.
While this was happening, my marriage was crumbling around me. My wife was beautiful. When we got married I thought I was the luckiest man in the world. My wife did not think she was as fortunate. Our relationship was always more important to me than to her. When my career did not go anywhere, my wife did not let me forget it. The fact that I worked hard at a job I did not like for a boss who did not like me did not matter to her. She valued results, not effort.
When my wife found a man whose career was zooming into the stratosphere, she at first tried to hide the affair from Sally and me. Then, she did not care. Finally, she flaunted it.
My wife sued for divorce. I did not contest it. What was there to contest? I still loved her. She wanted out. I did not want to keep her if she did not want to stay.
Unfortunately, I made the mistake of not hiring a lawyer. Because my wife hired a good one, she got the house, and most of our joint bank account. All I had left from twenty years of marriage were a few good memories, a larger number of bad ones, a car dying of old age, our smaller TV, an old radio, my clothes and books, some furniture for my apartment, and the love of my daughter.
After she graduated from high school, Sally got a job at a department store, and continued to live with her mother. I was afraid my ex-wife's lover would put the moves on Sally, but Sally told me that she despised him, and made that as clear as she could without saying anything.
For Sally's eighteenth birthday, she and I decided that we would go to a restaurant to celebrate, and she would sleep over. It would be the closest thing she had ever had to a date. Except for courting my ex-wife, I had not dated anyone for over two decades. I had not even thought about other women after the divorce. That had pretty much kicked the wind out of me.
When I picked up Sally at what used to be my home, my ex-wife greeted me with chilly courtesy. I was glad her new lover was not there. Sally looked charming, with a blue floral dress that beautifully draped curves I tried not to admire, and a small suit case for the night over.
As we walked from my car to the restaurant, several men looked at my daughter with admiration, and me with envy. I opened the restaurant door for Sally, as though she was my girl friend, and we were soon seated. An elegantly clad waiter came over and asked, "Will you be ordering drinks?"
I said, "We are celebrating my daughter's eighteenth birthday. I would like to look at a wine list, please." Eighteen was the legal drinking age where we lived.
"I will need to look at your identification," the waiter said to Sally. When she showed him her driver's license, he said, "Yes, indeed. Happy birthday."
I took out my driver's license and showed it to the waiter too. "She really is my daughter, I promise."
He smiled. "Of course, sir."
When the waiter came back with the wine list, I said, "Give it to the birthday girl. She is the guest of honor."
Sally looked at the list. After the waiter left, she said, "I don't know anything about wine, Daddy, you choose."
I looked at the list, and decided on a bottle of Kendall Jackson cabernet sauvignon. When the waiter returned with a bottle of the wine, two glasses, and an opener, he said, "In honor of your daughter's birthday, this is on the house."
"Oh, wow, thanks a lot," Sally said giggling.
With a great deal of ceremony, the waiter opened the wine glass, and poured a small amount of wine in a glass for me to sample. I tried to play the role, as though I was used to this, but could not help saying, "You sure do this better than Rick at my neighborhood tavern. This is excellent, thank you."
I ordered steak. Sally ordered a pasta dish. "A place like this makes me want to forget my diet," she said.
"The men who admired you as we walked here did not think you needed a diet," I said.
We each drank two glasses of the cabernet. When we were finished, Sally said, "That wine really went to my head, but I want one more." We decided on two glasses of port.
We returned to my apartment in time to watch "Casablanca," which by good fortune was playing on the HBO channel.
When we were inside, Sally said, "I feel drowsy from all that wine. I don't know if I want to stay awake for the whole movie. I think I will get into my pajamas." She took her suit case into my bed room to change, only to return several minutes later with an embarrassed look on her face. "I wanted to get out of that house so fast that I forgot to pack my pajamas. All I have is a bath robe."
"All I have for you is a t shirt," I said.
"That's fine, Daddy."
Several minutes she came out of my bed room wearing nothing but my t shirt, and panties. I tried not to look too hard at her buxom figure, asked, "Shouldn't you be wearing your bath robe?"
"You're my daddy, so it doesn't matter. If someone comes to the door, I'll put it on."
"If someone comes to the door, I want you to stay out of sight."
"You're being silly, Daddy, but I will."
When we sat on my sofa to watch the movie, Sally snuggled close to me. I should have told her not to put her arm around my shoulder, but I did not. I should not have enjoyed the smell of her perfume, but I did.
When the movie was half over, Sally said, "I want another glass of wine. Do you have any?"
"Isn't three enough?" I asked.
"It's my birthday. I'm old enough to drink now. Aren't you glad I'm not the kind of daughter who drank my way through high school?"
"Yes, and I'm glad you didn't get pregnant, too. You said you were getting drowsy."
"I'm not anymore."
I should have told her that there was no wine in the apartment, but she may have found it during her visit, and detected my lie. "It's in the cabinet next to the refrigerator."