It was several months after I met my older man, Patrick’s, son and younger daughter that I had the chance to meet the last of Patrick’s three children—his other daughter, Isabel. She loved horses, spent daddy’s money liberally, and did some kind of work for the family business, although, from what I could tell, she was not there much. She did have a man in her life, and it looked like it was headed for the altar, but no dates had been sent.
I remembered Patrick telling me she was very much like her mother, which made me think she was not going to be very open and accepting of me, the way her sister Juliet had been. Where to meet this time? I left that up to Patrick, but suggested it should be a luncheon date instead of dinner.
We planned to meet at a little restaurant in Greektown, six long city blocks from my office. I walked it, glad for a few minutes alone so I could prepare myself for however this was going to turn out.
When I arrived, Patrick was already at the table with his daughter; they were sitting side by side. Patrick stood up when I found their table and made the formal introductions. Isabel was cordial and cool. Patrick sat down again in the chair next to his daughter. I sat alone on the other side of the table, somewhat disappointed that he had not come over to sit next to me.
That may have been the only time during our initial meeting that Isabel addressed me or had eye contact with me. She mostly engaged in conversation about the business with her father, making it almost impossible for him to try to bring me into the dialogue. Most of the conversation was “inside” talk, and it felt pointedly exclusive of me. I even thought Isabel was a bit flirtatious with her father, although I don’t think that’s so unusual if the occasion hadn’t been “The First Time Meeting Your Father’s Very Young Girlfriend.”
We ordered family style, sharing flaming cheese saganaki, taramasalata with French bread, fried chicken livers, and white Santorini Greek wine. I love Greek food, but was too nervous to enjoy it. It was obvious I had come up against another foe, and, frankly, I was tired of it.
Trying to present myself in a positive light to his kids, except for Juliet, felt like a military drill exercise that I hadn’t signed on for. I was tired of being “tested,” and wasn’t sure if I wanted to live in a minefield where trying to navigate around three children, all closer to my age than was natural in the scheme of things, was worth it.
After a bit more of the lunch, just as coffee was being served, I stood up, looked at Patrick, and told him I had a meeting to get to. Before he could object or offer me a ride back to the office, I was out the door, hailing a cab, and feeling enormous relief that I was out of there. Never had I felt so fortunate to be a single career woman with no real obligations.