Donald insisted. Taking two cars would be silly; he knew where the restaurant was. Candace thought of protesting, had protested on other occasions, but she knew it would be futile. She had acquired a docile sense of laissez-faire over the years, in stark contrast to the raving one-upmanship common to her blood relations. Acquired like a prison slouch or scars.
“Fine,” she said, hoping Donald’s third wife would offer to sit in back. (Another woman who didn’t drive. It was his first wife, though, who had insisted on never giving up the copilot spot. Until death did her part.) Candace’s stepson George -he of the full leg cast- had agreed to the lunch for practical, gastronomical reasons, although his apparent vote of silence did not bode well for the meal. Her teenaged daughter, well. A vote of silence would not be a bad thing.
“How the hell do I get out of here,” Donald said, pulling away from the curb and into stalled traffic. Candace, her daughter, and Donald’s third wife twitched at their hips, trying to fold into themselves.
“To the end of the road, turn right, then left at the light.” Candace had offered to drive, would have killed to be driving, but Donald would have none of it. Ever the alpha male, he reached the end of his patience and turned left around the right-turning car ahead of him, peeled rubber through the yellow light.
“What are you doing?” Donald’s third wife shrieked into Candace’s ear. “Why didn’t you turn right? Now you’ve done it. Now we’re going farther and farther away, aren’t we, Candie?”
“Whatever,” Candace said. “All roads lead to Rome.”
But there was not to be even a semblance of conviviality left now. Not in the endless detour Donald took to get back to their starting point, not in the overpriced, overabundant meal no one enjoyed, not in the belligerent passing of the fancy olive oil. Candace raised the blessed wine glass.
“Happy New Year!” she mouthed.