by Marian Allen
The waiter bowed to Gran, “Of course, ma’am.” He bowed to Grantham. “Happy birthday, sir.”
“Thank you, Andrew.”
It was disconcerting to be in the club as an adult. It probably would be less so, if he hadn’t been away for so long. But he’d only been home from boarding school at Christmas, spending his other holidays with Mums and Bill in Italy or France or Switzerland or that little island they loved so much. He hadn’t been here in – What was it? – ten years.
It seemed like a lifetime, but Andrew was still Andrew, and had greeted him with delight and warmth, as if ten years were only a passing breath.
Their martinis came, Gran’s with her specified three olives.
They clinked glasses and sipped.
“You’re right,” Grantham said. “This is the best martini I’ve ever had.”
His grandmother laughed as if he’d said something funny. Was it possible she actually believed he’d never had a drink before, in spite of implying differently to the waiter? Mums and Bill had carefully cultivated his palate in food and drink, wanting to be sure he faced the world knowing as much about how and what to expect on his table as what to expect in all other facets of his coming life.
Either Andrew understood, or the martinis at the club were exceedingly dry, because this one was perfect, and not the vermouth-heavy horror he had feared.
Gran preened, showing him off to her friends, catching him up on club gossip as if he cared.
Old men in expensive suits joined them momentarily, attracted by Gran’s fluttering waves. They shook hands with Grantham, told him stories of his youthful misadventures, gave him their business cards, invited him to look them up during business hours and see what they could do for him, shook his hand again, and went back to their friends.
“This is all so good for you,” Gran murmured. “Connections. That’s what’s important.”
“Is it? I thought it was an expensive education at a top school and excellent grades.”
Gran laughed. “But after you have those, it’s connections that give you that all-important edge. Laura and Bill never understood that. Dragging you all over the globe instead of making a place ready for you.”
Grantham pictured himself as a hermit crab, with his parent and step-parent crabs lounging on rocks, instructing him on the proper way to insert himself into an empty shell.
When his grandmother excused herself to the patio for a cigarette and a chat with her oldest friend, Grantham stayed at the table.
So this was his place. He did feel at home here. He should: Until Father’s heart attack, his father and Gran had all but lived here, and Grantham had done his homework many an evening in one of the private dining rooms while Father and Gran played a round of golf.
In fact, he suddenly recalled it had been Andrew who had helped him wrap his mind around solid geometry.
He was smiling at the memory when Andrew came to ask, “Is there anything I can get for you, sir?”
“I don’t suppose you can sit down with me.”
“Oh, no, sir.” Andrew returned his smile.
“I was just remembering solid geometry.”
“Not a pleasant memory, I shouldn’t think, sir. I’m surprised to see you smiling at it.”
“Thank you, Andrew.”
“My pleasure, sir.”
And Andrew was a waiter and he, Grantham, was a future business leader, and Andrew could no longer sit down at a table in the club with him. Grantham would leave Andrew tips, and Andrew would appreciate them.
Grantham toyed with his silver and watched his grandmother make her way back to him. He felt slightly queasy, but he expected he would get used to it, in time.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: A relationship changes over time.