When I answered the telephone that morning and heard my daughter’s voice on the line I knew at once that something was wrong. And after her first few words I also knew she needed some money. What was wrong, or why she needed the money would come out in due time, but I already knew two sapient facts that would dictate my next actions. While she was still speaking I called Western Union up on my tablet and used a Groupon to have a small amount – I was only guessing at that point – ready to wire her as soon as she finished giving me all the details.
You see, I knew these things right from the beginning because Diane never calls on the phone. She’s one of that generation who somehow manage to type the words she would text faster than she could say them, something I’d never believed was possible. For her to call meant she felt she needed us to hear her voice, rather than read her words. And that was how I knew she needed money. Ordinarily she calls me “Pops” – it’s her way of saying I might be older but I was still a good-looking and sexy guy. So when she greeted me with “Good morning, Grandfather” I was filled with a sense of alarm. Whatever was wrong, she certainly needed money bad to start speaking like we were in a confessional.
It turned out that she was worried about something we’d expected from her years ago. She’d decided to get married. And now they needed the carfare to come and visit us, since we hadn’t been able to come to their wedding. Hadn’t been able to come – we’d never even been notified! In truth my wife and I’d been suspecting something was brewing for some time. They’d mentioned making plans after graduation. But since they were in school and had little travel money they said they would wait. Now they wanted to borrow – isn’t that a quaint way to ask? – the fare to come visit. So the upshot is that “Pops” is now on the hook for two round trip tickets while losing a step-daughter. My wife says I should see it as gaining a son. But I’d prefer not being so rudely reminded of my increasing seniority.