The Firefighter from Seattle, who will always be my favorite guy friend from high school, is in town for the holidays; this past weekend, we went bowling with his family. Very wholesome, yet remarkably entertaining. After, he asked if I wanted to be the fourth player in a card game, which is where his mother intervened.

“Maybe Molly doesn’t want to play cards, maybe Molly would like to come over and watch a movie at our house. Molly, it’s after midnight, too late for cards, would you like to come over and watch a movie with [Firefighter] on the couch instead?”

I thought her interference adorable, helping her son with his game, so I agreed to a movie at their house –even though I would have preferred a movie at my house, a house without parents –but I couldn’t turn down the mom-invite, the phrasing so quintessential mom, something I hadn’t heard since high school.

He rode with me from the bowling alley to his parents’ house, located four minutes from my parents’ house, where his mom picked up her helpful chatter.

“Molly, there are chips in the pantry and fresh-cut vegetables in the fridge, be sure to help yourself. Are you thirsty? [Firefighter], if Molly is thirsty later, make sure you get her something to drink. Have you seen the cats? What movie would you like to watch? Did you enjoy the holidays with your family?”

She continued her monologue, describing the plot to Risky Business, while he corralled the three cats.

“… Molly, the movie is a classic, you should watch it, do you want me to go upstairs and get it? If you get cold, the blankets are over here, and look, isn’t this a nice one? It’s so soft– I think made of a sweat-suit material –and says Seattle Fire Dept; this was a Christmas present from [Firefighter]…”

Cats safely isolated in the basement, he reclined on the floor, setting up the movie, while I continued to nod and smile at his mom’s dialogue.

“Would you like the tree on or off? On? It’s so pretty, you should have the lights on. Turn off all the lights but the tv and the tree, and that should be the perfect amount of light? [Firefighter], Christmas-tree lights on?”

“Off.”

“Are you sure? I really think it should be on, so festive; I really think the tree should be on. Should I turn it on? Should we try it?”

“Mom, just leave it off.”

“On?”

“Fine, Mom, keep it on.”

“…Well, when it’s on, do you think that’s too much light? Too bright? Do you want me to turn it off for you? Will the lights detract from the movie? Is there a glare on the screen? I can always leave the light on over the kitchen sink? Would that be better?”

While she was oblivious to my amusement, he noticed, held eye contact, and smiled at my smile.

“… The tree lights are on for now, but the switch in right here, next to this table. [Firefighter] do you see this outlet? Here’s the on-off switch. Shouldn’t be a fire hazard, but you would know more about that than I … Molly, are you driving to your parents’ house tonight or your new place? Either way, I know you haven’t been drinking, I’m not concerned about that, but if you get too tired, you can sleep in the spare bedroom, of course, that’s not a big deal; [Firefighter], if Molly wants to stay, make sure she’s comfortable …”

I nodded, thoroughly amused, smiling with The Firefighter, while she made her last comments and inquiries about the cats, retiring to her room upstairs.

Finally alone, I confessed my love of his mom and her endearing behavior, treating us exactly the same as she did when we were high-school kids. He agreed. We were much older and more sophisticated. Completely different people. By the dimmed tree lights, he continued to tease me, I blushed and returned the grief, and we fell asleep watching a movie and sharing a couch. In a mature, grown-up way, of course, nothing like how we used to.

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