Only . . . he didn’t.
Matthew and Frank didn’t speak to each other for two whole weeks.
Then adoption day came.
They flew to Transylvania or one of those small Eastern Bloc countries, and they came back with a beautiful baby boy. The weird thing is, he actually looks like them—bright hazel eyes and brown hair with natural-blond highlights.
Estelle broke the standoff. She threatened to leave the stubborn bastard if he didn’t tell Matthew and Dee how sorry he was—how wrong he had been.
The day after they brought the baby home, they threw a small family party so everyone could meet the new addition. I watched Frank from the second he walked into Matthew’s apartment.
Proud. Distant. Hard.
Until he saw his son, holding his own son.
And all of his proud ideals about how things should be just kind of melted away.
The Discovery Channel has a show about gorillas. At first, male gorillas feel threatened by their offspring. They don’t understand them, sort of ignore them, or bang their chests whenever they’re around. But then, after a couple days, they get used to them. And God f**king help anyone who tries to mess with them.
It was a lot like that.
After that first visit, from the moment Frank held the baby, he decided that this was his grandson in every way. And he’d happily beat the crap out of anyone who said otherwise.
It’s been smooth sailing ever since.
Now, back to Matthew’s groveling.
Delores comes to his rescue and kneels down in front of Mackenzie. “I understand why you’re upset, Mackenzie. I didn’t have any girl cousins, either.”
Mackenzie throws her arms up in the air. “I just don’t get it! You got to pick your baby! It wasn’t like with Aunt Kate and Mommy, where we just had to take what we got. Why couldn’t you have picked a girl?”
Dee smiles softly. “We didn’t pick Rain, sweetie. He picked us. And even though he didn’t grow in my body, he grew in my heart. He was supposed to be our son—there really was no choice.”
Mackenzie breathes deep. “Well, the next time you decide to grow a baby, could you please tell your heart we need another girl around here?”
Matthew pulls her in for a hug and squeezes her tight. “I’ll do my best.”
Personally, I’m relieved they got a boy. You know that saying “It takes a village to raise a child”? That’s all wrong. It takes a village to raise a girl. Pick a headline—any headline. Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus—it’s not their fault they’re train wrecks. It’s because they didn’t have people in their lives who cared enough about them to teach them. Prepare them for what is still mostly a man’s world.
Boys are easy. Keep the fridge stocked, smack them around once in a while, discourage them from jumping off the roof into the swimming pool, make sure they use soap when they shower. That’s pretty much it.
Girls are a whole other animal. You have to worry about low self-esteem and poor self-image, eating disorders, cutting, drug abuse, sluttiness, catty mean-girl attitudes, and the horde of adolescent bastards who are just dying to get their dicks wet and won’t give a damn if they leave a broken heart, pregnancy, or an STD in their wake.
Even though Mackenzie is coming along nicely, once puberty hits, all bets are off. The fewer distractions I have when those days come, the better.
As Matthew and Delores get up off the floor, I ask, “Where is Michael, anyway? With Helga?”
Unlike Kate and me, Matthew and Dee had no issues about hiring a nanny. And Delores may be crazy, but she’s not stupid—no way she was gonna have some sexy, young au pair rocking her cradle. Helga’s a professional Russian nanny. She’s suspicious and distrustful of anyone not related to Michael—and sometimes even of those who are. She bears a strong resemblance to Brutus from the Popeye cartoons. She’s got a femstache and a permanent scowl, and she could probably kick my ass with one hand tied behind her back.
I like her.
Because she thinks the sun rises and sets with my nephew. She calls him her babushka, and it’s easy to see that she’d lie, cheat, steal, or kill for him. That makes her okay in my book.
Mackenzie giggles. “Uncle Drew, Rain’s name isn’t Michael, it’s Rain.”
Dee-Dee’s eyes turn sharp as they regard me. “Uncle Drew knows his name, Mackenzie. He’s just being a jerk.”
I stare Dee-Dee down, not giving an inch. “Rain isn’t a name. It’s a meteorological event. Every child deserves a normal name. He’ll always be Michael to me.”
I’m working on having his birth certificate changed. A little forgery never hurt anyone. Christ, what kind of uncle would I be if I let the kid go through life with a f**king name like Rain? As if the chips weren’t already stacked against him with a crazy woman for a mother.
“You’re an ass.”
“It’s not his fault his mother’s a wack job and his father’s a victim of reverse spousal abuse.”
Matthew adds his pathetic two cents: “I like the name Rain.”
I sneer, “No, you don’t.” I point to my temple. “That’s the brainwashing talking. She’s got you under her evil spell. You’ve been twat-notized by the golden watch between Dee’s legs.”
If I slap him hard enough, think he’ll snap out of it?
Delores doesn’t take it lying down. “Brainwashed? Look who’s talking. James is your golden watch. I swear sometimes that’s the only thing keeping Kate with you.”
A few years ago that comment would have bothered me. Not anymore. “Please. We all know it’s my dick that’s keeping her with me. And that’s not going anywhere anytime soon, so I’m really not worried.”
Before Dee can retaliate, the front door slams open with a bang, and the blur of an eight-year-old, light-haired boy comes barreling through the living room. He gives my sister a crooked grin. “Hi, Mrs. R.”
Alexandra smiles. “Hi, Johnny.” Then she turns toward our parents. “Mom, Dad, you remember Johnny Fitzgerald from downstairs? He’s kindly offered his services this weekend to help keep the little ones entertained.”
Johnny Fitzgerald. Sound familiar? Think back, way back.
I’ll give you a minute to flex the old memory.