January 30, 2017 — Since I’ve been traveling once a month to see Mario, and he’s come up to see me, my daughter has spent a few nights each month with my ex-husband (aka NOT her father). Struggling with what to call this relationship, he dubbed himself “Uncle Jake.” My ex-husband and I have an exceptional co-parenting relationship. We live in the same neighborhood and he’s over frequently for breakfasts and to round the kids up for school. One morning he walks in: “Zuzu,” he calls to my daughter (her favorite nickname). “Zuzu, who am I?” Jake asks. “Uncle Jake, the King!” she exclaims with two-year-old glee. My six- and eight- year old sons crack up laughing.
“Really?” I say. “The King?” Jake explains that he long ago (during a magical time called “The 80s”) saw a show called “Family Ties,” wherein a certain character named Alex P. Keaton taught a toddler to say “Alex is King.” Lucky me. But I am lucky that Jake is such a good sport and seems so fond of my daughter. He was always a sucker for babies.
Meanwhile, Mario forwards me a text exchange between him and my father:
I call Mario. He says he wants to ask for my parents approval about the marriage. “I’m not asking for permission,” he explains. “But I would like to have their blessing.” This is some old-school shit, but I find it really endearing.
My last relationship was mired in lies and dishonesty about intentions. This is completely opposite. Even my relationship with Jake was fraught with hidden secrets. And Jake and my parents were never the best of friends.
Then I make the mistake of telling Jake about Mario’s plan:
Jake goes on and on, even comparing Mario like Luke Skywalker, going in unprepared to face Darth Vader. My palms start sweating. I call Mario again. He’s unnervingly calm: “This isn’t a problem,” he assures me. “I’ve got this covered. Honesty is the only long game.” Great. Isn’t that what one of the Starks said right before Queen Cersei crushed them?
Speaking of “Cersei,” she’s very quiet. I decide I better test the waters and text her:
And that didn’t go well. I busy myself with work. I call Mario one more time. He’s driving in rush-hour traffic. He hates being late (though I hear that he struggles against a tendency to be late; “I was late to my first wedding,” he jokes. Uh…).
He sends me a picture from my parent’s house. At least I know the Queen Mother didn’t push him out the window. Yet.
But for some reason, everything seems to work out with me and Mario. The timing is perfect. The rain clouds part. The sun shines brighter. Federal employees do their jobs. Things just work out for us. Mario calls me on his drive home. He stayed later than he planned because my parent’s house has a front-row view to the Disney World firework display every night. “I like your parents,” he said. “Your dad made it clear that you are, uh, fairly ‘strong-willed,’ but I already knew that. Your mom was very gracious and funny.”
He tells me about the dinner and the food. My dad has gotten into cooking in the last few years. My dad has also started writing some sci-fi books and Mario was genuinely interested in the plot of his latest efforts. My mom likes football and talks about the city. Mario can keep pace with so much about Orlando and all the folks he knows there. If anyone has the temperament to topple the Queen, it’s Mario.
I guess Jake the King didn’t count on Cersei being won over. Check-mate.