After the Game Revised

Chapter Thirty~Six

The next morning I wasn't really with it, and Sean noticed right away.

"Dad, I don't drink coffee," He said as he looked at the mug I put in front of him.

I was having a little trouble keeping my mind off of my goodbye last night with Dana.

"You've been acting goofy ever since Dana left last night. Anything you want to talk about, Dad?" he said as he gave me a big grin.

I reminded him that he was in outer space for some time after Melissa left as well.

"Just eat your oatmeal."

"I will... when you cook it!"

I told him that I would be picking him up after school to go to Dr. Randa the orthodontist as he was getting ready to leave and catch the school bus. He gave me a tentative look as he was a little apprehensive about the appointment.

"Things will be fine. You've had a chance to talk to the girls and I'm sure they said it wasn't too bad," I said as he slung his backpack over his shoulders before he took off through the front door.

About 10 o'clock Katie called. She wanted to know if Sean and Jake could come and stay with them two weekends from now. On the Friday night they would stay with Katie and Marty, and with Carol on the Saturday night. The girls wanted to plan some activities for the boys, and have Melissa and Melissa's girlfriend Mara join them.

"That will work out perfectly. Dana and I are going to the theatre that Saturday night, and I was going to get Ricky to baby sit. I'm sure Sean and likely Jake will like this better."

Once a month from September to April Dana and I went to the local professional theatre productions with my other Tim Horton's business partners and their wives. It was something I had been doing for years, and when Lorraine died I asked Dana if she would like to accompany me. It was a convenient relationship for both of us, since we liked theatre and enjoyed each other's company. I was looking forward to the evening even more given my awakening interest in Dana.

"What sort of activities are you planning?" I asked.

She said that they would go out to a movie and dinner on the Friday night and to a concert on Saturday night given by a local Toronto group that she was sure the kids would enjoy as well.

"I'll call tonight and see if I can coordinate the kids," I said.

I knew Jake was available, as he was coming up for the next two weekends anyway. Pietro would also be here for the upcoming Easter weekend, as he was joining us for church on the Sunday and staying for Easter dinner with the family. I would ask him if he was Ok with those plans. I would have to call Gary and Suzie to see what Melissa and Mara's availability was.

"So are they staying at Carol's or is it Carol and Kyle's on Saturday night."

"Does it bother you if it's Carol and Kyle," she said with a cagey tone to her voice.

I told her it didn't matter which way it was, but I impressed on her that I was expecting that both daughters would be good chaperones on the weekend. I didn't want anything to go wrong.

"Geez, Dad, relax. We're not going to let the four of them go off and have a wild orgy!"

When she finished chewing me out for my 'overprotective paranoia', as she put it, we said goodbye and hung up.

I picked up Sean after school, and we didn't have an incident with the girls that had been harassing him. We had to wait for about 20 minutes before Dr. Randa could see us, but in the meantime, his nurse had given Sean some literature on Invisalign to read.

"I'm going to look like a geek with those things in my mouth," he said as he screwed up his face.

"Would you like me to get you the metal braces instead?"

"Why do I have to have either of them?"

Before I could answer, we were called into Dr. Randa's examining room. We had the consult with him and Sean was a good candidate for Invisalign. He explained the process and Sean felt better about it. Basically it involved a series of molds that were like mouth guards that were changed at 2 week increments. They were to be worn for 12 hours per day, and they forced the teeth into the correct positions. Each successive mold moved teeth closer to their final position. In the future, he would have a mold that he would wear only at night when the teeth were properly aligned.

Impressions were taken of his teeth, and the first mouth inserts would be ready in 10 days. I also had Dr. Randa make a mouth guard for him to wear when he played hockey.

"That pink goo he put in my mouth was gross stuff. I gagged big time," he said with a disgusted look on his face as we walked to the Lexus.

"It's a small price to pay for a perfect smile," I said as I laughed.

That evening while Sean was doing his homework, I had a chance to call the Morgans. I got Suzie on the phone and told her what the girls had planned.

"I'm sure Melissa will love that. I'll call the Airdons tomorrow and see if Mara is available as well. When she hears from Melissa that she'll get to see Jake again, I'm sure she'll say yes," Suzie said as she chuckled.

The rest of the week went smoothly. On Tuesday Sean again tutored the boys at the After School Club. He was getting a lot of satisfaction out of helping the boys, and was really like a mother hen to them. He had called their home Wednesday night, after we got their phone number from Diego, to see how they had made out on their tests. He was very happy that they had done reasonably well.

"I think they're starting to get it," he said with a big smile on his face as he hung up the phone.

Thursday was a big day for Sean. That was the elementary school indoor track meet at the large arena in the middle of the city. It was an all day affair from 10 in the morning to 2 in the afternoon. All of the elementary schools in the Board sent representatives to the meet, which meant they missed most of the school day.

I volunteered to drive some of the competitors from Sean's school in the morning, as I was going to stay and watch. Their parents were picking them up in the afternoon, so it would be just Sean and me going home.

Jake was one of the competitors from his school, but he wasn't running in the same events as Sean. As soon as we arrived, Sean started to see if he could spot Jake. After a few minutes he gave up as he had to get ready for his first event, the 1500 metres. This was the first heat, and if he ended up in the top 5 he would go on to the next round.

Sean was the smallest of the 10 competitors but he managed to come 3rd in the heat and he qualified.

"Great running, Sean," I said as he came back to the stands still out of breath.

Steve O'Toole came over to congratulate him as well.

"Well done, Sean. One more and you're in the finals," he said as he patted him on the back. Sean gave Steve a big smile.

By now I had a bead on Jake, and the two of us waved to get his attention. He bounced on over with his stuff and plopped himself down on the seat in the stands next to Sean.

"Did you make it to the next heat?" he asked Sean.

"Yeah. If I place in that one I'm in the finals," he said with a big smile on his face.

They chatted for a few minutes, and then Jake had to go for his first heat of the 200 metres. Jake was in the shorter distances, as he was better at the speed events not the longer distances. Sean went with him to stay on the sidelines close to track level to cheer him on.

When the first heat was over, Jake had come second in his heat. He was quite a fast runner, and only petered out at the last moment to lose first place.

"I'm better at the 100. The 200 is too long for me," Jake said as he was still catching his breath as the two of them had joined me back in the stands.

After a couple of other heats, the boys had made the finals in one of the two events they had entered. Jake was in the 100 metres and Sean was in the 1500. Jake had come first in each of the two 100-metre heats, so he had a good chance at a first-place ribbon. We had about an hour and a half before either of them had to race, so I took them out to lunch at a nice roadhouse nearby.

"No Cokes boys. You need to think about some proper nutrition for your final races," I said.

We had a very healthy lunch and made our way back to the track. When we got there, the finals of the high jump were about to start. Stéphane was a competitor, and the boys went down to the centre of the track to watch and give him encouragement. I was enjoying the camaraderie that all 3 boys had shown over the day, as Stéphane had watched their events as well, cheering loudly.

When the event was over, Stéphane came in second and was presented with a ribbon. Sean and Jake were clapping loudly as the meet organizer pinned it on his t-shirt.

"Well boys, there's something to strive for," I said as they had now joined me back in the stands to get ready.

Sean's event was the second to last of the day and the 100 was the last. I could see that Sean was nervous as he was pacing in the aisle next to our seats.

"Take deep breaths and try to relax," I said trying to calm him down.

The race started and Sean was lagging behind and was second to last of the 10 competitors at the 400-metre mark. As he passed where I was sitting I could see his tongue come out, and his pace quicken. I guess Bulldog had come to compete. As they came down the stretch his stride was stronger and his arms were pumping like mad as he managed to come in third, just in front of the boy who had been leading the race until the 3/4 mark.

I went down to trackside and gave him a high five as he was gasping for breath.

"Great race, Bulldog," I said. He was still out of breath, but gave me a big smile.

By now, the competitors in the 100 metres were lining up at the starting blocks. Jake didn't appear too nervous, as he was flexing to keep himself loose. Sean and I stood at trackside to cheer him on.

When the starter's gun went off, Jake took the lead but was quickly caught by two other boys. The three of them were neck and neck to the finish line, but the taller of the three boys nipped Jake at the finish line to win. We went down to greet him as he wound down.

"Tough one, Jake. We thought you had it," I said as I patted him on the back.

He was also out of breath, but gave us a big smile and said, "That's OK. I had a good race." 'This boy's glass is always full.' I thought to myself.

I left the boys and went back to the stands, as they were going to be presented with their ribbons. Both boys were beaming as they came back up into the stands with their ribbons pinned to their t-shirts.

"You boys must be very proud of yourselves, because I sure am," I said as I gave the two of them a quick hug, so as not to embarrass them.

I asked Jake how he was getting home and he told me that a minibus was taking his team back to the school. He also told me that Pietro wouldn't be in until after 9 that night, so he was on his own for dinner. I knew that legally Jake was able to stay by himself, but I didn't want him to go to an empty house, especially after his great day.

"Why don't I call your uncle and see if you can come with us and stay the rest of the Easter weekend?" I asked. His face lit up with a big smile.

I managed to get Pietro on his cell, and he said that he was fine with Jake going with us. He was concerned that he would be imposing, but I assured him that he wasn't. Jake was going to come up on the next day anyway, which was Good Friday and stay over and go home with Pietro, who was joining us for Easter Sunday services and dinner.

"How about we stop at the Dairy Queen on our way over to Jake's house for a treat?" I said. That met with two very enthusiastic reactions.

When we dropped by Jake's house to get his things after the Dairy Queen, I noticed that the For Sale sign on the lawn had a Sold sticker on it.

"I didn't know you had sold the house already, Jake," I said.

He told me that it sold 3 days beforehand, and that the sold sticker was new, as it wasn't there in the morning when he left for school. I was glad, as that was a hurdle that I thought would be a troublesome one. The neighbourhood that Jake, and before that Sean lived in wasn't very desirable, and real estate was difficult to sell.

When we arrived at the townhouse, I told the boys to get into the shower, and then bring their gym clothes down to the laundry for me to wash.

"It was bad enough smelling you two on the way home. Remember to take your ribbons off your t-shirts first," I said as I laughed.

While they were showering I decided to check email in the Den. As I was looking at some jokes and other emails that friends had sent, I realized I needed to defrost some chicken that was in the freezer, so I went into the kitchen. While I was there I heard the boys come down the stairs as they had finished showering and go into the den to check phone messages on the answering machine. After a couple of minutes I heard giggling from the Den and I went to investigate.

"Look at the size of her boobs," Sean said as the two of them giggled as I came through the doorway.

I had left a soft porn PowerPoint of a very buxom totally naked girl running on the screen that had been sent by one of my buddies. I had forgotten to close it out and it was displaying in an endless loop.

"Ok boys, put your eyes back into your sockets," I said as I closed out the display.

I was very embarrassed and had a talk with them about what had happened. I explained that from time-to-time some of my friends and I exchanged jokes and soft porn email attachments. I also talked to them about the fact that I was an adult and they weren't.

"I'm sure you boys have seen that before and will see it again. It becomes a problem when you constantly look at stuff like that and worse. That's an addiction." I said with a serious expression on my face.

I knew this was going to be a tough topic for me to tackle with Sean, and now Jake, as this wasn't something the girls got into growing up. I really didn't think it was wrong for them to see something like that, but I didn't want to condone or encourage it. I felt a little hypocritical saying 'do as I say, not as I do'.

"I want you to understand pornography for what it is and realize that women aren't sex objects or toys that exist solely for your sexual gratification."

The boys could see that I was uncomfortable talking to them about it, and we dropped the subject quickly and went to the kitchen to make dinner. I had this gnawing feeling that I was copping out on them and that I would have to do more thinking about what I had just said to them.

On Good Friday morning it had been a tradition with Lorraine and I to take our girls on a hike when they were still living at home. I hadn't done that for some years but Dana and I had made arrangements to resurrect the tradition with the boys. She arrived at the townhouse about 10 a.m. all dressed in warm clothing for the hike.

"Isn't it kinda cold to be walking outside?" Sean said in a less than enthusiastic tone.

Neither Jake nor Sean was keen about the planned activity, but nevertheless they humoured Dana and me. Once we got going and made our way down the trails, they started to enjoy the time we were all having together.

When we got to the townhouse I toasted up the hot cross buns I had picked up at the store the day before and brought out some jams to spread on them. I then made hot chocolate for all of us, which was another part of the tradition. The boys particularly like this part, and made short work of ten out of the dozen buns that were in the package.

The traditional church service on Easter Sunday was a good one. The choir was great and did an excellent rendition of the Hallelujah chorus from Handel's Messiah. Pietro enjoyed the service as did the boys who were singing their heads off. They really did have good voices, and I was looking forward to them being in the junior choir next year.

After the service we were milling around in the parlour, as they had some refreshments for everyone. Reverend McLaughlin came over to us and I introduced him to Pietro.

"I understand you are moving into the area. I hope we see more of you as I'm sure you know you are very welcome here," he said as he shook his hand.

Pietro was very appreciative of the attention, and also his comments about what a good job he was doing with Jake.

I had a chance to speak with Randy out of earshot of the boys and Pietro and the conversation got around to Serena.

"I guess you know she's left the church. I'm also guessing you know what the reason was," he said as he gave me a sly grin.

"I may," I said as I gave him a cagey smile.

"I can't understand how someone can come to church each Sunday and have such an unchristian attitude," he said.

"Just going to church doesn't make you a Christian, Randy, any more than standing in your garage makes you a car."

The family started arriving for Easter dinner about 4 p.m. The boys had helped prepare our portion of the meal, which was the ham, sweet potato casserole and salad. Everyone else contributed something to the pot luck venture, and there was loads of food.

Rachel and Jake gravitated to each other the moment Rachel came in the door. They went down to the media room with the rest of the kids and Sean but didn't participate in the PlayStation tournaments or watching of the TV. They were talking the whole time, and I was guessing it was about books and other intellectual topics.

At one point, I was in the kitchen and Sean came upstairs and joined me to get a quick snack. I could see on his face that he felt a little left out downstairs.

"What's Jake and Rachel doing?" I asked, knowing full well what the answer was.

"They're talking," he said with a disgusted look on his face.

"Do you miss Melissa?"

"Yeah," he said with a forlorn look on his face.

"Why don't you go into the Den and give her a call?"

He gave me a big smile and took off out of the kitchen to the Den.

We had a great meal, and everyone had a good time catching up on each other's lives. Pietro fit in very well, and didn't appear to feel out of place.

Pietro and I had a chance to talk about the sale of his house, and he told me he was very happy at the price he got for it. He was also happy that he didn't have to worry anymore about selling it on time.

After dinner the girls talked to Jake and Sean and filled them in on the activities they had planned for the next weekend. I could see that all of them, not just Sean and Jake, were looking forward to the time together.

The next Friday came quickly. Sean had been looking forward to this all week, and he was just beside himself as we waited for the Limo that I had rented to arrive after it picked up Jake at his house. After that it was going to pick up Melissa, Mara and the girls and their significant others as well, and take all of them to dinner and the show in Toronto.

"Sean, how many times have you packed that bag? Calm down, you're going to see Melissa soon."

He just gave me a look as I left his room and went downstairs.

The limo arrived shortly before 4 p.m. and Jake bounded out of the back seat as soon as it had come to a stop.

"Whoa, this is a big Limo. They even have a fridge and drinks," he said with a big smile on his face.

Sean finally came down the stairs with his bag, and I loaded them into the limo. I smiled to myself as I looked at his hand, as he had his pinky ring on.... and lots of Axe cologne. The traffic going into Toronto wasn't as bad as the traffic leaving the city at this time of the day, and I suspected that they would get to Katie's by 5:30.

"Now don't drink too much or you'll have to stop to pee before you get there," I said as I smiled at them in the back seat.

It was strange not having Sean around on Friday night and Saturday. This was the first time we had been parted from each other since he had been with me. I felt at loose ends without him around, but I knew this was good for both the girls and him. The thought of being with Dana for dinner and at the theatre helped keep my mind off of my separation anxiety.

I picked Dana up just before 5 p.m. to go to the restaurant where we were meeting the other three couples. It was John and Carolyn Langdon's turn to pick the restaurant, and they chose a nice steakhouse in the centre of the city 5 minutes away from the theatre.

"You look great, Dana, as usual," I said as I gave her a hug and kiss on her cheek.

"I didn't know we were going to be so formal tonight. You usually don't wear a suit. Maybe I should change?" she said.

"I don't have a tie on, so I don't consider this formal. You look lovely the way you are. Shall we go," I said as I held open her front door.

"Well, how's the new dad?" Barbara Boynton asked as she and Dave sat down at the table in the restaurant.

I smiled as I told her we were doing fine.

"I never thought I'd be a dad again, especially before I became a grandfather," I said as we all laughed.

My other partner Paul Wyman and his wife Marj were the last to arrive as they were coming in from out of town. Paul was a silent partner like myself. They had moved away three years ago, but still maintained their interest in the business.

"Well, where's the picture of your new son?" Marj asked as she smiled.

I had a picture in my wallet and I took it out to show them.

"He's quite a good-looking young man. He's going to be a lady killer. You're either a brave man, or crazy, to be raising a young teenager at your age," she said as she smiled at me as she gave me back the picture.

We had a great meal, and we all got caught up on things going on in our lives. The guys spent part of the time having an unofficial business meeting, since Paul and I weren't operating partners and were always curious about sales.

We all enjoyed the play and had a good chat at the intermission about the actors and the plot. After it was over, we all decided to go home rather than go out for an after theatre drink. We were all in our sixties, and the days of late nights were past.

We were walking out of the theatre with the Boyntons as they had parked near us. We were all chatting as we made our way to our vehicles. Dana and I held hands as soon as we had left the theatre, and I saw the look on Barbara's face as she noticed. She caught my attention and gave me a big smile.

As we were driving out of the parking lot, I asked Dana if she would like to come back to my place for a nightcap. I hadn't expected that she would say yes, but much to my surprise she did.

It was about 10:30 when we arrived at the townhouse. I opened up a bottle of J. Lohr Cabernet Sauvignon and poured two glasses. We sat together on the living room couch as we chatted and recapped the play we just saw. It was the last one of the season, and it was a great love story.

After a half hour, there was a long pause and both of us realized we were gazing into each other's eyes. Before I knew it we were in a passionate embrace. Time seemed to stand still but we finally broke apart.

"It's getting late. I guess I should drive you home..... if you want me to."

She smiled at me and took my hand as we got up from the couch. I turned out the lights in the living room, as we made our way upstairs.