When I first heard him speak, my back was to him, and my knees dug into the glazed brick floor. His Yorkie, Scout, sat in my lap. I feigned complete interest in the dog and dared not look at him.
"You must be Lacey. Don't bother getting up--you're already on your knees."
Such an utterance commanded a peek. His comment was presumptuous and awesome, and I immediately liked him. I had heard stories, and the socks rolled up over the legs of his sweatpants meant one thing: this was definitely Farmer McGregor. (This was not his real name, yet I was so taken by the nickname given to him by his stepson that I still can't help but use it.)
I'll freely admit that I was intimidated by him. A Harvard graduate ... a successful journalist and author ... not to mention a family member of the guy I was dating at the time. The sum was terrifying enough, but I still think the latter was what concerned me most.
Words fail me now as they did then. I smiled and nodded and gazed out the window. My then-boyfriend's extended family was conducting a lawnmower race in a field across the road. I gazed out the window, making polite conversation when appropriate.
Dogs were walked. Old houses were shown to me. On the ride to the restaurant, I was told that Farmer McGregor had availed himself of a large bottle of liquor the night before and was not his "usual" self. I was also told that, on occasion, Farmer McGregor forgot the stepson was speaking about his girlfriend and instead remembered a young man at Harvard (known as Lacey) who once stole McGregor's Thanksgiving turkey. Many years after the fact, Farmer McGregor still spewed venom at the mere mention of his name. I could relate.
Dinner was a somewhat quiet affair. Ashamedly, most questions revolved around me--though, to be fair, I was a recent addition to the table. And I was trying my damnedest to pretend I didn't know who sat across the table from me.
"I've been to Machu Picchu. Are you jealous?"
"Quite," I responded, as I slurped some French onion soup.