“Nelson is teaching Kathy bathroom words,” Ruth, my new mother-in-law, complained. Wispy-haired, with deep-set eyes, she glared at me, probably because of my youthful blond, blue-eyed beauty. Ruth had expensive tastes. Her fabulous Bethesda, Maryland, contemporary home was filled with Asian antiques.
As a New Yorker, I knew plenty of swear words, from the f-word to “tough titties,” but I didn’t know what a “bathroom word” was.
David pinned his urge for marriage on me. “Guess who’s in town and she wants to marry me.”
“Give Dorin this ring and try to stall her off.” She dug into her safety deposit box for the priceless ring, a large Chinese emerald-green jade set in platinum flanked with diamonds that his father gave her. David just had to tell me her words. The ring echoed her dismissal. I wanted to smash it with a hammer.
I left it on the sink in the Chop Suey restaurant’s ladies room. When I realized it was gone, I ran back. The sink was naked.
Ruth and her second husband had a precocious, spoiled, three-year-old red-haired child named Kathy.
Kathy played with Nelson, the boy next door. Indoors, outdoors, in his crabgrass back yard, in hers with the Japanese stone lanterns.
Ruth said, “Nelson is saying ‘dog do.’ Now Kathy’s saying ‘dog do’ all the time. She’s even calling me ‘Dog do.’ Next she’ll be saying four-letter words.”
“Oh you mean like f—?”
She walked out of the room.
I was alone outside sipping tea when Kathy and Nelson came toward the house.
“Tell me your name,” Nelson demanded.
Nelson shouted to Ruth through the window, “She said her name is ‘Dog do’!”
“Oh Nelson, shame on you! You know that’s not true. What a terrible thing to say,” Ruth scolded.
Nelson turned and glared at me. He said, “You’re not nice.”
I looked him in the eye and I said, “Dog do.”