How You Do

Unscrew the lid, twist the bottom, apply lipstick. Nelly fluffed her hair in a cute manner and grinned at herself in the mirror. She could hardly contain herself for the bliss she felt at the thought of her boyfriend, Jacob, visiting for dinner after work. Quietly she heard the bell to her small apartment ring. Stifling a squeak she skipped to the door letting her spring dress flap about her knees carelessly, pausing only to double-check the kitchen table was set and all prepared food was accounted for. Without so much as a glance in the peephole Nelly unlocked the door and threw it open in welcome. She wanted to slam it shut just as quickly when, in horror, she looked out into the hallway to see not her lover, but her father. 

Grinning in a way strikingly similar in manner to his daughter, Nelly’s father burst open, revealing his short, stocky build well fed on campfire beans. Rushing forward he embraced her wholly, lifting her off her feet as he twirled her around the living room. Returning her to the floor he greeted her with a flood of words and large hand gestures. Nelly stood in shock. Her father asked a question and, without waiting a proper amount of time for answer, yelled out into the hallway.   

Needing no further encouragement, a horde of men flooded through the door much like clowns flood out a car. Nelly found herself stranded in a sea of flying voices and bodies vying for space. She wanted to cry. It was not that she disliked her father; in fact, she loved him dearly. But that did not stay the embarrassment she felt at his sudden turning-up. His chosen occupation was that of a traveling circus performer and musician; his friends his fellow players. Growing up, Nelly loved it. Her father gifted her toys from all over the land when he visited; his friends related like uncles, playing music and dancing for her until she would explode from squeals. But as age took her she set her mind on the notion that other people didn’t much like such things.

Jacob was a business man; a serious one. He knew nothing of her heritage. If he found out her father was nothing more than what some people would call a gypsy, why, he would leave her and find himself a respectable woman. Simple as that.         

Nelly heard hustles and bustles coming from her kitchen. It sounded like the world falling apart. Running in earnest she saw five men plus her father seated at the table, the counter, and against the fridge. Instruments appeared from various concealed compartments often found on a person and, meeting lips, expelled rowdy music fit for a pub. But worse than that, the men had laid waste to her dinner. Stuffing the food she had so carefully prepared into heavily bearded mouths, only crumbs remained with cheer.  

The doorbell rang. Nelly stiffened with fright. Her father bade her answer, lest he answer it himself. Slowly she left the kitchen for the living room and front door. Pulling it open with far less gusto than before, she looked meekly at her boyfriend standing in the hall.

Pecking her on the cheek as he loosened his tie, he stopped just a few steps inside the door when he heard the kitchen making unusual noises. Nelly pulled on Jacob’s elbow and stuttered the beginnings of an explanation, but before more than a few words escaped her father appeared in the door-frame, loudly inquiring about the possibility of more food.

The two men of her life stared at each other. A half-hearted hello drifted between the two. Suddenly her father smiled. Jacob motioned in a questioning manner. Before Nelly could move her father did, introducing himself as the head of the household and all its inhabitants. Shaking hands vigorously Jacob continued to look at her. She shrunk and waited for the disapproval, only to hear it never come. Instead she was given laughter. Imagine: such a free-spirited man to converse with instead of stuffy suits and ties.

Already best buds, her father threw his arm around Jacob and guided him into the kitchen, much to the welcome of those within. Dazed and more than a little confused Nelly couldn’t quite wrap her mind around it. Giving up on her rational she shrugged and entered the full kitchen, setting about preparing ham and cheese sandwiches for her family. 

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