Is it a coincidence that Erica is always over here when Alicia has a new batch of strawberries? Maybe it is a sixth sense that she has? Or, perhaps, the smoothie has nothing to do with it. I think Erica is here for my counseling because her daughter, Bramble, is in trouble again.
Erica started right in.
“You’d think Joe (her “ex”, the CFO of a local pulp mill) would be a little suspicious. A couple of weeks ago Bramble tells him that her friend, Monica, is driving them to the Mall. He should know that the Mall is not open at 1:30 in the morning. But Bramble told him it was, and he believed her.”
Bramble’s a teen and lives with her father. That’s sort of like having Jason Voorhees chaperone your high school dance. Joe is perpetually drunk, incoherent, and oblivious.
“Fortunately, one of Joe’s friends patrols Jacksonville’s downtown. He mentioned that he saw Bramble in a car stopped at a street corner that particular night. He thought she was transacting some sort of business. Unfortunately, he waited until the next time Joe and he were brewing beer to mention it. By that time, she had already disposed of whatever she bought and thought of three plausible (and contradictory) stories to explain the situation.”
“I try not to blame Joe too much, though. Bramble is always very convincing and she is usually pretty good at getting collaboration.”
How do you mean?
“For instance, she got help from the High School Webmaster. He’s a 23 year old friend of hers; still in 11th grade. It seems that he can’t complete the English requirements to graduate. He posted bogus holidays on the school calendar so she could tell Joe that she didn’t have to go to school.”
“When the school’s automated attendance system kept calling to say Bramble was tardy for her ‘History of Denmark’ class (she actually loves the class – she says she wants to emigrate after high school to somewhere that encourages sex and drug use), we called the school and the teacher swore that Bramble had never even been registered in her class.”
Sounds like the school doesn’t have their act together.
“It’s not just the high school. She once had her tennis instructor call and tell Joe that he didn’t have to pick up Bramble from her tennis lesson until the next morning. What do you think that was about?”
I just shook my head and covered my eyes.
“I complained to Joe that he doesn’t keep close enough tabs on her. He never knows who she is with. I told him he had to find out the name of her friend’s parents, their address and their phone numbers.
“He wasn’t that happy with my suggestions and said I don’t do any better, myself.”
“I hate to admit that he’s right. I don’t do a good enough job keeping tabs on her.”
“Last time she stayed the weekend with me it wasn’t until Sunday morning that I discovered she wasn’t sick in her room the entire time like she claimed. She had some Cuban guy in there having sex all weekend. I never did get his name. I think he was the guy who cleaned my pool, but I haven’t seen him since, so I’m not sure.
I suggested to Erica that she and Joe might want to consider counseling for Bramble.
“Oh, she has a great counselor. A very professional woman who relates well to teens. She doesn’t seem that much older than Bramble. We give Bramble $40 for an evening session, three nights a week. Her counselor even picks her up and drops her off.”
Breakfast Smoothie (serves one): ½ cup ice, 6 strawberries, ½ banana, a gob of vanilla yogurt, fill with cranberry juice.