TWO - Still Life with Gallstones

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December 16th – Sunday

I think my dad has a crush on Misty. He is way more interested in alpacas/llamas and the nature of their fleece than any normal father should be. He even went as far as to buy one of her hand-knitted vests, then put it on and wore it the whole evening, and, not to be mean or anything, but he didn't look like a seasoned gulf islander; he just looked like an underweight chartered accountant wearing a slightly-too-large Nepalese vest.

The worst part, though, was the actual dinner. Misty (who is really very nice, and wears low cut shirts, which is also very nice), made this vegetarian stew. Chick peas and tofu and vegetables and something else that I couldn't quite identify. Thing was, whatever was in there, reminded me of the mason jar in their living room. Why, you ask? Well, I'll tell you. Misty's father, "Norm," had fourteen gallstones removed in the summer and that's where he keeps them. In the jar. I think he's actually quite proud of them.

When he caught me looking at the jar, he pointed at it with his cane and said, yep, grew 'em myself. I didn't know how to respond. No one has ever shown me a part of their body that they'd had removed. No. Wait. In grade seven, Evan Duxbury showed me a photo of a cyst his grandma had had taken out of her stomach. It had fingernails and hair stuck in it. I had nightmares for about two weeks.

Anyway, I was as polite as I could be, and said, Wow, nice gallstones. And then Norm picked up a small baby food jar and put it in my hand. In it was another gallstone, but it was bigger than the others—the size of a brussels sprout. Norm said, Call that one Tyrone, because that to me is a badass kind of name, don't you think? But I didn't have time to answer because my dad cut in and started telling Misty and Norm about this kid he went to high school with called Tyrone, who could bench press 350 and once picked up a car by its bumper with one hand. Dad never shuts up about Tyrone; he acts like they were best friends, but I happen to know Tyrone thought Dad was a total zero back in the day—my mom told me this two years ago in confidence. That is, back when Mom was still a part of the family—before she ran off with her Pilates instructor, who by the way, is a SHE.

Come to think of it, I'm surprised Dad didn't name me Tyrone when I was born, but I'm glad he didn't. I could never pull off a name like that. I wear glasses and I weigh about as much as your average ten-year-old, so Myles is a much better fit for me, I think.

Still, despite the gallstone stew, Norm and Misty were pretty nice, and Misty hugged me when we left. She hugged Dad, too, and Norm slapped me on the back and said, good luck at school tomorrow, you little shit! And then he laughed and laughed and laughed like he knew something I didn't. Understandably, I'm a little freaked out.

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