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Plywood and Chips


It was a gloomy, drizzly morning. We woke up tired, our collective efforts at putting out the remnants of last years horrid hurricane season from our backyard having been only half successful. We started early, and by about 1, we were: Done. Grumpy and Hungry. The bulk pickup truck arrived, and the driver brushed away my offer to help, looked at me pitifully and nonchalantly loaded everything up by himself. Increase in level of guilt – why did I get dad to help?

We drove to India South, stuck behind the old couple in a white pickup truck, their grandson sandwiched between them, sipping coke – crew cut head visible through the back door of their cab. The old man talking on his cellphone, grandma's feet up on the dashboard, truck crawling on a one lane road. Not a speck of dust on the truck, some plywood on the truck bed. Did he load it up himself?

The four of us get seated on a table probably designed for two, the four large partitioned stainless steel plates covering up the entire table, water cups balanced precariously at the edges. We eat, Lavanya elbowing me, me elbowing the faux wood finish on the walls.

As we eat, we also listen. Four engineers, talking loudly enough for the entire restaurant to hear. One of them inviting the other three to his house,

“Come over man, we can do something.”

“Really? Like what?”

“Maybe we can play poker. I have poker chips at home.”

“I have chips too. Potato chips.”

Then the killer. The other three actually laugh.

At which point, Lavanya turns to me and says, “I'm glad I married you.” And we both drank a lot of water to that thought.