The next week with my parents absolutely flew by. The three of us were constantly on the go, going from one end of Kingston to the other. We went to Lime Cay for a day and to Gloria’s in Port Royal for dinner, went up to campus to look at my parents’ old stomping grounds and my current ones, and visited what seemed like an endless number of family and friends.
Mummy and I also found time to go shopping for my New Year’s Eve dress. The one we found was absolutely gorgeous and I couldn’t wait to wear it. I tried not to wonder what Kevin would think of it, and tried to ignore my mother’s incessant chatter in my ear after we’d bought it, telling me that he would surely leave his girlfriend to be with me once he saw me in it.
I had finally asked Adrianne to come with me to his party; I figured my cousin was the best date out of all my options. I could tell that the guys were disappointed when I had vaguely told each of them that I had family plans for New Year’s, but I was superstitious. My cousin had laughed at me when I told her that. “Adrianne, they say who you spend New Year’s Eve with is who you spend the rest of your year with! And you know I don’t want to tie myself down for the rest of the year.”
Adrianne had burst out laughing. “That is such rubbish. How you live in Canada and just as superstitious as any Jamaican old-time country person? So what, if you go to a party with one of these guys, are they going to kidnap you and make you their bride?” But I was sure about my decision. My older cousin would be good enough company for me.
The night before the party, my parents and I, just as we’d done each year when I was young, went to Pantomime. To those who don’t know, that must sound like a horrible night but Pantomime was actually quite the opposite of what its name suggested. It referred to an annual Christmastime Jamaican satirical play, socially relevant, mostly in patois, and always brilliant. Buying the tickets had been one of my father’s priorities. It was just the three of us going, so it really did feel like old times, with the exception of my mother quarrelling with my father that he didn’t know how to drive in Jamaica anymore, and constantly telling him to slow down. I was laughing so hard at their squabbling that, as we walked into the Ward Theatre, I didn’t even notice who was walking in right beside us until I heard someone say my name.
“Kevin!” I greeted, completely caught off-guard. I felt totally flustered at seeing him with his parents while I was with mine. He was apparently with his father and stepmother, as the man looked a lot like him.
“Oh, this is Kevin!” exclaimed my mother with a giant smile. I instantly wanted to sink into a hole. What on earth was she doing? I contemplated grabbing the car keys and taking off running, but my father put the keys away before I could act. “Nadiya has told me all about everybody that she’s met down here.” Mummy now directed her comments to his parents. “And she mentioned that there was a boy named Kevin she had actually gone to school with years ago.”
I breathed a silent sigh of relief. I had to give her some credit, she could have made it much more embarrassing than that!
Kevin smiled his gorgeous smile at my mother. “Yes, that’s me. It’s very nice to meet you, Mrs. Foster. Mr. Foster.” He shook both of my parents’ hands warmly and firmly, and my heart fluttered. He’s so polite!
“Lily and her parents are supposed to be here somewhere too,” he continued, “but we haven’t seen them yet.”
Of course they’re here. Of course. The last person I wanted to see was Lily. What would I say if she asked why I hadn’t called? I could only manage a weak smile in response.
But not my mother. Oh no. “Oh, your girlfriend is here? Let’s find her!” She started to look around, clearly eager to see what she considered my competition. And once again, I felt mortified. Just when I thought I could trust her to not say anything crazy!
Fortunately, my father took pity on me and rushed in. “Owen Foster, pleased to meet you,” he boomed, extending a hand to Kevin’s father. Thankfully, all talk about Lily was forgotten. After all the parents had exchanged names and pleasantries, I quickly shuffled mine off before Mummy could do any further damage.
“Wow, he is gorgeous!” she whispered to me as we walked away. “And so well-mannered. And his parents are quite nice; he seems to come from a very good family.”
“I told you! Now do you see why I like him so much? But Mummy, seriously, why’d you have to embarrass me like that?”
My mother kissed her teeth. “Lawd, Nadiya, I didn’t say anything!”
My father burst out laughing as we took our seats. “You don’t know how your mother stay already? That was her on her best behaviour!”
“Well, if we see them after the show, I promise I won’t say a single word,” she huffed. “And if you see Lily and introduce me to her, I will say nothing past hello.” But she never got a chance to prove it; as much as I looked, I didn’t see Kevin again or Lily that night.