Tigresses of Lawndale – 10 – In Hot Water
By Dr T
Jane mistakenly pushes Daria toward greater intimacy; Amy shows up with an early birthday present for Daria. Both result in serious discussions.
The Oakdale game was another blowout, although not to the degree that some of the others games had been, with Lawndale winning 42-6. After the game, the quartet made their usual jaunt to Beef-n-Cake, and then went on to the Yanuzzi garage for the hot tub.
While the girls stripped down and Daria finished putting on her swim suit, she turned and then glared at Jane. "Jane, aren't you forgetting something? You know, like half your suit?"
Jane gave an exaggerated shrug. Daria scowled at the resulting jiggle.
Jane sighed and said, "Look, you've seen my boobs lots of times. John has seen and touched and kissed my boobs lots, well, several times, and Thor has seen mine in the hot tub, just like John has seen yours."
"I've tried not to remember those facts, if you don't mind," Daria snapped. "In the hot tub, with our tops slipping off. . . ."
"Slipped off," Jane corrected. "There was nothing accidental about it when we did it."
"Slipped off, if you insist," Daria reluctantly agreed. "And while you did it, I just allowed it. Still, that helped preserve the illusion of placement that, along with the dusk and shadows, let it at least seem as if such exhibitions are private moments only, even if partially shared with another couple similarly engaged close by. Not that our boobs are for public display."
"I appreciate the distinction," Jane said after a moment's thought. "I just thought it would give them a pleasant jolt to see us come in topless."
"I'm sure it would. I am also sure they are frustrated by the jolts we give them as it is. I see no reason to add deliberate teasing, at least to that degree. As a compromise, we wear the tops down, turn off the lights, and then you can strip off the top if you feel so moved."
"What about you?"
"I would prefer to have a wet top partially still on, if only for verisimilitude during any unexpected questioning."
Jane thought about that and then nodded. "I understand. Deal." Jane seemed to pause in thought.
"What?" Daria demanded.
"Nothing. I just thought you might have something to add."
"If you want to go farther with John, don't let me stop you. I just don't need to be in the same room."
"Okay, I understand," Jane said, although events would soon show how much she had misunderstood.
"Come on then, Gypsy Rose, time to perform."
The next morning, as the Yanuzzi family returned from early Mass, John was told to join his mother when she went to open Pizza Prince (his father would open Pizza King).
"And what am I doing wrong now?" John asked as he slid into the car later that morning.
"Trying to decide which of your many transgressions I've caught on to?" his mother asked lightly.
"I can't think of any, so it's more trying to figure out what you think I'm doing wrong," was John's comeback. Anyone hearing their tone of voice would know the two were both serious and yet bantering.
"Maybe you and Theo should leave the lights on while you and your girlfriends are in the tub," Mrs. Yanuzzi suggested, which made John wince. "Be honest, how serious are you and Theo about those two?" she demanded. "For that matter, how serious are they about you two?"
"I think Jane and I are well matched," John replied. "I like her; she likes me. I sure respect her; I'll be shocked if she doesn't become a well-known artist. We're not looking for the love of our lives."
"What are you looking for, then?"
"Practice?" John suggested. "By that I mean someone who I can take seriously and yet have fun with, and I don't just mean 'in the hot tub' type of fun. Jane is fun to be with; she's funny and smart."
"And sexy," John admitted. "I hope you know me, and her, well enough to know I will not cross any line she sets. And trust me, if I did, if Jane didn't make me regret it, Daria would."
"She is an intense little thing, isn't she?" Mrs. Yanuzzi commented.
"Intense? She's the most frightening person I've ever met! If she didn't have the ethics of a Roman stoic, I'd be terrified of her!"
"Oh, that sounds like one of Theo's exaggerations!"
"It's not," John assured her. "You didn't see the tape of her taking care of Feldman and his three goons, and you haven't talked to her about it. She loves her sister, but likes her about as much as you like Aunt Connie."
"I love Connie!"
"I know you do, but do you like her?"
John's mother frowned, but said nothing.
"As much as Daria loves her sister, she loves and cares for Jane more," John went on. "If anyone really hurt Jane, well, think of what great-uncle Carmine would have done, and multiply that by Daria's genius-level."
Carmine 'the Cobra,' a legend in the extended family, had been a 'button man' during and after Prohibition. Mrs. Yanuzzi did not want to contemplate what he could have done to someone who had harmed a loved one. "Tell me about Theo and Daria."
"Well, they started off like me and Jane," John stated. "But I think they both have a least a hint of romantic streaks that Jane and I really don't have, even if Daria tries very hard to hide it." He, Theo, and Jane all thought that Daria was likely the most sensuous, although she kept that even more hidden that her romantic streak. "I don't think they're any more in love than Jane and I are, but I think the idea that they might really fall for each other both excited and worries them a bit. If anything, I think Thor is a bit more, well, smitten, than Daria."
"And have you and Jane, or Daria and Theo, been alone in the hot tub, especially with the lights off?"
"No," John could honestly state.
"Keep it that way," Mrs. Yanuzzi warned. "Both couples, not one at a time."
"I promise," John replied. He was not about to tell his mother than neither he nor Thor, nor Jane for that matter, had much body shyness, and that Daria seemed to regard Jane as something of a security blanket when it came to making out.
John was very glad his mother had not cut them off from the hot tub. Thor and Daria never went further than moderate necking and light petting when alone in Thor's truck, and they really had no place else to make out, and John and Jane had gone only slightly further in his car. The school was really impossible – the only place would have been the store room Jane painted in, and she was not about to risk that space. The Morgendorffer house was out, as was the Lanes', since Jane's Mom was not only still in town but likely to be in the house in the evenings. John's mom had long before ruled the actual house out of bounds, which was a shame, considering its size.
Now that the community orchestra was back practicing Sunday afternoons and Tuesday evenings, the Villars' was a possibility, but the two couples had not been able to organize things, and the girls had so far refused to be separated.
Although Jane had come up with a plan for Tuesday night which Thor and especially John had happily endorsed.
Daria blinked as John and Jane walked hurriedly hand-in-hand over to the cellar stairs at the Villars'. Stunned and silent, she followed Thor up towards his bedroom.
At the doorway, Daria placed her hand on Thor's arm, which made him stop and turn to her. "Let me get this straight," she said quietly. "Jane and John are going down to the basement, where they will take turns taking off their clothes and then 'do a Clinton' on each other?"
"And Jane expects us to do the same?"
"No," Daria stated flatly.
Thor was silent for a moment, and then he said, "I respect your decision, but may I ask why?"
"Daria, I like you, and yes, I am attracted to you. I am not trying to talk you into anything, but if you can, help me understand," Thor implored.
Daria swallowed nervously, considering fleeing the state (or at least the house) but instead answered, "I've gone along with making out in the hot tub, and allowing my top to come off. And yes, I have enjoyed those experiences, but at the same time, part of me has been screaming over being so exposed. That was my limit, and right now it still is. The mere thought of as much intimacy as Jane will experience tonight, never mind the ultimate physical intimacy it may someday lead to, makes me want to run away and throw up. If I thought you'd push even a little bit, I probably would have done just that."
Thor was obviously contrite: "Daria. . . ."
"No, don't say anything. And, at the risk of sending you mixed signals, would you . . . would you hold me?"
Thor hugged the smaller teen, and as he felt her tremble in his arms, hugged her even more protectively.
It took Daria a minute or so to stop shaking, and then, after a bit longer, she seemed to come to a decision and backed slightly away.
"Thank you for being understanding," Daria said gratefully. "I know it must be disappointing."
"A little, but that's not important," Thor replied honestly. He knew Daria well enough by now to know she would prefer a somewhat uncomfortable truth to sugar coating. "I was a bit surprised that Jane suggested this, to tell the truth. Somehow, I thought you had already agreed to the idea."
"Sometimes Jane's enthusiasm gets far ahead of my ability to participate," Daria responded. "I am sorry; I can tell how excited you are."
Thor frowned in thought, and the flushed from embarrassment.
"I'm not a prude," Daria reminded him. "Your reaction, even your anticipation, while worrying on a major level, is also a bit gratifying. You've been kind, caring. . . ."
"Daria, no matter what the level of physicality, I want to keep seeing you," Thor said earnestly.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes," Thor responded. He hugged Daria a bit closer. "Will this be alright to keep doing?"
Daria smiled despite herself, and finally hugged him back a bit. "Yes, and yes, I intend to keep kissing you, at least from the neck on up, and will encourage you to do the same. I may even be willing to go the hot tub route again, if John and Jane can keep their pants on." A thought struck Daria, and she backed off slightly. This time Thor could tell she wanted to be completely loose, and set let her go.
Daria thought, and thought hard and thoroughly. She thought about her fears and anxieties; she thought about her desires and hopes; she thought about what she and Jane had done the previous summer that last night at the drive-in, and what Jane and John were likely doing two floors down in the cellar.
Daria was at a crossroads, unexpectedly soon, thanks to Jane's hormones getting away from her and involving Daria. Daria knew she was certainly not ready to go forward in the manner Jane was that evening. Much more difficult was admitting to herself she did not want to retreat, either. The question was, could she find some other action which she could bring herself to do which would leave her with some defenses?
She again remembered that last date at the drive-in, and forced herself to make the decision.
Thor looked on in confusion and Daria took off her denim jacket and then her blouse, but leaving her sports bra on. She looked up into his eyes – she was not wearing her glasses that evening. "Now, I want you to go into the bathroom, take off all your clothes, and stand in the bath tub."
Thor blinked. "Why?" he asked.
"Because while I am not willing to please you in a certain way, and certainly not ready to be pleased in a similar way, I am willing to give you pleasure with a different method. Since that will result in a mess, the bath tub seems the best place for it. You can then shower, and while you do that, I will wash up at the same time. I will see you tomorrow night after six. Tell Jane I'll talk with her after school as well. I don't want to talk about tonight before then, so I'll be skipping the walk to school with Jane and lunch. Okay?"
"We don't have to. . . ."
"I know; go on in," Daria said, making shooing motions. "I'll come in when you say you're ready."
"Okay. . . ." Thor said uncertainly.
As he disappeared into the bathroom, Daria leaned dizzily against a wall. Her hand came up to hold her forehead. "You can do this, Morgendorffer," she muttered. "If you can't be normal, you can at least pretend. You know from the girls talking in the locker room this is a fairly common activity for couples, even some casual couples, so no one other than Mom and Dad would look down at me for doing it in the unlikely event anyone beyond Jane and John learn of it. And this will not be embarrassing . . . well, that embarrassing . . . it will be educational. Theo will have a good time, and with my being in control, I might actually like it . . . to some degree." Having convinced herself, Daria stood up straight, took a deep breath, and went into the bathroom.
Jane was worried that next afternoon. When Thor had said Daria had left (without going into any explanations on what the pair had done, or not done), she had quickly realized that she had made several errors. The question now would be what would Daria do in response? She had been polite but distant all day, and Jane did not know how to interpret that.
Daria was only a few seconds behind Jane in getting to the storage room where Jane would be working on her huge canvas. Before she could say anything, Jane turned and blurted out, "I'm sorry."
Daria nodded. "Accepted. Still, we need to talk, Jane."
"Alright." Jane had two metal folding chairs in the room, and she pushed one towards Daria. Nothing was more important to Jane than her painting, but a few things were equal to it, especially her friendship with Daria.
Daria sat primly and opened with, "First of all, I got an e-mail from Aunt Amy this morning. She's coming to see me Saturday and will be here for at least the afternoon. She said she's bringing me an early birthday present."
"Cool. I can understand why you'll be busy."
Daria nodded. "More importantly, we've never talked about sex, have we?"
"Not really," Jane admitted. "I mean we've made jokes about it, but we've never discussed it, not even last summer."
"First of all, I think you know I have intimacy problems; primarily letting people get close to me, especially physically."
"I do," Jane agreed, "although you've gotten better."
"I have. And you also know that despite those problems, I am not a prude. I had Theo strip down, stand in the tub, and then I did to him what I did to Fred last summer."
"Easier to clean up that way," Jane commented.
"Exactly. In doing so, I realized that, under the right circumstances, I might even be able to do to Theo what you were planning on doing to John last night."
"Did," Jane said.
Daria merely nodded to acknowledge that information. "For me to do that with a person, well, it would take a level of trust I think I have, or nearly have, with Theo, and, again for me at least, a high level of physical and emotional attraction, which again I admit I have for him. I couldn't just 'do it' for fun."
"Okay. I not only understand that, but agree with it."
"Fine. But doing that, just like what I did last night, while sexual, since that trust is there does not involve a radical lowering of my defenses."
Jane puzzled about that for a while. In a sense, Daria had been surprised the night before, but had been willing to please Thor. What was the problem, other than the surprise? That was not the major problem. Pleasing Thor was not the major problem, although it obvious had been one. Worry about Thor spreading the word around was not likely, as he was pretty discrete.
'It must be being pleasured by Thor?' Jane thought. 'Why?' She looked at Daria, still puzzled. "I thought you were over what body image problems you had."
"I am. I could probably be naked in the hot tub with you, even if John could see me as well as Theo. That's not the intimacy barrier I can't get past."
Jane looked puzzled. "What is it, then?"
Daria flushed, but pressed on. "Jane, how often do you, well, stimulate yourself."
"You mean. . . ."
"You know damn well what I mean!" Daria snapped.
"Okay, okay!" Jane gave in. "It depends. Anywhere from two or three times a week to, well, let's say . . . often."
"Okay. How many times at Ashfield?"
"Over the whole ten weeks? I don't know, forty or fifty times, maybe. A bit more than average."
"I was way over my average. Seven times."
"You can't climax without giving up control," Daria said simply. "That is not easy for me."
"I doubt if I had done it a dozen times in my life until well into our sophomore year."
"Why then? Oh?" Jane realized, "That rash. . . ."
Daria nodded. "It helped settle the hormone storms which were causing the rash, but after a few times a week for a few weeks that was taken care of and after that, maybe once every two or three weeks at most until last summer. It's a level of giving up control on that I'm not overly comfortable with by myself, let alone letting someone else do it, let alone the pressure of getting it done."
"I can see that," Jane agreed.
"Can you really?"
"Yes," Jane said simply. "Just because it's not one of my hang-ups doesn't mean it's not a completely reasonable one." Jane paused and then said, "I needed to do what we did last night. It finished getting rid of one of my demons."
"One I'm sure you never have known about," Jane replied. "Do you know what a 'teabag party' is?"
Daria made a disgusted face at that. "That's where young teen girls are brought to a gathering of a few older girls and lots of guys. The popular older girls then pressure the younger ones into performing oral sex on one or more random boys in order to join their popular group. Of course, the girls are mostly popular because they are both attractive and compliant, at least within the context of the 'party.' They had them at Highland, too. Even I was invited, although I had enough sense to say no, and by the time Quinn was considered in High School those girls were too intimidated by Quinn's natural popularity and my reputation to try it with her."
"I didn't know what they were back at the start of ninth grade," Jane said quietly. "I went to one and then refused to do it. That's why I was rejected by the 'popular girls' – even the ones who didn't participate. I had been judged and placed in a category; by going to that first party and then refusing to go along, refusing to know my place, I was rejected even by the girls who would never have gone to such a party." Jane's mouth twisted into a hurt smile. "By the time they were through trashing me, I actually probably did need the first two self-esteem classes."
"So last night, you proved to yourself it was merely the circumstances that you rejected, that there is nothing wrong with your sexuality in the proper context?"
"Well, I don't know how proper it was," Jane joked, "but I enjoyed both experiences. I'm sorry that I pushed you too hard."
"I like having a friend I can talk to without being judged," Daria said.
"I like that, too." Jane suddenly smiled. "If you like being in total control, shall we have to start calling you 'Mistress Daria'?"
"Just 'Mistress'," Daria teased in return. "You'd have to EARN calling me by name."
"I should never have loaned you those naughty novels," Jane sighed.
"They have actually helped, even though I reject nearly every premise they contain," Daria pointed out. She stood. "I'm glad we talked, Jane. I hope you can still paint today."
"As my Mistress commands," Jane teased.
Jane's eyes went wide as Daria took a step towards her and cupped Jane's jaw with her soft, small hand and said so affectionately that it terrified Jane to the core, "If I ever am Mistress of the World, Jane Lane, you will still be my truest friend, never just another slave."
With that, she stroked Jane's cheek with the back of her hand and just walked out, leaving a dazed Jane. Jane shook her head, and muttered, "How does she do that?"
"Careful," Quinn teased that Saturday at breakfast. "You're looking excited."
"Thank you for the warning," Daria returned, using her old monotone voice. "I am of course only excited because Lawndale defeated Middlebury last night, twenty-one to seventeen." She paused for a second, and added, "Rah." Middlebury was a powerful team outside Lawndale's usual schedule and, in fact, the state runner-up the year before. Lawndale's beating the undefeated Middlebury team would be catching the attention of the state's sports writers as the debate on which teams might be eligible for the state championships heated up.
Daria admitted to herself that she was looking forward to Amy's visit, although it also worried her that it was announced the morning after she had told her aunt about the events of Tuesday night. Finally, however, the waiting was over, as Amy called and said she was just a few blocks from the house. Helen then herded Daria and Quinn outside, and a few moments later, a shiny black classic VW Beetle pulled into the driveway.
Daria took in the looks of confused horror on her parents' faces and then went to greet her favorite aunt with a small smirk.
Quinn was also confused by the looks on her parents' faces, and surprised to see that Daria allowed Aunt Amy to hug her. As the two approached, Helen snapped out of her confusion. "Amy! What the hell is that! We all agreed to chip in for a new car for Daria!"
"This is new," Amy replied calmly. "It's a brand new Volkswagen Sedán Unificado, or, in other words, a Beetle."
"They stopped making Beetles in the Seventies!"
"In Germany," Amy agreed. "They were made in Brazil until a few years ago, and are still made in Mexico."
"Aren't these illegal to own?" Jake asked.
"Meh," Amy replied. "It takes a little extra to make them legal, but this is legally registered in Maryland, and it can be registered in every other state . . . well, except California but I think that's true of most general production cars. I also had top of the line after-market air bags installed. Besides, how could I resist getting Daria her very own Millennium Bug?"
"Just because you liked your Beetle doesn't mean Daria will!" Helen ranted.
"Well, it's no Dodge Dart. . . ." Amy started, as her temper frayed, but she stopped when Daria simply touched her wrist and shook her head.
"Please?" Daria asked Amy as the two exchanged looks.
Amy took a deep breath. "You're right." She looked at Helen. "I don't want to fight, but I think Daria will enjoy the car."
"I will," Daria said. She turned to her parents. "I know it's not what you would have chosen for me, but it's perfect. Thank you."
"Both your grandmothers, your parents, and I went in on it," Amy said.
"Can you show me how to drive it?" Daria said excitedly, almost jumping in place. "Please? Please, please, please?"
Helen and Jake blinked at Daria's enthusiasm, more than they had seen in her, well, ever. Quinn smirked at Daria's obvious (at least to her and Amy) and bad over-the-top overacting and Amy's playing along. Then Quinn realized that even her father had just caught on to what was going on – only her mother was still confused. "You can yell at me later," Amy said. "Don't wait lunch! Come on, Daria, if you can drive a stick this will be easy to pick up."
Within a few seconds, the Beetle was backed out and going down the road. Quinn just looked at her parents. "Yes, we will have the same amount ready for you when you turn eighteen," Helen said wearily. "You can either put it down on a car then, or let the interest accumulate and buy one later on."
"Thanks! Just as long as Aunt Amy doesn't pick it."
"That we can promise you!"
"It is perfect for Daria, though."
Helen merely gave Quinn a dirty look and marched into the house.
Jake and Quinn exchanged a very worried look.
After driving around for about ten minutes, Amy said, "You already seem to have the knack for driving this. Why don't we go some place where we can have lunch and some privacy?"
"I know just the place," Daria replied.
Five minutes later, Amy said in surprise, "Beef-n-Cake?"
"Cake as in crab cakes, which are actually pretty good here. They also do a char-broiled skinless chicken sandwich, and they have whole-grain buns if you ask nicely. It's warm enough today and not too windy, so just grab a secluded table in the outside patio."
"Alright," Amy said a little doubtfully.
"Diet cola or unsweetened tea?" Daria asked.
In fact, Amy was the only person on the patio, so Daria had no trouble when she came out with their lunch: identical sandwiches and drinks, but a 'side salad' for Amy and a large order of onion rings for Daria.
"Why did you come so early?" Daria asked. "You could have waited until my birthday for the car."
"For the car, yes," Amy agreed. "I've been debating sitting down and having a serious discussion with you for a long time." She sighed. "Considering I avoided your mother, and therefore incidentally you and your sister, for eleven years, that will sound odd to you."
"A little, although we did connect at Erin's wedding." Daria suddenly realized something, and glared at her aunt. "Why did you come to the wedding?"
"She was already in that hospice near you, wasn't she?" Daria asked.
"No, not yet, but that was just a few weeks later," Amy confessed. "She called me to see her retirement home; that was also in North Jersey near me. She reminded me about a lot of family history, including some things I don't think I actually knew for certain, and then reamed me out for ignoring you."
Daria blinked. "You ignoring me? I think I met her twice!"
"I did mention that, not that it did me any good," Amy agreed. "According to her, her grandmother and great aunts were a lot like her mother and her sisters, who were a lot like her, Mom, and their sister; who were a lot like me and my sisters, and lot like you and Quinn are, or at least were."
"I didn't know Grandmother Tess had more than one sister," Daria commented. "Wasn't there a brother, too?"
"Actually, there were eight siblings. Three sisters and four brothers, Eleanor was the oldest, Mom the second youngest."
Amy nodded. "The youngest was stillborn. Even though Eleanor was in her late teens, she was never told if it was a boy or a girl. The marker just says 'Baby Stillwell'."
"And the others?"
"Eleanor was born in 1908 and of course died at the end of last year. Roger was next, and he died in the Influenza Epidemic. Quincy was next, and was Mom's favorite brother. He was a banker who was drafted toward the end of the Second World War. He was killed almost at the end of the war in Europe, in late March of Forty-five. He had two daughters, although I've never met them or their kids. Mom is still in contact with them, or at least they all exchange Christmas cards. Philip died of polio in the Thirties. John was the youngest surviving brother, just two years older than Mom. He was killed during the War as well, during the invasion of Sicily."
"Why doesn't Mom ever talk about this?" Daria wondered.
Amy shrugged. "I think, except when it comes to Mom and Rita and myself, Helen lives pretty much in the present. If you had asked, she probably would have been happy to tell you what she knows."
Daria had to admit, "You're probably right."
"And remember," Amy added, "Helen probably doesn't know all of this. I didn't know most of it when I was growing up."
"I see. And the third daughter?"
"Mom was born fifteen years after Aunt Eleanor, and after the death of an older brother four years before and then the baby the next year. Eleanor felt Mom was spoiled by the rest of the family, especially by her mother and Quincy, who I think had been Eleanor's favorite younger sibling until then. If Eleanor was a lot like you and me, then Mom was a lot like Helen, which is probably why Helen and Mom have even more problems than Mom and I do."
"And so the mystery sister. . . ."
"Virginia," Amy supplied.
"Of course; I knew there had to be at least one Virginia or Georgia somewhere in the family tree. Virginia was more like Aunt Rita and Quinn, I take it."
"Even wilder and flightier," Amy said as she nodded. "She was John's twin sister, and she and Mom apparently got along worse than Rita and Helen. Like Mom, Grandmom, Eleanor, Rita, and Erin, Virginia went to that same junior college, but was thrown out for drinking and missing curfew too many times. Still, she married just as the War started. Unfortunately, he was a bomber pilot, killed over Germany in late Forty-two. Equally unfortunately, Virginia found herself three months pregnant one month later – and six or seven months after her husband's last leave."
"Ah . . . let me guess what happened next. An illegal botched abortion?"
Amy nodded. "Mom graduated from junior college that same year, and moved from the plantation in south Virginia up to Washington. She was part of the war-time civil service, something in the records of the Department of the Interior I think. Anyway, Dad was from that old Tidewater family and had served in the Army, getting wounded in North Africa. He was working at the Pentagon by Forty-four. Since they were both well-off FFVs, they were invited to the same get-togethers, and married a few days after V-J Day. They quickly had three children. . . ."
"Rita, Helen, and you. . . ."
Amy shook her head. "Rita, Quincy, and Helen."
Daria blinked. "Are you trying to tell me you spent a few months in Sweden?"
"No, silly," Amy replied. "I had the order right. Rita and Quincy were fraternal twins."
"Is Quinn named after him and your uncle then?"
"Probably," Amy agreed. "Quincy was built along thicker lines than Rita, or Helen and me for that matter. He had the dark auburn hair you and I have, and that Helen and Rita had until it went brownish during their teens – which is when Rita started bleaching her hair."
"Wait! Mom has a formal photo in her bedroom of you three and a guy, when Mom must have been ten or eleven and you were a baby. I thought the guy was either one of Aunt Rita's early boyfriends or a cousin. Daria frowned. "Wasn't her first husband both a childhood friend and a second cousin?"
Amy shook her head. "No, that was her first fiancée, her and Quincy's best friend. Rita and Quincy were born in Forty-seven, and Helen was born three years later, and apparently the doctors didn't think Mom could have any more children, which is why I was such a surprise coming along ten years later! Anyway, Rita and Peter were engaged, but he and Quincy were drafted right out of college."
"Both of them? I take it they were both killed in Vietnam?"
Amy nodded. "In the same firefight, although they were in different companies. Peter actually died during the firefight; Quincy . . . Quincy lingered for a few weeks. That pushed Helen on the one hand and Rita and Mom on the other even further apart, as it made Helen even more of an anti-war activist and they wanted to make him into an even bigger hero than he was. Me? I was just short of ten, what did I understand? Well, I understood I was unhappy, and that led me to Poe."
"Ah, the intro lit to the dark side," Daria teased. "You start with Poe, and pretty soon you go to Kafka, and then maybe you hit the hard stuff, like Sartre or Dostoevsky."
"I went through the First World War poets and then the writers like Graves and Sassoon first, and then really hit the Russians," Amy agreed. "Meanwhile, your Mom and Jake graduated from college and then dropped out, living in the commune and doing more drugs than I've probably ever heard of and Rita became a party girl. She had an affair with a married man, whose wife died in a car accident just before she found out she was pregnant with Erin. That was about when Jake realized he and Helen were wasting their lives in the commune. Mom had rejected them, as had Jake's father. Dad believed in them, though, and made sure there was money for them to go on to grad school – Jake got his MBA and then Helen somehow managed to finish law school while having you, and then clerked after having Quinn."
"How long did Aunt Rita's marriage last, anyway?"
"Just under a year, since it turned out he was also having an on-going affair with his intern. How he managed to stay loyal to her after they married, I don't know. You met their son."
Daria nodded. "J. Luhrman Chambers, although I didn't know that until Mom told me after we got home from the wedding. Despite everything, he adores Erin, and she dotes on him."
"You're still in contact with him?"
Daria nodded. "He's finishing his degree in anthropology at the Big H up in Boston next term. He was just accepted at Berkeley, but will have to wait a few months to learn if he got any assistanceships."
"He seemed . . . odd, but nice," Amy agreed. "Anyway, I graduated from high school and managed to get into UVA, where I went wild, in a way."
"What was your major?" Daria asked.
"I started off as a Lit major, but switched to anthropology. Women's Studies was just getting off the ground when I was in college. I went on to get my graduate degrees in Women's Studies at Binghamton."
"And that was wild how?" Daria asked.
"No drugs, but a lot of partying my first year. I managed to just hold on to a two-point-zero average. And that brings us in part to why we're here," Amy said.
While they had long ago finished lunch. "Shall I get us refills?" Daria asked.
Amy nodded. The pair went to the rest room and then returned with new drinks.