Home > Last Night at Chateau Marmont(8)

Last Night at Chateau Marmont(8)
Lauren Weisberger

Alisha looked relieved. “Thanks,” she said quietly.

Brooke squeezed the girl’s forearm and stepped back outside the curtain. After getting Alisha’s vitamins, she half-sprinted to the dietitians’ dreary fifth-floor break room, a windowless cubicle with a four-seater Formica table, a mini fridge, and a small wall of lockers. If she hurried, she could cram down a quick snack and a cup of coffee and still make it to her next appointment on time. Relieved to find the room empty and the coffeepot full, Brooke pulled a Tupperware container of precut apple wedges from her locker and began to smear them with travel-sized packets of all-natural peanut butter. At the exact moment her mouth was full, her cell phone rang.

“Is everything okay?” she asked without saying hello. Her words were muffled from the food.

Her mother paused. “Of course, honey. Why wouldn’t it be?”

“Because, Mom, it’s pretty busy here, and you know I hate talking at work.” The overhead intercom drowned out the second half of her sentence.

“What was that? I couldn’t hear you.”

Brooke sighed. “Nothing, never mind. What’s up?” She pictured her mother in her signature khaki pants and Naturalizer flats, the same style she’d worn her entire life, pacing the galley kitchen of her Philadelphia apartment. Despite filling her days with a never-ending stream of book clubs, theater clubs, and volunteer work, it still seemed like her mother had way too much time these days, most of which was filled with calling her children and asking them why they weren’t calling back. While it was lovely her mother got to enjoy her retirement, she’d been a lot more hands-off with Brooke when she was teaching from seven to three each day.

“Wait just a minute. . . .” Her mother’s voice trailed off and it was momentarily replaced by Oprah’s before that, too, abruptly ended. “There we go.”

“Wow, you turned off Oprah. It must be important.”

“She’s interviewing Jennifer Aniston again. I can’t stand to listen to it anymore. She’s over Brad. She’s thrilled to be forty-whatever. She’s never felt better. We get it. Why do we have to keep talking about it?”

Brooke laughed. “Listen, Mom, can I call you later tonight? I only have fifteen minutes left of break.”

“Oh sure, honey. Remind me then to tell you about your brother.”

“What’s wrong with Randy?”

“Nothing’s wrong with Randy—something’s finally right. But I know you’re busy right now, so let’s just talk later.”

“Mom . . .”

“It was thoughtless of me to call in the middle of your shift. I wasn’t even—”

Brooke sighed loudly and smiled to herself. “Do you want me to beg?”

“Sweetheart, if it’s a bad time, it’s a bad time. Let’s talk when you are more relaxed.”

“Okay, Mom, I’m begging you to tell me about Randy. Literally pleading. Please tell me what’s up with him. Please?”

“Well, if you’re going to be so insistent . . . fine, I’ll tell you. Randy and Michelle are pregnant. There, you forced it out of me.”

“They’re what?”

“Pregnant, sweetheart. Having a baby. She’s still very early—only seven weeks, I think—but their doctor says all looks well. Isn’t that just wonderful?”

Brooke heard the television go on again in the background, quieter this time, but she could still make out Oprah’s recognizable laugh.

“Wonderful?” Brooke asked, setting down her plastic knife. “I’m not sure that’s the word I’d use. They’ve only been dating for six months. They’re not married. They’re not even living together.”

“Since when are you such a prude, my dear?” Mrs. Greene asked, clucking her tongue. “If you’d ever told me that my educated, urbane, thirty-year-old daughter would be such a traditionalist, I never would’ve believed it.”

“Mother, I’m not sure it’s exactly ‘traditionalist’ to expect that people try to limit baby-making to committed relationships.”

“Oh, Brooke, relax a little. Not everyone can—or should—get married at twenty-five. Randy’s thirty-eight and Michelle is almost forty. Do you really think anyone cares at this point about some silly little legal document? We should all know well enough by now that it hardly means a thing.”

Brooke’s mind circled through a number of thoughts: her parents’ divorce nearly ten years earlier, when her father left her mother for the school nurse at the high school where they both taught; the way her mother sat Brooke down after her engagement to Julian and told her that women could be perfectly happy these days without getting married; her mother’s fervent wish that Brooke wait to start a family until her career was fully established. It was interesting to see that Randy, apparently, operated under a completely different set of guidelines.

“Do you know what I really find amusing?” her mother asked without missing a beat. “The thought that maybe, just maybe, your father and Cynthia will have a baby, too. You know, considering how young she is. Then you’d have a brother and a father who are expecting. Really, Brooke, how many girls can say that?”

“Mom . . .”

“Seriously, sweetheart, don’t you think it’s pretty ironic—well, I’m not sure ‘ironic’ is the right word, but it’s pretty coincidental—that your father’s wife is a year younger than Michelle?”

“Mom! Please stop. You know Dad and Cynthia aren’t going to have any children—he’s going to be sixty-five years old, for god’s sake, and she doesn’t even want—” Brooke stopped, smiled to herself, shook her head. “You know, maybe you’re right, and Dad and Cynthia will jump on the bandwagon. Then Randy and Dad will be able to bond over feeding schedules and naptime. How sweet.”

She waited for it and wasn’t disappointed.

Her mother snorted. “Please. The closest that man came to a diaper when you two were babies was watching a Pampers commercial. Men don’t change, Brooke. Your father won’t have anything to do with that child until it is old enough to express a political opinion. But I do think there’s hope for your brother.”

“Yeah, well, let’s hope so. I’ll call him tonight to congratulate him, but I have to—”

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