Toggling the Switch
A Storyby Alicia Gifford
On Tuesday Toni meets her lover, Gordon, for dinner at the Water Grill, downtown. They each have a martini at the bar while they wait for a table. They get seated, both order salads, she orders blackened salmon, and he orders Maine lobster. They get a bottle of chardonnay.
They make small talk while they eat their salads. He’s fidgety and distracted. She drinks her wine and wonders what his problem is.
The assistant waiter clears the salad plates, and then the headwaiter sets down their main courses while the assistants scuttle around pouring more water and more wine.
“What’s up?” Toni asks when the waiter leaves. She cuts a piece of salmon and holds the steaming fish in the air on the tines of her fork. He looks at her.
“Elaine’s pregnant,” he says. Elaine is Gordon’s wife.
Toni puts the fish in her mouth and chews slowly, sucking in air because it’s still too hot. She stares at him while he slices his lobster, beautifully laid out on a bed of linguine.
With her mouth full she says, “Really? And you’re the lucky daddy?”
He reddens. “We shared a bottle of champagne followed by cognac a few weeks ago, our anniversary. That’s the first time we’ve had sex in months.” He takes a bite of lobster, chews and swallows, and says, “She wants the baby. She wants to get counseling. She knows I’ve been having an affair.”