“For the love of God, what is this music?” Jessica asked her daughter.
“Gloom-Core,” said Olive.
“Well it’s certainly not creating a happy vibe for the school commute.”
“Creating a happy vibe is toxic positivity Mom. I’m not going to pretend the world is not fucked. This music speaks to that reality but it’s also beautifully poetic.”
“Okay fine. Changing topics. Don’t forget – tonight we have dinner with your father and his new girlfriend. If you want to be morose that’s fine, but don’t say anything snarky. Last time you insulted his date.”
“No I didn’t. I just said that her dress was very Prairie-Chic Meets Forever 21. What a mortifying night that was. She was like college-age and kept styling our plates to post on Instagram.”
“I agree, that evening was brutal. But his new girlfriend is older – I think she might even be thirty – so let’s give her a chance.”
“You are way too understanding mom. And why aren’t you dating? I see men checking you out all the time at Whole Foods. You could have a fling with the man-bun guy who’s always near the Kombucha fridge.”
“I hate flings. Plus, I’m loving being single. I even signed up for a pottery class.”
“OMG MOM – you can’t take up pottery! That’s such a sad cliche of a middle-age woman giving up on life.”
“Olive, that’s very misogynistic. Plus, you know I love ceramics.”
“Whatever, you do you mom. But Tristan is coming to dinner tonight, I already invited him.”
“Who’s Tristan? What happened to Leila? I thought you liked Leila.”
“I thought I did too. But then we went thrifting together and she spent an hour getting ready. Like she put on a whole face just to go to The Goodwill. Can’t deal with that. AND she was using Kardashian makeup. As if I would ever date a Kardashian supporter.”
“You’ve got high standards Olive, I respect that. Okay hop out here, I don’t want to get stuck chatting with Mrs. Gotham, she scares me. Have a good day, love you sweetie.”
“Love you too mom. Oh and I forgot to tell you – Tristan’s dad is picking us up today.”
“Alright, but please text me his father’s number right away, otherwise you don’t have permission to go with him.”
“Will do. Now go cancel that pottery course and find the hot man-bun guy!” Olive yelled loudly as she got out of the car.
“Olive, are you and Tristan ready? We need to leave now or we’ll be late!” Jessica called out.
“Hey Jessica – Olive told me to call you by your first name – thanks for having me to dinner tonight,” Tristan said as he sauntered down the hallway.”
“You’re welcome. I like your hair.”
“Thanks. I worked really hard on creating the perfect shade of florescent pink. I don’t know if Olive told you, but I’m an artist. Abstract expressionism but like abstract expressionism on acid; I’m not afraid of color.”
“Well as you can tell from our house, I’m not afraid of color either. In fact I hate neutrals. Where’s Olive?”
“I’m right here mom.”
“Honey, I’m not sure that outfit is appropriate for the restaurant we’re going to, it’s a very upscale Italian eatery.”
“Mom, this dress is everything. It’s a late 1990’s Betsy Johnson.”
“It’s a pretty dress and you look stunning. But you also look like you’re about to stir up a cauldron and cast spells. I mean can you take the witchy vibe down a bit?”
Tristan started laughing uncontrollably.
“Respectfully mom, this is my look tonight.”
“Jesus. Okay, okay, let’s just go kids.”
“Olive, my dear beautiful witch!”
“Hi Dad. This is Tristan. Tristan this is my dad, Erik.”
“Tristan, that’s quite the hair. What year are you in? You look like a senior.”
“Nope. I’m a sophomore just like Olive.”
“Well any friend of Olive’s is a friend of mine, my daughter has impeccable taste. Speaking of impeccable taste, this is Annabelle, she owns a wellness boutique in Silverlake. Annabelle, this is my daughter Olive, her friend Tristan and my ex-wife Jessica.”
“It’s a pleasure meeting you all. I brought you a few goodies from my shop, just little things to help you relax, meditate, center yourself…you know, to help you on your journey.”
“Good evening, my name is Paul and I’ll be your server tonight. What can I get you to drink?”
“Oh hello Paul – thank god for you. I’d like a Negroni please,” Jessica said.
“Perfect. And what can I get for the rest of you?”
“We’ll have a bottle of Castiglioni Giramonte. Olive?”
“A limonata please.”
“Same,” said Tristan poking Olive in the ribs.
“Jessica, I’ve heard so many lovely things about you. I’m very impressed that you and Erik are on such good terms, so often divorce become toxic. Erik told me you two consciously uncoupled like Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin.”
“Umm…I’m not quite sure that’s us. But we both love Olive and we still care about each other and respect one another.”
“Well, I want you to know that I included something very special in your gift bag, it’s called Essence of Rose Quartz Serum – hand-made in Santa Fe. It’s not for your face, it’s for your heart. Every night you rub a few drops of it on your chest and the rose quart activates your heart, making it more open to receiving love.”
“Here’s your Negroni, I sensed you needed it right away.”
“Oh Paul you’re a life saver, thank you.”
“My mom’s heart does not need activating – not that that’s even a thing.” Olive said, glaring at Annabelle.
“It was very kind of you to bring us gifts. How did you get into the wellness industry?” Jessica asked, sneaking a sip while quietly kicking Olive’s platform boots under the table.
“It’s actually a really trippy story: three years ago while I was hiking in Griffith Park, I had a vision – I saw myself as a Wellness Curator: healing women by finding the most beautiful wellness products and selling them in the most beautiful space. And I’ve just started offering workshops too. Next week I’m teaching my customers – actually I prefer calling them my Goddesses – how to make their own smudge sticks – really pretty ones that you can display in your home for that earthy boho vibe.”
“The wellness industry is an elitist billion dollar empire. It steals ancient traditions from indigenous cultures, repackaging them for rich white customers,” Olive said.
“And here are the rest of your drinks. Let me just open the wine for you.”
“Actually Paul, if you don’t mind I think I’ll open it myself. We’re having a bit of a moment here,” Erik explained, his forehead glistening with sweat.
“Not a problem Sir.”
“Olive, I see it more as being inspired by ancient traditions. I have a deep reverence for their original creators and I want to share their wisdom with people who might not otherwise know about it.”
“Do you donate a percentage of your profits to organizations that help the cultures you are stealing from?” Olive asked.
Jessica kicked Olive under the table again, a little harder this time.
“Olive, enough with the interrogation,” said Erik. “I propose a toast:
‘To new friends and to a beautiful evening together,’” he said a little too loudly.
“Cheers!” Tristan bellowed theatrically, kissing Olive’s neck with a flourish.
Despite twice kicking Olive under the table, Jessica was proud of her daughter for speaking her mind. And how cute was she in her goth-y dress with her pink-haired companion?! What an incredible young woman she was. What a privilege to be her mother.
“This is the best Negroni I’ve ever had! Thank you Erik for putting together this lovely dinner,” Jessica said smiling, as she raised her glass and winked at Olive.