Excerpt from the novel Meeting Dennis Wilson by Max Harrick Shenk
Chapter 58 of Meeting Dennis Wilson is one of the shortest in the book (at 732 words), but for some reason, it’s one of the author’s (my) favorites… maybe because it’s one of the only glimpses we get of Tom LeDoux, Margo’s dad.
Here’s the complete chapter, which takes place at a Friday night post-playoff-win softball team cookout on the patio behind the LeDoux’s house.
Margo came back out with another little bottle of Coke for herself and one for me. “Burgers are comin’,” she said, and from the opened kitchen window, I could hear Mrs. LeDoux shouting something in French. A couple moments later, Margo’s Dad backed out and down from the back door, onto the patio, platterful of uncooked burgers and hot dogs in his hand, shaking his head, muttering to himself about something.
Meanwhile, in the other direction, Tara Longbaugh was chasing down into the foot of my yard for an errant frisbee throw, long legs flying everywhere, and it was odd to not see her hair bouncing over her shoulders… or to realize that, even if Danny was anywhere near a window (talk about a big-time crush!), he’d have less of a shot at the object of his desires than John-Paul had at Liz.
We gotta get you a woman…
“So get this, Bri,” Margo said. “Guess who’s writing the article for the Reporter?”
“Let me guess,” Margo’s Dad said from the grill. “Linda Hopkins.”
Margo touched the end of her nose and then pointed toward her Dad. “Bingo!”
“Coulda figured,” Mr. LeDoux said as he lifted the hot grill up with his mitted hand. “Have the coach write it.”
Margo had the Coke bottle pressed between her boobs and was sliding it up and down. I noticed and then looked down, away, right, left, back up… anyplace but at.
“How can they do that, Dad?” she said. “I thought sportswriters were supposed to be impartial?”
“Because,” Mr. Ledoux explained, “they don’t want to pay someone to come to a girl’s game.” The sarcastic emphasis on those last two words might have caused an uprising, except that given Mr. LeDoux’s position –women’s basketball coach at Quaker Valley College– he knew from repeated, frustrating first-hand experience what he was talking about.
“That’s what Coach said,” Margo said. “We got back to the locker room and Coach comes up and goes ‘So, do you have any quotes for the press? I’m writing the article.’ She said ‘I told the Reporter that all the girls and their families would be happy to just read it in the Gettysburg Times…'”
Margo’s dad huffed a laugh. “…and they told her, ‘You want the article? Write it!’ Right?” He shook his head. “That’s how they work, little girl. You can’t get them to come to a women’s event, even a playoff game.” He was standing on the other side of the grill, prodding and rearranging the red hot coals in preparation for Meat Grilling. “The only way you can get coverage is to write it yourself,” he said. “I have a student do it.” Mr. LeDoux’s solution to almost every non-family, non-marital problem in his life was “have a student do it.” He reached up and wiped a bead of sweat from his brow, then brushed back the shock of honey blonde hair that was hanging down into his eyes. “Boy,” he said to us and anyone else who was listening, “you wanna heat up, stand here…”
“Thomas?” Margo’s mom’s voice called out from the kitchen.
Margo’s dad looked up at the window. He was six-foot-five, a former power forward, so he didn’t really have to look up far. “What? Quoi?” he yelled, and then he craned his ears and blinked as, from the kitchen window, a cascade of Quebecois commands issued forth, almost inaudible because of John-Paul’s music, but even without the blaring Beatles, Mr. LeDoux would have been a little bit stuck, because still, after almost 17 years of marriage…
He shook his head. “I can’t… I didn’t get any of that.” He looked at his translator. “What’d she say, little girl?”
“She wants to know if you have that burger-flipper-thing,” Margo said.
Mr. LeDoux blinked once, twice, exactly the way his Little Girl did sometimes when she didn’t have a mouthful of water to do a spit take. “Really? That’s what she said? ‘Burger-flipper-thing’?”
Margo had just taken a draw from her Coke, so she nodded as she swallowed. “Yep,” she said, lowering the bottle. “En Francais.”
“En Francais,” Margo’s Dad muttered, like this phrase was the bane of his existence, and yet… “Tell her…” and he stopped, then looked up at the kitchen window. “No! No!” he yelled, then, much lower, to himself, as he stalked back toward the kitchen door, “No… non… nein… negatory…”
Meeting Dennis Wilson by Max Harrick Shenk…
“Today marks the day that I officially add Meeting Dennis Wilson to my ‘Favorite Coming of Age Books’ list. I adore John Green and his work [and] I fell in love with this book just as easily as I fell in love with Paper Towns or An Abundance of Katherines. Meeting Dennis Wilson can easily be compared to a teenager who’s just coming of age: awkward, quirky, hilarious, and loads of fun to be around.Meeting Dennis Wilson is incredibly comical, sweet, and ultimately feel-good.”
(The Literary Connoisseur)
Meeting Dennis Wilson is available in both softcover print and Kindle editions, in either seven serialized installments or as an omnibus edition gathering all seven books.