"Did you catch up on your sleep okay?" My mum asks as a waitress brings over our drinks. I'd ordered a beer. I'm gonna need alcohol to get through this. I take my time, having some of the beer first, silently wishing it was something stronger before answering.
"Yeah, I guess," I nod slightly, tapping my fingers on the glass bottle.
"That's good," she smiles, a little awkward as she wonders what to say next, "wouldn't want you to make yourself ill by not sleeping properly." I fight back a remark about her not giving a shit and nod again, humming an "mmm" in agreement.
"Have you been to see your grandfather?" she makes another attempt at conversation and I sigh. I s'pose you gotta admire her for her efforts. Actually, that reminds me. I promised to see him before we left.
"Yeah, Cay wanted to meet him, too," I say, not knowing what else to add to that. I glance at Cay, hoping he'll make good on his promise to start talking if things get awkward.
"He really enjoys embarrassing Max, huh?" Cay laughs, and my mum smiles.
"He makes it his aim to make old age entertaining for himself. Usually at the expense of other's dignity."
"Not many people have any dignity these days," Cay comments and I wonder vaguely if he's referring to my refusing to get dressed and generally acting like a little kid about coming to see my mum.
"You would know all about not having any dignity," I mutter over the rim of my beer bottle, the corner of my mouth twitching up a little. Not that I'm sure if that was supposed to be funny or not. He frowns a little and I shrug. "It's okay. I never had any dignity in the first place. At least you had some to lose." I drink some more of my beer, wondering if I'm drinking it too fast and if ordering another one when this one is gone would make me look like I have an alcohol problem.
"Hey, don't put yourself down like that," Cay says giving me this concerned look. I glance at my mum, who's looking anxious again.
"I'm not. It's hardly a secret. If I'd had dignity, I wouldn't have hidden in America from my family, would I."
"Max..." Cay mutters, taking my hand. I sigh and after a moment, I return the grip, looking at the table. I somehow manage to force back the urge to tell them that I was quite happy not having any dignity, thank you very much, and could we go now? I see my mum shift uncomfortably, probably not happy with us holding hands in public, but I can't be bothered to react to it. There's a silence as both Cay and my mum try to think of something to say.
"Max, of course you still have dignity. People just misplace their dignity every now and then and do stupid things that made sense at the time." I squeeze his hand slightly barely managing a half smile - a pathetic thanks for believing the best in me. Even if he's wrong. There's another long pause as my mum does her best to move the conversation on.
"Are- are you planning on coming back for Christmas, maybe? We haven't had a Christmas together for so long," I look up sharply, watching a tentative smile pull at her lips. I lift my shoulders in another shrug.
"I dunno." I hadn't thought about Christmas. The last two Christmases have been spent with a bottle of vodka and a takeaway menu.
"It's your call, Max." Oh good. I hate deciding things.
"Maybe. I'll let you know, I guess." I mutter, trying not to grimace as a look of hope slips onto my mum's face at the potential that I might actually talk to her after this. Yeah, well, don't get too hopeful. At the rate this is going, I'm going to end up walking off mid conversation.