An unreasonable demand
July 20, 2015
by Ivan Raconteur

My recent trip to the lake reminded me of another trip I took to a northern Minnesota lake many years ago when I was in High School.

Daphne (my pal Wally’s girlfriend), and Margaret (a mutual friend), cooked up a scheme for all of us to spend a weekend at Margaret’s family’s cabin. To round things out, they invited Daphne’s friend, Cora, and her fiancé, Leonard.

Wally and I weren’t overly enthusiastic about the prospect, but when Daphne got an idea in her head, it wasn’t easy to get it out.

The reason for our apprehension was that the cabin was owned by Margaret’s father. He was a police detective, and as such, was entitled to carry a gun, and trained to use it.

He was also known to have little patience with shenanigans.

We didn’t have any shenanigans in mind, of course, but there was always the danger that if he learned about our weekend adventure, he might shoot first and ask questions later.

The weekend started out well enough.

It was a glorious Friday afternoon when we piled into Wally’s Impala and headed for the cabin.

When we arrived, we unloaded the provisions the ladies had assembled, and then went for a dip in the lake.

After that, Wally and I fired up the Weber and grilled some burgers. Daphne and Margaret got the rest of the feast ready.

Leonard and Cora mostly sat around making google-eyes at one another.

I hadn’t met Leonard before, and I had only met Cora briefly.

Leonard wore thick glasses and had hair that tended to stick up like a mad scientist. Cora was a mousy little woman with narrow glasses and a high-pitched voice that made dogs look over their shoulders, wondering what was happening.

We had a pleasant dinner out on the picnic table, and afterward, sat around the fire pit looking out at the lake. We drank soda pop and lemonade, because, of course, we were not entitled to drink refreshing adult beverages in those days.

Everything seemed to be going just as planned. We retired at a sensible hour in order to be well rested for the day ahead.

To save space, Wally shared the top bunk with Daphne. I took the bottom bunk, and Margaret had her own bed in the same room.

Leonard bunked with Cora in Margaret’s parents’ room.

When we gathered in the kitchen for our morning coffee, it was clear that something had changed.

Not only had Leonard and Cora stopped making google-eyes, they appeared to not be on speaking terms.

Daphne asked them what was wrong, but neither would talk about it.

We rustled up some breakfast, and then the girls disappeared into the bedroom for a whispered conference.

The guys and I wandered down to the dock to look at the lake.

I am not the sort of person to pry into other people’s private affairs, but Wally had no such inhibitions.

“Lenny, old son, I couldn’t help but notice you and Cora aren’t billing and cooing this morning the way you were yesterday,” he said, getting the conversational ball rolling.

A noise resembling a snort of derision echoed across the still water of the lake.

Leonard remained silent for a moment, and then replied, “She accused me of making an unreasonable demand in the middle of the night.”

“Oh,” nodded Wally. “I see. “

“Do you want to talk about it?” he added hopefully.

“No, I don’t,” Leonard said firmly, and didn’t.

When the girls emerged from their conference, it was clear that they had closed ranks around Cora. An aloofness had taken over, and they eyed us as if we were unwelcome specimens that had been dragged in by the cat.

We went about our activities for the day with much less of the camaraderie of the day before.

Margaret and I were old pals, so when I caught her alone, I asked her what was up. She confirmed what Leonard had said.

“Leonard made an unreasonable demand in the middle of the night,” she said.

“Do you know what it was?” I inquired.

“No. She wouldn’t say, but it doesn’t matter. You men are all alike,” Margaret responded.

I wasn’t sure how to take that, but it seemed prudent to let it go.

We went out in the boat for awhile, and later went swimming again. After a quiet dinner, we played cards in the screen porch.

When it came time to retire for the night, we found the girls had changed the arrangements. They took over the large bedroom. Leonard returned to the parents’ bedroom. This left the living room for Wally and me.

He stretched out on the sofa, and I settled into a well-worn recliner.

Before nodding off, Wally grumbled about Leonard and Cora ruining the weekend.

In the morning, when the girls straggled into the kitchen for coffee, it was clear that the mood had not softened. It was too much for Wally.

“OK, you two young fools,” he roared. “I’m not going to let this spat of yours ruin our weekend. It’s obvious you’re crazy about each other, so it’s time to settle this, and I mean now.”

Wally could be quite forceful when riled.

“By the way, what was this unreasonable demand that started this whole mess?” Wally said, glaring at Cora.

She glanced at Leonard, then replied sharply, “I simply asked him, in the nicest way possible, to get up and close the window because I was cold. He refused, and he was very rude about it. He told me to close it myself because it was on my side,” Cora wailed. “I’m not going to spend the rest of my life with a man who is going to bully me all the time.”

Wally looked at me and I looked at Wally, and we both burst out laughing. Soon, Margaret, and even Daphne joined in. We were rolling about on the floor howling when a wry smile crossed Leonard’s face and he, too, joined in the laughter. The only one who didn’t see the funny side of it was Cora.

I’m not sure she ever did get it, but the rest of the weekend was much more fun after that.

And, Margaret’s father never found out we had used his cabin.

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