On a summer day in 1971, Sally and Cliff are having lunch at the Terrace Plaza, a downtown Cincinnati restaurant up high enough to overlook the city, if it had windows. What the TP did have was a Calder mobile hanging in the lobby.
“So why won’t the family accept Lewis?”
Cliff smiles, sips his wine, and says, “I guess I have no choice but--”
“No, Dad, you don’t.” Sally is determined. “I‘ve been waiting for months."
“Well, things were going well with the family until one night six or seven years ago when Lew came down from New York and introduced his lover.”
“Really? What was wrong with her?”
“She was a he.”
Before Cliff can speak, Sally continues. “I guess that would be a shock for those macho brothers of yours. How did you react?”
“I didn’t know about it until Lew called me later.”
“So what did you say? I hope you said what I think you’d say.”
“Not exactly,” Cliff says with a chuckle. “I said--well that’s show business.”
“That was not very kind.”
“No, I guess not, but I wanted Lew to know that I didn’t see the problem. I then said if he was happy about the situation--and I hoped he was--so was I.”
“What did Lewis say?”
“Gay or not, you take love where you find it.“
“I guess that’s true ,” says Sally.
"And then,” Cliff pauses to sip his wine, “Lew said he found the love he was looking for in Phil, a young director he met last year. They live in the Village. Lew said they‘re happy.”
“Me too. Lew deserves to be happy.”
“Will he ever return to Watertown?”
Cliff shakes his head slowly and says, “No.”
“Is that good or bad?”
“It‘s just the way it is,” says Cliff.
“I guess I understand,” says Sally.
“Lew has no more interest in Watertown than I do. Now that he’s a big-time actor he’s too sophisticated for the old town, and I’m…”
“You’re what, Dad?”
“I’m too angry to go back. I was damn glad to get away.”
“So will I ever see Lewis--Uncle Lewis--again?”
“Yes, whenever you decide to visit New York. And when you do, I think you should just call him Lewis. Forget the Uncle.”
“Maybe we could go to New York together.”
“I’d like that.”
“As soon as you finish your book.”
“You mean, as soon as we finish the book. I’m not doing the damn thing alone. I mean, My Sweet, the book is your idea.”
“Ok, Dad. You write and I’ll type.”
“That’s a big waste of a college education, isn’t it?”
“Speaking of college, I’m thinking of transferring. I’d like to get far away from Watertown, too.”
“All right. Where do you want to transfer?”
“To any big school that will take me. Like Princeton. If it was good enough for Fitzgerald and Einstein, it’s good enough for me. And then you and mom wouldn’t have to go to Watertown to see me.”
Cliff smiles. He still finds it hard to believe that this lovely twenty-year-old girl--woman--is his daughter. “Sounds like a good plan," he says. "Why don't you check it out?"
“Thanks, Dad, I will."
“I know you’re smart enough for Princeton. How are the grades?”
“Good. Just what you’d expect of Cliff Walker’s daughter.”
“I think the credit should go to your mother. She’s the smart one.”
“I guess so, Dad. She married you.”
“No, Sally. The smart thing she did was leave me.”
“Maybe we can change that.”
“Maybe,” says Cliff.
“Oh, I forgot to ask. Can we afford Princeton?”
Cliff laughs and finishes his glass of wine. “Let’s go look at the Calder,” he says. “It’s that red thing hanging in the lobby.”
“It’s an apple.”
“Yeah,” says Cliff, “that one.”
“Thanks for telling me about Lewis. I hope to meet Phil, and…do you think he’ll like me?”
Cliff kisses his daughter and leads her to the Calder.