On an uncomfortably warm Friday evening, Brig surprised his father, who was in Salt Lake City and working from his home office. VII was on a conference call when Brig walked into his study. He acted surprised to see his father busy and pretended to leave, but those days Brig rarely initiated a conversation with his father. Still speaking on the phone, Brigham VII waved Brigham VIII in and motioned for him to take a chair as he finished his call.
“Son! To what do I owe this pleasure? What are you doing home on a Friday night? Surely one of the many beautiful sisters in our fair city would give up her spot in the Celestial Kingdom for an evening with Utah’s most eligible bachelor.”
“I could ask you the same thing. I didn’t realize you were in town,” Brig lied. Brig had known VII had an important fundraiser to attend the next night, and had been planning to spring his plan on this specific night for weeks. Brenda was out, and the Young men had the house to themselves.
“Yeah, I’ve got that Primary Children’s Hospital thing tomorrow night, and I’m making a few calls to make sure we get a few healthy donations. So what do you got going on?” His Dad sounded genuinely interested, maybe even happy.
“Well. You know how I’ve been into mountain climbing the last couple of years.” He didn’t say since Mom died, but they both realized that climbing had been remedial for Brig. “I’ve completely recovered from my fall. In fact, I placed third in a competition up at Snowbird a few weeks ago.”
“I didn’t know you could compete at mountain climbing.”
“It’s actually a race up a rock wall they’ve built on the face of a building…I’m pretty good,” Brig smiled. He hoped that information would rekindle the pride VII used to have when Brig played football.
“I can see that. You’re so thin, and yet I can see the definition in your arms. Flex for me.”
Brig held out his right arm. “The beach is that way.” Brig bent his arm and his right bicep bulged through the sleeve of his t-shirt, his index finger pointing away, at some imaginary beach. For the first time in recent memory, they laughed together.
“Would you look at that!” VII barked in mock astonishment. “Brig, I’m glad you’ve found something you enjoy doing.”
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. Some of the guys are planning a climbing trip, and I was hoping you could sponsor me.”
“Sponsor you? You mean like a corporate sponsorship?”
“Not necessarily. I mean…I mean pay for,” Brig stammered.
“Pay for a climbing trip? I don’t see why not. How much could it be? Unless of course, you’re going out of the country…”
“Yeah. That’s definitely part of the expense.”
“Where is this mountain?”
“Nepal,” Brig mumbled.
“Nepal? The Himalaya’s Nepal?”
Brig nodded sheepishly. “Everest.” He wanted to be confident and knew his father responded better to confidence, but VII had entered intimidation mode. A long awkward pause followed, with VII staring incredulously at his son, and VIII staring down at the hardwood floor.
VII suddenly laughed, breaking the silence. Not a chuckle, or a sneer, but a real gut buster. “You had me going there, buddy. Everest. Don’t more people die trying to get up that mountain than make it to the top?” He laughed again.
Now it was Brig’s turn to be incredulous. Climbing Everest was his dream, and the one person on the earth that could either make it real or crush it thought he was joking. Brig stood up to leave. “You know what? Fuck it! Fuck you!”
Brigham VII stopped laughing. He had never heard his son curse before, let alone the F-Word. “Now you listen here, young man. I will not have that kind of language in my home.”
“What? English?” Brig said in mock surprise.
“Oh, that’s funny. You know what I mean.”
“You mean fuck? Don’t you like the word fuck? Or you don’t like to fuck?”
“Get out of here!” VII demanded.
“Fuck! All right. Fuck. You’re serious?” Brig mocked.
“Fuck! O.K. I’m fucking going. Fuck you later.” Brig slammed the door as he exited.