That’s what we were talking about, sitting at the bar, sipping our beer, Ben, my suitor of the moment, and me. But, as conversations often do, it veered unexpectedly.
The bartender was the catalyst. Of course, he was tattooed. Aren’t they all? Our waitresses, waiters, bartenders, don’t they all sport permanent body art?
This bartender’s right arm was branded with a single word spreading down its length. Surrounding it in random patterns were cross hatches, as if he were keeping score; sets of four vertical parallel lines,
each set with one diagonal line crossing over it.
The year is 1968. I’m late for a date, hurrying down a long line of people waiting outside the civic center. This is the teenage virgin ice princess Georgia, searching all these faces for the one belonging to my escort. He’s older than I am, a college boy who holds out the promise of initiation into mysterious secrets of adulthood.
The people in the crowd are between 16 and 25 years old. They wear broadly flared jeans with brilliantly colored patches, woven headbands holding back their long hair, peasant dresses, beaded necklaces, feather earrings and bells. I wear a canary yellow mini dress, high-heeled sandals, pink toe nails, and giant gold hoop earrings bobbing out from my long hair.
As I scan the faces, seeking the familiar eyes and smile of my young man, I’m met with glances of unsettling hunger. Although I don’t fully understand the desire in the eyes of these men, I read it as one of the mysterious secrets of adulthood.
After a lifetime of poking into the cobwebby, secret corners of the human heart, Sigmund Freud had this to say about women: “The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?’”
Too bad he died before he and I could explore this question over cups of coffee at Café Central in Vienna. I’d have some answers for him. Pretty simple ones at that.
My first experience with internet dating began and ended with a phone call. The same call.
This was a short relationship.
He (name soon lost in the cobwebs of my memory) described himself as an engineer, in his late 50’s, recently retired from a long and successful career at one of our major manufacturing firms.
That sounded promising.
He named the suburb in which he lived, one of the more affluent addresses in my town.
He said he loved going to art museums and told me a sweet tale of being moved as an adolescent, almost to the point of tears, by a painting of a beautiful woman. I thought I knew the painting he meant. Alan, my ex, grew watery eyed as we sat on a bench looking at it, our first visit to the museum.
Both men were moved by the beauty of Lucretia and the tragedy of her plight.
“Time to take your own advice, Georgia”. That’s what Brenda said when she showed up at my door one recent Sunday morning.
Eons ago – well, make that six years ago – I showed up at her door with the latest issue of The Atlantic Monthly clutched in my hot little hand. ) A foolish, weak man had tromped on her aorta big time. That wound needed major suturing.
Why did I think The Atlantic Monthly held the cure? Because the cover article was one of their thoroughly researched delvings into a topic, this one being the science and psychology behind the matchmaking processes of Match.com and EHarmony.
I handed the magazine to her and said, “ I’ve read this article. If I were single, this is what I’d do. How about giving it a try?”
Picture him lying on his back on a dusty road, naked from the waist up. I’m standing over him, in a short, tight black dress and black shoes with monstrously thin high heels. One of those stilettos is on his chest, pressing into his heart. A drop of blood seeps from his chest and rolls down to the heel of my shoe.
His head is turned toward you. His expression pleads
with you. “Make it stop. What did I do to deserve this?”
Only when I’m with Bennett. I swear these things only happen when Bennett and I are together. First, we stumbled on a John Philip Sousa concert in small town America. That’s when he decided things happen around me (see Adventures Happen). He also decided he wanted to stick close. To experience more, I guess.
Now it’s the State Fair. Our State Fair is the best state fair in our state.
No, this is not Bennett and me. He’s not quite this good looking. This is Ann Margaret and Pat Boone in the 1962 movie, State Fair.
Guess who I called Monday morning after Sunday night at The Comedy Club? (read Public Humiliation) Marlys, of course.
“You won’t believe the mess you got me into last night!” was how the conversation started.
She, of course, found it hugely entertaining. Had way too much fun laughing at my public humiliation.
Thursday evening she called me. “Hey, I talked to my friend who works at The Comedy Club. They loved you! She said, ‘That woman was your friend? She was great. The other guy on stage was a jerk, but your friend was hilarious. We loved her. We wanted to bring her back up on stage. We were so disappointed when she and her date left.’”
I could go either way. Become a comic like Lily Tomlin, or an actress like Meryl Streep.
It was all Marlys’ fault. The idea was hers; a double date, Marlys and her husband Peter, and my date, Bennett, and me at The Comedy Club. A young friend of hers had just gotten her first acting job as a member of the troupe. A Sunday evening of improvisational comedy and beer sounded like fun.
Then Marlys and Peter cancelled at the last minute. Bennett and I went anyway, only to find out that Sunday wasn’t just improv night. It was also trivia quiz night. Almost everyone was in teams of four to eight, except for the two of us.
The improvised skits are clever and Bennett and I laugh heartedly. That is, until the topic for the quiz segment is announced: Movies and Television, topics about which we know little. When the questions are read, we know few answers.
On a perfect Sunday afternoon in June I bike across the city to the park. Life is good. The world is full of happy people holding hands, pushing kids in strollers, soaking themselves in the spray from fountains, amusing themselves with the fanciful art.
I have everything to make me content; a comfortable bench to sprawl on, a cold lemonade to sip and popcorn to munch.
My bubble of contentment bursts when I spot him striding across the plaza, headed right in my direction. Chet, the guy I broke up with months before (Breaking Up is Hard to Do). Chet, holding hands with a woman, both of them beaming.