It’s three o’clock in the afternoon as I sit quietly on a damp banquette after getting caught in the rain. I’m not the only one. There are several drenched drinkers drying out at the bar.
It’s funny how suddenly the sky opens as if nature’s having a little fun. Well fuck her, I say, well at least my shoes do that are now cold and soggy.
I order a Jameson to get my blood flowing again. Laurie, bless her bartender’s heart, brings me a double with chips on the side. What else does a girl really need? A man you say? Nah, not as long as her glass is filled and she’s got a coupla bucks in her pocket.
The older I get, the more men irritate me with their mood swings and sudden sayonaras. One minute they’re so enamored, the next making skid marks to some young blonde with breasts leading them by the nose. I am so past using my body as my business card. There was a time, but no more. Men, even when they get older, still only want that ten cent tease. My brain, that I must say is pretty perky, isn’t quite as tantalizing as a pair of tits twiddling in your face.
That said….a man is eyeing me from the bar. What, did he forget his wallet?
He saunters over like Gary Cooper in Love in the Afternoon. “May I join you?” he says, with a little too much assurance for my taste.
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Are you waiting for someone?”
“Yeah, Mother Nature, to come stop the rain.”
“What are you drinking?”
I was so not in the mood for this flirt heightened on his part by my aloofness. I was the fox he was chasing, careening on a horse that was about to casually throw him.
Then a pretty girl walks in, his head swiveling shamelessly.
“She’s a real nice looking gal, don’t you think?”
He gives me a queer look turned ironic when he says, “Do you like girls…like are you gay?”
“I’m actually pretty miserable, and would feel so much better if you left.”
He did, and at once starts to sweet talk the chiclet now cozy at the bar.
Like are we just one big passing buffet, she the beef, me the alternate pasta dish? Does it even matter what they eat as long as it sits on their plate nice and tender?
There’s this fellow I like, I’ve known forever, who comes and goes like unexpected weather, but the kind you welcome, like a nice warm day when you can take off your socks. Trouble is, I’d like him to be more present, come by more, and not to have sex necessarily, but to canoodle a bit over drinks enjoying a nice easy banter. When you’re in your 6th decade, this is what melts your butter. The nuances with their closed-captioned niceties. Nothing blatantly sexual since your store has been closed for far too long, and frankly not sure if your parts even still work.
I watch that couple slow dance as she taunts him with her business cards tumbling from her V-neck sweater, hypnotizing what little sense he has left. Did she just order champagne? Hope he can pay for it. Bemelmans holds no prisoners where their bubbly is concerned. I certainly never order it, rivaling my Con-Ed bill since it all boils down to whether you want your nose tickled, or lights kept on.
Another woman comes in, so I ask if the rain let up. “Oh yeah,” she says. It’s hardly raining at all. Kinda nice out actually. Smells deliciously like Paris.”
She’s a short story alright…a book on tape. I signal for my check before disappearing into the damp, delicious, pre-dusk.
She was right. It’s so fresh walking home, the air smelling like you just stepped from the tub. I forget about the guy invading my space along with the one I’d like to move in a little closer, and stay where my now, not so soggy feet are, remembering, the leftover linguine I have in the fridge, and the collection of Peggy Noonan essays waiting on my nightstand, and suddenly, can’t wait to get home.