This is a true story.
I was nineteen and it was my brother’s eighteenth birthday. He’d already left the desert and was living on his own with a roommate in a house in town and they were having a party.
Now I’ll tell you my brother is a likeable guy. He’s way likeable although I’ve never been able to figure out why. See, I love my brother all right, but I’ve never really wanted to be in a room with him for long because we’re bad mix. I would always feel like I was choked for air. He depressed me without fail which is quite hard to do.
Now the reason why, is not really tangible. He never did anything wrong to me and there’s nothing wrong with him. I mean, you just can’t argue the numbers. He always had hordes of people around him. He had hordes of friends who would go to bat for him in any and all situations. Every boyfriend I ever had liked him, and he’s a looker too.
So the women I knew who met him always wanted dates. See what I’m saying here? Nothing wrong with the guy, but I always felt low energy around him and guessed felt something similar. Um… Like we disturb one another’s force.
Now back to the story, he’s having a birthday party and I’m supposed to go. I was really torn, because I wanted to show support for him. You know. He’d recently left home and he was establishing himself as an adult and I wanted to be supportive but I didn’t really want to go to his party and mix with “little brother friends”. What to do? Well, I planned to just go and tough it out, but when the day came, I had another idea.
I decided to go to the party, but late. A good forty minutes late. I didn’t plan to go in. Instead I was going to quietly decorate his truck outside the house. You know. With balloons and streamers, and happy birthday signs. Like a wedding, except for a birthday motif. And I would put a card on his truck so he’d know that I was there. Not bad, eh? I’d be supporting him, but sparing us both, so this was my plan.
Still, I was nervous about it. Is it really an okay thing to do, or do I suck for ducking out? And will the partygoers be inside? Will I even have the opportunity to sneak and do this? What if people are standing in the front yard drinking beer? Hmm.
Well, if it didn’t work, I planned to just go to the party and this is what was on my mind, when I stopped at a bar on the way, for a nervous and jerky orange juice and soda.
See, I was really pretty crazed about this. Ughhhh to family in general, so I was pretty much preoccupied. I was beside myself until I could get this duty discharged, so I has all these balloons and stuff; tape and string, under the seat of my motorcycle, and I had left home too early.
I was ahead of schedule, waiting for it to get a little darker outside, so I stopped in the bar to let twenty minutes pass. Basically I was waiting to sense a window open up where I felt I could get over there, decorate the truck, and get the hell out and be able to breathe normally again.
So I walk in the bar, and it’s packed. This was a major singles place, but I didn’t have anything like that on my mind because look at what I do have on my mind. The trauma of my brother’s birthday, that’s all, and it was huge. My heart was in my throat about it so I chose this bar because it was familiar.
I knew the bartender. I greeted him, got my drink and went to post up at a bar type setup, built around a pole. Can you picture this? It’s a set-up conducive to people cruising each other. People sit on stools around a bar, built in a square shape, so they’re facing each other, with the pole in the middle. Maybe three people can sit at each stretch of bar but the place was full so people were two deep around this pole. About fourteen people were gathered, facing each other, facing the pole.
Well, there’s nowhere to sit, but a blond guy pops up to let me sit down, so I take the chair. He stands next to me and I feel him focus on me. “Ugh,” I think. “No, I don’t like you, and I have a lot on my mind.” I have this brother problem, right? Guilt and so forth. I’m in the mood to brood, that’s all, and I don’t need anything else.
I actually think about moving but I don’t. The place is packed for one thing. And I do want to sit down. Plus I’m very comfortable in a bar and I’m sure I can rid of this guy. All this, and I know I’m leaving in fifteen minutes anyway. I should be okay.
To be continued.
Well, he starts to chat me up. The Blond, I mean. I’m not really a mean or a rude person unless pushed so I just maneuver. I thwart him by starting to chat up *everyone. Know what I mean? He says “How are you doing tonight?” and I answer “Fine.” Then rather than address him directly, I ask everyone at the square how they are doing tonight. What I do, is hold court. I become the cruise director of this section of bar.
I’d tended bar for close to five years by then. I’d grown up in a bar and besides that, I’m a natural in the environment. I’m adept and basically, I just take control. I grab the floor and start to tell jokes about my brother. I tap dance so this guy can’t get a foot in. I’m planning to do a little “Elsa show”, down my OJ, then hit the road before Blondie can make his move.
I start in about my brother since this is what’s on my mind anyway. I talk in monologue style, explaining how my baby brother had women chasing him down the street. How everyone wanted to screw him and how I just couldn’t figure it out why this was.
“What do they see in him?” I wonder out loud.
I explain that it’s my brother’s birthday, but I’m having trouble with the idea that he’s growing up. I tell them that he’d grown hair under his arms, for example. And how this just floored me, right there.
“When the hell did that happen?” I ask in Rodney Dangerfield style.
Everyone laughs. They can’t believe my audacity I guess. They can’t believe what’s coming out of my mouth but I do this for a living five days a week so it’s nothing to me.
“I don’t remember giving clearance for that shit!” I say.
“Well, it sounds like you brother is a man,” someone at the square shouts out.
“A man? What the hell are you talking about? That’s not possible.” I snort.
“How old is he?”
”How old are you?”
”Nineteen!” I snort again.
I keep it up like that. There’s a lot of banter and a lot of laughing. So far so good. I explain how I have all these balloons stashed on my motorcycle and how I don’t want to go in the party. I outline my plan. Ten minutes pass. Five to go and I’m clear, The Blond.
“Why don’t you just go to the party?” he asks.
”I am going to the party! I’m just not going inside.”
”Why don’t you go inside?”
”No, no, no, no. I don’t want to go in.”
”Uh… Because I’m shy!”
On that, everyone roars, even though it’s true.
The Blond offers to go with me. To help me with the balloons. See, he’s on me isn’t he? Like a fucking pit bull, he is. I can feel him.
Well hell. I need that like a hole in my head. I need him helping with balloons, NOT. I’m so stressed, you know. I don’t need company, so I thank him politely but refuse. He comes back with, “Then how about we go to dinner sometime?”
“No. No thank you. It’s very nice of you to ask, though. I’m flattered,” says my wee bit of Libra. “I really am But no. I don’t want to do that. I just want to get that damn truck done…”
I really don’t want to hurt this guy’s feelings. I trail off like that so save his face but he doesn’t take the out.
“Um… It doesn’t have to be tonight. You won’t be decorating your brother’s truck tomorrow, will you?”
He picks up my left hand.
“Fucker,” I think. I don’t want him to touch me. I make interest in a man abundantly clear when it exists. I don’t like being handled when it doesn’t.
He looks down at my ring finger. “Well you aren’t married. Come on. Just dinner. No strings. I just want to spend some time with you.”
The whole square waits for my response.
“Well, I’m sorry. I’m not interested.”
The crowd boos. Fuckers. Who do they think has been entertaining them the last few minutes? See how my life is? I can never win.
“How do you know? You don’t even know me.”
“So? I’m sorry. I just don’t want to go and that’s all there is to it.”
He looks hurt and I feel sorry about it but I still don’t want to go out with him. As soon as I think that, I glance over at him to make sure. You know. In case I missed something, seeing as I was rejecting him in public.
I stare and size him up. He’s 5’11, blond hair, well dressed, and nope. I don’t want to go.
I keep quiet and hope the crowd turns at least neutral for me. I don’t know how I’ve pissed them off, but I have.
There’s a huge guy in a Hawaiian shirt across the square. I like him, because he’s funny. He’d gotten off some good lines. He decides to jump in the fray.
”I don’t believe this,” he says. “Why won’t you go out with this guy?”
”What do you mean? Because I don’t want to go out with him. Why don’t you go out with him?”
He laughs. “I did! I do! We’re here together.”
Hmm. I didn’t know that. They weren’t sitting together.
“Well good. Then he’s got you to go out with, because I don’t want to go out with him, okay?”
“Why not?” asks the big guy.
“Why not?” asks the blond guy.
“Why not?” asks all the people at the square.
“Oh brother. Because I don’t want to.” I answer.
Hawaiian shirt says, “Well, I can’t believe this. This man offers to take you to dinner. He asks you politely and you turn him down. Do you know who you just turned down a date with?”
I cock my thumb to my left. “Him.”
I start to get a little hot. Not mad, but “hot” as in flushed and embarrassed. The situation has turned. I no longer have control and I’m not having a good night to begin with.
“Well do you know who he is?” he asks.
”A guy who wants to go out with me?” I don’t say it snottily. I say it hoping someone will step in to defend me. The square laughs.
“Right. A guy who wants to go out with you. A nice guy. Look around. Look at all the men here.”
I look around. There are a dozen men around the pole. I’m the only woman. “Yeah?” I say.
“Who stood up and offered you their chair?”
I point to the blond. “He did.”
”Right. So what does that tell you?”
”That he has decent manners. So what!” I can really feel the heat in my cheeks.
“Well that man who offered you his chair and then asked you to go out with him, also happens to be the most eligible bachelor in this city.”
I swing my head to look at him. “Really?” This starts to piss me off. What the fuck am I? Chopped liver?
“Then I guess he can get a date besides me.”
The big guy winces, but he smiles.
The blond looks kind of flabbergasted.
The people at the square are riveted.
“Lemme get this straight,” says the big guy. “The most eligible bachelor in the city asks you to dinner, no strings attached, and he also happens to be rich. Very rich. And you just dismiss him with a wave of your hand?”
”Uh… Yeah. I guess so. I just did that.”
“And you don’t want to change your mind, knowing what you do? Now that you know he’s rich?”
”No. No, I don’t want to change my mind.”
”Are you telling me that you really don’t want to go out with him?”
”Yes. I’m telling you that. Repeatedly, I think.”
”Even knowing what I just told you? It’s true by the way. He’s a very wealthy man. It’s a fact. Do you believe me? Do you believe the man standing next to you that wants to take you to dinner is a very rich man?”
I look over at The Blond. “Yeah, I believe it.”
“Why? Because he looks like a classy man?”
”Yes. Yes he does.”
”But you still don’t want to go out with him?”
”Right. I don’t. No.”
”Well aren’t you a kick in the ass.”
He laughs out loud and it helps. We all laugh. But it’s time to do the truck now. I want to leave.
“What’s the matter with you, that you don’t want to go out with a rich man who also just happens to be a perfect gentleman?”
”I don’t know. What’s wrong with him, that he wants to go out with someone who doesn’t want to go out with him?”
People laugh. Some of them are nervous.
“Well listen, Elsa.”
Yeah, I told them my name.
“I think this is a travesty.”
“My friend over there is a classy man. As classy as you could meet. He’s a nice man. He’s a good man, who also happens to be a millionaire many times over and he wants a date with you. I’ll tell you what. You don’t think that you like him so much, right?”
”But you like me?”
Actually, I did. Like I said, Hawaiian had made me laugh. And even if I was flushed at the moment this was still kind of interesting. I mean the guy was not a bore. That, and I trusted him. Sort of. He just seemed to have something on the ball and I was badly in need of an alliance.
“Yes. I do like you,” I answer.
“Well, guess what? I’m married, so you’re out of luck.”
Everyone roars. Me too. He’s funny, but I think he’s a fucker. I didn’t say I was interested in him. I’m not interested in him, but I let it go. And he does have my attention, I’ll admit. This is unusual now and I like that. Stories, man. I can always use a good story.
“But my friend isn’t married. He’s a single man. A rich, single, available man who’s interested in you.”
“Okay. Okay. I know it. So what?” I feel my face burn. I’m really heated up, “What do you want me to do about that? He can gets lots of dates.” I turn to The Blond. “Can’t you?”
Before he can answer, I have an idea. “Hey, I know. How about I stand up on this stool and tell everyone in this place that there’s a rich guy over here that wants a date? What do you think? I bet somebody will be interested and then you can all leave me alone about it.”
The Blond looks around. “But I want to have dinner with you.”
“Oh man. Well, I’m sorry. I’m sorry, but I’m sure you can get another date.”
A few people in the square tell me to cut the guy a break. “Go out with the guy. Give the guy a chance.”
Fuckers. See how this is? Man, I feel hot.
Hawaiian jumps back in. “Do you know who I am?”
”No, I don’t.”
”Well I own, blah, blah, blah and blah.”
One of the blahs is one of the premier restaurants in the city. I’ve never been there.
”So here’s my offer. I’d like you to have dinner with my friend, as my guest. I’ll pick up the tab, so you’ll owe him nothing. No obligation. You don’t have to do anything and he doesn’t have to do anything. You can take you own car. There’ll be no obligation at all. I just want you to give my friend a chance.”
”I drive a motorcycle.”
“You don’t have a car?
People laugh and I don’t understand.
“Okay, whatever. We can send a car if you want. Never mind the details. Don’t sweat the small stuff. All you have to do is show up at my restaurant and share a first rate dinner with my friend. No strings. No strings at all.”
“If you don’t like him, you can leave the restaurant, go home, and he’ll never bother you again. You have my guarantee on that. Unless you want him too, I mean. So what do you say? You don’t even have to give him your phone number if you don’t want.”
I still don’t want to go but I don’t think it would be sporting to turn down this offer. I’m a good sport for the most part. The whole square stares at me.
“Okay, I’ll do it! Uh… But I have to go decorate the truck now.”
”She has to decorate a truck.” He shakes his head. “Okay, Elsa, but we have a deal, right? Friday night. Eight O’clock. I’ll hold the best table for you. And my best staff will serve you. Do you want us to send a car to pick you up?”
“No, I’ll drive.”
“You’ll get a car? Borrow one or something?”
“No. I’ll come on my bike.”
He laughs. “You’re coming to dinner on a motorcycle?”
“What kind of motorcycle do you have?”
”A red Kawasaki.”
The whole square laughs and I blush. I don’t think they believe me. Fuckers! Man, I feel hot.
“Well okay then. We’re on. See you Friday. Can’t wait.” He extends his hand across the square and we shake to seal the deal. He prompts and I shake the hand of The Blond as well.
“I have to go.” I say. I want to leave the bar, but I also feel a window open up around my brother’s truck. I think I can slip in and out, but I’ve got to get.
“But you’ll be at dinner, Friday?” Hawaiian asks.
“Yeah. Yeah, I will. Thanks. I gotta go. Bye.”
I leave the bar thinking “Jeez Louise. What the fuck was that? What have I gotten myself into?”
Outside, I unlock my helmet and climb on my bike. Looks like I had myself a date. I’m not so sure it’s good news but the main thing is this birthday truck.
I take off to go decorate hoping it goes better than this did.
To be continued.
I’d never been to my brother’s house but I spotted the party a block away by the cars parked on the street. I killed the lights on my bike and pulled between a couple of trucks, or a car and a truck or something. I didn’t see any people. So far so good.
I flipped up the seat of the bike to retrieve the tools of my trade and went creeping down the street, in the street so I couldn’t be seen from the house. Sure enough, I spotted his truck.
I sat on the pavement in the street behind the front tire of the truck and started blowing up balloons. I worked as fast as I could. It was harder than I expected though. The balloons wanted to roll down the street but I managed to hold them tucked under my arms, with my legs crossed Indian style. Five balloons later, a couple comes upon me.
“Uh… What are you doing?”
“Oh! I’m “XXXX” sister. I’m going to decorate his truck. It’s a surprise. Um… I have some streamers and stuff.”
The girl squealed. Yeah. She actually squealed. Maybe these two aren’t a couple after all because it seemed she was squealing about my brother. I sensed she was interested in him. See what I mean? He had a bunch of girls like this. He was like a rock star or something.
The girl gushed about how much she liked my brother and man, had I heard this before. “I know, I know. He’s great. He’s the greatest,” I thought.
She was cloying and she was annoying but the two of them blew up a couple balloons for me which I stored between my stomach and my shirt. They promised not to say anything when they got inside. I asked them to keep my brother back from the front window. I’d have to stand to tape the stuff on the truck and I was worried about being caught in the act.
They agreed and I thanked them, explaining I should be done within twenty minutes or so. They asked if I was coming to the party. I told them I wasn’t.
”Oh. Well I guess I’m just shy.”
I felt ridiculous saying this but they both nodded so I guess it sounded reasonable. “I’d rather just do this because I’m just so shy. Tell him I said to have a great birthday though, okay? After I’m gone, I mean.”
They promised. And they agreed to bring him out in twenty minutes to see the truck. See how well this is going? Fifteen more minutes and I’ll be done. It was almost guaranteed my brother wouldn’t discover me, so what more do I want? I told you this was a great idea.
I finished the truck and it looked properly disastrous. Total overkill spectacle but it worked. Satisfied, I packed up my stuff, my tape, my string and my trash, and took off into the night on my bike, free until next year.
Now about this date.
Well, I gave The Blond my phone number and he used it. He wanted to know if I was going to show up. Well of course I was going to show up. I’d agreed!
He said he wanted to see if my number worked but I’m not a putz. I’m real and would never give anyone a fake anything. I don’t understand his lack of faith and I don’t like it either. I wish he wouldn’t have called because I was trying to get a little mystique going, you know? I was trying to dream him up.
“Okay. I’ll see you Friday,” he says.
“I’ll be there!”
“Would you like me to pick you up?”
“Uh, no. No thank you. Thanks for asking though.”
See how polite I am? That Libra is something else.
To be continued.
Friday came and I took off on my bike for the restaurant. I wore my best clothes. I wore my “go on a date with a millionaire clothes” which was a dress I bought from Goodwill for a couple bucks or three.
Riding a motorcycle in a dress? Well, yes. And I was poor, it’s true, but this was not my first date with a millionaire. This was the fourth and to tell the truth, I didn’t like these rich guys very much. At least not so far.
I wasn’t immune to the Jewish Mother Voice in my head though. The one that came out of some of the old men who drink in the bar where I work, I mean.
“It just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as it is a poor one.”
I’d heard this, but never from my mother. She’d never say anything like that. I could see it made some sense, but in practice? Well in practice, I wasn’t having a lot of luck. I didn’t imagine this guy would be any different, but I tried to suspend that kind of thinking.
For one thing, I was in the game and I had a sense of fairness. I’d agreed to play so I was going to be fair about it. I knew I shouldn’t let past experience prejudice me. Besides that, I had a prominent optimism in general. Anything can happen, right? The present routinely gives me trouble but I’ve always liked the potential of the future very much. Based on this I planned to hope for the best and let the thing unfold.
See the way it was presented to me, I was going to be razzle-dazzled and swept off my feet. Okay then. Let’s see what this guy can do. Maybe it is just as easy to fall in love with a rich guy and if it is, then I’m all for that.
I showed up in my dress on my motorcycle. I could tell the big Hawaiian shirt man didn’t think I was dressed very well. This was odd for me. I was never dressed very well, but I rarely knew it. This was just out of the realm of things I knew, but on this night, somehow I became aware.
I was disturbed, but it didn’t stick. I’m the way I am so I shook it off pretty easily. I mean, I’d been inappropriate all my life. If The Blond didn’t like the way I looked, I’d be off the hook. And you know what I’ll do if that happens, don’t you?
I’ll stop at a bar on the way home and have some orange juice. I’ll sit at the bar and tell everyone the story of this guy. I’ll talk about how I can’t get any respect and we’ll all have a laugh about it. So you see I can’t win, but I also can’t lose.
In fact, I figured this is best thing that could happen. Getting rejected, I mean. I thought this would make the best story in this circumstance but this is not what happened.
Hawaiian shirt (he’s wearing another, turns out that this is his trademark) transcended his feelings about my clothes and escorted me with flourish to the table where my prince was waiting. I sat down and the games began.
It was a nice place of course. Lots of silverware. There was a bottle of champagne waiting. I wasn’t sure how to act. I’d read Emily Post and stuff. I’d tried to study but I’d had little practice in real life, so I just did my best in circumstances like this.
See, my family never went out. Well, one time we had pancakes in a restaurant for ninety nine cents but that was it. Considering this, I was in a little over my head with these millionaires but I kept getting dates with them anyway so what could I do? I would just do my best, but I would panic in a stage fright sort of way.
Is it really as simple as outside, in with the silverware? I hoped so. It always seemed it should be trickier than that. Just in case, I’d remind myself of Emily Post’s back up plan. I’d remind myself to do what he does, since he’s rich and knowledgeable and so forth. And I smile. I smile a lot. I’m not sure if that Emily’s idea or my own, but I do it.
Drinks were served. Dinner was served, and served, and served. The Hawaiian shirt guy stopped by every ten minutes to support his friend and tell jokes. I told some jokes too, and I learned how this guy got rich. Do you want to know? Of course you do. Well, he was a professional golfer, but that’s not how he got rich. He got rich by..
***EDITED / OMITTED two paragraphs to protect the Blond’s identity***
Now he had another little thing going too. He owned a golf course in town. Well, actually I don’t think he owned it. I think he leased it. He owned the business and leased the land or something like that. I don’t think you could actually own a golf course for some reason. It might have been water rights. He explained this, but I don’t remember details. It was all rich man high finance stuff, and I was just a girl from the desert.
“Do you golf, Elsa?”
I chuckle. “Oh no. No I don’t.” I smile.
”Well I was going to invite you to the course tomorrow. Show you around.”
Does he mean that he wants to sleep with me tonight, and we can go there in the morning? I wondered, because I didn’t think so. I had no sexual feeling for him. Really, there’s too much distraction. There were too many glasses on the table. Too many forks.
See, in my natural state, I would just clear the table with my forearm. I would knock everything to the floor in one swoop and climb across the table and get the man. That would be normal, but I didn’t feel normal at all. I felt out of synch like the whole thing was in slow motion and it kind of hurt my psyche.
“Yeah, well I don’t know about that. I’m tired. Let me think about that.”
”Then you mean that I can call you in the morning? I’m not too boring for you? I was worried about that.”
Actually he was boring, but it would be mean to say so. I didn’t think I really liked the guy but I had no reason so I felt kind of guilty. Should I at least try to fall in love with him? He’s not that bad. He’s just not that good, is he? I was squarely undecided. Damned Libra.
I told him to call me in the morning and see if I was tired, and he happily agreed. He said he didn’t know if I’d be willing to see him again after this dinner and he was justified in wondering that.
I didn’t reassure him because I don’t believe in leading people on.
To be continued.
We finish dinner and I have to say, they were really trying hard. It was a full-blown dog and pony show and I had to appreciate it. I did appreciate it.
What’s wrong with me not liking these rich guys anyway? I wondered that. Because I could see this was pretty good living and I thought I should like it better than I did. I should be more wowed but I wasn’t and I was slightly upset by this. I knew I was going to brood about it but I’d save it for later because at the moment, it was still show time.
I get back in my body and I smile. I thank The Blond. I thank the Hawaiian. I thank the waiters, the busboys, the everyone, and I walk outside to the parking lot with The Blond.
I think he kissed me tightly on the lips but I don’t remember for sure because it wasn’t memorable. You know. It wasn’t a kiss that I liked, unfortunately. But I thanked him again while he promised to call me in the morning and offered me a ride home (in a car) and so forth.
I refused. I couldn’t wait to get away. I smiled one last time then disengaged with as much grace as I could manage, before I got on my motorcycle, tucked my dress and rode off. Whew! Falling in love with rich guys is not as easy as they make it sound.
Riding home, I wipe his kiss off my lips. I know this is a ridiculous night but I don’t know why. Sometimes I can’t believe what I have to go through in my life. I just can’t figure it out. I miss the pianist. I miss the guy from Nicaragua. Sitting at a red light, it hits me in a wave. This is his bike I’m riding, but he’s gone. His birthday is a week away and I wince. I think I’m going to cry but I shake my head and sigh instead. The light turns green and I ride.
Traffic is light. My legs are bare, and it’s cold on the bike. It’s much colder than I’d expect this time of year, so it must be late. I wonder what time it is but I don’t have a watch. I feel lonely.
I get home, deeply chilled from the ride. I turn the heat way up because it’s cold on a motorcycle when it’s cold. I’m glad it’s the end of the day. I did what I said I’d do, and thankfully, tomorrow is a day off.
I look at the clock and it is late. I fall into bed, glad to be exhausted and the next morning, I wake up when the phone rings.
“Good morning, beautiful.”
“Would you like to go to the golf course today? I thought I could show you around and we could have lunch somewhere.”
I wipe the sleep out of my eyes. “Huh? Oh, okay. Okay, let’s go.”
What did I just say?
”Great! Do you want to ride your motorcycle again or can I come pick you up?”
Crap. Why did I say what I said? “No, no. We can go together.”
“Great! What do you say, I pick you up at nine?”
I look at the clock. It’s eight and I’m relieved because I’ve gotten some sleep. Workdays I get up at five in the morning to open the bar at six. This was becoming a habit so I was glad when I managed to sleep in on the weekend.
“Okay, nine. Do you have a pen?”
He does. I give him directions to my place. It’s a little hovel. Not that I care, because I don’t. Believe me, I have real problems and having a place to live is not one of them.
I get up and get dressed. The Blond shows up early. He looks around then takes me away in a Mercedes. I hate to say it, but I’m already bored on the ride over and I regret this. He’s obviously a pretty nice man. He has a friend I like and he sure is doting. What more do I want?
I look over and he’s smiling. He says it’s a beautiful morning and I nod. I try to get in the swing. I smile to myself because “swing” is a golf thing, isn’t it? Maybe this golf course will be fun. Is it possible? I think it must be possible because just look how happy he is. I sit up straighter and try to find a new groove.
We get to the golf course and he gives me a bit of a tour, introducing me to everyone as we go through the place. People look me up down and I try to figure out why. I wonder if I’m the first girl through here or the tenth, but I can’t be sure. The golf course is new. I tentatively decide that I’m the second or third because I can live with that.
The people all look somewhat surprised to see us but I can’t tell why. Is it because the boss just walked in? Is it because the boss just walked in with a girl or is it because the boss just walked in with me? I don’t know so I just smile prettily and look around politely. It’s Emily Post, again. I’m sure I don’t belong in the environment but maybe I’m wrong about that. Or maybe I could learn to belong. I don’t know. I just really don’t know. Mostly I feel in a vacuum and I just can’t shake it.
We walk into the snack bar and I meet the people who work there who are setting up for lunch. The Blond asks me if I want any food. Well I don’t. I don’t want any pretzels or French fries or a hotdog, but he gets some chips anyway and we sit and eat them while I feel stupid, embarrassed and think things like, “So this is what it’s like to be rich.”
Well, it’s not very fun, is it? And I’m pretty keen on fun. I was thinking that I liked my problems better than this rich thing, but I kept that under my hat and try to hang in as we head into the pro shop. Is that what one of these is called? They sell golf clothes.
I follow him into the store and look around at the racks of clothes and clubs and golfing potpourri. He tells me I can have anything I want and it strikes me as ludicrous.
I don’t want anything. I wish I did though. I wish this were my kind of candy store. I wish that it were “Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory” because I had always wanted to tour that place. I wanted a Golden Ticket baaaad, but this isn’t that, is it? Drat, and damned the luck!
I continue to smile prettily and I look around some more. I’m one step away from a doing Miss America parade wave at the people I meet. The Blond is dying on the vine. I think he’s got to know it in spite of my smiling but I’m not sure how to help him. I would if I could because I always try to be a good date, but I’m way off my turf here. I mean, crap! I could really use some help. This is supposed to be his show, so come on.
“Doesn’t Elsa have pretty legs?”
This is what he asks the Pro Shop Man and I heave inside.
“Uh… Yes. Her legs are very pretty. She does have pretty legs.”
Oh brother. Someone get my agent on the phone.
“Thanks. Thank you,” I say.
I look down at my legs and curse the guy in my head. What a stupid thing to say. What the fuck is he talking about? How can legs be pretty for chrissakes? I don’t know what he means, or why he said that but all the sudden I feel self-conscious. I’m mortified actually, and I don’t know. Something is wrong with one of us, don’t you think? And it must be me because he’s the one living the life I’m supposed to aspire too. I don’t get it. I don’t get the appeal. I don’t get my appeal, and I don’t get his either.
He suggests we get a golf cart and go ride around and I like the idea. I like fresh air and I like to move. It’ll get me out of this pro shop anyway. I walk outside with him feeling clumsy.
We round the corner, me with two left feet attached to self-conscious legs, and we approach a sea of golf carts. They’re all blue except for a red one parked in the corner, which gives me a zing.
“Great! Can we take the red one?” I ask.
”What?” He points. “Do you mean the one over there?”
”Yeah. The red one.”
“Because it’s in the back. We’d have to have one of the guys move all the blue ones to get to the red one.”
”So? Ask them. Or we can just move them. Or I can.” I scope the situation, point and count. “One, two… We’d only have to move four of ‘em to get the red one out… Can’t we just back ‘em..?”
“Elsa, no! That’s silly. There’s no need for that. They’re all the same.” He blushes.
”What? No they’re not.” I point towards the corner. “That one is red, and these…” I wave both my arms over the rest of the herd. “Are blue.”
“There’s no difference between a red or a blue one. They’re the same cart.”
Well fuck it. Do you believe this? I stare at him. “The red one is more fun,” I say.
He looks at me like I’m crazy then decides to pretend he thinks I’m cute. He’d better!
He orders someone to get us the red cart and the guy he orders is not amused. Well too damned bad. Fuck you! I’m not amused either. Invite me over and tell me I have the run of the place and then this? But I do get the red cart and then guess what?
He won’t let drive. He says he’s the man and he’ll drive. I feel like screaming now from the sheer stupidity and frustration of this. Does he want me to have a good time, or what? Trying to get my way and to salvage this whole thing, I work some of my feminine charms. I beg sweetly, but he doesn’t budge.
”I’m not going to have you drive me around.”
”It just isn’t done.”
”Because it isn’t, Elsa. I’m the man. I drive.”
He explains he’s the boss and it would be embarrassing. This makes no sense to me but I instantly regret begging. Begging is another woman’s game and I shouldn’t have bothered. Fuck and double fuck.
I think he’s a fucker as I climb in the passenger side of the cart, but at the same time I’m embarrassed. Why am I so difficult, anyway? Men drive, women ride. Men drive, women ride. Get it? This is how it is, so what’s my problem?
Well, whatever my problem is – it’s relentless. “I haven’t ever driven a golf cart,” I say with a smile.
It’s my last ditch effort. I hope he’ll take pity and let me drive but it’s nothing but another mistake made. Turns out I’m not pitiful, but who knew?
“Well don’t worry. You can be my girlfriend and you’ll have plenty of chances to do that.”
”Yeah? Well, how about now?”
”Fucker,” I think. And this time, I don’t regret it.
We drive around and he waves his arms in a “I own all of this” sort of way. This bores me, so I start chatting and this is when he does it. He tells me to be quiet.
”Your voice is loud, Elsa. It carries.” He reminds me we’re on a golf course but I don’t know what that means.
“SO WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?”
He tells me that I’ll have to either whisper or shut up.
I lean in to him. “Hey, psst.” I whisper.
“What?” he asks quietly.
“This isn’t very fun for me.”
To be continued
He looks exasperated. He says I can’t talk on a golf course, and I tell them I have no fucking desire to be on a golf course if I can’t talk!
“I really like you,” he says.
“What?” I don’t say that, I think that. I don’t answer. What the hell should I say? I really don’t like you? I feel majorly cranky. Like PMS or something. I tell him I’m tired and want to go home and he looks disappointed.
Well, sorry guy, but shit! You just told me to shut up on your own damned golf course! What good is it to be here with the boss when he tells you to shut up? And I’m not having any fun. Am I? Fuck no, I’m not. Yuck! That’s what I think. Yecch!
We blew off lunch and The Blond took me home. I said I was tired and I was. I was also pissed and I was also hurt. He did a lot of apologizing on the way home. He explained the relationship between golf and concentration.
I understood but it didn’t help me feel any better. You know. I just didn’t belong in the environment and besides, he’d just plain hurt my feelings. If he doesn’t like me, he can simply leave me alone. Was I the son of a bitch chasing him down at the crack of dawn for a date? No!
He continued to apologize profusely. He really likes me, okay? This is what he says, and he says he’d like the opportunity to make it up to me.
Ah jeez. Please no. I just wanted to be done with this. I’d only contracted for dinner and now look.
But then he begs.
“Please, Elsa. I’m really not a bad guy. Please let me make this up to you, okay? Please. You’re really funny. And you’re sweet. I like you a lot and I really think we can have something special together.”
I pout. I sit in the car with my arms crossed and the whole nine yards. He reaches over and puts his hand on my chin. He turns my face to look at him. “Elsa, look at me. I really am very sorry…” He calls me, “Honey”.
Well fuck me. In the end I agree to have dinner with him. In part because he softens me up, but also because I’m tired and it’s the path of least resistance. I don’t know. It’s just hard to say no to pleading. I figure one more dinner won’t kill me.
It was that, but I was also somewhat ashamed of myself. Golf and concentration. Okay, I get it. I felt I’d embarrassed him at his place with my big mouth. If it’s not my loud mouth, it’s my love of red machines.
Not only that, I’d also complained about how slow the damned cart was. Crap! I should have kept my mouth shut but come on! If you want to have fun riding around, there was a new go-cart place across town and that made a lot more sense. I hadn’t driven one of those cars yet, but I knew when I did, I’d like it a lot.
Anyway, never mind. The Blond and I had a dinner date. Two dates in one day. I didn’t think we were getting along, but he did. Or apparently he did. So this made me think I may be looking at this all skewed. Make sense? Well it doesn’t make sense to me either but I was nineteen, so what do you want?
He drops me off then comes back a few hours later to pick me up for dinner. In between time, he calls. Yep. He’s not really letting me out of his sight is he? Man, if he’d just let me think, but noooooooo.
He shows up in the same car, and takes me to a restaurant north of the city. Way north of the city, this is. I wonder if he’s taking me out of town so that he can keep me in custody longer. This occurs to me, but I don’t know. I’m going to have a lot to talk about, Monday morning in the bar though, aren’t I?
We wind up in some sort of lodge type place. You know. It’s got heavy oak tables and chairs that are immense. I’d never heard of the place and I thought I’d heard of everything in the city so it may have been a private club. He was greeted and stuff. They knew him there and swooped on him when we walked in. Everything was very rich and dense and venison-ish, I’ll tell you that. Hearty wine too. I took one look at that wine and wondered if I’d spill it on my dress. I figured that’d be par for the course and yeah. That’s a golf joke.
Speaking of my dress, that’s another thing. This was the last date we could have, because this was my last dress. I’d have to go prowl Goodwill if we had another date and you know I hate to shop. I didn’t think it would be worth the time, the trouble, or for that matter, the two dollars.
For one thing, I thought I should be getting laid by now or at least have hope of that. I wasn’t, so basically there was absolutely nothing in this for me. I mean, I like to have sex and I like to have fun. That’s it. I wasn’t having either so there you go.
There were animal heads hanging everywhere and the menu meant business. It offered an array of huge cuts of meat as big as my face, which was all wrong, because I had no appetite. I just didn’t have the stamina, so I stared blankly at the menu while I wished I were home in bed.
The Blond offered to order for me.
“Okay, thanks,” I say, from the land of I-don’t-give-a-shit.
He ordered me more food than I usually eat in a week and then I have to admit he got my attention. Finally! I guess he’d decided to get to the bottom of this thing, this problem, this freak of nature called Elsa. He started quizzing me and this boy was playing Hardball.
He wanted to know what I was going to do with my life. How I was going to be rich like he was. You know. Without marrying him, I mean. I guess he could see I was going to slip through his fingers, and this meant my life was over and done.
I was nothing and never would be anything. This was his main point. The main thing he needed me to understand was that I was wholly screwed in life without his money.
Well I didn’t agree with him. I’d grown up with Henry and had alternative values, but I didn’t say much because it was fascinating to listen to him. Besides that, I was going to repeat everything he said to my old guy customers in the bar, right? So I kept my mouth shut and let him spew while I collected the story. I’ll play it back for you, now.
Let’s see. I’m an idiot. Here’s my chance to hook up with him and what am I doing with my big chance? I’m blowing it. I’m blowing it, big time. I have no idea how stupid I am but he can help me to figure this out, if only I’d let him. Why can’t I just give him a chance? Because this could all be straightened out. We could have a happy life. He’s sure of it. We could have it all. We could travel the world…
Travel? I tell him I’d like to travel and he laughs. He says I won’t get very far. He says it takes a lot money to travel safely and I’m baffled. “Safely?”
“Do you see that stupid little pearl around your neck?” he asks.
I reach for the single pearl hanging around my neck and hold it in my hand. That was mean. The necklace was a gift from someone I loved. Someone who’d loved me. I feel humiliated. I feel my cheeks get hot and I flinch. “Yes?”
“You’d get off a plane and someone would see that little nothing hanging around your neck, and do you know what would happen?”
I knew I’d flinched, because I play cards, don’t I? The fucker had his tell and I knew he did. He knew I was ruffled so now I was going to have to come up with something shocking if I wanted to take the pot. So be it. I silently concentrate and wait for an opportunity to slap this bastard down.
“What?” I ask, in the stupidest voice I can find.
”People are desperate, Elsa. They’d cut your throat for that necklace and not give it another thought.”
I see blood flash across my mind. I feel like I’m going to cry, but I catch it. “I don’t believe you,” I say slowly. I look him in the eye and smile slightly. I’m at this table now, you fucker.
”What? You don’t believe me? Elsa, you don’t know a goddamned thing.”
I maintain eye contact. “I don’t believe you. I don’t believe I’d get off a plane somewhere and get my throat cut. I think you’re full of shit. Matter of fact, I don’t think I’d have any trouble at all.”
“Oh, please. How can you be so damned naïve?”
”I think they’d cut your throat, though.”
“I said I think they’d cut your throat, but let me pass. I think you’re a fuckin’ prick and if anyone is going to get their throat cut, I’d say it’s you!” I smirk.
”That’s what you think?”
I laugh loudly. I get a visual of the two of us in some foreign land. “Yeah, that’s what I think. That’s what I said, isn’t it? I think I’d walk right by, me and my pearl, but you’d better be careful. You’re the son of bitch that better watch his throat, because I don’t think people like people like you.”
I look at him smugly. I’m calm and controlled and he explodes. He grabs his napkin from his lap and slams it on the table. I stay cool. I smile slightly and look at him cockily with one eyebrow raised.
“I think I should take you home.”
”So do I.”
He yells and his loud voice startles me. I’m scared, but I cover. They know him in here and it occurs to me that a bunch of waiters will swoop in, pick me up and toss my ass out the door for offending a member. I’m scared all right, but I give him a pure poker face. Pure chill. Fuckin’ prick.
I feel adrenaline coursing through me and I swear I’m ready to pick up the oak table and squash him with it. I say nothing. I stare daggers with everything I’ve got.
The embarrassed waiter sets the check on the table. The Blond stands and reaches for his wallet. He throws a bunch of cash on top the check, then he’s got to drive me home. Yep. He does. I don’t have money for a cab. Hell no. I didn’t have a dollar to spare and we were way out of the city so he drove me home in silence. Thirty minutes of silence.
He drops me at the door to my apartment, then peels off. Gravel flies, and I think he’s a dick.
“Fucker,” I think.
I walk inside; still warm from the half a glass of wine I’d drank. It’s early, but I don’t care. I’m tired, so I get in bed. I don’t think my life is going very well at the moment.
Lying in bed, I think about crying over the pearl comment. It hurt, but decide not to bother because this was nothing but a waste of time. The morning comes. I’m awake when and the phone rings.
I know who it is before I pick up the phone but I act like I don’t.
“Hello?” I use a weak little injured voice that is feigned.
”Elsa? Elsa, I’m so sorry about last night. I don’t know what got into me. I never should have… Look Elsa…”
A couple hours later, the phone rings again. I think it’s you-know-who, but it’s not. It’s the big guy in the Hawaiian shirt. Do you believe this?
”How are you, Elsa?”
”Not very well.”
”The Blond told me he said some things out of school last night.”
”Uh. Yeah. That’s right.”
”Well he’s sorry. He likes you. He’d like to see you again.’
”Hmm. You sure?”
“Fuck yes, I’m sure. I’m positive. I didn’t want to see him in the first place, remember?”
“No. No you didn’t. Well, listen. Is there anything he can do? He said you hung up on him. He wanted me to call and ask. He feels bad. He thinks he hurt your feelings.”
“Well I’m sorry. I think you’re a real kick in the ass. You’re like me. You’re the real thing. You’re one in a million, babe. And I told him that.”
I don’t answer because I don’t know what to say. I smile though. Hawaiian is funny guy and if he puts me in a class with him, it’s a compliment. It makes me feel a little better.
“So there’s nothing he can do?”
“Well, I’m sorry. No hard feelings between you and I, I hope?”
”No. Thanks for everything you did. I just don’t want to see him again, okay?”
”You want me to let him know that?”
”Yeah. Right. I do.”
”Okay, Elsa. I’ll take care of it. You’re a good sport. Sorry this turned out this way. I really like you. You’re a real kick in the ass.”
”I like you too.”
“Well, I’m sorry. I’m married.”
“Okay. Well I hope I get to see you again sometime, kid. Different circumstances. Stop in the restaurant anytime…”
It’s Monday morning in the bar. The regulars are gathered.
“Got any stories today, Elsa?”
”Well you know…” I pause for effect. “You guys aren’t going to believe this. Wednesday was my brother’s birthday.”
“The rock star?” Al asks.
“The one with the groupies?” asks Larry.
”We haven’t heard about him lately.”
I shrug my shoulders. “Well that’s because he’s boring, Al.”
“I find that hard to believe. If he’s so boring, why does he have all these girls interested in him?”
“Well, now. That right there is the thing in life that I have to try to figure out, isn’t it? But anyway, it was his birthday. And he was having a party and you know I don’t want to go, right? The last thing I want to do is watch a bunch of ditzy women paw my brother… Er, just a minute because this is a long story. You can see how tired I am. Before I tell you guys this, does anyone need another beer?”
Everyone slides their money forward on the bar and I smile.
“Okay. I’ll just get your drinks while I talk. So okay, yeah. I don’t want to go to his party, but I kind of have to, don’t I? Because I’m his sister. Unless I can think of something, that is.”
“Well you know I can think of something. It’s a paper bag, right? And of course I can think my way out of one of those. So I have this idea to decorate his truck…”