December 31, 2009:
“So you’re really doing this . .” Jen said, shaking her head.
“Jen, what exactly do I have to lose in this transaction? She’s obviously in a professional relationship with her husband that has provided her with much swag but precious little sway. I’m a temporary excursion, her much deserved reward for sticking to the matrimonial script,”
“And when it doesn’t last?”
“What lasts, Jen? When we stop blinding ourselves to the realities, what lasts? Marriage behaves like a cranky Supreme Court verdict on love and romance, with plenty of loopholes in the decision . . ”
“Such as ’till death do us part'”.
“How is that a loophole?”
“Because we predictably assume it to mean mortal death, without considering death on a more philosophical level. There’s the death of romance, of hope, of trust . . .”
“I never realized how intelligent your penis was!” Jen laughed as she sipped at her martini.
“Laugh all you want, but I cracked the code and I’m not looking back,”I said as we toasted to the differences of opinion that provided the solvency to our friendship.
“You go Indiana Jones,” She winked as Red approached.
“What are you two conspiring on?” Red asked as she gestured for me to hand over my martini glass for a sip.
“You are creepy, reading minds like that . .”I said as I watched her lips settle into negotiations with my adult swim.
“Excuse me while I double down,” Jen said, removing herself from the confab.
“I’m a witch. Didn’t you know?” Red winked as she handed me back my martini.
“That explains the artwork,” I laughed.
“Come here, I wanna show you something,”
She led me to a hallway replete with photographs and artwork and pointed to a signed copy of David Bowie’s Young Americans album and then proceeded to tell me how it was gifted to her by a biker she dated when she was going to school in Philadelphia. I was so transfixed by her story that I forgot why I’d come to the party in the first place, and then she reminded me by leaning in for a kiss.
“Ah . . holy shit?” I said when we came up for air.
“Don’t you dare tell me you’re surprised,” She said.
“No, I just thought I’d ask you out for that drink . . after which we’d get to this,”
She leaned in for another kiss before taking another sip of my martini and then returning to the party.
That call turned into drinks and those drinks turned into a five year affair that navigated some stormy times in the early going. But we figured out the math and became the kind of bad romance that didn’t ask questions. And it worked until it didn’t, and that became that.
For years, I tried pushing the Dame out of my thoughts for fear I might come to the conclusion that we had vandalized some kind of epic forever after love story. But there really was no alternate ending to our story. We were trespassers, true believers of a mighty thing whose promises were cosmically challenged from our first hello; like a tarnished pair of tapers whose wick spoke wonderfully foreign languages to our tortured souls inside the all too brief embrace of forever.
The combustible effort to the final chapter of a love story we penned in short used to defeat me. It used to make me think I was an utter failure at unlocking the secrets to the heart. But time shows you differently when your shoes are earnest and your steps abide, and so I look back from here and consider myself the better for the women I’ve loved. Well, excepting for a short lived re-union with Maria and a bizarre tryst with a girl named Rachel that led to a Cuban Missile Crisis standoff where she actually held my Drinks Well With Others blog hostage for a short time.
The truth of the matter is that the women of my life have always been the greatest part of me. They were always the better half of a clueless romeo who never had a rap, and whose only real plan of action when it came to curls and curves was to provoke a laughter that might settle my wayward soul for a spell.
Those days of satire and gin martinis with the Dame feel as if they happened inside another lifetime, as if it was all a fever dream.
In the dream we’re having dinner in the Italian restaurant we found very much by accident. It’s where we had our very best date ever, which ended with the owner of the place gifting us a wine jug the Dame had been fawning over. And it’s also where we had our very worst date ever; the one that let me know it was all coming to an end.
This is our tie breaking feast and we’re having a time of it, with big fat glasses of red wine and Sinatra tap dancing along the walls and a summer breeze that is tickling our deepest wishes into a sublime flavor. And the dying sun is clashing with an opinionated moon and they’re birthing the most wonderfully handsome children. The dusk feels as if is breathing eyelashes onto a cantilever and the words we share feel as if they’ve never been uttered by another living soul. There is no beginning and there is no end to this magical place, but only the here and now.
“I love you,” She says sweetly between sips of her wine.
And then she lifts herself up from the table and retrieves a snub nosed Ruger from her purse and gives me the Solozzo special with two shots to the head before collecting her glass of wine and lighting up a smoke on her way out the door.
All things considered, the dream could’ve been worse.