Friday, October 16, 2009

Another of Those

It was going to be another of those arugula and balsamic dinners with a troop of overworked Fiji-drinking lawyers and CPAs who are into finance and travel to Caribbean islands and talk way too much about both those things. There would be evil eyes cast about to doom new couples put together from the remains of old couples: and so, say, Tricia would munch on her feta cheese while giving foul looks to Albert for dating Rick now instead of her, or at least her and Catharine by turns. So typical.

But there was nothing of the sort. I knock on the door, 1980 chardonnay in hand, bracing for the Tricias and Alberts of this world, and instead I’m greeted by a redhead with a Hindu dot on the forehead and a rangy man whose articles of clothing are all made of hemp. His name is Sundance Meeks, and hers is Autumn Glory. I know their names and the rate of hemp articles because they tell me this as they get my coat.

“This isn’t made of hemp, is it?” he asks as he feels the collar. Not unless marihuana plants grew wool. He knows this, I know this. But it’s his way of bringing up the subject so that he could tell me all about the miracles of hemp.

To be honest, the patchouli might have given them away.

So it was going to be one of those bonfire escapades with stranded horticulturists who grow all their body hair long, and talk about the system, man, and want to hug all the time even though they have this thing against deodorants. Such a predictable evening.

I finally find Joan, in the kitchen.

“You’ve grown fruity on me,” I tell her. “About bloody time, too,” I add, looking for a bottle opener.

“What do you mean?” she asks.

“Well, this commune here. You know, the incense, the, I don’t know, saris.”

“Oh,” she says. “I’m not that sure. Look, Tricia is here. You remember Tricia.”

“I do,” I say, shaking hands with Tricia.

“These are all her friends from the gym,” Joan goes on to say.

“Okay, I get it,” I say, not getting it at all. Then Sean comes in, and for some reason I want to go for one of those effusive hellos. But he walks right past me, and shows Joan a phone number written on a formerly very well crumpled Post-It note.

“Oh, that,” she says, just as I manage to pop the cork. I take a swig right from the bottle, and no one notices. Everybody in the kitchen is staring at Joan, at Sean, back and forth. Me too. The whole sick crew is staring.

So it’s going to be one of those nights. The host and the hostess get into a big fight, he rips the knob right off the oven, which ruins the turkey completely, and she tosses the rest of the hors d’oeuvres under the fridge, and people keep staring at the bottom of their glass, and they both say nasty things about each other’s friends while the fight blows up into this hideous quarrel, the shame of which they’ll never recover from, at least not as that couple that always threw those great parties in Audubon Street. You can see it coming a mile away.

And suddenly Sundance gets on the scene, and takes the wrinkled note away from Sean’s hand, and hugs both of them at the same time, and makes them swear they’ll feed this to the ash-heap. Hey, I’m just quoting.

“Yes, let’s,” Joan says. “Please.”

“Okay, let’s, my bear,” Sean says.

And it’s all kiss and make up. Or hug the hemp guy minus deodorant and make up.


We go outside again. I’m confused, and I can’t remember if it’s because I’m on my third glass of wine, or if the wine is on its third glass because I’m confused. Or, well, whatever.

The point is some woman sits next to me on the beanbag chair. Next to me quickly turns into partly over me. It’s a beanbag.

“You must be Sean’s friend,” she says.

“Why would you say that?” I ask, and this frenzy of hiccups takes over me.

“Well, you’re wearing a yellow Café Brazil pin on a mauve long-sleeve with brown boots and a black belt. You have to be a Taurus to be so stubbornly wrong about your dress. And Joan wouldn’t take a Taurus in her life, not of her own free will.”

She’s unfazed by my hiccups. I try to wash them away with a mouthful of wine, but my next hiccup catches me off guard and I end up squirting some wine on the rug below. Red wine, mind you. I try to be discrete about it. The Taurus lady doesn’t seem to notice. And I could’ve sworn I was on the left side of the beanbag a minute ago.

“So that’s what mauve means?” I ask, finally able to talk.

“Oh, silly,” she says. “Mauve is my second favorite color. Magenta is my first, look.” And she strips. That’s wishful thinking for she lifts her shirt to reveal a color palette tattooed on her back. “Some people can’t tell them apart.”

“Shame on them, the boors,” I say. “Well, that tattoo of yours sure beats something in Mandarin.”

“You’re such a klutz,” she scolds me, laughing and snorting. “Mandarin is not a color. It’s a fruit.”

Okay, so it’ll be that kind of night. She’ll say something about love being in the cards for me, and we’ll turn to really hard liquor until we stumble onto a trolley, take it all the way downtown, get some daiquiris on the go and some beignets for here, consort uneasily with the trust-fund Goth kids from Nebraska or some such frozen state, go to her place and find she’s rooming with an overly curious guy from Nashville who never wears a shirt, and end up talking of fifth and sixth favorite colors over brunch at La Madeleine with huge bags under our eyes, all of it strictly Platonic. It’s so obvious.

But then, with a chummy tap on my thigh, she wrestles away from the beanbag and leaves. I couldn’t get a real good look so I’m not sure if she would’ve been worth the beignets.

I go back to the kitchen for more booze, and find it completely pillaged, except for Rick and Albert making out while Autumn puts together a new unglorious tray filled with what’s left of stuff to nibble on. A wheat cracker here, a grape leaf there.

“So it’s over?” I ask, but it comes out way, way louder than I intended.

Autumn looks at me with compassion. Rick and Albert don’t even look.

I turn my glass upside down to lap up the final drop, but I miss. When I walk out of the kitchen, it is over. Joan and Sean are busy cleaning the place up. A man on his way out offers me an organic cigarette, which is just too weird a concept to refuse. And that’s that. Glassy noises come out of the kitchen. A plate breaks somewhere.

So why was I supposed to care about this kind of night? Jeez, I would’ve left halfway if I knew how it was going to end.


  1. Me gustó mucho el sentido del humor en todo el relato. Es muy bueno.

    Una curiosidad: "bloody" es una expresión más bien británica ¿o no?, me parece que no la he escuchado mucho en el inglés gringo.

  2. Mónica: Qué bueno que disfrutaste el humor del cuento. Sí, "bloody" es muy inglesa. Pero se ha difundido. (Para darte una idea, el Third Unabridged de Merriam-Webster --que es de 1961-- lo reporta como British; el Collegiate de Merriam-Webster, que se actualiza más a menudo, ya no lo reporta como British). En todo caso, tu instinto es correcto: la palabra bloody es muy británica.