March 25 – April 1, 2016
Considering that my last two meals had been at a taco truck and a noodle stand, the bar was too fancy for me. I am in my fanciest suit though, really my only one, a used Armani I got at a consignment store; I look like a million bucks even if it only cost me $42.95.
The wait staff here all look like surgery-adjusted aspiring models and actors hired for their sex appeal more than their table waiting talents. To get by the patron next to me, my server reaches over my shoulder to put a cocktail napkin in front of me leaving me with a lingering warmth of body contact and the smell of expensive perfume. I fumbled my drink order because I was distracted by her gold contacts that made her eyes a little too amber to be natural. I felt like a pimple-faced teenager unable to stop staring at her; sex still sells even in a supposedly enlightened post-feminist age; as she walked away I couldn’t help but notice that she wore black-seamed stockings and that the only flash of color was the red on the soles of her high heels.
I know that the black mini dress is just a uniform, and the hypersexualized nature of the club was designed to make me order big and tip bigger, the fact that I had ordered a twenty-dollar scotch and was considering leaving the other twenty dollars in cash in my pocket as a tip was proof of that. The waitress was probably going to have a cigarette in the alley during her break rubbing her sore feet and brushing the hair out of her eyes – but that too is an image that is likely foisted on me by Hollywood and the movies. Just as likely, she is a granola eating vegan who loves her cat and goes to school in the day.
I kind of liked the little story I was writing in my head, it let me pass the time before my meeting. She was engaged, making ends meet with a hole in the toe of her stocking; she had a kid that her mother was raising in Fresno, and she had a rough and tumble boyfriend who would see her after her shift. When she came back, I noticed a giant diamond ring on her hand, two carats at least, so I revised the rough and tumble boyfriend, not a punk boyfriend, but a rich guy, and considering that the ring was on her right hand instead of her left, she was his mistress perhaps, being strung along by expensive perfume and even more expensive jewelry. Maybe she is working just to pay the bills, her clothes are expensive enough. I ran through a number of stories in my head, a mob moll, a call-girl, a single mother, but in the end I realized that it was all in my head, all I knew is that she was a waitress. She’s pretty though, I wonder what it would take to go out with her.
I’m proud to have her as my girlfriend, she is sexy, kind, and really down to earth. In fact the only time she gets dressed up is when she goes to work as a waitress at the club; then she paints her nails, puts on the red lipstick, fixes her hair and steps into her little black dress, stockings, and Christian Bernard stiletto knock-offs. And for work, she puts gold contacts in over her crystal blue eyes that, offset by her dusky eye make-up, transform her from fresh-faced farm girl into the carefully sculpted, sultry, woman of the night.
She works out a lot, and her favorite thing to do is to pull her brown/blonde mane of her hair into a ponytail, forgo her makeup, and go for a run with our dog. After her run she slips into worn jeans, a white t-shirt and curls up on the couch with a crossword or a book peering through the lenses of her incongruously horned-rimmed glasses.
She is carefree and fun, and though we can’t afford a lot, we get out on occasion for a cheese burger and fries, her favorite meal. Even though we have only been dating for a year or so, we plan to get married someday. We can’t afford a fancy ring, but luckily she has her grandmother’s engagement ring, a two carat affair, that she wears on her right hand until we finally get engaged when we’ll move it to her left hand. She has one expensive thing that we indulge in, a fancy French perfume that she wears with her jeans and t-shirt. It is admittedly intoxicating and is as much a treat for me as it is for her.
She gets away from time to time to get her “own time,” sometimes it is at a café after her shift in the wee hours of the morning, other times she takes a day or two on a weekend to spend time with her girlfriends away from the city. She seems more centered when she gets “her time,” a quiet strength that borders on melancholy but melts into a smile when she sees me.
I had met her at this club a few years ago, fresh-faced and naïve, she was drunk and crying, and I was a shoulder for her to cry on and after a Patron or two to wash away the tears, she was ready to be fast friends. I was looking for a little something-something to pass the time, and she was ready to indulge me. When we met that day, she was a little rough around the edges perhaps; still, she was flirty and fun. In the years that followed, we worked on polishing those edges, her walk, how she carried herself, her entire look.
I got my friend to give her a job and the club standard basic black dress is easy for her to look sexy in, but she had to learn to act the part; a little time as eye candy on my arm at a few parties, a yacht or two and a few trips to Europe with friends and associates, and she learned her role well enough. We had sex the first night of course; there was something brutal and wonderful about transforming her into a woman. I see her when I am in town, I pick her up at the club before her shift is done and take her to our place that I keep in the city. After we’re done, I have my driver get her back to the club before morning so that I can have a good rest before the start of the day.
She likes fancy things, even if she can’t afford them; I buy her a trinket here or there to make her happy. Some Christian Bernard stilettos she wanted, Perla stockings and lingerie, a little diamond ring to celebrate a special occasion, nothing too big, two carats maybe, even paid to have her have a little work done in the early days. I even buy her the cheap smelling perfume that she likes so much, the only weird thing was when she asked for contact lenses that turned her blue eyes amber. What do I care, I said, blue, amber, it is all the same to me. She said it was her mask and lets her be the woman I want her to be. I don’t care, its sexy that she wants to please me, and she pleases me each time; what is a trinket here or there?
Recently I have been thinking that it is time for a change. It’s time to let her go I’m afraid. I mean, sure, she’s got the best tits money can buy (I should know), and she’s fantastic in bed, but lately I’ve been a little bored, restless really. I am fancying something new, someone a little younger, I mean, it’s almost been ten years, and though she has stopped asking me to marry her a couple of years ago, it hasn’t been quite as…exciting. Something younger, I think, after all, isn’t youth the greatest aphrodisiac of all?
I knew her when she was in school, her story is tragic really, left as an infant at the church steps, raised in the church, really brought up by the church; it is a wonder she didn’t become a nun. She was carefree as a child, troubled as a youth, and spent time bounced from foster home to foster home until she was old enough to be emancipated. After graduation, she left in a hurry and said she wasn’t going to look back; went to the big city I heard, works at a fancy club. She comes back though, started a couple of years ago; spending a morning on a Sunday here or there at the church, sometimes taking mass, often going to confessional.
I had a crush on her in high school; I would watch her run cross-country with her hair pulled back in a ponytail, sneak looks at her taut breasts as we dressed in the locker room. In class I would doodle our names together, and embarrassingly imagine what it would be like to be with her. I once asked her to a dance, but she thought I was joking.
“You’re my best friend she said, my only friend, we can’t go together!”
“You are right I said, I was just kidding.” She went with a guy we knew named Paul. At least we were friends, but to me she was everything.
I see her go into the church; sometimes she is in sunglasses, jeans and white t-shirt, but most of the time she is dressed to the nines with the same sunglasses and red lipstick. She has had work done, a boob job, a bit on the nose, a bit on the cheeks. I can tell she spends too much time in the sun or in a tanning booth, because though her make-up is pretty, you can see the wear the tanning is doing at her neck where the makeup ends. We are all getting older of course; she is just working harder at resisting it than the rest of us.
I haven’t had the guts to go and talk to her since she started coming back, never really had the guts, not since that night after graduation; we had gotten drunk, gone into the city and found ourselves at this expensive club. The DJ was good and we were dancing together fending off the sleazy guys on the dance floor. We looked hot, and were being a little trashy, grinding and playing and having fun. Art one point though, I was feeling her against me and got really melancholy that she would never know how I felt. In my drunken courage, I whirled her around and blurted out that I loved her. She laughed and said she loved me too. “No, I said, I really mean it! I love you!” She kind of just laughed at me, and I got angry. She kept laughing even though I was pouring my heart out to her. She kept laughing and so I slapped her. I was so hurt and angry that when she ran away holding her cheek, I didn’t follow. I couldn’t find her the rest of the night and went home by myself.
It wasn’t until almost ten years later that she came back into town. I didn’t know at first, our priest told us, and asked if I had spoken with her. I caught a glimpse of her here and there, followed her, to be honest. She looked different, fancier, curvier, you know? Almost unrecognizable; I should be one to talk: I am thirty pounds heavier after three children, and a little worse for wear, don’t get me wrong, I love my children, and Paul, yes, that Paul, is a good man. I don’t often find the time to put on make-up or take care of my hair other than to pull it back in a pony tail. In any case, after that night after graduation, I really didn’t want to talk to her again, just see her, and catch a glimpse of her to find out how she had changed.
It’s not easy trying to see someone and not meet them, and it was inevitable that I would run into her at some point. One day after my shift at the café on Sunday, I went to the church to drop off some donations we had collected, I happened to be coming up the stairs when she came through the door and we collided. The books I was carrying went flying and her sunglasses fell to the ground. She was in her black fancy get-up with a big diamond ring on her right hand, but her make-up was running as if she had been crying. We made eye contact for only a moment, she didn’t recognize me, which is to be expected, but I caught a nose-full of some expensive perfume and caught a glimpse of some unnaturally golden eyes. What had happened to her?
When my twenty-dollar Scotch came, the waitress pressed up against me again to set the drink down. I enjoyed the contact and imagined that she lingered against me just a moment longer than was really appropriate; in reality she was reaching to wipe a speck of something or other on the bar. I inhaled her perfume and looked at her golden eyes. She barely gave me a glance. I asked for my tab, and as she wrote up the check, she added a little writing to the bottom. I imagined that she was giving me her phone number, but it just said “Thanks for coming!” on the bottom. I tossed my forty-dollars on the bar and said. “Keep the change,” in what I hoped was a suave voice, but she had begun taking the order of the person next to me, so missed the comment. When she was done though, she picked up the payment and rewarded me with a. look from her golden eyes and a flash of a smile as she said thank you and was on her way. I sat finishing my drink, resuming my staring and musing, and contemplated finding an ATM to get some more money to order and tip her again.