Lurching headlong into a weekend, newly-freckled and be-blonded by the Florida sun, I return to Minneapolis wondering what will happen next…
If only we knew.
And then I smile. Because of course we know. My iPod! Why, set on “shuffle” and left to its own devices during a Friday-morning commute, my iPod tells the future!
Sic semper tyrannis! E Pluribus Unum! Eenie meenie jelly beanie, the spirits are about to speak! (Sorry, Bullwinkle.)
21st Century Schizoid Man by King Crimson
Rose Garden by Southern Culture on the Skids
Totally Nude by The Wallets
Blue Rondo a la Turk by Dave Brubeck
You Really Got Me by The Kinks
Sing a Song by Earth Wind & Fire
You see that, kids? Happy weekend.
So quickly, before I lose you to naked dancing and air piano, a quick thought…
Because there we were, as we so often are: black-pantsed and white-shirted and side-by-side. Neatly coiffed, hands clasped behind our backs, Mary and I rock gently on our heels, striving for a look that says both “I’m here to serve” and “Please don’t ask me for anything”.
We are standing in the banquet hall, just outside the swinging kitchen doors.
Church service over, a 30-minute bar/reception follows.
Christmas dinner is right around the corner.
“You look nice,” I say.
“No, you look nice,” Mary says.
Ice waters filled to a three-quarters height, butter pats and creams center-table, silverware inspected, we await the storm that will be the next four hours.
“Oy vey,” Mary says.
A man in a suit, comfortably nestled between “old” and “elderly”, is approaching with a surprisingly sturdy gait.
“Mary!” he shouts.
My head swivels to the right, where I watch a blush creep up Mary’s neck.
“You know this guy?” I say out of the side of my mouth.
“Everybody knows me,” she mutters.
The man in the suit wraps an arm around Mary’s shoulders, rubs her upper arm vigorously. “How’re ya, sweetheart? Say, I’m wondering what a guy’s gotta do around here to get a glass of ice water. Can you do that for me, sweetheart?”
Mary, ever the sweetheart, can indeed get this guy a glass of ice water.
I follow her into the back. “No, seriously,” I say, “How does he know your name?”
She shakes her head. “When I was setting up that table just outside the double doors, he was out there.”
“Did he hug you then, too?”
“I’m irresistible to the old guys,” she says, wide-eyed. “They want to squeeze me.”
It’s true. “You’ll probably get a proposal out of the evening.”
“Shaddap,” she says pleasantly.
Thirty minutes later, and Mary comes flying into the back kitchen. “Ack!” We’d just finished serving the salads: huge, glass-bowled affairs passed around tables of eight, family-style. I hold out a piece of fresh fruit to calm her nerves.
“That’s not going to help,” she says, popping it into her mouth. “Mmmm,” she says, “pineapple.”
“So what’s going on?”
She dabs at her lips, checks her lipstick in the polished steel of the hand-towel dispenser. “Do I look like I want to be hugged to you?”
“I personally find you almost indescribably attractive,” I say.
She narrows her eyes at me. “Why I oughta…”
“Why you little…”
“You busy? Come with me. Watch this.”
I follow her out to the floor, where she is engulfed by old- to elderly men. “Mary!” they shout.
“You gotta meet Pearl,” she says, grinning. She pushes me forward.
“Pearl!” they shout.
One of them throws an arm around Mary, rubs her on the back. “You’re nice people, you know that? You’re just nice people.”
And we smile at each other.
Because, darn it. We’re just nice people.
Nice, huggable people.
Have a good weekend, everyone. Don't forget to come back!
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