She laughed so hard, her eyes started to get a little misty. She opened her purse, took out a tissue, and dabbed at her eyes.
"Thank you so much," she said, carefully blotting to avoid smearing her inexpensive mascara. "I really needed a laugh."
"First, a solid medical plan with dental is nothing to laugh at," he said.
"I know, I know," she said. She then started laughing again, trying to not laugh out loud, her shoulders shaking.
"Second, I am a legitimate businessman. I have a business, I have clients. Well, customers, really. And I've been in business for myself for a long time," he advised with some indignation. "The pretty package is something for which I can thank my biological parents."
"You were adopted?" she asked.
"No," he said flatly. "I just like to toss that in to see if people are listening." He paused while she wondered what she'd gotten herself into and he said, "That's why I want to hire you. You listen."
She sighed and sank into the banquette a little.
"Whatever," she said.
"Whatever, schmatever," he said. "These things are true. My parents got married out of high school. There were sweethearts from when they met in junior high. Absolutely stunning people."
"Are you parents still with us?" she asked.
"Nah, they're on a cruise," he said. "The Mediterranean."
If he'd let her look at him, she'd have seen him wink, but she was sinking further into the banquette, sighing again. She'd stopped looking because he'd just tell her to put her eyes forward anyway.
"They're in fine form. They had me pretty young and they're too young to retire but my dad was sick of the corporate grind so he helps me with my books and my mom does my filing and customer service," he said.
"And beautiful medical-dental," she added.
"It's beautiful. I can't believe how good it is. I'd say their employer was a prince if I didn't know it was me," he said.
Suddenly he sat straight up.
"Here comes one of my customers. Listen very carefully and don't look at him too much. He's a little self-conscious about his apperance," he whispered.
A giant of a man in a huge motorcycle jacket, leather pants, and solid boots walked toward the table. He had a motorcycle helmet tucked under one arm. He smiled what can be best termed crazy vicious but oddly happy when he saw my table companion, who was indicating he should sit.
"Greetings, greetings," he said to the giant with great delight. "It's good to see you. Did you ride the chopper downtown today?"
"Nah," said the giant. "The wife borrowed it on the weekend and rode it to her sister's but was too tired to ride it home so I have to take the train out there and ride it back."
"Oh, good," he said. "I wondered where the hell you'd park that around here."
"Not a problem," said the giant. "My buddy owns that Fiat dealership a few blocks from here and he lets me park by the building. Old pal of mine from college wrestling."
My table companion stopped and looked at me. He smiled at me as he spoke to the giant.
"I hope this lady here comes to work for me but I know she has at least five questions for you right now. Do you mind if she asks them?"
The giant looked at me for the first time.
"Of course not," said the giant. "Ask away."
My table companion was correct; there were questions.
"Go," he said to me. "Ask."
"One -- where did you go to college? Two -- did you wrestle in college or was your buddy the wrestler or neither of you and you worked on intramural sports? Three -- how can you and your wife both ride the same motorcycle? Four -- where does her sister live? Five -- how long have your known my potential new employer?" I realized there was more. "Six -- do you know him socially as well?"
They looked at each other and nodded their heads. My possible employer grinned.
"I went to the University of Wisconsin in Madison," said the giant, "on a wrestling scholarship. I wrestled and my buddy, the Fiat dealer, was our manager. He's 5 foot 7 and weighs maybe 165 and doesn't like performing feats of strength but was a business major who considered sports management. My wife is super tall but also very determined to do what she wants. Her sister lives in Mount Prospect. I've known the boss for about six years and, no, not socially, but we talk." He looked at my boss. "We don't exchange Christmas cards either." The giant paused. "I bet he told you I'm self-conscious about my appearance, didn't he?"
"He did," she confirmed.
"Not so much, not really. It is what it is," he told her. To my table companion he asked, "So, where is it?"
"It's in my inner suit pocket," he said. "Wrapped just the way you like it."
The giant's face flushed a little.
"In tissue paper?" the giant asked.
"Yes," he said.
"In a small plastic bag with a zipper closure?" the giant asked.
"Of course," he said.
The giant reached into his pocket, pulled out a bandana -- white with black print -- and wiped a face that was so huge the bandana looked like a little hanky.
"Can I have it?" said the giant.
He didn't say anything and after that, neither did the giant. They stared into each other's eyes in such a way that I was about to get embarrassed.
"We're totally effing with you," he said to me. "This is just something we do if someone new is nearby."
"Yeah," said the giant directly to me. "I used to give his hand a squeeze just to be funny but the last time I did that I sort of broke a bone in his hand." He looked back at my table companion. "I am still so sorry about that. How's the hand doing?"
"You know my medical insurance is great, right?" he asked the giant.
"Effing awesome," said the giant.
"After the surgery and the cast and physical therapy, it really only bothers me if it's going to rain, and sometimes not even then. Don't give it another thought," he told the big man.
"It serves both of you boneheads right," she said.
They looked at each other and made male bonding faces.
"I know what you're thinking now. 'She doesn't get it. She's a woman. Women don't understand.' Women understand boneheads because so many of you are boneheads." To the giant she said, "Does he sometimes refer to you as his father? Like, 'My father will have a coffee'?"
"Now that you mention it," said the giant. "He used to do that until we started meeting here."
They both looked at her.
"I'm just sayin'," she said.
"See why I think she should work for me?" he asked the giant.
"Yeah," said the giant. "Perfect."
The man reached into his inside coat pocket and took out a small zipped plastic bag. Inside was tissue paper wrapped around something or other. He held it with two fingers, swung it back and forth a couple of times, then pressed it into the giant's massive palm.
"A pleasure to do business, my friend," he said.
"Got a train to catch or I'd chat," the giant said to the man. To me, "Seriously, take whatever job he's offering. You will never get a chance like this again," and strode off to get his train.
They were quiet for a minute and she looked at her watch. It was 7:50 a.m. She took out her cell phone.
"What's that for?" he asked.
"Before we do anything else, I have to call in sick," she said.
Looking straight ahead, he smiled and said, "Please."