Sunday, May 26, 2013

She Is Where and Oh, I Think So

She Is Where and Oh, I Think So are taking the week off. 

Please consider this from the New York Times:

Sunday, May 19, 2013

She Is Where, Part 42

They saw each other a few times a week, then every day, then every day and every evening, then every day and evening and most nights, at her place and at his, because each had a mattress that the other liked.  They agreed on political issues, movie choices, and that latex foam is a great idea for a mattress but makes a less than ideal pillow.  They talked on the phone a couple of times a day.  He met all her cousins and aunts and uncles.  She met his dad and Skyped with his sister, who lived in distant farmland outside of Lansing, Michigan, and was a professor of animal husbandry at the state university.

"I grow my own veggies, I make my own pickles, I keep chickens and Shetland ponies," said his sister.  "Please don't judge me."

"I hardly cook," she said to the sister, "and went through a long stretch where I killed every plant that came into my home.  I finally solved that problem."

"Stopped overwatering?  Remembered to water them?" asked his sister.

"Stopped buying them.   I can't kill what I don't infect," she said, adding, "Please don't judge me."

If she and Mike quarreled it was either because he never ever let her pay or because she alleged a trip to the restroom and found the waitperson and paid the bill.   She liked to treat but he thrived on it and they eventually fell into what she termed "the rhythm of Mike's generosity."  He noticed her admiring a Tiffany necklace and the next week he gave her the necklace as a gift.  She bought him a book and would have been embarrassed that it was just a book but Mike was very excited to read a book she thought was right for him.

What made him happiest is the one phrase she told him and meant most sincerely.

"I was very lucky to have met you, Mike."

He would say he was the lucky one and they would smile but she knew it was true that she was luckier.  She was who she was but Mike was the complete package -- smart and clean with a good sense of humor, a man who was romantically generous.  If she thought too much about how lucky she was, her head would reel.

Her job was sorting itself out.  After she met Mike, she started training someone as her backup, just in case, you never know, maybe she'd fall ill or find another job or have an extended vacation.  Right after that, a job opened working for the vice president of new accounts.  This VP had a strict policy of getting out on time, of working hard, of having a life with your family and friends.  She was pretty certain he wouldn't even give her an interview but he did want to talk to her -- for two hours, in fact. 

A week went by, then two, then three and she was fairly certain he'd gone with someone else.  She was summoned to the office of Human Resources and the VP was in there.  She closed the door and she was offered the job.  There was more money.  There were fewer hours.  She'd need to start as soon as a new person was trained.  Was anyone trained?  Yes, and would be able to take over the next week as soon as the personnel files were transferred.

"Let's celebrate by doing something different," said Mike.  "I've hired someone to cook dinner for us at my place.  Italian.  She's supposed to be very good.  Will you come over?"

She arrived at his place at the appointed time and the chef was already in the kitchen preparing their meal.  There was a young woman who was the server wearing a modest black cocktail dress and mid-level heels.  She served them champagne -- her favorite nonvintage.  There were appetizers in the living room, a salad followed by the main course still in the dining room, then back to the living room for dessert and coffee.  The chef was a genius -- every mouthful was a surprise and a delight.

"You need to bring over clothing and leave it here," said Mike.  "Not just your pillow."

"I'll bring over some underwear next time," she said.

"I think this place isn't big enough for the two of us," said Mike.

"Oh," she said, thinking she'd misunderstood.  "I won't bring over the undies.  I'm sorry for the misunderstanding."

"I said that badly," said Mike.  "I think we need to merge our households.  I think we need to shop for a new place.  I think we need to live together."

She burst out crying.

"Oh, no," said Mike.  "Too soon?"

She kept crying.

"I'm sorry.  It just seemed the logical next step," he said, holding her left hand in his own right, patting it with his left.

She nodded and cried.  And sobbed when she tried to talk.

"Please, please tell me what I did wrong.  I don't want to hurt you," he said.

She took a few deep breaths and blurted it out.

"I'm so lucky," she said.  Then started crying again.

"I'm the lucky one, but okay," he said and she kissed him tenderly.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

She Is Where, Part 41

When he picked her up on Saturday, Mike parked the car and buzzed her apartment.  She let him in and gave him a quick tour.  She was glad she'd done a thorough cleaning that morning.

"I like your furniture," said Mike.  "We seem to have similar taste.  I like your color scheme very much."

"Thanks," she said.  "I call it 'amazing accident.'  I sort of found what I needed and it happened to go with other things I already owned."

"It all looks well thought out.  You also look well thought out, if you don't mind the compliment," Mike said with a smile.

"I try," she said.  "And thank you."

"So," said Mike.  "Shall we?"

They left her apartment and walked to his car, a few houses up the street.  As predicted by Mr. King, it was a new white Cadillac.  He opened the door for her and closed it after her.  The ride was very smooth and he wasn't a scary driver.  Almost everyone's driving, save her own, scared her, so this was an amazing thing to consider and boded very well for Mike.

"You said you were game for anything, so I thought we'd go to this place in Chinatown I like," he said.

They found street parking and she offered to pay the ridiculously high parking fee but Mike would hear nothing of it.  He gently took her hand and put it through his arm and led her to the restaurant which specialized in the cuisine of Beijing.

She'd been here before, years before, with Lee.  She wondered if Lee thought about her much, if he was mad at her for not being in touch.

"Oh my goodness," she heard a voice say from a table when she walked into the restaurant.

It was Lee, waving energetically at her.  She walked to his table while Mike gave his name to the host.

"Hi, Boo," he said.

"Hi, Boo," she replied.

"This is Philip," said Lee,  tipping his head toward the handsome man across from him and telling Philip her name and who she was.

"And she's the one who introduced me to this place," said Lee.

"You know it's our favorite," said Philip.  "I am so pleased to meet you at long last.  He only talks about you all the time."

She smiled and found her eyes getting moist.  He wasn't mad at her.  Not one bit.

"Well, Miss Boo Boo, I should be totally pissed at you for not keeping in touch but you have all that weird shit going on so I decided to just let it go.  I am not going to end a long time friendship over something that will blow over," said Lee.  "You on a date?"

"Yeah," she said looking for Mike who was walking over.  "This is Mike," she told Lee and Philip, and to Mike, "This is Lee and this is Philip."

"Nice to meet you all," he said.  "I've not heard a thing about you because this is our first real date."

"First real date?" asked Lee.  "I gotta hear this."

"I picked her up by the elevator in her office building," said Mike.  "She looked so happy that I wanted to take some of that home."

"We had lunch," she said.

"At a place where we're both regulars.  I'm surprised I never saw you there," said Mike, looking at her with a smile.

"I was keeping it low profile for a long time, Mike," she said.  "You wouldn't have noticed me."

"That's true, Mike," said Lee.  "When she wants to be invisible, you don't see her.  It's like she's made of a vapor that only her friends can see."

"Oh, mysterious," said Philip.

"Your suit is beautiful," said Lee to Mike.

"Thanks," said Mike.  "It's my way of distracting people."

"Distracting them from what?" asked Philip.

"From my lack of hair, my large nose, and being not tall," said Mike.

"Just stop," she said.  "Your personality is what I saw."

"Oh?" asked Mike.

"He asked if I remembered him so I had to look at him carefully.  So yes, I saw what most people think of as him, but it went instantly away," she told Lee and Philip.

Lee and Philip smiled at each other.

"Would you guys care to join us?" asked Lee.  "I know it's your first date but we've got a table and we've not ordered."

"Up to you," Mike said to her.

"No, up to you," she said.

"Let's get some chairs," said Mike.

Lee and Philip were seated at a square table for four so they all fit fine.

"We were talking about what to eat," said Philip.  "Lee likes it super spicy but I like it a little moderate."

"Lee likes it so spicy that sweat pours off his head while he's eating," she told Mike.

"I have to go with moderate," said Mike.  "I want to be able to sleep tonight."

After they went around and around, they decided what they'd order.  Lee reached under the table and pulled out a bottle of red wine in a brown paper bag.

"Let's share this," said Lee.

"And toast our meeting," said Philip.

Philip was as pleasant as he was handsome.

"I'm driving, so I'll pass," said Mike.

"I might just have a taste," she said.  "You guys go ahead."

"She's not a drinker," Lee told Mike.  "Maybe a taste here and there.  You don't have to worry about her getting drunk and barfing on the hood of your car."

"To be absolutely graphic," said Philip.

Mike smiled.

"Always good to hear that my date won't be tossing cookies on, in, or near my car," said Mike.  "It's white and vomit tends to stain."

Lee had been drinking some water and he did a spit take.

"I salute you, sir," said Lee.

Mike tipped his head, closing his eyes for a moment, acknowledging the compliment.  She hoped this was all genuine.  He seemed to not mind bonehead chatter.  He seemed to not care that Lee and Philip were gay.  He seemed to actually just want to get along with her and her friends.

"So, what's your job, Mike?" asked Lee.

"Attorney," said Mike.  "But I'm okay.  I'm just a normal guy."

"He's not a litigator," she said.

"Oh, that makes a difference," said Philip.

"What do you two do?" asked Mike.

"I work in the same business as your date," said Lee.

"And I'm a litigator," said Philip.

They all howled at his joke.

"No," said Philip.  "I really am a litigator, but I'm the pro bono litigator at my firm.  The capital partners didn't want to sully themselves with pro bono work but they like bragging about all their pro bono work.  They hired me to do it."

"Cool," said Mike.  "How's it going?"

"The capital partners are sensational gasbags but they compensate me pretty splendidly, so I don't share with them what long-winded jerks they can be.  I do work of which I am proud," Philip said.

"And isn't he just the handsomest thing?" said Lee.

"Oh, so handsome," said Mike.  "But she's more my type."  He cocked his head in her direction.

"You're adorable," said Lee to Mike.

"Should I be jealous?" asked Philip.

"I have eyes for you only," and leaned forward and squeezed Philips' hands with his.

"Let's eat," she said.  "Before this turns into a sweetness fest and we have to race out for insulin."

Dinner was delicious -- they agreed they could not go wrong with Beijing eggplant, duck with mixed vegetables, Szechuan green beans, and lamb with cumin -- and Mike, ever the gentleman, picked up the check for them all.

"We all make money, Mike," said Philip.  "And I'm an attorney.  I am most adequately compensated."

"Tell you what," said Mike.  "The next time we run into each other by pure accident on a Saturday night in Chinatown, dinner's on you."

"He's a generous guy," said Lee to her.

"We have to accept it," she added.

They all said good night and Mike again put her arm through his and led her to his car, again opening the door.

In the quiet of the car, she said, "Wow, that was lovely."

"I think so, too," he said.  "They are great guys."

Just as he was about to put the key into the ignition, their eyes met and they kissed.

And that was it.  They were a couple.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

She Is Where, Part 40

She was exhausted when she fell asleep to the flickering light of the TV, sleeping so hard she didn't move once in night and when she woke up just before the alarm clock, she realized that everything had changed for her.

She realized that her job was just another dead end but with a little more respect and a lot more responsibility.  Her apartment, the one she'd sworn she'd leave with the new job but had not, was serviceable and fine.  She'd managed rarely get together with Lee, someone she considered to be one of her closest friends.  Her love life did not exist and she was probably being played by a very handsome man and his large friend.  Work was drama and this Connie Stones thing -- whatever it was -- was super high drama.

She knew that the drama was over.

She felt relieved, better than she'd felt in years.  She looked at herself in the bathroom mirror and smiled.  She would find a new job and lose all contact with Con and Kevin.  She would move forward toward new hobbies, reconnect with old friends, and maybe have dates with a man or two.  She was excited for it to all get started.

She drove downtown and almost jogged from the garage to the office.  It was a sunny, lovely day and the sky was a brilliant blue.  She must have looked approachable and happy because people looked at her and smiled, nodding their heads, some of them mouthing hello to her.  Total strangers.  She felt like she could do anything.

She ran into Mr. King at the front desk, training a new security guard.

"Don't you look great," said Mr. King.

"Thanks, sir," she said.  "I feel like I could climb a mountain."

"You look that way, too," he said.  "I hope it keeps up for you."

"Thanks," she said.  "See you later."

As she waited for the elevator, she was joined by coworkers and a man about her height who was almost bald with a big nose and a very expensive suit.

"Do you remember me?" he said to her.

She looked at him, through him, above him.  She stared into his eyes, at his nose and ears, and finally had to say, "No, sorry, I don't."

"Ha," said the man.  "We've never met.  You just looked so delighted to be alive I thought it was a good way to meet you."

"HA!" she blurted out.  "Good one!"

Her coworkers laughed at her exclamation and started watching the two of them, back and forth, hoping like hell for some gossip.

The elevator came and her coworkers piled on.  She and the man signalled them to go ahead.  The coworkers had plenty of gossip right there to let them start weaving some fantastic story or other.

"I'm Mike," he said.  "I'm an attorney but not a litigator."

"Is it important that I know you're not a litigator?" she asked.

"But of course," Mike said.  "I don't want you to think I'm pushy and scummy."

"Oh?" she asked.

"I'm pushy, but I am not scummy at all," Mike said with a grin.  "And full disclosure, I'm single and I don't have kids."

"Why are you blurting all of this out?" she asked.

"Because I want you to have lunch with me and not be just some weirdo who tried to accost you in the lobby," he said.

She cocked her head and looked at him.

"High noon?" she asked.

"I'll be right here," he said.  "What's your name?"

"Oh," she said.  "That."

She told him her name and they shook hands.

At noon, he was waiting just where he said.

"I hope you eat meat.  Please tell me you eat meat," he said.

"Sure, I eat meat," she said.

"How about fish?" Mike asked.

"I toss about anything down the hatch, Mike," she said.

"Do you like Mediterranean cooking?  I know a place," he said.

"I wonder if it's the place I know," she said.

"We'll find out in five minutes," said Mike.  "After you," and she stepped ahead of him to leave the building.

They walked together to the restaurant and it was the place she knew.  She also knew many people who worked there and so, it turned out, did Mike.

"Hey," said Lamar at the register.  "I didn't know you two knew each other."

"We met this morning," said Mike.

"A total coincidence," she said.

"We're going to see what else we have in common," said Mike.

Lamar smiled at them.

"If I'd thought of it, I would have set you all up.  But I never think of anything like that, so never mind," he said and gave Mike change with a smile.

They carried their own trays and found seats in the middle of the bustling restaurant.

"You really looked extraordinarily happy this morning," said Mike.  "I never meet anyone who looks so pleased and happy about their lot.  I hope you don't mind that I wanted to get to know you."

"It didn't strike me as at all odd," she said.  "It just seemed, well, how do I say it?"

"Right?" asked Mike.  "Did it seem right?"

She smiled.

"Yes," she said.  "It seemed right."

"What's making you so happy?" he asked.

"When I woke up this morning I realized that I didn't have to go on with all the drama I'd taken on.  I was done with it, plain and simple," she replied.

"Good," he said, nibbling at his chicken-falafel salad.  "Now tell me you're single, too."

"I am single," she said.  "There was some weird romantic thing going on that was actually neither romantic nor a thing but I am sick of whatever the hell it was.  Besides, he seems to have fallen off the map."

She took a bite of her salmon kabob salad.  He was looking at her expentantly.

"And no kids," she said.

Mike smiled at her.

"And no pets," she added.

Mike winked.

"Kids and pets are okay," he said.

"I still don't have either one," she said.

"Would you care to have dinner on Saturday night?" he asked.

"I will in fact be having dinner on Saturday," she said.

"How about with me, smartypants?" asked Mike.

"That sounds lovely," she said.  "Surprise me with somewhere."

Mike leaned back in his chair and studied her.

"You asked for it, my friend," said Mike.  "It will be lovely.  Write down your telephone number and home address.  I'll pick you up at eight."

When they were done with lunch he walked her back to her office building.

"What an excellent day," said Mike.  "I'll see you on Saturday."

He shook her hand and then pulled out a business card and a pen, writing something on the card.

"This is me at work and that number's my cell phone," Mike said.  "If you change your mind, no harm done.  Just call me and it was nice to have met you."

"I'm not going to cancel, Mike," she told him.  "I want to see your lovely surprise."

He squeezed her left hand with his left.

"See you then," he said, blended into the crowd and disappeared.

Mr. King was standing at the desk with the new guard when she walked into the building.

"He's a nice guy," offered Mr. King.  "He has a client in this building and he's always polite and straightforward.  I ran into him at a mall on a weekend.  He was taking his dad to buy pants.  He apologized to me because he didn't know my name to introduce me.  Nice, nice man.  And he has the most beautiful suits."

She smiled at Mr. King.

"You know just what I was thinking, didn't you?" she asked.

"Well, after that last weird situation, I wanted to let you know right away that this one's got no personal mystery," said Mr. King.

"Good," she said.  "I agreed to dinner on Saturday."

"The man drives a Cadillac," said Mr. King.  "It's white.  It's new.  It'll be a comfy ride."

"Thanks, Mr. King," she said.  "I appreciate you watching out for me."

"I look out for my friends," he said, and they smiled at each other and each blushed a little bit, hoping the other didn't see.

She got on the elevator and waved at Mr. King, who waved back.  The guard he was training looked puzzled and a little annoyed.  Hadn't Mr. King told him to not get involved with the tenants?  Do as he says not as he does, thought the guard.