The need to impress J overwhelmed me. I quickly made a plan for the rest of the day. We’d have lunch at a romantic Italian Bistro. I’d bribe the maître d for a table with privacy and a view of the ocean. We’d slowly finish a bottle of their most expensive wine. After a two hour lunch, we go to a private beach and walk barefoot in the sand. By dinner, she’d be mine. Tomorrow morning, we get up fashionably late, not show up for work, and take off for a destination far away from Mother and Father. I had the perfect plan. Or, so I thought.
J and I arrived at D’Lato’s Italian Bisto at twelve-thirty. It was bustling with the right kind of people. D’Lato’s is always perfect, being both pricey and trendy. I discreetly palmed the maître d a fifty and it worked its magic. Mother always advised me to make a small offer to those not in the Sanderstuff’s class, they’ll usually accept. Mother drives me nuts, but she is a genius. When I offered fifty to the maître d, his robotic, taciturn features transformed into a greeter at Disney World. Even though it was lunch hour at the city’s popular high end Italian eatery, the maître d found an empty table in a discreet corner, with the lights low, the ambience perfect. It gave us a view of the ocean. He lit a candle, handed me the wine menu and J a luncheon menu with six items on it. He set my menu on the table. This was a sure win because the food will be better than anything Victor can cook. I’ll never tell him. Chefs are very touchy. He’ll smell lunch on J and me when we show up later today. He’ll know exactly what we ate and where we ate. He’ll ask about lunch. I tell him D’Lato can’t compare with his cuisine. I’ve learned to lie when it’s convenient. Mother told me it’s not a sin to lie in the Episcopal church, only in the Catholic church. I sat, pleased with myself while my black goddess smiled at me, excused herself, and went to the ladies room to make herself beautiful for me. I’m not sure she can improve on perfection.
While J was in the Ladies’ Room, I thought about my first day at work. It wasn’t so bad. I arrived late, left early, and convinced J to have lunch with me. J doesn’t realize how lucky she is to have me in her life. After lunch, I’ll let the salt air and my personality work its charm on her. Yes, being rich is better than being poor. It is even better to be filthy rich. J will love being filthy rich with me. I turned toward the window and marveled at the clear view of the nude beach below. I scanned the beach for eye candy before J returned. So many beautiful women I thought and I have one who has fallen hard for me. Looking at the topless beauties below me, I felt like one of God’s angels hovering over lesser creatures. Mother told me angels have a hierarchy and we’ll be in the highest of the hierarchy when we’re called. I recall Grandmother Houston telling Mother you can take it with you. My mind drifted and I contemplated one of the world’s great questions that puzzled philosophers for centuries, to work or not not to work, that is question. All the good points were on the not to work side. I was still reflecting on this conundrum when J interrupted my thoughts.
“What are thinking about?” my Venus said as she pulled out her chair and sat down.
I turned to my caramel colored love dish and said, “Us.”
J cocked her head a bit to the side, ignored my comment and said, “I wish you asked me what I like for lunch instead of thinking you know what I like for lunch. You ever think of asking someone for their opinion?”
I wasn’t prepared for this attitude followed up by a tough question. I once heard Father tell an underling, ‘If I want your opinion, I’ll ask for it.’ The underling nodded and walked away. I didn’t think it was the right time to use it on J. I wasn’t quite sure J considers herself an underling. This left me with a deep dilemma. As my administrative assistant she is my underling. As the crown jewel of my love life, I wonder if she’ll be considered a trophy, bling, a playmate.
“Well?” she said.
“I once asked Oscar if I should take the BMW, Porsche, or Mercedes when I was going to a party. Does that count?”
“I will say this softly because I do not want to offend anyone who might be listening.”
I eagerly awaited J’s words. I softly said, “You’re going to accept my marriage proposal and sleep with me tonight.”
“If I didn’t think I could whip your sorry ass in five seconds, I’d walk away and hope to never see you again.”
I saw the fire in her eyes. I felt the heat of her anger, and all it did was super charge my libido. “Yes. Tell me more.”
J said, “I’ll tell you more. The only reason I accepted your luncheon invitation is because you said you wanted to debrief. That is the only reason I am here. We have zero personal relationship. Let me put it this way, M. If you and I were the last two people on the earth and we were on an island, I’d rather mate with a gorilla before I’d let you touch me.”
I don’t know what she said. Her staccato delivery flowing over the most beautiful lips I’ve ever seen mesmerized me. I leaned forward and said, “I couldn’t agree more. May I have this dance?”
“Fool, there is no dance floor,” she said picking up her menu. She glanced at it and said, “This is it? I have six choices and I don’t want any of them. This place is a rip off, thirty-five bucks for a salad and pasta dish they describe in fancy Italian language.”
“I can afford it. It’s part of my allowance. Meals are always on my parents.”
“How old are you?”
“Thirty-three. I believe there’s only a six year age difference between us. I’ll take offense if anyone considers you a trophy or arm candy. We don’t want our biological clocks to run out if you know what I mean,” I said hopefully.
“Trophy? Is that what you think of me? I am not your trophy or arm candy? I will never be more than I am to you now, a hired baby sitter. You are thirty-three and you get lunch money from your mommy and daddy? That stopped for me when I was sixteen.”
“I live a privileged life. It’s because God knows the Sanderstuffs are better than other people. That’s what I learned from Grandmother Houston.”
J glared at me. “You mean the old bat on the wall with the dumbass looking dog on her lap?”
“You think you’re better than me?” she said with a voice that reminded me of Tchaikovsky Fantasy Overture from Romeo and Juliet.
I don’t know where I get this stuff, it comes out of my mouth without any thought. I said, “I’m not worthy of you my black Venus.”
J sat back in her chair and started laughing. “You are too much. You know where Warren Avenue is?”
“Is it near Nordstroms?”
She started slowly, her eyes began to tear up, she pursed her lips and started shaking as if a 6.8 earthquake was centered in her navel. J no longer could stifle her laugh. It burst through her pursed lips like a dam besieged with torrential rains for a week and could no longer hold the water back. Her laugh became so loud, a staff member came by and asked if I felt threatened.
J stared at the staff member, and broke into a louder chorus of laughter. She stood up holding her linen napkin to her face and hurried off to the ladies’ room. Her laughter echoed on off the restroom walls and through the ventilation system. The uppity clientele were taken aback by a lower class creature disturbing their business luncheons, discrete affair luncheon, or backstabbing rumor spreading luncheon. The couple at the table next to ours were aghast. The young female, I’m assuming secretary and lover, asked the septuagenarian she was escorting if it was a terrorist attack. He told her thought not, it was nothing more than a pack of coyotes that wandered down from the mountains. Animal control should be here any moment and not to worry. The howling stopped as abruptly as it started. A moment later, my black Venus left the woman’s room and walked over to me as if she were walking on the red carpet. Her chin held high exposing her regal neck, her breast jutting at a perfect angle, her hips, oh her lovely hips moving to a Jamaican beat. I suddenly longed to smother her with kisses and not worry what others might think.
Before I could act on my impulse to kiss her, J pulled out her chair and sat down. She said, “I’ll have salad with salmon. I want the salmon blackened, cajun style. I want home fries with ketchup on the side. And, I want a bottle of Bud Light. If they don’t serve it, I’m leaving.”
“Has anyone told you you’re more beautiful than Beyonce? I can do this for you,” I said
J raised her eyebrows and said, “While you’re at it, I’ll take a side of beer battered onion rings.”
J was about to witness the power of money. Mother always said, “I suppose it’s nice to love your neighbor, but I’d rather be richer than my neighbor.” I raised my arm and snapped my fingers for the waiter. He scooted over as if he’d been waiting for my finger snap for the past ten minutes. He was a tall, thin man, wearing a long sleeved white shirt and black bowtie. They matched perfectly well with the tailored paints. He was bald, with a dark shadow around his ears and connecting in back of his head.
“Yes, sir?” The waiter said in a snooty uptown accent.
I said, “I want a glass of your best wine and today’s lunch special.” I reached into my pocket and pulled out a money clip filled with one-hundred dollar bills. I described J’s meal to him. He shook his no five different times. I had a feeling J was ready to walk out. This wasn’t her kind of place. I placed a hundred dollar bill on the table. He shook his head no. It was only after I added three more hundred dollar bills to the stack that he bowed to J, rose, pirouetted and headed for the kitchen.
I looked at J expecting her to be impressed.
J said, “You are such a jackass. You wasting money buying him off when the four hundred dollars could have paid for meals for a week at the homeless shelter on the other side of town. When are you going to get a set of balls and stop being a mama’s boy and be a man?”
I immediately took offense. I do have a set of cajones. I chose not to argue the point. How was I to know J might be having cramps from her period. I said with a level of sincerity seldom heard on this planet, “Did your period start?” I wasn’t able to finish my sentence before J got up and walked out of the restaurant. I realized I handled this with the panache of man who’s had one drink too many, an extra thumb on both hands, and no idea on how to form a personal relationship with a woman. Does anyone know how to put Humpty Dumpty back together again?