After I dropped J off at Loomis I drove out to the country club. The way I had it figured, Mother and Father are going to love J. I’ve got to assume the fertility rate among Black American women is a point in J’s favor. One thing puzzle’s me, the mean number of children that filthy rich people have is one point three. How do you have a point three child. I didn’t attend math classes so statistics is a puzzle I prefer to leave to the family accountant.
It was 2 p.m. when I got to the country club. The morning golfing crowd was gone. The hot filthy rich women who compete to take tennis lessons from the hot male and female tennis pros were all out on the courts getting hands on instruction. I sat alone at the bar, my only companion was Louie the bartender, a short guy with wavy black hair and a nose that could be used for a spear.
Louie was wiping glasses with a white towel. It occurred to me this is what all bartenders do when they have nothing to do. Louis carried his towel and glass and walked toward me. “Off work early, Martin. Can I get you a drink? he asked.
“Louie, can you keep a secret. I mean a really, really big secret?” I asked.
“How big?” He asked.
“I took out my billfold and slid two one hundred dollars bills across the bar to him.
“Oh, you mean a small secret that is okay to get out as a rumor?” said Louie setting the glass down and slipping the two one-hundreds into his pocket.
“It’s much bigger, Louie. It’s like super top secret,” I said. The moment the phrasing past my lips I thought I sounded like a girl in junior high school telling one of her girlfriends about her latest crush.
Louie looked down the empty bar toward his glasses. “Man, I’m behind time wiping glasses. I take pride in my spotless, shiny wine, beer, and shot glasses.”
I still had my wallet in my hand. I opened it, and put one, two, three more one-hundreds on the table. “Can this buy ten minutes, Louie? I got to talk to someone and I’m not Catholic. I can’t go to confession because I don’t have anything to confess. I’m the salt of the earth according to Mother.”
Louie took hold of the three one hundred dollar bills faster than a Vegas casino dealer, deals blackjack. He said, “I haven’t seen much of your mother lately. Oscar keeping her busy? Or, is she keeping Oscar busy? I’m not quite sure how that one works. BTW, I’m Catholic, consider yourself in confession. My lips are sealed tighter than a …”
I interrupted Louie because every simile he uses is sexually explicit. I said, “Thanks Louie. I’m in love. I finally found the woman I want to be with the rest of my life. It’s driving me nuts. Today, she told me she loved me.”
“What’s the problem with that? She’s not pregnant? Already have kids? Is she married and needs a divorce? If so, my cousin Gino is a good divorce lawyer,” said Louie.
I shook my head no. “None of the above, Louie. The problem is enormous, gigantic, overwhelming.”
Louie held up a hand to stop me, “I get the picture, photo, selfie, whatever. It’s serious.”
“Thanks for the summary, Louie. Here’s the real problem, I’m introducing her to Mother and Father tomorrow night at dinner.”
Louie smiled, “You know I’m Italian. Italians work around the principle that it’s a good thing to have someone you’re going to marry meet the parents before the wedding. And, it’s always better if there is plenty of good food around. I’m not sure how it works among the filthy rich.”
I said, “The filthy rich think it’s a good idea too, but not for the same reasons your people might think it’s a good idea,” I said, edging closer to what I really wanted to say.
Louie placed both palms flat down on the bar and bent over a bit toward me, His nose was freaking me out. I think he sensed it and backed away. He said, “I see the problem. My nose bothers you. I like my nose. It’s the only one I got.” Louie started laughing. I like someone who likes their own humor.
“It’s kind of like that Louie. The filthy rich want to make sure their filthy rich children are marrying someone who is pretty much the same. You know, filthy rich, went to filthy rich private universities, never a public university, go to a mainline Protestant church, and have the same skin tone give or take how they tan.”
Louie nodded his head, “Where does this woman who you want to marry fit into this description?”
I chewed on my lower lip for a second, contorted my jaw into a grotesque position and tried to speak but it came out sounding mfff, durr, flliss.
Louie took a step back from the bar, he bent over, and scanned the area under his bar. After a few seconds, he smiled, and he lifted out out bottle containing a dark caramel colored liquid. He set it on the bar and reached under and returned with a shot glass. He filled it so that the liquid hung precariously at the lip of the glass threatening to spill.
“Drink it in one gulp, kid. Don’t ask me what it is. Don’t ask me where I get it. Don’t ask me anything about it. It’s what Catholics do in confession when they got something really hard to confess.”
“They do? They get to have a shot while they’re in confession?” I asked.
“I’ve thought about converting, but Mother and Father made codicils in their will stating that any heir in perpetuity that converts to Catholicism is disinherited from all wealth.”
“Is this woman Catholic?” asked Louie.
“I don’t think so. I never asked her exactly what her belief preference is. I know ours is money.”
“How long you been going with her?”
“We had our first date at lunch today. I’ve known her five days.”
“Kid, drink up. I’m beginning to see the problem,” said Louie as if her were a doctor giving me prescription.
I put my right hand around the shot glass and in one swift motion I brought the caramel colored liquid to my lips and tossed it down. “Yeowee. Oh, Mother. Oh, mama. Get me something, anything. I’m being consumed by a fire raging in my mouth my throat, my esophagus, my stomach. Oh my, oh my.”
Louie’s hand went under the bar again, seconds later he handed me a large pickle with skin that looked like alligator hide. He said, “Take a bite.”
I took a bite, it was sour, tasted of garlic and made my lips pucker. A moment after swallowing the foul tasting crunchy excuse for a former cucumber, I felt an easing from the deadening of every nerve cell in my body. My only concern was the destruction of the entire membrane of my stomach lining.
“Don’t think about it, Kid. It will go away. Now spill your guts, not literally, of course. The filthy rich bitches are almost finished with their tennis lessons. The ones that weren’t able to take a pro home will be here complaining about the one’s who scored.”
I said, “Here’s the deal, Louie. One, she comes from poor roots.”
“So do a lot of people. You can get past that one.”
“She went to a public university.”
“I think you can swing that one.”
“She is breathtakingly beautiful.”
“That’s in her favor.”
“She’s got the most delicious coffee with a hint of cream colored skin.”
“She’s black,” said Louie.
“Yes,” I said.
Louie poured me another shot. “Good luck, Kid. Your secret is safe with me. This one is too hot to handle. I woulda charged you a grand if I knew. But a deal is a deal.”
I threw the shot down, Took another bite of pickle and said, “Can I have another shot?”
“You’ll destroy your stomach,” said Louie as he walked down to the end of the bar where he started wiping glasses.