I’ve not broken my promise – *I* am not here – I’m busy writing away at these #KickCancersAss posts and letters (and OctPoWriMo over at the Well Tempered Bards, which I somehow neglected to remember was starting, BUT LOOKIT! I have a GUEST, and OH THE STORY SHE HAS TO TELL! My dears, it appears as though the allusions and hints dropped were for GOOD REASON – our favourite Dilettante SEEMS TO HAVE FOUND LOVE! Ohhhh and it’s a perfectly WONDERFUL beginning…read on – quickly!
* * *
It was not love at first sight.
In fact, I’m not even sure why he’s still hanging around, darlings. I did pretty much everything wrong, tried in every way to deny, displease, and otherwise dissuade him from his apparent interest in me. I made a fool of myself, I behaved badly, and yet, somehow, he broke through, and I must confess, I’m terribly glad he did.
A few months ago, Penny invited me to go out for a drink with her at some social at her school — there would be students as well as faculty there, she assured me, trying to persuade me that I wouldn’t come across as some cougar on the prowl for sexy co-eds.
She made me promise not to refer to her as The Countess for the entire evening, and I countered with a request that she not treat me like her old maid aunt, or suggest out loud, with eligible males in earshot, that perhaps my vagina needed to have the cobwebs cleared out of it. Reluctantly, she agreed, and we got ourselves decked out for a night of drinking and dancing — or at least, that was the plan. When I got to the event and approached the DJ with what I thought for sure were reasonable requests for songs I’d enjoy dancing to, the blank look on his barely post-pubescent face told me differently.
I retreated to the bar like a dinosaur walking into a tar pit, head glumly hung in defeat. All I wanted was a tall greyhound or six to drown out the sound of Skrillex and Pharrell Williams and whatever other computer-perfected, soulless plastic auto-tuned bullshit that the DJ was… can you really call it spinning when he’s just aligning mp3s in a playlist?
The bar was crowded with young, beautiful people, all pushing their way to the front, trying to get their micro-brews and designer shots, with no bartender in sight. I tried at first to be patient, even letting eager twenty-somethings push by me, all the while twisting and turning as to not be accidentally molested. But after some time had passed and I wasn’t making any progress toward the bar (and still no bartender in sight), I finally lost my cool.
“Who do I have to fuck to get a drink around here?” I cried at full volume, having long since lost any modesty in public situations.
I felt a tap on my shoulder, and turned to see a smiling, wide-eyed man, holding a tray of empty glasses.
“Um, that would be me,” he said without a hint of embarrassment. No, darlings, he left that part all to me. I was wearing a red backless cocktail dress, and I swear my skin must have turned the same colour, because I could almost feel the heat rise off me like steam.
“Greyhound, please,” I said, recovering quickly as I could. “Grey Goose with red grapefruit juice if you have it.”
“I’ll get right on it,” he said, pushing past me.
“And I’m not going to… you know…” I called after him.
“What? Fuck me?” he laughed. “My loss. Your greyhound will be down at the end in a minute or two.”
Of course, it took longer than a minute or two. I sat at the end of the bar, waiting for my drink and looking around for a glimpse of the Countess Arcade, who had assured me that I would have a good time, and was, at that point, reneging on her promise.
“I’m sorry,” the bartender said, and I turned my head to see him grinning at me. “All we have is this really shitty grapefruit concentrate, and I wouldn’t feel right serving that to you.”
“And I appreciate it, darling, but I’m afraid we have a dilemma, then,” I said, warming to his smile.
“Can I get you something else?” he asked. “I make a good martini.”
“I hate olives,” I said, crumpling up my nose like one of those wrinkly dogs that snore all the time.
“Cosmo?” he suggested.
“Boring. Common,” I sighed, feigning a yawn.
“You really know what you want, don’t you?” he said, ignoring the build-up of thirsty customers not six feet further down the bar.
“I’m afraid so,” I admitted, noticing how dark and lovely his eyes were. He was staring, but not in a creepy way.
He glanced down the bar, and then out at the tables, where he managed to catch the eye of one of the servers and waved her over.
“Give me five minutes,” he said, holding up all five fingers of his left hand, as if I had no concept of the number five. Then he disappeared, and a blonde with a low cut top and no bra took over waiting on the line up of customers.
While I was waiting, Penny found me and sat down on the stool next to me.
“Oh, Helena,” she teased. “Why so glum, chum?”
“Bizarre Love Triangle is a classic,” I said, spitting out the first thing that popped into my head.
“Yes, the music sucks,” Penny replied, needing no explanation for my response.
But Helena, you say, we’d like one.
And so I’ll give you the brief explanation, darlings. One of the songs I’d requested was Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order, but when I made the request, the DJ not only acted like he had no idea what I was talking about, he laughed and said that he didn’t think he had that song. He did, however, have eighteen different remixes of Gangnam Style, apparently.
“Well, have you met any nice boys?” Penny asked.
“Yes,” I admitted. “Lots of nice boys. And if I were fifteen years younger, I’d be all over them like hot on a pancake.”
“Well, what about Professor Plum over there,” she said, pointing to a smartly dressed man sipping what appeared to be a gin and tonic and engaging in a heated debate about something or other with a man in a tweed coat that looked like he needed to lay off starches.
“You mean the guy talking to Colonel Mustard?” I asked. “Here’s a clue for you — they fancy each other.”
“Did not see that,” she shrugged. “Well, I don’t suppose you’d sleep with my Ethics professor, would you? My grade could use a boost.”
“You don’t have an Ethics professor, do you?” I asked, stifling a chuckle.
“No, but wasn’t that the funniest thing you’ve heard all night?”
I confessed that it was; and wasn’t that sort of the problem?
Five minutes passed, and still no bartender. I was about to grab Penny and leave when I saw him push through the crowd toward the bar with a carton of Ruby Red Grapefruit juice in his hands.
“My hero,” I smiled, actually impressed at the gesture.
“Ah, I see you’ve met Spenser,” the Countess Penelope of Arcadia grinned happily.
“Not really,” I said, looking back and forth between Penny and the Bartender Who Up Until That Point Had No Name.
“Hello, Penelope,” Spenser said, and Penny stuck her tongue out at him as if she were six and not twenty-something.
“And you would be?” he asked me, but before I could answer, Penny violated various vows and made inappropriate introductions.
“This is my Aunt Helena,” she said. “Her vagina’s full of cobwebs. Seriously, it’s like a fucking Hallowe’en diorama down there. She needs someone to do some serious housecleaning. You know anyone who might be interested?”
And that was my introduction to Spenser, the new love of my life. How I ever managed to face him again after that, well, be patient, darlings — I shall a tale unfold whose lightest word will harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood, make thy two eyes like stars start from their spheres, thy knotted and combined locks to part, and each particular hair to stand on end like quills upon the fretful porpentine.
“Um, Helena,” the Countess of Arcadia, which is a small neighbourhood in Stratford-Upon-Avon, interjected.
“Yes, Penny?” I replied.
“Wherefore art thou cribbing lines from Hamlet — a passage most unseemly and ghastly — or is it ghostly?”
“Well, it is Hamlet’s father’s ghost speaking the lines — kind of like Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol,” I suggested.
“But forsooth,” she continued. “Hark, and such. Shouldn’t-est thou be quoting-eth a love sonnet or something? Est?”
“Actually, I was just more saying that there’s more to tell, and if the reader can just be patient, that I’ll tell the whole story.”
“I see,” Penny nodded. “Eth. But, there’s just one thing I don’t, uh, understand-eth, egads and forthwith and such.”
“And what’s that?” I asked.
“What’s a porpentine?”