Monday, January 19, 2009

Calendar Boys

A welcomed break in the icy cold weather these last few days, for the snow has brought warmer temperatures that are not single digits.

The other day I was chatting with Fred. I was sitting in his office waiting for him to do whatever he was into at the moment.

“Muse, you no come to see me the other day,” he inquired.

He was talking about when I was meeting Ricky in the local Starbucks for tea. Ricky did not want Fred to see him because of some business they had going on and Fred wanted to extend something they had business wise.

“Well you were busy with customers,” I told him, not really wanting to get into why I did not go and visit him. “There was a blond haired lady in there.”

“Yes, but I also had the Benny in the back.” Benny was his insurance man. He was a short, squatty sort of fellow.

“Well, it all worked out then,” I said, “I was meeting Ricky for tea anyway.”

Fred did not like to drink anything much that he does not bring from home.

“Sweetheart,” he said as usual, “I have something to show you.”

“You do?”

“Yes,” he replied as he disappeared into the hallway.

I heard him rustling in the back and he returned with something I recognized.

“I already have one of those,” I told him.

“You do?” he said very surprised.

“Yes, Quiet Man gave me one about two years ago.”

“Oh, this is a new one!” he declared while opening the calendar to the page that had Ricky, Quiet Man and himself. They were March 2010. Benny had just delivered it to him.

There they all were in the antique convertibles. All with broad smiles.

“What you think, Muse?”

“Well, I am going to cut out this middle person here, and then I can hang it up on my wall,” I said sarcastically.

“Oh, Muse, “ he said rather flatly and began to talk about why I was there in first place.

“I am going to give this to Ricky’s girlfriend,” I interrupted Fred.

“I have more, you want another,” he said without missing a beat.

“Yeah, give me one. She will love it.”

Ricky’s girlfriend is Sister in Law #2, who is not really a sister in law. She is the girlfriend of one of my brothers.

Up he went and proudly handed me another copy of the two year calendar. The most boring calendar I have ever seen.

“Hey, what are you doing now?” was how I greeted Ricky the next time I spoke with him.

“HEL-OH. HOW are you?” he said in emphasized steps.

“Oh, I am fine, pin up boy,” I teased.

“What are you talking about?” he laughed.

So I told him. They took the photos about a month prior. He forgot about it and had not seen it.

“Don’t worry, you look good in fact.”

“I do?” he sang.

“Yeah. You notice yourself first, then Quiet Man,” I told him.

He said Quiet Man had insisted being in the front car which was red. I told him, well the way the photo was taken, Quiet Man was not the center of attention, something he likes.

So we had a good laugh between us cracking jokes about the calendar.

I really did intend to give a calendar to Sister in law #2, but I decided to scan it in and email it to her.

A few days later, during one of those frigid nights, I was leaving the office late and was warming up the car. It was five degrees out that night. She pulls up next to me. I was talking to Dick, and told him I had to get off the phone.

It was so cold that we did not get out of our cars and spoke through the partially rolled down windows.

“Well, did you get it?”

“Get what?” she asked.

“I sent you a photo of your BF Ricky.”

“YOU DID?” she cried.

“Yes. He is in a calendar, a pin up boy.”

“What month is he?”

“March 2010.”

She was laughing telling me she did not get it.

“Well, its a photo of all three of them, you know, Fred, Quiet Man and Ricky. They are all sitting in cars.”

“Topless?” she joked.

“Yeah!” I said after a split second, “They are sitting in convertibles!”

“Huh?” she said, then she broke out into hysterics.

We laughed, watching our breath create low lying clouds that were slow to dissipate.

The thought of Ricky and Quiet Man as topless calendar boys, well it was different.

I quickly said goodbye to Sister in Law #2, left her with oohing about looking for her calendar boy, topless.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Icy Cold

As of late, I have not had very restful sleep. Having slacked off attendance at the gym, barely going twice per week instead of the usual four visits, tonight it is very cold. Since last night, during my TV watching and internet surfing and talking on the phone, yes I do all three at once, I have been serenaded by the ice formations on the trees crashing onto the ice covered snow.

I have been retiring quite late, well, falling asleep during the wee hours of the morning and waking up late.

Is it the doldrums of the season that lure my ambition from me? I don't know, but it is getting quite tiring.

Earlier this week it was my birthday. I decided that I wanted to go out and enjoy myself even if I was not accomplishing anything useful of late. It is as if I am existing in another dimension, on the outside looking in. Quite odd, I know. How to shake it, I have not found a lasting and satisfying solution.

I decided that I was not going to deal with anyone for this birthday. The day before, Ricky was in my office for a visit. I brought him coffee and homemade cinnamon rolls that I had in the refrigerator for him. I knew I would see him that day since he usually arrives when I beckon him. We sat after hours and talked for a couple of hours, laughing and joking with each other.

"What are you doing tomorrow night?" I pointedly questioned him.

He looked up at me with his usually bewildered look when he can't figure out why I just asked him what I did.

"Why Love?" he said looking at me.

"What do you mean, why? Are you doing anything?" I snickered.

"Well, no, I am not," he said, wondering where I was leading him.

"Do you want to go out for a drink?" I said, looking at him in the eye.

"Well, yeah, sure, we can do that," he said with enthusiasm and glee.

I laughed to myself. He was flattered, and bewildered as well. He was smiling broadly and happy.

"Well, good. Good. We can relax and have fun, " I commented while still looking at him, trying not to laugh.

"OK, then. We are going," he replied, looking back at me.

"Well, Ricky, " I said, "I'm glad you are free. Tomorrow is my birthday." I said it as flatly as I could. I was wondering why on earth I just did what I did. I never mentioned my birthday to anyone until it was well past its due date.

"Your birthday!? " he cried, "Your birthday? I am going to buy you dinner, love!"

"You are?" I said with some surprise, because I was intending it to be my treat. I was thinking somewhat of some other friends who have taken charge on their birthdays and invited people to a party/event they planned and paid for as well. I wanted to be in charge and pay on my birthday.

"No you are not," I said to him.

"Yes, Muse, I will buy you a birthday dinner and drinks," he said. He is so sweet, as usual.

After a short pause, we made plans for the next day, my birthday. I was so exited, as if he remembered my birthday all on his own, which of course was impossible since I never told him when I was born.

We parted ways to go home. After retiring to my room that night, I got into bed and called Harry, who had called me earlier that day. He was a bit miffed when Ricky arrived at my office while he was on the phone. He took it in good humor, while on speaker phone, taking the inopportune moment to tell me if I was going to talk to Ricky, then don't bother to speak with him, with somewhat of a joking laugh to accompany that retort.

Harry is an odd macho man of sorts. He has a good heart, but despite his travails with me, the semblance of a veiled, unspoken relationship remains throughout the years we have known each other. He has his own way of thinking, which many times is not my own. The unspoken bond between us is regularly shredded and rebuilt in a flurry of manners, that I cannot rationalize.

So, despite the many years I have known Harry, he never once has remembered my birthday. I have reciprocated the same effect-though I remember his, I ignore it.

The conversation with him that night was animated, friendly and fun, while I thought all the while about what fun I would have the next night with Ricky. My family was forewarned to avoid at all costs any birthday mention or hoopla, to which they agreed.

Harry likes to chop wood for his fireplace. He actually strikes an imposing figure and is quite strong. He does not have any huge muscles, but his strength is quite potent. He can still easily lift a car motor into his pick up truck if he had to, without help. A stupid thing to do, but none the less he can do it when necessary.

So during his tell tales of his day which in the winter almost always includes the splitting of wood, he mentioned that the next day there was a winter storm coming.

"What?" I said to him.

"It's going to snow tomorrow, hard."

"Are you kidding me?"

"No. Why would I kid you?" Harry is a black and white thinker. Never minces words, or wastes them would be a better description.

That prompted me to turn on the weather channel on the television, I navigated to it on my laptop and then called it in on my phone. All report where the same: SEVERE winter snow advisory ALL DAY into the next.

My heart sank. We could not go out for my birthday. How could we venture out into the next state, in the city where we planned to go? Talk about sucky luck.

As the conversation with Harry lingered and actually took root, it eventually dwindled into many yawns and yeahs between us, having been completely tinkered out from talking.

"Well Miss Muse, " he said as he calls me when he is affectionate in the most antiseptic sort of way, "I will talk to you tomorrow."

"OK, Mr. Harry," I replied, mimicking his ridiculousness, "talk to you tomorrow."

Well, that was fine. Good, I thought. He failed to ask me what I was doing tomorrow, so, he can't complain when he finds out. Harry seems to find it in him, an indignation in complaining with whom I spend my time with. It is almost as if it was a right of passage for him, as a figure in my life.

So the next morning I rose late, and decided to not head into the office; it was my birthday after all. So I lounged with my laptop and television.

My cell phone rang.

Mambo Italiano filled the room. That was Ricky's ringtone.

"Happy Birthday, LOVE!" he says to me.

"Oh hi, Ricky!" I said happily.

We chatted for a short bit and he told me his agenda for the day and he would call me around 5 pm. He decided we would go to our usual watering hole that we had not been to in about two months. The last time we were there was in November after Fred's daughter's Sweet Sixteen. What a night that was, and is another story in itself.

Now I must clarify-I have not any romantic interest in Ricky. I still struggle to classify how I think of him, meaning what kind of friend he is. Harry has thrown in his opinion which see-saws from ok to bad; Dick has made similar assessments. Fred and Quiet Man chimed in with suspicions of their own from time to time, despite their knowledge of the truth. Sister in law number 2 openly speaks of her attraction to Ricky and I gladly pass along that information to him with guttural laughs and many winks.

I have had more than one talk with Ricky about this and he agrees. He never contradicts, he champions the same position. But, alas, in all his fortitude of seeing eye to eye with me, the genuineness of feeling seeps out in the sweetest of ways; the grasp of my waist, the greeting with a kiss nestled in my hair, the stroking of my hair with apologies for having pulled it taught. The diplomacy of it all does not venture past socially acceptable norms, but as its recipient, I see the hidden intention and accept it solely as that of a dear friend.

So, in the midst of all these hidden agendas, openness of purpose and feelings, the simple offering of happiness on my birthday, was such a rich and warm gift on an icy cold morning.

The air was still and cold. As I was talking to Ricky, I was trying to think of an way around the weather, should he have mentioned it; he did not-he continued to talks as if no storm was imminent. He probably never even looked at the weather.

Arriving late at the office, around noon, I sat to work until the phone rang at 4:30 pm.

"Ok, Love, be ready about 5:30" he said while he was driving home to get changed.

"How about 6?" I suggested.

"Between 5:30 and 6, closer to 5:30," he told me.

"The weather is supposed to be bad tonight, but now its not going to start until maybe 12 am" I confessed, "Do you still want to go?"

"Yes, woman, I don't care," he said emphatically.

"OK, Ricky. Pick me up at my house?"

"Yes, Love, see you later."

So I leave the office. Ice had started to form in a thin veil, while it felt too warm for ice.

I enter my home, turn on the television for company and heat the rollers. I had a short time to get ready, because Ricky is either on time or late, its hard to tell when he will do which.

I have cut about 4-5 inches of hair this past year, but it is still past my waist, and it still can hold a good curl, aided by some spray. Twice I had rolled and unrolled and brushed and sprayed.

Choosing a BCBG track outfit that is bejewled to the hilt and zippers nicely, meaning the zipper stays put where I leave it, not having to worry about it being riding open on me without my knowledge, I wanted to wear my new suede high heeled boots. They have quite pointed toes which I am not very fond of, but they are suede, unusual and striking to a degree.

I douse myself with a light scent after having glittered my decollate as usual. I powdered my face with DIORSKIN FOREVER, which I now think makes me look chalky, and then smokey eyed myself with DIOR's eye compact, which name I now forget. I then wore a solitaire necklace stud that was on a silver chain, completing my silvering for the evening.

It was around 6 pm, and Ricky was late. I was trying to get the hang of walking in those boots. I was getting worried about the ice forming on the ground, having heard the pounding of the salt trucks and sanders while the heavy blades scraped the blacktop.

I hear Mambo in the distance, coming from the livingroom where I left my things. I then hear my home phone ring. I had heard Ricky's big truck pulling in the driveway as well. Impatient.

As I stood on my front porch to lock the door I was amazed at the forming ice. I had to walk on ICE to get to Ricky. I walked slowly and as sure footed as I could. I open the truck door and Ricky extends his hand to me. I stood on the ice.

"Ricky, its getting bad out, lets do this another time," I told him.

"Oh, Muse, it's nothing. Get in the truck and let's get going."

So I did.

We arrived wihtou incident in the other state and I chose to ignore the hard slush on the highway, ignored my innate fear of crashing after sliding uncontrollably on ice.

Now since drama enters my life to lodge itself whenever I don't need it, I won't recant what happened prior to us arriving at the restaurant.

Once we arrived, we were warmly greeted. We sat in the dining room and our host was glad to see us, despite the craziness the last time we were there.

We had a nice meal, with good wine. I had initially ordered a vodka and cranberry like an idiot and when the appetizer came, I realized how such a drink made my pallet sour. Immediately another drink was ordered, a nice Chianti, Leonidas I think it was called. It ended with split serving of Tiramisu, mine with a pink and white candle, and two handsome waiters serenading Happy Birthday.

Ricky called his son to join us and he came in the ice. it was about 10 pm when he arrived and informed us of the road conditions. Within a few minutes his mother called his father and demanded to know why he called his son out on a night like that. It was to meet a girl. The bar tended was his age and was a most striking blond. She was Bosnian, she said, with the face of a tea cake-tall and slender with a sweet round face surrounded by an almost white blond dye to her hair, which peeked a velvety champagned brown from her roots.

So Ricky gets me home by 11:30 pm.

I retired that night to the tap dance of ice forming on everything it fell upon, with the backdrop of pounding steel making way for the salt backer as the plows made their way throughout the icy night.

And despite the weather, I fell asleep, sound with contentment of a friendship so warm and comforting that he would never know how he for me, made that day the most memorable of all birthdays, free of guilt, comparison or the requisite melancholy.