It's awful quiet round here. Are you all still recovering from your hangovers after EE's birthday party?! Over to Robin (part 1 below)...
And what Randall T. said was would I like to have dinner with him on Friday night, and I said yes I would. And he said he’d pick me up at seven and he asked me my address, but I said no, I’d meet him there instead, wherever we were eating, because I was going to be out anyway.
I wasn’t about to give Jeff and Tony a shot at meeting this guy and teasing the crap out of me, or embarrassing me, which would’ve been even worse. Because it looked to me like Randall T. was at least a decade older than we all were. My biggest clue on that was the way he was dressed - in this kinda shiny beige polyester leisure suit with dark brown stitching. That and his face looked older. That and no guy I’d ever known would’ve been caught dead with hair permed all curly. No. If their hair it was curly, well then it was curly, and if it was straight, it was straight. Fake curly hair was pussy hair, as far as my pothead hang about friends that were boys were
concerned. I was on the fence about it now, watching Randall T. grin as I’d said yes.
So I went out to dinner with a leisure-suited man named Randall T. Macon. I met him in the parking lot of a place called Steak n Ale; with its half-timber Tudor façade, it looked like merry ole’ England had landed smack in the middle of a long, long strip of an asphalt parking lot along Interstate 64 right along the northernmost line of the Mason-Dixon line, circa 1976. And it was feeling fine. The parking lot was full. The place was jammed.
I had on my one pair of insurance-company-work navy dress pants that I thought would maybe double as a dinner out thing to wear without looking stupid. Randall was leisure-suited up all fine, wearing a brown shiny version of the leisure suit he’d worn before. He turned to talk to some man who came in, and as they shook hands, I looked over Randall, and under his jacket, I saw his nice bottom, sheathed in polyester and looking just fine.
The hostess seemed to know Randall. She said his table was ready, and she swept us away to it, whooshing menus back and forth as she walked us on over there. Randall motioned me to follow right behind her; he kept his hand on the lower forty of my back while we wandered around tables to the one she had waiting just, she said, for us.
Randall scooted me close to the table, once I was in my chair. That was a new sensation, beng scooted. I liked it. Randall walked to his side of the table and he sat down and I was quiet, very quiet, while he perused a leather-bound linen sheet of a wine list with those odd two eyes of his, and I perused parts of him other than his bottom, and some of our surrounding. My perusal took me on a tour of the color beige. Textured beige walls, looking like stucco, beige-on-beige patterned table coverings, the dark brown wood of our chairs offset by beige upholstery. Yeah, we were swimming in low lit placid.
After a quiet few minutes of Randall reading his wine list , I felt an antsy deep color-deprived need to peruse on over to look at Randall’s face, to really take him in, because I hand’t really taken much of him in before, except that he was older, and he wanted to know me, and I was surprised. I watched his eyes, how they didn’t move together when he read, how they weren’t the same color. I’d seen a cat like that once, with two colors of eyes.
Finally, Randall looked up and saw me looking over at him.
“Hungry?” he said.
“I think,” Randall said, “I think I’m gonna order a Chivas insteada wine, so we won’t need a bottle. Red or white for you, Renae?”
And I couldn’t bring myself to say I wasn’t twenty-one, so I’d never had a drink in a restaurant before, and I was worried I’d spill on myself and make a big mess, so I said white, because it was clear.
And he ordered our drinks and he told me what to order when I said I hadn’t been there much before. I was worried about what I’d say while we were eating, but that wasn’t a problem. Randall had that covered.
I dropped my salad fork, but I didn’t think he noticed. While I chewed on my caesar salad with the longer fork, hoping he wouldn’t wonder why I’d do that, Randall told me, grinning big like he did underneath his thick and sandy-colored moustache, all about his ex-wife Angela, the one he’d knocked up, he said, in college. About how he’d done his duty, like his father said he had to do, and he married her. They’d had to live in a trailer for a while down on the flatlands near the river in Indiana, away from the university, and that had really pissed him off, that living in a trailer part, while he worked at night and got through the rest of his classes in the day and that wasn’t how his life was supposed to be. And they’d moved over here and now he’d left her, her and his little girl, and he missed his little girl, but he couldn’t take any more of being trapped with Angela, and he knew he’ d been trapped. He knew it even though he couldn’t prove it, and he’d done all he could do, staying with until his daughter was ten. And now, he was free, is how he said it. And he saw his daughter every other weekend, and on Thursdays, too.
On the way out of the parking lot later, I heard a weird scraping sound following along with me, and when I looked down, I saw the fork I’d dropped earlier. It was dangling off the macramé on the underside of my purse, scraping the asphalt while I walked along. When Randall kissed me goodnight by my car, I held my purse very still, so he couldn’t see the restaurant’s fork, gangling there and laugh at me.
That’s what we did for a few weeks. Randall called me at work and said did I want to go out to dinner, and I said yes, and we met in parking lots in the dark. And then one day, Randall said he’d pick me up at work, and did I want to go to his house. And I said yes, I did want to go there, but I would drive.
And I did. On a Friday night, I drove out in the county to the fieldstone house belonging to Randall T. Macon, pharmaceutical rep and man about town. The first thing I noticed was how big it was. The second thing I noticed were the pot plants growing large and luxurious in big clay planters, right on either side of Randall T.’s front door.