The weather pattern has changed. We are now dealing with mid-morning rain. We wake to gray skies. The clouds build, thunder rumbles and rolls like a faraway train getting closer and closer, followed by the crack of lightening, downpours. The skies clear by early afternoon. This works for me. My mind, like morning coffee, percolates early. It’s all that tossing and turning in bed. Ideas come to me in the dead of night, I fall back to sleep. The ideas turn into dreams. If I don’t get them down first thing in the morning, they disappear.
Saturday morning, Rich worked. I wrote. The last two chapters of my second novel are going slow. Not because I don’t know what to do, but because I have too many ideas. This could end any number of ways. I like ambiguity. I know some people don’t. I’m not writing for them. Life is full of ambiguity. Those are the stories I’m drawn to, so those are the stories I write.
We plan to pub crawl our way down Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach. The restaurants cater to the locals at this time of year. Happy hours abound. Half price drinks, half price appetizers, 2 for 1 dinners, free desserts. Our plan for the evening is to take a walk, then dine our way through a few restaurants we normally cannot afford. Places with $35 steaks and $15 glasses of wine. We start at the Buddha Sky Bar.
We want an outdoor bar seat. There are numerous places like this on the Avenue. The bar opens to the street, seats are lined up along the bar facing into the restaurant. Tonight, all these seats are taken. We enter the dark interior, take a seat at the bar with a view of the people who got the seats my husband wanted, the street scene passing behind them. I think it’s a better view. We order a cabernet for me, a Bombay and tonic for him.
Rich is still disgruntled about the atmosphere. He thinks it’s too dark, too stuffy. The beautiful young people working the bar have nothing interesting to say. We finish our drink and crawl down the Avenue.
We check out a few places, peruse sidewalk menus Rich keeps vetoing. How is it that marriage works that way? One person always seems to usurp the veto power. They have stronger opinions, they’re picky, fussy, demanding. That would be my husband. I suggest Vic & Angelo’s across the street from Buddha Sky. “No, I want those outdoor bar seats.” We start walking again, which is okay with me. The first walk wasn’t long enough. We end up at Vic & Angelo’s. Occasionally it works that way. The spoils go to the spouse with the most patience.
Two amazingly handsome men take the seats beside my husband. How does this always happen? I want to change seats, but that would be too obvious. Seriously Handsome is in his late forties with dark curly hair streaked with gray, a strong jaw with a two day old stubble, tan and fit. If you’ve read my book, you know what I’m thinking. The Best Boy in twenty years. He orders a whiskey, straight up. Handsome is younger, late thirties. He has dark hair, a clean shaven face, bedroom eyes. He orders a glass of red wine. Out of his briefcase he grabs a stack of papers and a yellow highlighter. They become engaged in a serious discussion.
My husband has an annoying habit of turning his back to me, striking up a conversation with the person sitting next to him and completely blocking me from the social interaction. That is not going to happen tonight. I tell him to move back from the bar. My eyes are glued to these ridiculously gorgeous men. Seriously Handsome is getting bored with the business discussion. He starts flirting with the bartender, a dark haired woman in her early thirties, dressed all in black. They know each other. My husband joins in, leaning towards the bar, blocking me once again. I take his arm and move him back.
The papers they were discussing are obviously printouts from a website. The Google logo is at the top of the page. My husband asks Seriously Handsome about it.
“It’s top secret,” he says. “But we are on the precipice of something really big.”
“Seriously? What is it?” I ask. I am not letting my husband commandeer this conversation.
“Well, I can tell you this. There are three things that still make money during a recession. Petroleum and natural gas, food, and women’s beauty services. Hair, nails, facials. It has to do with the third thing. That’s all I can say.”
“You’re probably right,” I say. “I would use my credit card rather than let my roots go too far.”
“You see.” He waves his hand, then leans over. “Do you have three hundred thousand dollars, we are looking for investors?” Handsome shoots him a look, rolls his eyes.
Ah, that would be a no. I am trying to read the computer printouts which are now in front of Seriously Handsome. Handsome notices this and slides the papers back for safekeeping. He is the serious one in a not superficial way. No flirting with the bartender, he’s all business. He is wearing a wedding ring. Seriously Handsome starts joking with the bartender about relationships. We join in the banter. He says, “Marriage. Never again. Too expensive. I had to learn that lesson twice.”
The bartender turns her back to us to take an order from a customer seated at the outdoor barstools. My husband says, “I think she likes you.”
“She’s too old for me.” Seriously Handsome laughs. His friend gets him back on topic. They lean over the papers. Handsome draws long yellow lines with his highlighter, trying to get his business partner to focus. Their half price appetizers arrive, a gigantic meatball for Handsome and eggplant for Seriously Handsome. They split the order. We are almost finished with our antipasto.
I wish I had a picture of the guys. Unfortunately, I once again didn’t have the cajones to snap one. Instead, I give you antipasto.
“We’re ready to move on,” Rich says.
“I like it here.” What I like is the scenery. “You don’t want another drink?”
“This is supposed to be a pub crawl.”
“Let’s ask this guy where he lives. Maybe he knows about some good neighborhoods we should be checking out.”
“He doesn’t know anything,” my husband says. He waves the bartender over. A preemptive strike in the evening’s decision making process.
Seriously Handsome has gone to the men’s room. Handsome is looking pensive, worried. His jaw is tight, his cheek is twitching. Is he having second thoughts about his business partner? The bartender says something flirtatious. Handsome smiles, a very charming smile, but then returns to looking serious and preoccupied. Seriously Handsome returns, laughing and joking. He looks me in the eye and says, “You’re leaving?”
I hope I’m not blushing. “Look for me,” he says. “I am the face of this new business. You will see me on billboards everywhere.”
“I will,” I reply. I think about turning these two into one perfect man, fun and serious. Carefree but ambitious. Wait a minute, I’m already doing that in my almost finished second novel.
Out on the sidewalk, headed to our next destination, I ask Rich if he could read what was on the papers. “I could care less,” he says. “That guy was full of shit. He’s gay you know.” I stop in my tracks. “He is not. There was no gay vibe between those two.” He would never make it as a journalist. “You are not a very good sidekick. You can’t even gather basic information, never mind take notes,” I say. We crawl our way down the Avenue towards the ocean for our final destination before the happy hours end for the night.