SHE PLUNKED HER large Louis Vuitton knock off purse right down on the postprandial crumbs of a previous encounter, ensuring that for the breadth of her experience debris was going to be part of the equation. But, I got the immediate impression that debris often played a part in her equation.
Savvy people will wait just one extra second for the bartender to clean up the mess, before sitting down; the un-savvy will not. But savvy is what someone learns after interacting with many people over many years. Savvy is recognizing the real, and savvy is also recognizing the phony. But I digress.
“I’ll have champagne,” she said, oblivious that I was busily engaged trying to clean up around her large handbag.
There are certain people who talk at you, regardless of whether you are talking to someone else, doing something else or even looking in their direction. For them common manners are for other, more common, folk.
“The best. I only drink the best,” she said to no one in particular and to everyone in general.
Just then a much older man, whom I guessed was her date, finally arrived through the crowd. He waited just a second for me to clean the adjacent spot to her before finally sitting down.
“I’ll have a draft Bud,” he said, folding the calloused hands of man who has worked very hard for a very long time.
“This place is pretty swanky,” he said, turning to her.
She wasn’t listening. She was already engaging with some other much younger guy on her other side who didn’t appear all that enthusiastic about having a woman his mother’s age chatting him up. Oedipus be damned.
Sometimes dates are a way to get to know somebody, and sometimes they are just a vehicle to get to a free dinner or free drinks. It can be a very enlightening experience.
The night progressed much in the same vein. He tried to talk to her, and she did everything to avoid talking to him. That’s not to say that she didn’t talk, she did — just not to him.
She talked to the waitress, me and anyone else that came within 10 feet of her. I mean talked at. She didn’t have what anyone would classify as an actual conversation. But like manners, listening sometimes can be for other people too.
“Put that on our tab,” she said, indicating for the first time some sort of togetherness on the part of the older man, but only after the object of one of her monologues ordered a chardonnay. Listening apparently did have a place.
“And honey,” she said in my direction. “Make sure it’s the best.”
By best, I believe she meant the most expensive, because no other qualifier was given.
She ran up quite a bill. Ordering more champagne before her glass was even half empty, leaving the better part of a very expensive bottle of bubbly scattered in individual glasses all over the bar.
Her date had two beers, totaling less than half the cost of just one of her many glasses of wine before he finally left, leaving $20 on the bar.
It took the better part of an hour for her to notice that he was gone. But then the evening was never about him.
Eventually she managed to convince someone else with a stronger oedipal complex to give her a ride home.
“Ma’am,” I said struggling for just the right honorific. “The bill?”
“He took care of it,” she said, indicating the departed gentleman.
“No, he didn’t,” I said.
Let’s just say that she wasn’t pleased. Two declined credit cards and a probable bad check later she was on her way.
I was left with these thoughts:
• Dance with the one that brung you is a very old saying, and one that someone her age should have been familiar with.
• People who only want the “best,” often expect someone else to pay for it.
• Oedipus blinded himself for his indiscretion. One sometimes wonders if he regretted not having deafened himself instead.
• Technically speaking karma is reserved for the next life, but occasionally we do get a sneak peek.
• Dating someone younger can make one feel youthful, but it can also make one feel very, very old.
• Enlightenment can sometimes be overrated.