Conscience is a sick bed and underneath it’s filthy sheets are our biggest fears The Ungodly
Yes, we met at a bar. The biggest nonviable situation in the dating handbook.
Love has its own value system. Its own criteria and who are we to set limits? We shouldn’t try it is futile. When and where are of no consequence. You can fall in love with the person across the aisle in church, in the stall next to you in the ladies room, in a store where you are being fitted for that perfect dress, or drive by you splashing mud , Why is it such a sin to say “we met in a bar”? What if you were in said bar at the same time as that future love connection, both of you left at the same time, and while making passage home, both of you stopped at the local corner grocer at the same time…and met? You would tell everyone “we met at a grocery store” even if both of you knew the other was in the same drinking establishment only an hour earlier. The bottom line, you met. And you fell in love. Location be damned.
So there I was, preening in front of the window in a $25,000 Kimono. Something I had no business touching much less wearing. But as I caught her eye I could see that little quirky grin she is so famous for. Just like Matt Damon, kind of out of the side of her mouth. Her arms folded, her head shaking and then she left. And for a minute…I thought I just imagined her. She was, after all, in Ixtapa. But that was five days earlier and Mexico is only a four hour drive. Still…where did she go?
I went into the conference room and gradually undid the ties and folds, laying the museum piece meticulously in the Japanese coffer lined in velvet with various inscriptions on the cover, then sealed it back up, gingerly placing it back on a very high shelf. I was standing on the conference table when I heard a light shuffling. I stood perfectly still, for, if it were my boss, my contract would be cancelled. At the very least.
“Put it back on…
” I jumped and started a slow descent to the floor, already picturing myself in the Emergency Room getting one or both of my legs casted. The Kimono following, causing even more distress, for, a broken leg or two were nothing in comparison to trying to hide, fix and deceive my boss about the treasure’s condition. Luckily, I was intercepted. And the gown was at last safe from my imprudent action.
I thought Bootsie was just a figment of my imagination sitting on the fountain below my office window, because when I glanced back she was gone. I was wrong.
Leaning against the door of the conference room “Put it back on, but do it right. Geisha’s wear nothing underneath.”
Now how does she even know that?
“Where did you come from? That was you down there!”
“Put it back on” she repeated. “
“No. I can’t, I shouldn’t have put it on to begin with.” As I carefully folded the garment, placing the obi on top and the footwear, very tiny shoes called geta and split-toe socks. This style of kimono called furisode,wit h almost floor-length sleeves, had been folded “just so” and it was like working a puzzle. I explained the project, how these Kimonos were a felony to even touch and that they were to find their final resting place hermetically sealed in cases I designed.
She picked my shoes up off the floor, one of her fetishes. She loved my shoes. Another story entirely. I sat down on the table and she took my feet, one at a time and dotingly placed them back on my feet. She put a hand under each of my shoulders and lifted me off the table. As she put me safely on the ground she pulled me to her, but I pushed her back.
”You know better”
“What? You really gonna tell me it is so great with that troll?”
One of the many flattering descriptions she had for Willie. This was to be expected from Bootsie. Bootsie was the patron saint of damaged relationships. She loathed Willie, even before we got together. Now it was a way of life with her. She spent her days trying to foil our relationship. But it was impossible and I promise, I meant it and I lived it. I was not going to let anyone destroy what I had with Willie.
“I have an idea of what to get that lesion for her birthday this year. A Guantanamo Bay Play set.” She snipped “Or a pair of shoelaces”
She was alluding to Willie whispering in her ear one night at a club “I can kill you with your own shoelaces.”
“One night when I was in the ladies lieu (Bootsie loved HRH speak),” she continued, “I heard her scream Oh my god it’s hideous thing made of skin! And she was looking in the mirror”
“When I carded her at the door" she padded behind me not missing a beat, "I had to charge her extra charge for the aliens inside her head”
“Bootsie, just stop!"
I ignored that and asked for an explanation as to why she was there; you have to understand why I thought it was a pathetic ruse to get my attention.
“I have cancer.”
I walked past her to my desk, grabbed my jacket and briefcase, keys and headed to the door.
“How did you get in here?”
She produced a scraped credit card, waved it in my face.
“I should’ve known."
I grabbed my briefcase and suit coat, brushed by her, then pulled her along for fear she would be hiding under my desk the next morning.
"That could put you in jail.”
“You would’ve gotten me out, after all I ruined a perfectly good credit card” then her face turned grave, “Didn’t you hear me?”
“Yes, I heard you. Didn’t you tell me something like this when I got together with Risa?”
She chose to disregard that. Self-pity in its early stages is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable…
“Dianne, I have colon cancer”
“Booter, if you continue to do this, you are going to fuck up your Karma and really actually get sick!”
“Well…I guess that has already happened, because I am not lying.”
I studied her face for any sign of deception, but this was her forte’ as you will come to realize. I was dubious. When someone gives you such a fateful decree, the human conscience, at the very least most folks want to be polite and accept this at face value. But she did this when we broke up in 1991, and this was 1998. She then told me she had stomach cancer. Yet she continued to look healthy, she always had a pleasant demeanor, really her signature, and ultimately, nothing else came of it. This felt different. And I could very well be exposing my typical skepticism. After all I do not find anything profound in Vincent’s sunflower painting.
“I’ll be in the parking garage since you are already on the cross.”
I found my way to my car, Bootsie following closely behind pleading her case. I turned on my heel
“Bootsie, please, I am not going to leave Willie. I think you know that. If you are really sick, you know, I will be there for you, but it will have to be me and Willie. We will both be there for you.”
Bootsie shrugged her shoulders, put her hands in her pockets and turned her penny loafers to her own future.
"You are going to keep running away and hiding behind that witch. But you can believe in me." She looked defeated.
"How long do you think I am going to do this Dianne?" she turned back to me, "Time waits for no-one, not even you, not even me."
And I suddenly felt very sad as I watched her walk away, her head bowed, kicking up stones in frustration, she turned a corner and as fast as she was there…she was gone.
I finally made it to my car and there on the windshield an envelope attached to one flower, of course an unusual flower, she always told me to never expect roses from her. Yet, it was a rose. A sterling silver rose. And before you go “aweee how sweet”, it was probably stolen.
The card read “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at it destination full of hope. “