Linda Birch sits before me, nervously nursing her gin and tonic. I have decided to stick with red wine, ordering the same Cabernet from earlier in the evening. Our waitress is also the same woman who served Jamie and me at dinner. We share a look, I roll my eyes and she smiles.
Linda takes a deep breath.
“Dating is just so different from when I was your age,” she begins. “I feel that men were more direct with their intentions. Things were more black and white, more logical. You were either friends or you were more than friends. It’s all this in between, grey area modern nonsense that makes my head spin.”
I nod empathetically and take another swig of wine.
“You seem to have a handle on this, Dorothy. You’re dating someone, successfully, right?”
“Well, it’s still very new, but I think that—“
“Do you find that this man you’re dating suffers from lack of clarity?”
“Um, no. He’s very clear—he’s an actor, which probably helps with communication skills,” I offer.
“My mother always said, ‘Never date an actor.’ She was married four times, though, so she probably wasn’t the best judge of character. Tell me, Dorothy, are all men pigs?”
“I don’t think so, no.”
I take it that Linda does not drink that much. She is halfway into her gin and tonic and is already starting to slur some words. I guess she could have started drinking before she wandered up to the bistro. I am slightly worried, as I don’t know how close she lives, but I figure that I can drive her home if need be. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that.
“I do, I do, I do think all men are pigs. Most men are pigs. And it doesn’t matter what country they’re from, they are still pigs. And we’re just the slops, the slops in their big pig trough bucket from which they choose what to eat and most of the time they are not even—not even discerning, you know, they’ll go with whatever slops are available, you know? Except sometimes—sometimes they just fucking wait, they wait for the newer slops, the newer, younger better slops you know, slops they haven’t eaten yet. It’s all bullSHIT.”
And with that, she proceeds to chug the rest of her gin and tonic. She is bordering on belligerent and I need to find a way to redirect her attention, ASAP.
“I agree, Linda, men can be really frustrating. You know, Jamie, he didn’t even tell me he had a kid. I found that out by accident when I surprised him this weekend.” Shit, why am I telling her this?!
This has piqued her interest. She stops trying to flag down the waitress for another cocktail and her eyebrows unfurl like descending venetian blinds.
“That is-that is—that is frustrating he didn’t tell you, yes it is, but it is beautiful that he has a child. A single actor dad? I—you are—hang on to him, Dorothy, he sounds like one of that non-piggish men—or is it un-piggish?”
“I think either usage is acceptable in this situation, Linda.” I smile and give her hand a quick squeeze.
Her eyes are starting to droop. I guess sleepy is better that angry.
“You look like you’ve had a long day. Would you like me to drive you home?”
“My car is still at the—at the library.”
“I can drive you home, Linda, really, it’s no problem.”
“But then how would I get to work in the morning?”
Ugh. Good point.
“I can pick you up on my way in tomorrow. No trouble at all.” It’s way better than the alternative, which is admitting my apartment is less than two blocks away and end up with my boss crashing in my unkempt home office/guest room.
“I would appreciate that, Dorothy. It appears as if I’ve had too much to drink.” She starts to hiccup.
She leaves a fifty on our table, which is much more than our tab, but I decide to let it go. Walking seems to take great concentration on her part and it occurs to me that she might vomit in my car. Ultimately, it’s a risk I guess I’m willing to take.
She falls into the passenger seat, her legs sprawling underneath her body at such and angle that she rearranges herself in order to let the door close. She starts snoring moments later, and I have to gently poke her and ask her where she lives. Thankfully it’s not far from campus and within minutes, I am depositing her in her driveway.
It takes her a few minutes to get the door unlocked, but as soon as she starts to turn lights on inside, I back out quickly and make my escape.
I get into my apartment and extract my cell phone from my purse. Voicemail from Jamie.
“Hey, Dorothy. I just wanted to say that I had a great night. We—Pete and I—were hoping that maybe you could come up and visit us Friday night and maybe have another sleepover. If you’d like to see the show again, I could get you one of my comps. But you don’t have to see it again—you could just come up after. Anyway, this message is going on too long! Let me know what you think. Bye.”
Too adorable! I immediately call him back.
“Hey, Dorothy,” his voice is a slightly husky and I swoon a little bit on the inside.
“Hey, yourself.” I draw out syllables like honey and am grinning from ear to ear. “I just got your message and Friday sounds great. I would love to see the show again.”
“Aw, you’re a trooper. Awesome, I’ll leave ticket under your name in will-call.”
“Sorry I didn’t call back sooner—as soon as you dropped me off, my boss accosted me and I ended up having another glass of wine at La Rana.”
“Absolutely. Then she got really tipsy and I had to drive her back home.”
“Sounds like you’ve had quite the night.”
“Yup, I guess so.”
“Listen, I don’t want to keep you up too late—I know you work early tomorrow. So, I’ll say goodnight and I’ll see you Friday. You can just wait outside of the theatre, if you don’t mind.”
“Until Friday, Mr.Cratchitt.”
“Until Friday, Dorothy,” he says in a Cockney accent.
I don’t want to hang up the phone, but by now it’s almost ten. I change into my pjs, after deciding that I can wait until tomorrow night to finally do laundry.
Feeling slightly sentimental, I reach for my collection of Rumi and flip to a random poem. The words send me off into my dreams with images of deserts and the love that’s on its way:
O lovers, lovers it is time
to set out from the world.
I hear a drum in my soul’s ear
coming out of the depths of the stars.
Our camel driver is at work;
the caravan is being readied.
He asks that we forgive him
for the disturbance he has caused us,
He asks why we travelers are asleep.
Everywhere the murmur of departure;
the stars, like candles
thrust at us from behind blue veils
and as if to make the invisible plain,
a wondrous people have come forth.