One More Romance
The mirror does not lie, my man.
You carry baggage under those tired blood-shot eyes…
There is a gathering of whiskered skin under your broad chin that droops and resembles a small mountain range. You cut your own hair which is a mixture of salt and pepper, and it
can only be okay if you deny your eyes their vision.
Your six feet of height has trouble extending its length in a straight line so you walk with, shall we say, a slight hunch.
Your paunch is not a serious distraction but one that still falls on the negative side of the ledger.
All the years maintaining a milk-chocolate tan has left you with weird vein anomalies and liver spots.
Now, to the serious, most troublesome aspect of this body-check, you claim, hell or high water, to have one more romance, complete with all the fun of night life and sex. Yet, you some days ago conveyed to me that your penile pleasures are few and/or truly non-existent. You confide that beautiful women still ‘turn your motor on’, that you can still get an action-erection, although ‘not as large’ as in the pre-Peggy days of yore, likely, more information than I needed. You also asked about a Penile Prosthesis that inflates and deflates.
Yes, Chuck, they do exist, and, they work, from the studies I’ve read. However, as your friend and Physician for years, I need to ask you a question:
Are you having fun with me? Or, are you absolutely losing every damned brain cell in your head? You’re in your seventies, for God’s sake.
Settle down, good Sam, don’t strain your heart. I can still play a game of golf and beat you by ten strokes, and you’re a young ‘fart’ of 69.
It’s true I don’t move as well as I would like, but when I shave in the morning that mirror shows me the same angular face I’ve been shaving since getting myself too old. With Peggy gone, I’m alone and I’ve got money stored for the kids…that’s important to me. But, here’s the ‘bugger’, I see some of these sexy ladies in their forties, fifties, sixties, even, seventies, and, well, I get to feeling like getting out there among them.
Sure, people can laugh at me, think I’m nuts, senile, laughable, but what the hell do I care. I’ve got some time left. I want to fill that time with beautiful women, wine, and song…
You ever been in one of those ‘homes. Sam, nursing homes, retirement homes, whatever? Well, I checked those places out and can tell you they are not the way to ‘go out’. Oh, they build those homes with beautiful lobbies, nice hobby rooms, dining rooms, library-reading rooms, television rooms, all with the goodies that add to the paunch, all colors for the lovely and modern looks.
But, dammit, Doc-buddy, there’s one thing those facilities can’t hide, and that’s the look and ‘body carry’ of the people living there. They know their time is up. The reminders are always there in front of them, to the side of them, behind them, hell, all around them. There are old men, old women, sitting in their wheelchairs in front of the television soap operas, with their heads lolling over on one of their shoulders, napping and drooling their lives away.
That is not for me, Sam. I’ve been a romantic, a vagabond, a nomad all my life, a lotus eater, and, damn tooting, a faithful womanizer of the first cut. That’s the way I am going out.
Oh, I won’t be boozing it up like the old days. I’ll have to extend my recovery periods and every move will need to be better calculated. Will it shorten my earthly existence? Will it stretch that existence out further? There’s only one source Who can know that, and you and I are both on his team. This is not in any way an insult to my Deity. It’s more a ‘thank you’ for the joy of living.
I’ve been anything but perfect in my time here on the planet, and weakness in certain areas have been with me since my journey began, but I believe my God knows the kind of heart and soul I have better than any of my nay-saying detractors.
There does come a time, good Sam, when a person sees a broad flash of light, feels an uncommon nudge, just knows the best path to be on…
Damn, Chuck, you kept me awake with that little sermon. You’ve always had that special jewelry you wear that brings you right out into the open. Guess it’s a combination of things – your smile, your cute way with the English language, your good looks that can still show a youthful stride, easy comforting words, and… Oh, what the hell, let’s go have a one-martini lunch and I’ll get you started on your road to glory – or perdition.
The low lighting served well for my initial quest into the nighttime bar scene. The Princess Hotel Lounge and adjoining Restaurant were still two of the most popular and most frequented spots in the Phoenix area, and this would be my first visit there in several years. Some of my old oats were sown here as my mind frolicked along that bygone avenue of thought. It was often that Peggy and I came here after a Phoenix Little Theater play, or, a movie, or, for drinks.
The sad Peggy-thought was somehow a mild negative intrusion but soon passed as I quickly became comfortable in my old haunt. I noticed very little change in the lounge. It was still easy for my mind to consider it the finest in all of Phoenix. But, then, I had been absent for some time. The Throne Lounge now seemed larger with more cozy booths and tables added.
My favorite spot, The Piano Bar, was still in its place, and people were already occupying most of the cushiony stools surrounding the large bright and shiny piano. The big round Fishbowl for tips still sat smack in the middle of the Grand musical instrument – already half-filled with the color of greenback money.
Awkward routines swirled in my brain – just take a seat at the piano bar, have a primer or two of your favorite cocktail elixirs and you will ‘lift-off’ and an old energy will return.
Yes, I felt comfortable in my skin and my camel-hair sport coat. I felt the powder blue shirt and navy-blue slacks, black loafers, and healthy dabs of Aramis would generate some attention my way surely. Cleanly shaven and my grayish hair cut short, I felt I had done all that I could possibly do on my gala opening night of Singles Search.
Back in the day I was tedious in my stage craft. When I entered a cocktail-lounge I did a subtle 360 of the room to determine where my many seating options would provide the best vantage point for my playful purposes, where I would best be positioned for my potential romantic conquest.
Oh, I can imagine a reader’s mind going off in hasty, pre-diagnosed, and generally negative thought patterns…My only possible rejoinder? Most movie fans watch a film with a bag of popcorn, or box of Raisinettes, or Bon-Bons? Part of the fun is in the planning of the ‘romantic night out’, reviewing old search patterns… I’m not talking evil ‘criminal intent’ here, more like, ‘hide-n-seek’.
So, without belaboring or enlarging the point beyond its easy recognition, there were some pre-conspiratorial thoughts given to strategy for my evening out. No one would know I chose the vacant stool near the most lovely pianist and singer, billed as, wait for it…Lady Gwendolyn, for the purpose of staring across at my target of the night who was sitting on the other side of the piano next to Lady Gwen.
The also lovely fortyish cocktail waitress came, smiled sweetly, raised her eyebrows, blinked, complimented my dabs of Aramis as it being her very favorite of colognes, took my drink order,
left, and made a fast return with my Manhattan on the rocks and another sweet smile. Her name tag said she was Debbie.
Could Debbie be hitting on me?
Oh, come on, you old lecher, she’s working for her tips!
Sitting, sipping my perfect Manhattan, I listened to Lady Gwen’s lovely voice singing, I Left My Heart in San Francisco. She kept glancing my way as she sang that song – was there a message there? Of course, you Simpleton. She recognizes you’re a dinosaur.
Hey ‘Alter-buddy’, this is my first night out. Cut me some slack.
Finally, the woman in lavender pants suit across the piano bar gave me a glance. But, then, I saw that she was motioning for the cocktail waitress to bring her another drink.
Into my second Manhattan, I started feeling the old me coming out, singing along with the crowd at the piano bar, really enjoying the moments, now noticing people looking my way. ‘Hell’s bell’, maybe I was singing too loudly. Naw, they were smiling.
In any event, I was now part of the group, talking to people, feeling that old me coming out little by little. Lady Gwen liked me so well she handed me the mike and ask me to sing a ballad – yes, I was now into my fifth Manhattan. To add injury to insult the whole lounge broke out with applause. Damn, they like me…booze does some strange things to people.
Debbie left me a note on the back of one of the napkins with the delivery of a sixth Manhattan.
My target in lavender was not giving me the attention to bolster confidence in approaching her for some coffee and me at my residence later.
Then, the evening gets a bit fuzzy for me…but I remember the good parts…
The morning came with shocks on many fronts.
The first shock was my head. It felt like a bag of hammered snake shit! And, please, I don’t know from whence that came.
The second shock came when I turned my head-quakes and eyes to my left and found Debbie’s long lovely blonde hair spread across a pillow with a sweet smile on her face.
Okay, yeah, now I remember but I thought I had been dreaming.
Debbie smiled sweetly and leaned on an elbow.
How’s your head, Chuck? I’ve made coffee. Can you handle some java?
She rose from the bed, started off toward the kitchen, and yelled back.
You’re quite a lover, Sweetheart.
OMG. I thought I was dreaming it all, the long sweaty, wonderful duration, and the amazing coda. Wow. Wow. Wow, and, one more Wow.
Debbie returned with coffee and some donuts.
Krispy Kreme donuts. How did they get here?
I went out and got them. You don’t like Krispy Kreme donuts?
Yeah, I love them. My tummy likely needs two or three of those puppies.
She looked at me with squinted eyes.
Ahh, just a dumb qualifier word some people use to explain almost anything…mostly, old people who don’t have some sense of modern jargon.
Puppies. I like it. Well, here, eat some of these puppies while I tell you how wonderful I think you are – and not just in bed, but all the way.
Okay, what does ‘all the way’ mean?
I squinted my eyes as I chomped away on a Krispy Kreme.
It simply means you are a great guy in all respects. And, just so you know, I don’t say that to all the guys I know.
All the guys? How many guys are you seeing, Deb? Okay if I call you Deb?
Yeah, sure it’s okay. Deb is fine. I didn’t mean it to sound like ‘I sleep around’, Chuck. I’m not so free with my body as that, but I know when I like someone instantly and they prove me ‘right’.
How did I prove you right, Deb?
Into my second donut and coffee cup almost empty.
It’s a ‘feeling’, Chuck, like, last night, I saw how you react to people, how people react to you. Plus, you’re also a handsome man.
Hold on now, if you’re going to call me names…
Oh, be quiet, and eat your donut puppies. You’re the kind of man most women want in their lives. I could tell all that in the Throne Lounge last night, and, one other thing…
And, ‘one other thing’, meaning, what?
‘One other thing’, meaning, I’m not after you for any darn commitments. I know a good man when I see one, and, for however long as the two of us want to hang together now and then, I’m all for it.
Look, Chuck, you don’t look your age, but I bet I could come close and, I’m sure you could come close to my age. So, we are not ‘spring chickens’, sweetheart, and it’s nice to know good guys like you are still around. I’ll just say it, I’m hoping we can maybe make our coupling last a spell. I lost a husband and father who was top-shelf – lost his life in that Mid-East struggle that just keeps going on and on. It took a while, but I finally began to live again.
I’ve got two sons and a daughter, all grown, living in different places, and we’re very close… You had enough of my gab?
I love your voice, Debbie, and what I’m lying here and wondering, ‘how the hell did I get so darn lucky my first night out since Peggy died’. Peggy was my wife of some years…
So, to make sure I’ve heard you correctly, you would like our affair to last a while, not so much as ‘exclusive’ and ‘honor-bound’ as it is honest on all points. I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, Debbie, and if I’ve said those words badly, I’m sorry.
One last point, it is no secret that you and I have some years between us. I’m in my seventies. You are more a ‘spring chicken’ than I figured. I don’t want you for a caregiver, waiting on me and waiting for ‘Charon the ferryman’ to haul me across the River Styx. I want to be as alive as I can be up and until that time comes. I’ve slowed down a might from the yester years, but I want to love and be loved. I figure that’s a rather natural feeling to have – it is at least for this old geezer.
So, sweet Debbie, I love your honesty and I’m hankering a bunch for you to crawl back in this bed so we can replay some recent moments, and, then nap for a few hours… By the way, I’m all in with your analyses of where you’d like to see us go.
You feeling ‘up’ for that crawling back to bed line, ‘spring chicken’?
Quack, quack, quack, you ‘old rooster’. Let’s just cuddle until the spirit moves us into other areas of exploration.
You know, Chuck, that Deity of ours must look upon us with good favor, and I thank Him for the beauty of you in my life.
Amen to that. Now, please, get into bed…I don’t want to lose what I’m hiding from you.
Those stories narrated by the Old Testament scholars, kings, holy men, and prophets are rich with anecdotal truths, fallacies, and great love affairs.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting this itsy-bitsy tale of Debbie and Me can stand up to those early Christian tales of love and lust. Why, they can make King David’s actions for the love of another man’s wife seem somehow proper and near-sacred. You remember, King David sent a woman’s husband off to a war for killing so he, the King, could romance his wife.
No, I’m sure this love affair of mine will not necessarily be so sanctioned by society, but I see some turned-up noses coming my way from a few morally and uppity folks. Now, there is no way on this earth I can, or, want, to justify my way of life to a judging community of Nabobs – the word just came into my mind, and when a word checks in with me I will not offend it by changing it. A few of my uppity neighbors the past few days have been overtly rude to me and Debbie, and I don’t like it – not even a little bit.
Hey, this is the twenty-first century. Living in this informational and ‘warp-speed delivery of knowledge’ generation, one would surely think the snobs, the wiser and holier than thou Nabob representatives of life’s intelligence gathering would have learned that my own screen-blips of living does not have to match their screen blips of living. One would think that august group would chill out and not deliver their Victorian nuance-judgements.
Their holier-than-thou attitudes does eat at my conscience. I do not like dwelling on the societal stuff that irks me but it’s there and I live with it. I’m a Christian and I believe my life has a right to play out the way it’s intended, and it won’t be altered by those Nabobs, those who got wealthy in India and went home to England or some other country and flaunted their wealth and ‘do good mumbo-jumbo’ blathering to others. I’m stretching it a bit, but I like the word, Nabobs, so it stays.
What all those ‘do-good’ people living in my community would be better served in doing is minding their own business. I don’t mind them not returning my unsolicited ‘good morning’ or ‘good evening’ greetings when strolling in the neighborhood. It’s that wrinkle of the nose and strong guttural harrumph noises they make in their throats.
If my neighbors could visit for some minutes with Debbie, they would see what I see in her, not only her physical beauty but her world view. In fact, I’m suddenly stunned as if my mind is flashing the information to me for the first time.
Debbie is so much like my Peggy. Damn, the thought just hit me.
It’s like I’m just being dumb struck with facts I never considered. Now, my mind is reeling off the similarities – her stature, her pretty face with the cute dimples, her hair blonde and coiffed just like Peggy, her cute mannerisms-seem to mimic Peggy.
OMG, have I been dreaming and walking in my sleep? Has some truly remarkable, miraculous coincident occurred in my life that I have failed to acknowledge?
Why am I just now registering these facts?
Have I used a ‘defense mechanism’ against my knowing these truths? Why is my crowded mind now pounding out these reality-checks?
I picked up the phone, dialed the number I’ve used through the years for comfort, release, and a good game of golf.
I did not need a ‘Hello’ from the wise and old curmudgeon who answered my call, but I got a reasonable facsimile of one.
This better be good, teeny-bopper chaser. This is my afternoon off.
Yeah, yeah, I know, good Sam, and you were sitting there just waiting for my call… So, get on over to the ‘Club’.
While I’m giving you an 18-hole golf lesson, I’ll tell you something remarkable that is taking place in my life.
Oh, glory-be, I can hardly wait. I’m on my way and if you’re not there in thirty minutes I’m giving you a full-treatment, very painful, rectal exam and billing you for two of them.
Ouch. Do you talk to your other patients with such vitriolic torture-talk?
Since you mention it, ‘Vitriol’ will be added to the foregoing rectal procedure…anything else you would like to add?
Of course, I always get the ‘last word’. See you in fifteen minutes. We tee-off in thirty…
After hurried tee shots on the first hole, good Sam was in a good mood…he out-drove me by twenty yards. Rushing always affected the flight of my tee shots, but, at least, my good friend and family doctor was in a good mood.
Aw, Chuck, you’re off today. I must be close to two-hundred seventy yards down the fairway. Looks like I got you by some forty-fifty yards.
I love it when you start on the first hole with your good humor and exaggerated chatter, Sam. Get in the cart, and I’ll begin my ‘good news’ report.
Anything to spoil my good drive of 3-hundred yards…
Now, it’s 3-hundred yards? Are you going to ‘talk’ that golf ball into the hole for an ‘Ace’ on this first par-5 green? I’m in such a special mood, I might let you get away with it.
Your mood says it all, Chuck. You met a lady of the night some days ago, and you’re on a ‘high’ I’ve not noticed in you for some time. It pleases me, and it also concerns me as your doctor and good friend. This kind of quick-fix replacement of Peggy worries me for your emotional load.
The golf cart chugged down the first fairway as I breathed deeply, smiled, savoring the words I was about to say to my best friend and doctor.
Sam, my good friend, you are sharing this blue-sky afternoon with a man gifted with a special second lease on life. You are correct. I met a lady, not, of the night, but, during the night, and this remarkable event reawakens within me something miraculous and divine.
You are meeting Debbie tonight at the club for dinner. If you’re the wise family doctor I think you are, you will find her everything I’ve told you she is.
Sam, she is so much like Peggy, and, no, I’m not putting lace trimming around that honest statement of fact. You will see for yourself tonight, and she knows you will be there with Charlotte. I’ve told her all about you guys, and she is anxious to meet you.
Sam birdied the first hole, went on to beat me by five strokes after 18-holes.
Sipping beer on the ‘Nineteenth Hole’, Sam gave me the words I wanted to hear.
Well, not because of my beating you for the first time in our long golf history together, but for finally hearing and seeing the Chuck I’ve known for years back among the living, I’m going to do you a favor…actually, two favors.
Good Sam put a grin on his face and held it there until I finally spoke.
Okay, Sam, I’m biting. What are the two favors?
Thought you would never ask… I’m cancelling the ‘Rectal/Vitriol Procedure…
That’s only one favor in my way of counting, good Sam. Are you going to sit with that smug smile stuck on your face? What’s favor Two?
Doc Sam took a large swig of beer, puckered his lips in a peculiar way, and said:
Can’t live with myself. Just have to tell you – I fudged on three golf holes: hole number six, my ball was ‘out of bounds’ – should have taken a two-stroke penalty; hole number twelve, I kicked my ball out of a sand trap before you reached the green, but gave myself the par 3; the par-5 eighteenth hole, I didn’t par. I double-bogeyed. My second shot went into the water, but I kept it to myself.
I sure hate mentioning those dirty little secrets, but it was mostly for these moments to confess. I had to gloat for a little bit.
We’re still golf buddies, right?
Sorry, Doc, you’re buying dinner tonight, but I do still love you…I knew you would own up to those three holes. You know, good Sam, you’re not very good at being ‘sneaky’!
Short Story ©by BR Chitwood – 01/25/20
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