Izzie learns the rules of civilized society.
|Don't need to read the other chapters to follow the story. Great comedic read that stands independently. If you want, check out Chapter 1 to meet Izzie. "Per Diventare" and Chapter 2 "Per Diventare Due"
The thing about living in a small town is that there are less places for people to congregate so going to a local bar, you find yourself gazing across a mish-mashed variety of people. As I stopped in the door of the Old Saloon Bar to shake the rain from my hair, I gazed across the crowd. In one corner was the table of recovered alcoholics celebrating a birthday party with clusters of "Over the Hill" balloons and glasses of soda. Another table was surrounded by the recently legal who graduated and went straight into the work force, unable to escape this town. It was obvious that they'd already had too much to drink as they screamed and danced along with the old man, in full cowboy gear, singing some obsolete country song of another time. Several divorcée’s flitted among the crowd in tight pants and shirts cut too low, talking to one person while scoping the room for someone new to fill their lives.
I saw my crowd, the misfits cluster at the same table, none of which fit into any other category. Just lonely people wanting company for the night while listening to drunken karaoke. Tom spotted me and waved, his polo shirt stretching taut over his belly. I waved back and walked to the bar, digging my cash out of the back pocket of my jeans. I leaned against the bar and waited while the bartender ignored me. In the back corner, Terry and Thomas sat by the television in their muscle shirts and baseball caps, watching drag racing in silence. The Brothers German, as every one knew them, were life long bachelors, living into their forties with their mother.
Darcy, the bartender, stood with her back to me as she laughed along with a story. The man talking stopped and pointed at me, turning Darcy's attention to me waiting. She didn't look long but returned to the conversation.
"Hey, babe." Kimberly slide onto the barstool beside me, her sticky sweet perfume overwhelming the area.
"I'm sorry," I said, not offering much more as Rob slipped behind the bar. "Hey, Rob. How've you been?"
He grabbed a glass from the bar and began filling it with Amber Bach. "Good, good. How are you lovely ladies tonight? You're usual, right? Still raining out there?"
"Raining? I think there'll be trouble with the river flooding if it keeps up much longer." I handed him a five and took my beer. "Supposed to have a tornado warning tonight sometime."
"No shit? What can I get you, Kim?"
"Mike's Hard Lemonade." Kimberly stared across the room and leaned towards me. "There's some nice eye candy over there."
I looked at the group of recently legal and raised my eyebrows. "I guess."
"You don't think so? What about that one in the green shirt?" She took her bottle and lifted it to her lips, taking a big swallow before saying. "He's fine." She bit her finger, a gesture that since I met her, indicates her holding back bottled sexual tension.
"You know," I said, staring at the soft face that never lost its baby fat, "I guess that's why there are so many men."
"Because there are so many women. He does nothing for me."
"Why not? He's hot."
I laughed and tousled my hair as rain dripped down my neck, soaking my shirt. "He's a baby. He can't be more than, what? Twenty-two? Twenty-three?"
"I'm twenty-five. That's not outrageous."
"Let's go sit down," I said, taking my beer and heading towards Tom's table. "You forget that I'm thirty-one and that is outrageous."
I took a seat beside Tom and Kimberly sat across from us, sticking her ass out as she sat like a dog in heat. "What's wrong with a younger man?" she asked, staring over her shoulder.
I wrinkled my nose and shook my head while Tom threw his arm over my shoulder.
"I don't have a problem with younger women," he said, winking in my general direction. "Especially when they look like you. What do you say, baby?"
I laughed and blew him a kiss, a long standing joke between me and the fifty-some man with whom I flirted with every weekend since we met a year ago. Innocuous and in the name of fun, it never bothered me. Kimberly rolled her eyes, always appalled by the charade, as if it affected her in some way, which made me play into it even more. "Really? My age doesn't bother you?"
"So, why is it okay for an older man to date a younger woman, but not the other way around?" Kimberly leaned forward, daring me with her question. A smile crept on her lips, like she could already taste victory.
I'm not one to lose so easily. "I see it this way. It's about evolutionary biology. The younger women are, the more off-spring they can reproduce, so it makes sense for a man to be attracted to a younger woman, therefore ensuring the population of the tribe. It goes against our basic evolutionary nature for a younger man to be interested in an older woman because she's less likely to produce heirs. Any younger man interested in an older woman leaves me suspect to his intentions. Or leaves me wondering what's wrong with him." I took a swallow of the dark, rich beer that tasted like liquid bread, and finished my explanation with, "We may have technology and industrialized nations, but our biology still exists in the cave."
Tom had been listening with his fingers holding his chin. "Thank god almighty," he proclaimed when I finished. "So, I'm not a pervert. Just a caveman. Can I drag you off to the cave and we can do primal things together?"
As the night passed, I sat by Tom and watched the crowd swell and shrink to attempted vocalizations of Loretta Lynn, Garth Brooks, and Pink. One man started the night with earnest and sincere Ozzie Osborne growlings but finished his night off with a strange rendition of "Dancing Queen" before he slipped out the door in his black trench coat. Kimberly ogled the occasional man but gave up after too long when I didn't imitate her drooling.
It was a night like every other Friday night in this one-trick town.
"I've got use the restroom," she said, standing up and straightened the glittered top over her hips. Then, she fussed with her cleavage line, covering the salmon bra that had been peeping out of the low line all night. I took a sip of beer while she fussed with her hair. Finally, she met my eye and asked, "Are you coming?"
"I don't have to pee." The annoyance in her voice confused me and I watched as she stomped towards the restroom. "What'd I say?"
Tom broke into laughter beside me while Peggy, who was still slipping out of her jacket, chuckled.
"Seriously? Was she pissed at me?"
Peggy took a seat and leaned across the table. "You see, women go to the bathroom in groups."
Tom forehead tightened until he had a uni-brow and he set his beer on the table. "What planet do you live on? Didn't you go to High School?"
"Y-ah but we never did that. You pee when you gotta pee. I guess I always thought the group thing was an urban myth or something." It was good to share a laugh with two people that would never ask more of me than sitting at this table. "So, tell me. What's the point?'
"It's for gossip and gab." Peggy explained it as if she were explaining the law to a new immigrant to the country. No, sir, you can't just take a whiz on the street.
"I suppose that's why I never knew about it," I said, watching a blond try to push past a group at the door. She was taller than the others and her eyes gazed across the bar, panicked and fearful. I didn't think twice about it because that's how she always looked. What my brother saw in her was something I'll never understand, not that I don't like her mind you, but being the king of the High School, he choose the skinny geek to marry. Perhaps he had his reasons, like he saw her beauty within. I think he saw his days as an idol coming to an end, so he chose the one who would worship him forever.
"Hey, Ashley," I said, pulling out a chair for her. She shook her head, her head turning from one side to another that I wasn't sure she wouldn't end up with whiplash.
"Have you seen James?" she asked, her long fingers twisting together before falling apart.
"Not here," I said. "Did you try his cell?" She froze in her spot and stared at
something that calmed her, nodding slowly. "Is everything okay?"
"I just can't find him."
"Where are the kids?"
Her hands started fidgeting again, but she caught herself and shoved them in her back pockets. "At my sisters. We had a few drinks down the street, but then, I turned around and he was gone. I don't know where he's at."
I patted the seat beside me and she slid onto the edge, perching like a bird, which she often reminded me of, but not a fat, happy bird. She was a Great Egret. "Have a drink. You know he'll show up here eventually."
Kimberly came back to the table, stopping to throw her arms around the frightened bird. "What's wrong, Hon?" They quickly fell into a conversation of hand patting and tongue clicking about James' behavior, which devolved even quicker to a discussion of male hatred. If Ashley was a Great Egret, Kimberly was Big Bird in her ability to discuss pointless emotions and blow them out of proportion. She'd be the one to run away and live with the Dodo Birds.
"I need another beer," I said, excusing myself from the table and making my way to the bar. I took a place opposite a group of women making sounds that would get them killed in nature. But here, in the wilderness of the Old Saloon Bar, men hunt them with great drive. There's a particular posture to finding the women, I've observed, as the men walk with their shoulders pulled back, way back, allowing their crotch to lead them as if their dicks were detectors. This particular crowd of hens set the detectors off like mad...Beep...Beep..Beep Beep. Beepbeepbeepbeep.
I couldn't help but laughing out loud as contact was made and hair was tossed and breasts were thrust and drinks were bought.
"It's a fascinating mating ritual, isn't it?"
I turned to see the man sitting beside me with a cigarette dangling loosely in his fingers and a whiskey drink in the other. "Are my thoughts that transparent?"
He gave me a lopsided smile and I took a good look at the funny little man sitting by my side. He was small in stature with narrow shoulders that seemed in proportion with his tiny head. His hair was cut similar to The Beatles on the cover of the Hard Day's Night Album that my father has under lock and key in his bedroom. He had a patchy, thin beard that lined his sharp jaw line. But for all that made him small, his eyes made up for, large and blue, lined with dark black eyelashes. "I wouldn't have guessed if you hadn't laughed while watching them," he said, his smile still cockeyed, pulling me from my study. He stuck the cigarette in his mouth and offered me his hand. "Drew."
"Izzie," I said, shaking his firm handshake, noting the softness of his hands.
"You sing pretty good," he said, nodding towards the stage and taking a drag off his cigarette.
"Thanks," I said, waving my money to get Darcy's attention.
She sauntered to the bar and braced herself against the wood. "Hey, Drew. How're you doing?"
He nodded and pulled money out of his wallet. "Whatever she wants," he said, nodding at me. He finished his drink in one swallow and raised his glass.
Darcy began pouring his drink, throwing me an annoyed glance every chance she got. "How's your son?"
Drew nodded and stabbed out his cigarette. "Yours?"
"He's doing well. Did you make it to the Sponge Bob appearance at the mall?"
Drew nodded and she took his money, ringing it into the till. She filled a cup with beer and slid it down the counter, foam spilling over the sides. I was thankful for the drunk at the end of the bar demanding service.
"So," Drew said, sipping on his drink. "Aren't you dating Roger?"
"No. Not anymore."
"That's cool," he said, nodding and rubbing his beard. "I just don't want to step on anyone's toes when I ask you if you want to go on a date."
"Really," I said, unable to hide my smile. There was something about this man, pure and honest. Maybe it was just my hormones. "So, you're saying that if I give you my number, you'll call me?"
"Yeah, that's what I'm saying."
I saw his phone sitting beside his pack of Marlboro Reds and picked it up. "You aren't screwing with me?" I flipped it open and found the contacts list.
"Nah, I wouldn't do that."
I punched in my number and name the snapped the phone closed and handed it to him. "I guess we'll see, won't we? Thanks for the beer."
I started to walk away when I heard him say, "Does the three day rule apply?"
"Three day rule? What's that?"
"Do I have to wait three days to call? Or will that seem too desperate?"
I had to laugh at the number of rules I'd never learned. "Call whenever you like. I don't play by any rules."
Taking my seat, Kimberly leaned across the table, shaking her head. "What was that all about?"
I shrugged my shoulders and took a swallow of beer that tasted better sitting by her. "He asked me on a date. I said yes and gave him my number."
She leaned back in her chair, still shaking her head. "I don't get you. He's hot, but green shirt with his hot body and baby face does nothing for you? Is he going to follow the three day rule?"
The DJ called her up to sing and I relaxed in my chair, unable to quit smiling. When I looked over my shoulder, he was gone, leaving only Darcy behind the bar, glaring.
As the night wore down, the crowd dissipated. I watched the hookups leave, women holding the hands of their chosen mate for the night, dragging them along behind them as the men stared with hunger at the ass before them. Kimberly was leaning against the bar, talking to a man who leaned on his hand and stared vacantly at infomercial playing on the television in the corner. Tom was at the microphone, singing "I can't help falling in love with you," in his deep, slightly drunk mushed voice. Izzie leaned back in the chair and held the beer to her lips, letting the taste touch her lips and smiled that the night had been uneventful.
"Hey, Lizzard." James dropped into the chair across the table; his hair mussed and eyes a lovely liquid red. Another man pulled out the chair beside her and spun it around, straddling it and leaning forward, his unkempt chin on his hand.
"Where've you been?"
He waved down the waitress. "Shit, a bit here, a bit there. We've been everywhere, man." He hi-fived his friend, nearly tipping out of the four legged chair. "This here is my man, Rico."
Rico offered me his hand and I looked at it with raised eyebrows. "Ashley was here looking for you." James didn't say anything as he placed his vodka order. "She went home about an hour ago, when you never showed up."
"That's where she belongs," he said, showing off for his new friend with exaggerated hand movements waving in the air. "Bitches belong at home."
Peggy looked over her shoulder, her thoughts echoing mine as she narrowed her eyes.
And then, Ricco spoke. "Nah, man. A good woman belongs on the arm of her man, like a beautiful jewel. We buy them diamonds, but they are our jewelry." He spoke his piece then turned to me, his smile victorious. "Whose gem are you?"
"She ain't pretty enough to be any man's jewel," James said as he stood up and stumbled away from the table towards a group of late comers.
I felt Ricco's eyes boring into me and I started to squirm in my seat. Reaching for my pack of cigarettes, I pulled one free. Before I could reach my lighter, he snatched it from the table and lit the flame, offering it for me. I rolled my eyes and lit my smoke.
"Just for the record, I think you're brother is wrong. You are a beautiful woman."
I laughed and took a drag off my cigarette. "Just for the record," I said, the smoke rolling from my lips with the words, "I don't need a man to know that."
He gave me a curt nod. "We didn't get a proper introduction," he said, offering me his hand again. I shook it, my tiny little hand in his paw and feared for a brief moment that he'd grab me by the hair and drag me off to his cave. "I'm Rico." After the proper introduction, he began filling in the blanks of his life story, from his divorce and the heartache of being a single father. He told me about his male cat that cared for abandoned kittens and his job that took him on the road. "I'd love to find a woman to live in my house while I'm gone, and be there for me when I get back." He raised his bushy eyebrow. "You interested."
"If I moved into your house, what would happen to mine?" I couldn't hide my smile as his usual lifeboat deflated.
"I'm mostly just looking for a friend." He leaned forward, laying his head on the back of the chair and stared up at me with wide eyes. "Are you ready for the best friend you've ever had?"
It was a line I'd never heard before and my mind raced for a response that never found the right words.
"Can I ask for your phone number?"
"I can answer for you." Tom tapped him on the shoulder and Rico looked up at the man towering over him. "Her answer will be no. Her answer is always no because she's not that type of girl. Now, you're in my seat."
Ricco looked between Tom and me before rising from his seat and sauntering across the bar to rejoin his new best buddy, James.
I tipped back the last swallow of beer and shook my head. "I'm not interested in any man who's friends with my brother."
Tom threw his arm across my shoulders, pulling me close. "Are you ready for the best friend you've ever had?" he asked and we both burst into laughter. "You should have seen your face."
"Per Diventare Quattro"
"Per Diventare Cinque"
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