Jeremy has a bad day. Or maybe not.
The wind-swept streets glistened with the recent rain, heavy gusts still spraying any fool who ventured out – Jeremy, in this case – and he was soaked before he got three blocks. He didn’t even bother to put up his umbrella, as the water was flung off the sidewalks and walls with an aim that seemed as vengeful as it was accurate.
Shivering, Jeremy stopped for a moment over a steam vent, hoping to warm up before walking all the way uptown, but a sickly mingled smell like rotten eggs and urine drove him away from the vent. He pulled his windbreaker up tight around his throat, well aware of its threadbare appearance. This was certainly not the way he had pictured showing up at Angela’s, but events conspired to make this hasty visit necessary.
It had only been two hours before when Jeremy wearily hung up the phone after a particularly unpleasant maternal lecture about “getting serious” and “taking responsibility” and even the dreaded “settling down”. Jeremy long ago learned to tune out such lectures, but his ears still caught the ominous threat that his allowance might be cut off. While some blokes were independent and living the good life at twenty-four, Jeremy had not been lucky with his various jobs, and he depended on that allowance for his independence.
After downing a couple of cold beers to alleviate the headache which often followed talks with his mother, Jeremy had made a decision. This was momentous enough to occasion just one more beer in celebration. Jeremy rooted about in his apartment until he found his windbreaker under a tennis racket in the clothes hamper.
Jeremy was sure that Angela would agree to get married. She had been yammering on about “commitment” and “stability” for months now. That had been the cause of their last big row a couple of weeks ago, but Jeremy figured she’d have settled down by now. While Jeremy hesitated before about marriage, which sounded awfully permanent, this latest threat awakened him to the benefits of having a live-in answer to his mother’s demands. With any luck, his mom would switch to Angela and pester her about having grandchildren.
Thus, Jeremy was on his way uptown to Angela’s flat, as she liked to call it. He had even remembered to swipe a bunch of tulips from the window box on the corner apartment beyond his, although they didn’t look much more respectable than he did after being whipped around so cruelly by the wind.
Jeremy had forgotten how far uptown really was when you had to walk the whole way. Usually, Angela picked him up in her sporty red Honda Civic, as he seldom had change for the bus. He huddled miserably under an awning and patted his pockets in a futile search for cigarettes. Not that it would help if he found them, as he had forgotten matches. Why was it so hard for his mother to understand that without a car, he was never going to go anywhere, be anyone?
Trudging on into the relentless rain, Jeremy reassured himself that when he and Angela got married, he could use her car. He cheered up, thinking about driving around to see the guys in a car of his own. They wouldn't laugh at him then.
When at last he reached Angela’s block, Jeremy stopped in front of a shop window and tried, futilely perhaps, to straighten his hair and get his tulips into a presentable bunch. The beer wasn’t helping quite as much as when he’d started out, and Jeremy found himself wishing he had called Angela sometime in the past couple of weeks to apologize.
Nah, he thought, that would sound weak. Straightening his shoulders and doing his best to look manly and determined, Jeremy rang the bell and waited.
After a couple of minutes, the door opened a crack and Jeremy dropped onto one knee. Thrusting the tulips forward, he started to mumble a proposal he had heard on The Bachelor, although it had sounded a lot better then.
“Angela, you have captured my heart, and while there have been many other women, there …”
A snort interrupted him before he could get any further. He looked up, and it wasn’t Angela. It was her roommate, whose name Jeremy could not quite remember, except that it was a pastel color name, he thought. Lavender, perhaps.
“She don’t live here anymore, stupid. She came home from that date with you, crying her fool eyes out, although I can’t see why. After moping for a few days, she got a phone call, and next thing you know, she was all dolled up and going on a cruise with Henri. He’s that French dude who was sniffing around last year ‘fore you showed up. Anyway, she ain’t been back.”
Jeremy just stared at her. He started to ask if she was joking, but could see she wasn’t. As he stood there, dripping and forlorn, he had a thought. Taking a chance, he thrust the tulips toward… Pearl, maybe. Or Misty. Something like that.
She just stared at him, scorn etched on her face. The she softened a bit, took the tulips in one hand and Jeremy’s arm in the other, and said, “I should know better, I really should, but I haven’t had a better offer. The name’s Lilac, by the way.”