I don’t usually tell this kind of a story. It’s got bragging in it, it’s got females and it’s upbeat. I guess I’m just in that kind of a mood. Or, more exactly, one of two kind of moods. I’m either happy and the story came to mind. Or I’m unhappy, and I need this story to cheer me up.
Let’s say I’m happy.
“Hey, Harriet, come quickly! He’s doing an upbeat story!”
“Him! What happened?”
“He says he’s happy.”
“Are you sure it’s not a guest blogger?”
Okay, enough parenthetical banter at my expense. And remember, it’s not just me. All writers are a least somewhat unhappy. If you are always happy, you wouldn’t be a writer. You’d be doing things that make you happy. Rather that writing about things that don’t.
Well, this time, I am writing about something that did. Though I am not equally certain that all the participants in this story were equally happy. That’s me, debating whether I should continue. It’s a close one. But I think I’ll just go for it.
We travel back in time to maybe thirty-five years…
“He has to go back thirty-five years to find a story when he was happy?”
Shhhh. You’re fracturing the mood.
I have a girlfriend, and it’s getting serious. This is my first American girlfriend since I moved to California. It happened after three years. Earlier on, somebody told me you didn’t make any meaningful attachments in this place for three years. I don’t know where they got that number but they were right on the money. Three years, and there she was. Right on schedule.
I felt intimidated by American women. They seemed like Corvettes to my Volkswagen Beetle. Chalk a chunk of that up to personal insecurity. And the rest up to being a Canadian.
In fact… and I realize the comparison here is not entirely flattering… in order to feel more comfortable and at home, I had had my ‘72 Mazda driven down from Canada. Similarly, it retrospectively appears, I encouraged a Canadian female with whom I had been relationshipally connected to reunite with me here as well – Intention: A co-habitational experiment.
It turns out, not all entities are equally transplantable, and after a few months, she flew back to Toronto. (The Mazda’s fate was hardly much better. It exploded on Hollywood Boulevard.)
The pages of the calendar fly off, and I chancedly encounter an American who fits the bill in every regard. We actually met on the street – or more accurately, on the patio of a hospital building, both of us awaiting medical results – so “chancedly encounter” is more accurate than artistic. In fact, it’s entirely accurate.
I do not recall the stage of our relationship at the time I received the phone call, but it was moving along, I know that.
The call is from the Canadian previous girlfriend, who informs me that she’s in town for a convention, and she wonders if I am free to come down to the hotel where the convention was being held for dinner.
Was I free for dinner? Sure, technically. I mean, who isn’t free for one dinner?
The thing is, I had a… I mean, there had been a change in my … and at that moment, I was kind of … sort of… with someone. Else.
Did that mean I had to say “No”? If I did, how would that sound? Most specifically, to me? Despite my relationship, was I not still, at least partially, a free agent? Had I lost all my rights? Was I thenceforth truly prohibited from deciding with whom I was permitted to have dinner?
I said yes to the invitation, and I hung up. Possibly smiling.
I cannot read the mind of the person I was ditching for dinner that night. (And besides, I am not allowed to, for confidentiality reasons.) Instead, we shall stick to the facts.
As I was unable to drive myself to the destination – the trip involves traversing multiple freeways, which at that time I was avoiding, and to, alternatively, travel downtown on what we call here the “surface streets” takes so long, by the time I got there, she would be at the airport back to Toronto – in a gesture of generosity, with, what I like to flatter myself to believe was a measure of proprietary “turf protection”, my American girlfriend volunteered to drive me to the hotel.
I had already expended my one “brave move” by agreeing to the dinner. I was hardly in a position to insist on taking a cab.
The three of us at dinner.
The “Male of the Moment”…
Sitting in the middle.
Beaming. (Though possibly just inwardly.)
The climactic sequence begins – this being an Earl Pomerantz “Reality Tale” rather than a Judd Apatow sex fantasy – when the waiter delivers our salads. (Yes, it’s a “salad story” climax. More evidence, if more were required, of why I had little career success in movies.)
EARLO: (PITCHING) And the climactic scene begins when the waiter delivers our salads.
STUDIO EXECUTIVE: You mean, the scene before they all go upstairs.
EARLO: No. This is the last scene in the movie.
STUDIO EXECUTIVE: When the guy brings the salads.
EARLO: It all happens there.
STUDIO EXECUTIVE: Thank you for coming. Arnella will validate your parking.
Fine. But here I can do what I want. It may not be commercial, but it remains monumentally memorable.
The salads are down. Three salads. Maybe not three identical salads, but, you know, vegetables.
I am feeling uncharastically chipper. Two dates for dinner, after an overall adult life of none. How the others are feeling, I would not dare to speculate. Burt I imagine, not as happy. (Though I imagine they do not even remember this happened.)
The “Moment of Truth” arrives. The high point of the evening, and arguably, of my entire premarital life.
I do not eat tomatoes.
(This is not a non-sequitor. Stay with me.)
“Girlfriend Present” and “Girlfriend Past” both eat tomatoes.
So there you have it.
The perfect “set up.”
Sitting at that table…
I am now in the glorious position…
In any way I choose…
To whom of my two female companions…
Shall I bestow my tomatoes. (Oh hubris! Have you no bounds?)
An historic personal moment. The tomatoes are on the line. And their allocational determination…
Up to me.
Forgive me for stretching this out. I haven’t thought about iy for a while, and the moment maintains the power to make me retroactively giddy.
Suffice it to say, I did the right thing, divvying my unwanted allotment of tomatoes between them equally. The resolution is secondary. What’s important is….
There was that moment.
And it, miraculously,
Happened to me.