Lisa and I finally tested covid-free! When we saw our results, we began an impromptu dance that felt like levitation.
Although my covid case seemed much milder, Lisa’s been nothing but supportive. Why just yesterday morning, before we tested, Lisa said, “If you test covid-free before I do, I’ll **** you.” She was holding a spork which gave the threat a specific gravity it might otherwise have lacked.
“Back off, Sweeny,” I said.
We worked the next day, masked - just in case - and I’d swear that Rebecca, my surgeon, almost smiled when she saw me. As funny as Rebecca is, off-hours, once she puts on that white coat - forgetaboutit - she goes to some other, humor-free zone.
That night, we went out to our favorite bar to celebrate our Lazarus-like resurrections.
In the club, as we were walking to the bar, Lisa asked me, “What if we get carded?” I gasped. Never, have I EVER been carded. To even suggest the possibility is to risk breaking a spell that has lasted since I was fifteen years old and first walked in the adult-bar world.
It’s not that I look old, I’ve been told I don't look 21 (although I’m almost 20) - but in dark, bar-light - I just look “right,” like I belong. And let's face it, no bar turns away college girls or charges them a cover - we’re good for business.
I put a hand on Lisa’s shoulder and stopped us in our tracks. “Turn around three times,” I said.
“Why?” She asked. “To break the god-****, bad luck, vu doo you just put on us!” I said exasperatedly. She shrugged and started to turn in a circle. Again I took her by the shoulders, “Counter-clockwise,” I instructed, “don’t you know anything?!” Once she’d broken the jinx, we were free to go on. The next part can only be poetry.
Behind the bar were shelves of bottles, brightly lit,
with pastel glows that shame the merely silver moon.
Red rums, golden bourbons, begging you to commit,
elixirs that dull every pain and brighten every mood.
Give us your tired, your lonely, and like Houdini
we’ll invoke fun with mystical treats like martinis.
We were basking in those lantern-like glows, like tourists, in heaven, when a bartender said, “What can I get you?” How generous those words were, how open and inviting.
“What’s your name?” I asked, he was wearing a name tag but I leaned in and gave him my friendliest smile. It’s important to establish a personal connection - but you can’t get carried away. He might be gay and decide you’re trailer.
“Brian,” he said. Brian was talking to me, but then he’d noticed Lisa and suddenly, he couldn’t take his eyes off her (Lisa’s an adriana). This bartender wasn’t gay at ALL.
I handed him my black, Centurion, American Express card “Can we set a tab for us?” I motioned to include Lisa, “and please include a 30% tip for yourself.” I smiled. He smiled.
“Oh, and there’ll be a gentleman joining us as well (Charles).”
“Sure.” he said, as he swiped the card on his iPad, adding, “now, what are you having?”
I’m a bit of a bon vivant, where cocktails are concerned but tonight, we’ll keep it vanilla.
“We’ll start with a Cherry coke (for Charles) and,” I looked at Lisa for approval, “Two American Martinis?” She smiled, “Please,” I added, putting my card away.
The coke is psychologically important; it gives the bartender what’s called 'plausible deniability.’
“Do you have a menu?” I said, as he turned to go. “Coming right up,” he said.
We were on a rooftop terrace that overlooked the Boston skyline. To the left, there were tables enclosed in glowing, geodesic bubbles that changed colors and off to the right, a dance space where couples were dancing, and a DJ was spinning ‘Sorja Smith’s - Little things.’
Our drinks arrived and Lisa and I laughingly toasted our covid survival.
At that moment, at least, everything seemed right with the world.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: A bon vivant: a person with cultivated and refined tastes
sweeny = sweeny todd, the murderous demon barber of fleet street (Sondheim musical)
forgetaboutit = ‘forget about it,’ best said with a fake, somewhat racist, Italian accent.
trailer = as in trailer trash
adriana = a stunningly gorgeous girl