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Monday, August 21, 2006

Dinner at Suegos

Esme called Yolanda in a panic. "Yolanda! The black dress you gave me is perfect for tonight but I can't get the zipper unstuck! I can't get in or out! Help!"

A tinny laugh came through the phone. "OK," said Yolanda. "I'm on my way."

While she waited, Esme frantically snatched out a baby wipe and started wiping off all her newly-applied lipstick. It simply wasn't working. It made her look too harsh. She needed a softer color. Yolanda was knocking on the door by the time Esme was applying Passion Pink.

Esme went darting out of the bathroom, sliding down the hallway in stockinged feet, skidding to a stop in front of the door. She unlocked and flung it open.

Yolanda was greeted by the sight of a wild woman, hair in disarray, lipstick partly finished, with a smudge of mascara on one cheek. Esme twitched up the shoulder of her dress and plucked at it, with a pleading look in her eyes. "Omigawd, Yolanda. I don't know if I can go through with this!" she whined. "I'm thinking about calling him and telling him that I'm suddenly sick!"

Yolanda sighed and rolled her eyes, pushing in past her. "Oh give me a break," she said, flatly. "You are only going out with John tonight."

"Yes," squeaked Esme, "but this is our first real date. This is the "going over to the dark side" date. It means we're no longer just friends. And this could be the end of our friendship if something goes wrong."

Yolanda muttered something.

"What?" asked Esme. "What?"

"It's a spanish curseword that you have no business hearing right now," said Yolanda. "Come here. Lemme see that zipper." With a deft movement she got the zipper up.

Esme hiccupped.

She hiccupped again.

"Oh no!" screeched Esme. "No no no no! I can't get hiccups! I ..." and she hiccupped. She threw a hand over her mouth and stared at Yolanda with wide-open eyes.

"Oh no. No you don't, missy," said Yolanda firmly, steering her back to the bathroom.

"But I..." Esme started. She hiccupped.

"No. You will not cancel tonight. If you do, you'll have to face him sooner or later. You need to know. And if nothing else happens, you guys will remain good friends. I'm sure of it!" Yolanda said, planting Esme in front of the mirror. "Now. What do we need to do here?"

Within half an hour, Esme looked beautiful but she was still plagued with hiccups. They tried everything; she held her breath, she blew into a paper bag repeatedly, she drank a cold glass of water rapidly, and swallowed a spoonful of sugar. Finally Esme had enough. "Stick a fork in me, I'm done!" she declared. "If I *hic* drink any more water, I'll get so bloated that I'll have to wear another dress. *hic* Forget it!" She grabbed her keys and headed for the door.

"Er, OK, girl! Have a great time! Call me when you get home!" said Yolanda, waving as Esme walked to her car.

"Thanks *hic* for everything, Yolanda," said Esme as she left. Yolanda remained behind, staring at the retreating car with her fingers crossed behind her back.

Suegos was an authentic Spanish restaurant that came highly recommended by Yolanda. It was crowded that night, and Esme pushed through the throng, peering into the dining room to look for John. At first she glanced at him and looked away, perhaps because she'd never seen John in such a setting. Her gaze slid back to the table nearest to her, by the window, and she did a double take.

There he sat, wearing an elegant Haspel seersucker suit, looking as comfortable as a Marquis surveying his domains. His thick, dark hair lightly brushed his collar. His jawline, usually strong when arguing or attempting to be persuasive, was softened tonight as he gave the wine menu his full attention. "Handsome as a greek god... *hic*!" muttered Esme.

"I beg your pardon, madam?" said someone nearby.

"I, uh, see the person I'm supposed to meet," said Esme hastily. She hiccupped again.

"I see," said the maitre d', rather sniffily. Esme made a beeline for John.

John looked up from the menu and saw a breathtaking vision. For a moment, the clouds opened, the angels sang, and all was right with the world. Then the vision hiccupped rather noisily.

"Oh bother!" said the vision. "These darned hiccups will not go away!"

John gave Esme a rather lopsided grin, and stood up to help her into her chair. "Thank you," she said gratefully, as she hiccupped once again. "Oh no!" Esme cried. "Here we go out on our first real *hic* date, and I get this horrible case of hiccups. I am so *hic* embarrassed and miserable over it. Maybe we should leave? Maybe I should go home *hic* and we could reschedule this?" She grabbed a glass of water and took a swig out of it. It didn't help in the least.

"Nonsense," said John. "Anyway, this really isn't our first date."

"It isn't? What do you *hic* ...mean?" asked Esme, confused.

"Look. Let's put this out on the table tonight, so that we can enjoy our meal. We are in love," said John.

"I've loved you from the moment I met you, years ago, and watched you stumble into the punch bowl at the McGruder fundraiser. The only thing that got in the way was that miserable relationship you had with that damned sailing instructor for four years. By the end of those four years, I was hesitant to jump right in, because I wanted to give you some time to heal. Also, our families have been friends forever. If I did anything to screw that up, I'd never forgive myself. But in the end, I realized that life is short and I would never forgive myself if anyone jumped in and took away what might possibly be the last chance in my life to find happiness," John continued. Esme stared at him, not moving, barely breathing.

"So," said John, "it was a pretext the first time that I called you up and asked you to meet me for a business lunch. I was willing to hear your pitch about life insurance. If you'd been selling vacuum cleaners, I would've bought two. Of course I was willing to simply be your friend. I was willing to be anything that put you in my life. But now I want more. I want so much more."

Esme smiled, like the sun breaking through the clouds on a rainy day. Her smile curled up at the edges as her eyes fluttered and she breathed a long, low sigh.

"I don't have hiccups any more," she said softly. "Isn't it glorious?"

c. 2006

Esme & John, Part 1
Esme & John, Part 2
A Moment in the Life of Esme & John

10 comments:

R2K said...

I love this story! So well done and cute.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Alex, thanks, hon. Today was a creative writing day. ;o)

FruitfulSpirit said...

Oh so sweet! She lost her hiccups! This just gets better and better. I like that you have done it over time! Leaves us wanting more and having to wait for it!

Kathleen said...

It sounds like Esme is hearing what she needs to hear right now. Good for her and good for John. I know that Esme is smart enough to take it slow this time. ;)

Saur♥Kraut said...

Kathleen, I assure you that I truly am not Esme. I realize this is your eternal suspicion. But I'm happy to speak for her and say that she's been moving slowly. However, since every relationship is different, just as every recipe is different, she will move at the speed required for the proper result. ;o)

Fruitful, I am SO glad you like it, hon. :D

Miss Cellania said...

Oh, I am so glad you came back to those two characters! I wish them all the happiness inthe world.

Tea & Margaritas in My Garden said...

What a great story! A spoonful of peanut butter seems to be the only thing that gets rid of mine. When I get them, I get them just like Esme....no joke :)

tea
xo

Senor Caiman said...

Saur,

It's really weird, I keep thinking I've read this story somewhere before.

It's still good.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Senor, if that's the case, find it for me so I can sue for plagiarism. ;o)

Tea & Margaritas, I never heard of the peanut butter trick!

Miss C, so do I. If we can't have real-life fairy tales, at least we can make some up. :D

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Glorious and salicious in its own way, Saur!

Have a good day.