An aging lush teaches her wallflower friend a thing or two about how to pick up men.
Annette gulped two tequilas. She felt a little wobbly, but who wouldn’t in twenty dollar, six-inch platform pumps from Walmart. She beckoned the ponytailed bartender and ordered another two shots. When he came round with the drinks, she leaned forward, pushing her breasts together to see if her freckled cleavage might get her a reaction from the young man.
The bartender, who looked about the same age as her youngest son, smiled, and gave a little salute, but seemed more embarrassed than enticed.
Sandra sipped her Diet Coke and wondered why she had agreed to be Annette’s designated driver and babysitter, again. As ridiculous as she thought Annette looked in those tight, muffin-top-accentuating jeans, with her orange-red lipstick, and puffed up, sprayed-stiffened hair, she couldn’t help but admire her best friend’s chutzpah.
Seeing that the bartender was now engrossed in a conversation with a petite, pixie-faced redhead with a pierced nose, Annette scanned the crowded club for someone more age-appropriate, and her eyes landed on a silver-maned fox who looked almost too well groomed to be straight. But as she watched him on the dance floor, and noted the way he smiled at the young airheads flittering about in their mini-skirts, she was pretty sure he didn’t bat for the other team as she had initially suspected.
She turned to Sandra, raising her brows mischievously. “Watch me,” she said, then pointed towards the fox, “that one’s in the bag.” She then pulled her loose fitting, silver, sequined blouse down low, planted two sloppy kisses on each of Sandra’s gaunt cheeks, bear hugged her, and purred, “Time to work my magic. Game on!” before stepping back and swaying a little.
Sandra rolled her eyes, “Oh puh-lease Annette! It’s a school night. And for Christ’s sake, put those tits back in. You know if you clock in late again tomorrow, Bert won’t think twice about firing your ass. And I’m not lying for you, or getting a telling off with you again this time. You said a girls’ night out, one cocktail and dinner, but now you smell like you’ve been swimming in a river of Jose Cuervo.”
Annette winked, stuck her tongue out, and shimmied her shoulders so her blouse slid down her shoulders, revealing even more of her ample bosom. “You need to lighten up darling! Life’s short. If we’re gonna spend the rest of our lives stuck in that shithole factory making surgical gloves all day, we sure as hell should get our kicks whenever, and wherever we can. One more drinky-poo, then I’ll show you how it’s done. Hon, you know I’m an expert at the art of seduction. Watch and learn darling. Watch and learn.” She knocked back the shots, then took out the “minty-lemon” breath spray from her clutch bag, opened her mouth, and spritzed.
She took a deep breath, sunk her fingers into her stiff hair to plump up her do, then flashed Sandra a bewitching smile.
“You’ve got a little… just…hold it a sec woman,” Sandra reached towards Annette’s mouth, and with her thumb, wiped a smudge of lipstick on the edge of one of her front teeth.
“Thanks hon. Ok, darling. I’m ready! Wish me luck,” Annette straightened her back, sucked in her belly, then sauntered in the direction of the fox who was now sitting alone at one of the tables along the side of the dance floor.
Sandra tried to get the bartender’s attention, and when she succeeded on her third attempt, ordered herself another Diet Coke. She stood awkwardly with her bony back against the bar counter, watching Annette in action.
As always, Sandra was spellbound by Annette’s confidence, by the way she slinked and exuded an electric current around males, by how she could always brush aside the last disaster, and do it all over again.
Almost thirty years ago, Sandra’s high school sweetheart, whom she was head over heels for, broke off their engagement and ran off with her little sister. Sandra never heard from either of them again, and she hasn’t felt brave enough to date ever since.
Annette on the other hand, had been married three times, but has been single now for almost six years. Her ex husbands had all been rotten eggs, each leaving her with more bruises, more debt, sorrows that can only be quelled with copious amounts of bourbon and Krispy Kremes, and even less self-esteem than she’d had to begin with. She had been brutalised by love, yet was always game for another round.
Annette was now sitting next to the fox. He had ordered two beers, and they were clinking glasses. She was saying something that made him laugh. Soon he was looking at Annette the way he had looked at the younger girls on the dance floor earlier. Sandra was relieved. She couldn’t bear the thought of her friend being rejected yet again.
Two weeks ago, Sandra had given the middle finger to a group of oilrig boys who had called Annette a “fat, ugly bitch”. Though Sandra had seemed calm and composed when she guided a teary Annette out of the bar that time, her heart had been racing, afraid that the loutish men would come after them with fists in the parking lot. But they didn’t.
Later that night, they drove to the Rio Grande Diner, where they bought a bucket of chilli cheese fries, parked outside and ate. Still sniffling, Annette had told Sandra that she almost wished the men had chased after them, even if it were to give them a beating. “After a certain age, they no longer come after you, not to squeeze your ass, not to get it on, not even to teach you a lesson. They just don’t care,” she had said as a dribble of snot ran down her nose. A glob of chilli had missed Annette’s mouth and landed on her lap. Sandra scooped it up with a napkin.
Sandra watched Anette emptying her mug of beer, as the attractive stranger gazed at her with goo goo eyes. Standing alone by the bar, sipping her soda, Sandra wondered if someone would ever look at her that way some day. She smiled, awestruck by her friend’s courage and vivacious charms. She prayed that the man wouldn’t get up and walk away. When she saw him move in for a kiss, she almost yelled “Amen!”. She placed her hand on her heart as she watched Annette and the fox kiss passionately, grateful that though it had been years since she felt her own heart flutter for a man, she could at least still experience the thrill of such encounters through her dearest friend. The woman was an expert indeed.
Then, all of a sudden, the magic ended.
Abruptly, Annette pulled herself away from Romeo. She stood up. Her body tensed. Her lips and brows puckered, as if she had eaten something sour. Annette’s stomach rumbled, and she wondered if maybe her “minty-lemon” had passed its expiration date. She felt woozy, so stood akimbo to steady herself. Her cheeks felt like they were on fire, and her head throbbed. “This must be love,” Anette thought, before bending forward, and vomiting, narrowly missing the fox’s perfectly groomed silver mane.
Copyright® Michele Koh Morollo 2018