I hadn't seen Red for a long, long time. She was in Europe, then off to "Parts Unknown." We really hadn't exchanged much information in the past eight months or so. That is the way of things. She was in love, I was in love. . . you only have so much energy and time. And so the stories drifted by in subdued tones and slow laughter. The night was a beauty, the kitchen warm.
Red had come into town the night before and stayed with my buddy who always has a room waiting for her when she needs a place to stay. He is less afraid of her than I am, and so that night he had taken her to one of the hoot shows that is still up and running in town. I heard tales of gin and scotch and inevitable other substances and talking and falling asleep and waking up with fists full of deep scotch glasses. I was so glad I hadn't answered the phone, glad that I was falling bedward just as they were cranking up.
Now in truth, I like people, and I like the madness to some extent, but I don't really enjoy company after a few hours, so I am careful not to meet anyone too early for fear of a marathon march to Crazyville. But Red wanted to go to the studio to make a couple of cute photos for her Facebook page, so I met her mid-afternoon. I skipped the gym for the third day in a row, and we went for nutrition. "Let's drink the white sangria," I said. "It is good and not like drinking at all." A wahoo reuben and some thick cut fries, and I was beginning to come back to a slow life. All about, though, were young boyos proving themselves with loud voices broadcasting the stupidity of their pencil thin lives. Red's dress was pretty provocative, and I could feel them staring, attempting to get a glimpse of something primal, and as much as I hated them and their backslaps and their model-mutt faces, I couldn't do it. I just didn't have the gumption for a shoving match that afternoon, and besides, Red didn't seem to mind the attention at all which is a given, really, if you are going to dress that way. But it was killing me not to throw a 'bo into someone's chest and put my forehead against his nose. I was thinking that it was probably better that I never do that again, anyway.
I hadn't finished my second glass of Sangria before we left, so Red quickly reached over than threw her head back. Thrifty girl, that Red.
Back at the studio, it was fun shooting the Facebook photos as we have shot so much over the years there is no hurry to grab an image. We were able to play, pulling fabrics out and clipping them to the tops of the walls, changing lights and. . . oh. . . there was more drinking, I'm afraid, a bottle of red and a little scotch. I can't shoot without drinking, I think. It is the "artist's curse." And we shot to the most unusual music you might ever think to shoot to, the hillbilly iTunes station I have posted here, but now as much Irish as hillbilly--though I have come to realize that the Irish are the hillbillies of Europe and much like an Appalachian clan but for the screwing of their sisters, I think. I will have to research a bit to confirm that, though.
Early as we had planned, my buddy was knocking on the door.
It was a beautiful evening, of course, for this is the time of year when everything is beautiful here, and the staff of the restaurant was very attentive, the Italian men, of course, appreciating Red's outfit like sophisticated terrorists.
"Would you like anything else?"
"Aperitifs," my buddy said. "No, wait, that isn't right."
"Yes it is," I said. "'Aper' means after, right? Wait, no--digestif."
Scotch, Sambuco, and a coffee with liqueur.
"I'm not sure I like your knew haircut," Red said looking at the owner of the restaurant, a big, handsome fellow whose long hair hung loose around his face. "Men just look better with long hair."
"Yea, well. . . whatever."
"I don't know," she said, "your cut reminds me of something. It looks like the haircut for a 1990's lesbian."
My buddy liked that one.
"Maybe not a lesbian, necessarily, you know, just one of those women with a potato-like figure that would wear pants and one of those sweaters with an apple knitted onto it."
"Ho, ho, ho," I said. I knew there was some truth to what she was saying of course, at least the part about long hair. I lost the interest of one girl when I cut my hair (among other things) and had yet to garner the interest of another.
"Well. . . my beautician asked me out to dinner after my beauty treatments yesterday," I said. "She likes it, anyway."
"What does she look like?" Red asked.
"Oh. . . I wanted to date her ten years ago. Now she's thirty-seven and has a kid."
"But she looks o.k.?" my buddy queried. "Maybe she'll go out with me."
"Oh, she's always asking me if I have any rich friends."
Red pointed to me and said, "He only likes twelve year olds."
I protested. "I was dating a real woman not long ago."
"How'd that work out," Red laughed.
I just shook my head. Fuck, I thought, I have reached what I am referring to as "a significant age." I never thought a thing like this would bother me, but I was pretty wrong.
Back at the house, we opened a bottle of scotch and sat about in the new leather chairs. I put on the hillbilly station. Red was getting a new house on the coast near the famous art school where she wracked up enormous debt in getting a degree in print making. She was inviting us to come stay. All I could think of, of course, were the young art students. She would recruit them for me, she said. She would make a portable photo studio in the back of the house. We would get furniture and lights. Maybe I could come up with something new. Palm trees and blue waters. The future was looking bright.
It's funny how things go. I guess I will quit drinking tonight.