Well, so much for Valentine’s Day. Cupid sheathed his arrow again, or quivered it, whatever—packed it away. Why did it have to be an arrow? Something so penetrating and painful, and yet she yearned for it. Sick. There must be some mental illness term for it—something other than psychotic, she hoped.
She had bought the red dress, passed on the red stockings—too much really is too much—had applied her make-up carefully, again observing the too much is too much dictum, red lipstick to match the dress, a hint of blush, mascara, but no extra eyelashes. She had rubbed pale purple eye shadow on her lids for a Toulouse Lautrec look, saw that it was too close to too much and rubbed it off, most of it.
She sat at the curve in the bar, ordered white wine and waited. The wine came, and she immediately realized her mistake. The bulbous glass was all wrong. What she needed, what her look needed, was a martini, in that wide, open, inviting, glass—small, delicate, suggestive. She considered gulping down the white wine and ordering a martini, but that would be too much, or pushing it aside and ordering the martini. No. Too much.
She tried to catch the bartender’s eye. He was a balding, round-faced man who moved quickly over the glasses and bottles, pouring a Guinness, making a Manhattan, dropping an olive in a martini. She watched the martini longingly. The glass was perfect, and it went to the blond in the chartreuse dress at the other end of the bar. The man was good, his movement sure and swift. She admired skill and loved to watch a genius at work: her mother crimping the edge of a piecrust, the guy who wallpapered her closet, fast and perfect without a single snide remark about wallpapering a closet and now this bartender. He knew she was watching him and lifted his head in a way that let her know he knew and would be with her in a moment. Which he was.
“Need anything else, Miss?”
“Well, yes, I do.” Embarrassed laugh with just the right amount of self-deprecation. “Could I have a martini glass?”
He raised one eyebrow, slightly. So slightly.
“For my wine.” She bent her head towards his; he came close enough that she could see what fine clear skin he had, his face and hairless scalp one pure sphere of maleness. How did he do it? “I like the shape of the glass but . . .”
Their faces were almost touching, and when he spoke his lips would almost graze her forehead… “but you don’t want to drink a martini?”
She nodded. Too vigorously, too much, hitting his forehead with hers, bumping heads.
“Oh, I’m so sorry.”
He put his hand on hers. “I’ll fix it,” he said, and in one smooth turn took her wine, poured it into a martini glass, a brimming martini glass, set it in front of her, and wiped the bar with his towel.
She raised her glass to him. “I look better now?”
“Fabulous,” he said and was gone, taking orders, mixing drinks, doing his job like the genius he was.
She felt the arrow. A direct hit.
© 2012 Kathleen Coskran