Saturday, July 02, 2005

Mr. Perfect

Chapter 1

"You're perfect for each other!" Jenna purred. "You'll see. Come to the party tomorrow."

Jenna was always trying to set me up with someone. In her mind, the fact that I was nearly forty and never married was just a perverse desire on my part to flout society, nature, and God. It Just Wasn't The Way Things Are Done.

But she's my friend, and I love her. Most of the time. "All right. I'll go. He better be cute."

"He is!" she beamed. "You won't be sorry. Oh, this is going to be fun!" Jenna gave the obligatory air kiss and waved goodbye with a grin.

It's not that I'm against marriage. I like guys. Lots. But it just never seemed to work out into someting long term. And I just didn't see why it was so necessary, anyway. I had tons of friends, a great social life, a good work life, a pretty good sex life - I liked my life.

It just seemed that most of my relationships ended upon discovering some killer flaw, previously unnoticed, that quickly quenched any urge to "live happily ever after." Some of my friends say I'm too picky, but I really don't think that's it.

Take the last guy Jenna had set me up with as a case in point. He was a real prince. After splitting the tab at dinner, he decided we should walk the 10 blocks back to my car rather than take a cab. Ok, frugal, nothing wrong with that, right? I can deal with that - I had my own income, I didn't need to depend on him to buy cute clothes.

About 5 blocks down, my shoes in my hand and my feet starting to hurt (Manolo Blahnik, okay? I wasn't going to wear them out hoofing 10 blocks through downtown), he decides he has to go to the bathroom. I mentioned the McDonalds we passed a few blocks back, but he doesn't want to backtrack, noooo. He wants to find a tree! Like he was a dog or something!

So there's Rover taking his wiz behind this toothpick of a tree, the stream splashing onto the sidewalk on either side. I'm standing there barefoot, concentrating on making sure my feet stay out of the sudden creek that was forming. People are walking by, averting their eyes in amazed horror, and I'm pretending not to know this guy, but it's not working because he's still talking to me!

After about a century he's done, and as he walks around the tree he's wiping his hands on his shirt - then he puts his arm around me. Pee hands! Yuck!

I rapidly explained that I just remembered that I was on my period, and could we please stop for some tampons? And oh yeah, I'm out of money, so would you mind going into the store and buying them for me? The date ended quickly.

Anyway, after my date with Mr. Classy, my expectations weren't too high.

The next night I put on a cute skirt with these great shoes that matched like they were made together. I looked in the mirrow. "Not bad for a nearly but not yet I still have a few weeks yet forty year old" I thought. Blond, trim, and cute jewelry - who could resist? I race triathalons and kept in pretty good shape - my friends tell me I look like I'm thirty. That's why they're my friends.

I got to the party, and saw Jenna and her husband in the corner with a really cute guy and a couple young hussies fawning all over him. Jenna caught my eye and mouthed "this is him" while pointing from behind his field of view. But not out of view of the competition, who immediately looked around and gave me "uh uh, girlfriend - we've staked this one out." Carnivores.

Inside I gave a little shudder, but outside I put on my beaming bright how-can-you-resist-smiling-back smile, marched on over and gave Jenna a hug hello, accidently bumping one of the meat-eaters to the side. Jenna completed the tag team by giving a quick hip to the other one, while saying "Jewel, honey, I want to introduce you to Frank Roberts."

So the cute guy was Roberts? I believe I was supposed to say "ooh, Frank Roberts, the producer?" and look all wide eyed. "Hello Frank. How are you?" I said coolly

Frank smiled broadly. "Much better now that you're here. You're that hot girl Jenna was telling me about, right?" Man-eater one and two gave me the Look Of Death, and turned to walk off. Frank didn't give them a second glance. I have to say, I was not put off by Mr. Roberts so far. Nope.

Frank turned to the side. "Jenna, you didn't tell me how incredibly good looking she is!" He looked at me out of the side of his eyes. "Or maybe she did," he said, then winked. Winked?

Ok, nobody's perfect. He was still really cute. And obviously had great taste.

"Flattery may get you somewhere, Frank." I smiled. "But a drink might get you there quicker."

He looked startled, then laughed loudly. "Coming right up!" And then with a gleam, "And so is that drink," then turned to go to the bar.

Jenna was grinning at me. "What?" I said.

"'What?'" Jenna mimicked. "You know what. You like him."

"I don't even know him"

"But you're already flirting with him."

"So what? I'm at a party with cute guys. I flirt. It's what I do."

Jenna kept grinning an shook her head. "Then I'll leave you to your work."

"Come back and rescue me if I give you the high sign, okay?"

"Sure. What's the high sign tonight?"

I thought briefly. "How about I do that Meg Ryan thing from "When Harry Met Sally?"

"You mean that screaming orgasm thing?" Jenna giggled. "I almost hope I get the high sign - I'm sure it would make a great party story."

Frank came back with a drink, and Jenna scooted off. "Here you are, Ma'am. One of my world famous RAMs."


"'Robert's Amazing Margarita' - guaranteed to make all your wildest dreams come true."

I smiled. "Okay, Pedro. Here's to dreaming," and took a big gulp. And immediately got brain freeze. I hate that.

A friend once told me that if you get brain freeze, then slapping the top of your head with the palm of your hand a few times makes it go away. It sounds (and looks) stupid, but it really does work. So I did it.

Frank grinned. "Brain freeze, huh?"

"Hmm hmm," I said, whapping my head. "Ah. That's better. You know that trick, huh? Good Margarita. Thanks."

"You're very welcome. And very funny. And really cute."

"I think you used that one already. But you can say it again if you want to. And thanks."

We stood there for a moment, staring at each other. I don't know how long this lasted, but it wasn't awkward. The noise of the room just faded away, and we were in our own private cone of silence. I could smell his cologne, which was some unusual, earthy smell, like trees, or autumn - it wasn't distasteful at all, but it was very different.

Frank glanced around, then said very quietly, "Come with me for a second. I want to show you something." He turned, and I followed.

Why? I have no idea. I'm not in the habit of following strange men back into their house, but for some reason it just seemed like the thing to do.

We walked out what must have been a back door, although it was a very unusual door. Heavy, wood, and carved with a scene from a forest glade, surrounded by trees, covered in leaves. Very detailed.

It opened quietly onto a moonlite glade that looked remarkably like the scene from the door. I was a bit bemused thinking about the combination of carpentry, landscaping, and money it must have taken to put that together. He stood with the door open and beckoned me to go out.

I stepped out into the glade, my feet very quietly crunching the leaves on the ground, which was lit by a bright orange harvest moon. The noise from the party was non-existent out here.

I heard the door shutting softly, and turned around. And then felt suddenly dizzy and almost fell. I couldn't see the house!

Oh, silly. It must be one of those trompe l'oiel things - a painting on the side of the house to fool the eye, to look like the other side of the forest glade. Just another interesting detail to complete the theme so carefully begun with the door carving.

"How do you like it?" came a voice from behind, right next to my ear. I jumped slightly, and turned.

"You startled me..." I started to say, but Frank wasn't there either. In fact, I didn't see Mr. Starting-To-Creep-Me-Out anywhere.

Great. Another freakazoid that likes to play with girl's heads. "I'm going back inside, wherever you are. I don't like these kinds of games." I stomped back to where I thought the door was, but still found myself in the glade. I must have gotten turned around.

I slowly turned back. The trees looked very much alike on all sides. The trompe l'oiel was very good. I couldn't tell any longer which was the house, and which were the real trees. "Okay, fun's over. Please let me back inside the house now."

There was only silence.

(Stay tuned for Chapter 2)