Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Shrewd Awakening

       It was a great day to be anywhere but inside my house. In fact, it was just a great day in general. The temperature was perfect, I had some pent up energy to expend, and I had saved up some cash to take my wife out for a nice weekend outing. We decided to go to St. Petersburg to visit the new Salvador Dali Art Museum for Valentines Day. It was actually the 12th of February, but Hallmark can't tell me when I can celebrate the relationship I have with my wife (only my wife decides that).
       It was a quick and easy thirty minute drive across the bay to the museum. We have been to this exhibit a few times, but not since they moved into the new facility. It was better fitted for an exhibit of such magnitude now. The facade had an artistic feel to it that was missing in the old building. It was equipped with a curved glass overlook that had a view of the bay. It is known as the "glass enigma." There was a spiral staircase that continued to spiral even after the stairs ceased. It is known as "the spiral staircase." The pieces inside the museum were still the same as they had always been, but the layout lent itself to a better experience. We meandered through the different galleries showing Dali's early works, his transitional period pieces, and his Surrealistic masterworks. We spent about two and a half hours weaving our way through the museum, and we enjoyed every last minute of it (except for the 45 minutes we spent waiting in line for tickets).
       Our day was going so well we didn't want to go home just yet. So we didn't. We hadn't ever really spent much time in downtown St. Pete, so we went exploring. There was only one target for our exploration, and that was a relaxing setting to sit down and have a drink. The first one we sighted was a standard Irish pub. The next one looked like it was solely inhabited by a group of college aged "bros" whose company I tried my best not to keep. There was a deli, an Indian food restaurant, and a coffee shop too. All of which we sidestepped in our journey to find the perfect place to sample the ideal libation. Finally, we saw the place for which we were looking. It was a small bar which looked like it had recently opened. I noticed the giant bison bust hanging over the bar, my wife noticed the claw-footed bathtub in the entryway. We were both intrigued enough in the things we saw to willingly enter.
       There was a trio sitting at the near side of the bar. They were deep in conversation and carried on as if they owned the place. There was also a couple of homely women sitting further down, and a lonely metrosexual man sitting on the far end. We staked our claim at the bar halfway in between the trio of regulars and the homely women. There were a series of chalkboards along the wall that displayed an array of their offerings. One was devoted to all the brands and ages of their whiskeys, another displayed their draft beers and house wines, and right in front of us was a list of their specialty drinks. My wife ordered a $13 glass of Cabernet Savignon, but I was feeling a little more adventurous. The bartender introduced herself as "Megan."

I said to her "Megan, what is in this 'Moscow Mule' I see here on the board?"

She said "Oh, that is our most popular drink. It has vodka, ginger beer, and a twist of lime."

I replied swiftly, "One Moscow Mule please."

       Megan took to pouring a generous amount of vodka, then added a splash of ginger beer, and topped it off with a twist of lime. The minute I took my first sip I was in love. With the drink, not the bartender. I sipped it with purpose; trying to enjoy every drop with all the taste buds I had on my tongue's arsenal. It was a dangerous concoction, because it tasted so good and I saw how much liquor was poured into the medium sized brushed metal tankard. This drink was so tasty I was falling into a trance. I was quickly awoken from said trance by a comment I overheard from a woman belonging to the trio on my right. At first, I wasn't sure I heard her correctly. Neither was another member of the trio.

Her male friend said "Wait, what did you say?"

She repeated herself loudly and proudly "I said, if I went lesbian, I would have just taken my dad to prom."

       I almost wanted to ask her to repeat it again for me so I could confirm my ears were properly decoding what she was saying. I chose not to intrude, but I wish I had. The rest of their conversation was held at level that could only be heard within their three person circle. The woman who spoke in such enigmatic statements was an early thirties blond who had an air of sophistication about her. She was someone from whom one wouldn't expect such a comment to emanate. The inquisitive male member of the trio looked like an artsy type who could give you a short dissertation on the hints of blackberry or cocoa in his wine selection. He was wearing a black sweater, a pair of Sarah Palin glasses, and a wispy goatee (with a trustworthy connection of mustache to beard). The other woman was a simple woman who just seemed to blend into the background. She was completely clad in earth tones and rarely spoke. I was more interested in what the bison over the bar had to say than anything with which she could have conjured up. This was not the case for the prom lesbian. I wanted to know more about her and her prom night tendencies. I could have moved down a few stools to better listen in, but that would have been too obvious. I would have to mull this one over to myself.
       After much mulling, I had no better idea what sort of question would lead to such an exaltation. To continue mulling would be an act of futility. I turned to my wife to see if she had heard the same thing. She was staring at the wooden decor that festooned the overhang at the rear of the bar. It was a mosaic of different wine crates, and she was entranced by it so I left her to it. In my mind was a mosaic of possibilities to which I was equally fixated. We spent the remainder of our time in the bar in deep thought of our respective mosaics.
       On the drive home I fell into deep thought about that comment I overheard. My wife was driving because I had actually had three Moscow Mules while we were at that bar, because I didn't want to leave right away. Just in case there was another gem to overhear or a further explanation which would be audible from my perch three stools away. Unfortunately, neither of those came to fruition. I thought to myself "Was that woman actually a lesbian and she was speaking tongue in cheek?", "Why would her first choice be her father after finally coming out of the closet?", and "What exactly is the difference between ginger ale and ginger beer?"
       First, I didn't think that was tongue in cheek, because neither she nor the other 66.6666666% of her trio laughed after she said it. Then I thought maybe her dad was just a cool guy, or at least in the upper 50% of her parental pairing. Finally, after extensive research I learned that in comparison to ginger ale, ginger beer is more robust in flavor, with a spicy quality. I thought back to the woman who uttered the phrase. Like I said, she was a sophisticated looking woman in her early thirties with blond hair, simple clothing, and sensible shoes. Sensible shoes? Eureka! She was a lesbian, and it wasn't just the shoes that led me to that realization. It turns out, my wife and I had passed on all the straight bars as we walked down the street. the Irish pub would have been a safe bet, and the "Broville Lounge" would have had homoerotic undertones but actually inhabited by 100% heteros. The homely women to our left were chatting up Megan the bartender rather aggressively, and it made more sense now as to what their intentions were. The metrosexual man at the far end of the bar was quite possibly less metro than we initially expected. And the lifestyles of the Prom Lesbian's two cohorts were becoming more evidently alternative. Now that being said, I'm glad we chose the bar we did. If we hadn't, I wouldn't have had something to ponder for the remainder of the afternoon.
       I wondered why after making such a life altering decision to give up the pursuit of the phallus did she choose to return to the one that started her life's journey. Couldn't she have been bold and tried to turn the head of the head cheerleader, or go for the easy targets like the quiet girl in her art class? Did she run the gamut of these options and end up empty handed and with an emptier bed?
       Maybe dad was the safe choice for her, or maybe her dad was an easy transition into the world of lesbionics. I pictured an effeminate man with a front-butt and an affinity for Bette Midler musicals. They had so much in common as she grew up, and she never knew why. They would go shopping for plaid shorts together at Target, and would work in the garden planting herbs every weekend. Their existence together was perplexing to everyone around them, but to each other, it was perfect. She would grow up to play softball in high school, and participate in many theater performances. She never thought about boys because nobody could ever meet the standards her dad had set during her formative years. Her grades were immaculate, her extracurricular activities and volunteering had padded a college application to the brim, and she was the most popular girl in her house. Yet something was missing. She was happy and content with her life choices, but as she was approaching womanhood she felt like there was something brewing inside her. It was late onset puberty caused by the chemicals in her Target shorts, but it hit her like a ton of plaid bricks.
       1997 was her senior year of high school, and she had been accepted to Wellesley College in Boston on a full scholarship. Her softball team placed third in the state tournament, and she had received rave reviews as Katherina in her school's performance of Taming of the Shrew. Again, she felt like she had an itch to scratch. Her high school career was coming to an end, and she had one pubescent hoop left to jump through. Prom. She had been asked to the dance by an onslaught of gentleman callers, but she had scorned their advances (not unlike a real life Katherina). It wasn't because she wasn't interested in them, it was because she just had no interest in what they had to offer. It was when she was at home one night listening to the soundtrack of A Chorus Line with her dad that she realized what was missing. Or more applicably, it was what wasn't missing. The pelvic protrusion disgusted her. That is unless that protrusion was of an androgynous front-butt nature. As she pondered what this would mean for her future as a sexual being in the years to come, she would come to a realization that would calm her mind, appease her father, and confuse everyone else (including some dude in a St Petersburg bar 20 years later). "If I go lesbian, I will have to just take my dad to prom" she would think to herself.
       Feeling free and exhilarated, she would spring from her chair and run into the streets to exclaim her realization. Just as Archimedes did before her, she would do so in the nude while shrieking the word "Eureka." Unfortunately, she lived on a busier street than the Greek scholar did. She was struck by an oncoming Subaru Forester (which coincidentally was first manufactured in 1997, and was voted the #1 car on in 2010). Hence why the quote was "If I went lesbian, I would have just taken my dad to prom." It wasn't past tense, it was wishful thinking. She never made it to prom, only the emergency room. Apparently that unfortunate collision kept her from making a terrible life choice that would leave her ostracized from society for the remainder of her life. Luckily, she went to community college instead while she recuperated from her injuries, then went on to attend the University of South Florida to get her degree in Restaurant Management. Just think, what a horrible life she would have led with a degree from Wellesley College.

Update: I went back to that bar to talk to her directly. She is a lesbian and owns that bar with her live in partner Margaret. Apparently Margaret was able to tame the shrew. Good for her.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pam a la Carmen

       It was the weirdest week of my 30 year life. My wife lost her mother to heart disease and complications from a life spent making bad decisions. She was the lone executor to her mother's estate and the lone heir to any inheritance left behind. Part of her mother's bad decision making was her inability to realize her bad choices would leave her daughter in this predicament at such a young age. My wife is 28 years old and her mother, Pam, was only 66 when she passed away. The circumstances surrounding her final days were sketchy at best. All that we knew was provided to us through a police report, a coroner's examination, and the conjecture of Pam's landlords. The police report was 100% factual, but provided little detail beyond the obvious. The coroner's report said she passed away two weeks prior to the police finding her, but provided no further details. The landlords had plenty of theories surrounding her final days, but we did not want to hear a single one of them. We just wanted to handle the situation, preserve the remaining dignity of her mother, and move on to honoring the memory of a once great woman.
       You see, Pam lived alone. This was her choice, and the fact that she had very few visitors was her preference. The only people she spoke to were her landlords (a couple of off-kilter foreigners that handled the day-to-day dealings of the family's investment properties), and her daughter (my wife, and the person to whom she had carved a distant relationship over many years). They were thrust into the same situation once Pam had decided she had enough of her mortal existence. As the husband of the bereaved and the main source of local support, I was thrust in as well. This story is of the first time we all ended up in the same place at the same time. I was a third party in this crazy situation and my job was simple. I was to provide a buffer between Jessica and lunacy of the landlords.
       As much as the situation was terrible, nauseating, stressful, and any other awful adjective you can think of; there were actually quite a few moments of levity. Most of them involved a woman who answered to the name "Carmen." Carmen was the elderly mother of the woman who owned the apartment in which Pam lived and died. She was just a smidgen taller than the midget/non-midget threshold (don't be offended, I only write it that way because little person/non-little person doesn't read as smoothly). Carmen also has another trait that made her entertaining during such a terrible chapter. She had no brain-to-mouth filter and was the owner of an attention span that can only be measured in nanoseconds.
       I had never met Carmen prior to Pam's death, but I had heard her through secondhand sound when Jessica spoke to her. She spent most of the time on her calls or voice mail messages laying a guilt trip on Jessica about the lack of participation in her mother's life. I was aware of how uninformed Carmen was about their history, and no matter how many times Jessica tried to explain it to Carmen, it never really stuck. When I did finally meet Carmen, it all made sense. She wasn't a terrible person, she wasn't an awful person, she was just a person who had no social skills.
       We arrived at the apartment the morning after we received the news that Pam had moved on from her physical existence to whatever follows that. It was less than 10 hours after the police officer had knocked on our door and delivered the morbid details. The reality had yet to creep into our consciousness. We were essentially paralyzed in deep thought and retrospect as we stood by our car waiting for Carmen to arrive. My sole purpose for being there was to support my wife in her hours of need. Just as we exchanged our 100th and 101st "I love you" of the morning, a red Chrysler LeBaron pulled up and parked cock-eyed in a visitor space about 25 feet from where we had been waiting for over 30 minutes. They took their time exiting the slightly rust-colored vehicle. As soon as I saw her, I knew it was Carmen. Her stature and the demeanor matched the description Jessica had provided me in the past, and the shrill voice I had overheard on so many voice mails and phone calls finally had a face.
       Her husband had yet to be described to me, and his voice was as foreign to me as his body was to the United States. His name was Gerard and he could only be counted on for an occasional mumble or "yes honey" when Carmen asked him a question. I was instantly not a fan of him. Any man who can not look me directly in the eye is not someone I can trust or respect, and Gerard was a mouth-breathing ground-staring sonofabitch. Carmen confirmed for me that he was originally from Germany. I couldn't gauge his age, but I can only assume he had some close branches in his family tree that stood idly by as the atrocities of the WWII era commenced. I can hear his father or grandfather mumbling "Yes, mein Fuhrer. I'm with Himmler and Goebbels on this one. Great solution!"
       Luckily (for all of us) Gerard stayed in the car most of time, and we only had to deal with Carmen. We couldn't have taken much more of the duo, because Carmen was a hand full by herself. She wanted to make small talk with us, even if we showed no interest in the activity. I had come straight to the apartment from work, so I was clad in my business casual garb. This particular occasion led me to wear a dark blue button up shirt, a black sweater, and a casual black blazer. Carmen was wearing a flowery ensemble with a white scarf and a pair of brown orthopedic shoes. When she approached us we were leaning up against my Mazda Hatchback with our shoulders slumped and our heads staring at the pavement in grief. She did not pick up on that energy. She immediately tried to start the small talk. Like verbal vomit she talked about a tree Gerard had ordered online that would produce three different fruits once it matured. She turned up the heat immediately by explaining how she prayed every night for Pam's health and for Jessica to come visit her.

        Every step I took away from her, she would immediately close the distance. Each time the process repeated itself, it made me that much more uncomfortable. My nonverbal cues had no effect on her. I attempted to subdue her conversations, but she would continue on despite my obvious contempt. She talked about the birds that flew overhead (she would ask if it was a hawk, I would tell her her it looked like a seagull to me). She asked about our personal life (kids? pets?), and each time I cordially side-stepped them with one word answers. She would ask follow up questions (not trying, not able?). Did this woman not understand the matriarch of my wife's life had just passed away in an apartment a mere 15 feet from us in unseemly circumstances within the last 24 hours? The answer was yes, but she still didn't seem to care. She told us about her life growing up in Central America, how she met Nazi Gerard, where her kids lived, what they did for a living, and also kept us updated on any passing wildlife she encountered as we stood quietly in the parking lot (squirrel!). The less we paid attention to her, the more she tried to talk. Silence was not an option. She then began to embellish the stories as she noticed our complete disinterest in them. Eventually, the fruit tree could grow up to five different fruits (oranges, tangerines, pears, apples, AND peaches), her husband was a stock market savant, and the icing on the cake is when she told us that her daughter owned the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City (and apparently her part time job was a slum-lord for one bedroom apartments in Sarasota).
       At that point we had enough of her babbling, and we asked nicely for her open the apartment so that we could empty Pam's belongings and be on our way. This was a chapter of both of our lives that we would like to end as quickly as possible. She did as we requested, and we were able to complete the removal of Pam's limited accoutrements in less than 30 minutes. Carmen stood by the doorway as we diligently worked, her chatter constantly filling the air with nonsense. Once we had finished, we closed the door behind us and handed her the key.
       As we turned to get into our car, Carmen was standing directly in front of us. We could tell by the look in her little brown eyes that she didn't want us to leave. She was undoubtedly a lonely woman. She may have had a husband that was within 25 feet of her at that very moment, but we could tell that something was missing from her life. Her daughter didn't answer the phone when she called, her husband didn't respond to her requests for attention, and Jesus had not answered her countless prayers. Luckily for us, we didn't give a shit. I asked her to to be quiet for one minute so I could speak. Her eyes glistened in anticipation of what discussion I was about to initiate. The glistening ceased when the only question I had was about the cancellation of the automatic rent payment both she and Pam had set up. She promised to take care of it on Monday, and asked if she needed to call us when she had done so. I responded quickly, and told her that was not necessary. We trusted that she could handle it on her own. That was not the entire truth, we had limited trust in her follow through. However, the unease of another possible debit from Pam's account was far outweighed by our interest in never having to speak to Carmen again.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Everything's Coming Out Roses

       It was a normal Thursday evening. I was about three quarters of the way home from work, and I pulled into a 7-11 to pick up a Spike energy drink and some cigarettes. The two guys who usually work this shift were not there that night. I have an acquaintance level relationship with the two regular guys, and it generally takes the form of small talk with the occasional free fountain soda. Apparently they got that night off. They were replaced by a long blond-haired kid with a wispy beard and an assortment of other cranial accessories. He also had an affinity for staring too intensely for someone in the customer service industry. The other person working was a slightly overweight Latin American girl who could only be described as slap-happy (well that, and overweight). They were standing over by the hot dog machine watching intently as the semi-meat rotated over and over. Apparently, this is how they passed the time during a 12 hour shift on a Thursday. I suddenly felt slightly better about my own job.
       I was in the back of the store looking through their expansive selection of energy drinks, all the while keeping an ear to the conversation the night shift replacements were having. When I turned around to glance at them, the girl was nostril deep in one of the store's Valentines Day special treats and the guy was just staring at her (his specialty). She removed her nose from the top of it, giggled eerily, and began reading the back of it. Instead of reading aloud so Metal Face could be educated, she finished reading it to herself and paraphrased it for him. I couldn't hear a word she was saying. Besides being slap-happy and overweight, she was also soft spoken. At that point I gave up on hearing anything juicy or interesting, and made my way over to the snacks. I needed to pick up a bag of Wild Berry Skittles for my wife (she loves little surprises, and generally reciprocates accordingly). I was searching the aisle for that purple bag of sugary aphrodisiacs when Metal Face shouted loudly for her to cease her diatribe so he could retort. Actually he said "hold up, hold up, what choo say?" She whispered back to him. He replied "So, you drop these in the bath and your bubbles smell like roses?"
       I made my selection and proceeded to the girl's side of the counter (the guy creeped me out, and I prefer whispers to 50 yard stares). I tried to search the area around her register for what they were talking about while they both fumbled through the wall of cigarettes looking for my brand. I saw candy roses, real rose bunches, single roses, but nothing that resembled anything that could possibly apply to their conversation. Before I could inquire what they were discussing, she shouted the total amount of my purchase. She said it loudly and clearly with an authoritative tone that said "you go now." So I did.
        I got back into my car, fastened my seat belt (click it or ticket), and turned the key. Before I could go over the encounter in my mind, I found myself pulling into my driveway. I skipped my normal routine of letting the dogs out, changing out of my work clothes, and pouring myself a drink. I went straight to my front porch to have a cigarette and ponder what this Valentine treat was and what its intended purpose was. My initial thought was one of absolute absurdity, and it was the most entertaining one with which I could construct, so I went with it. I pictured a flimsy plastic package that contained five small rose bud shaped soaps. These would be used in a bathtub, and would create a soapy layer of suds on top of the bathwater.
I pictured a couple of young newlyweds. It was February 14th, so they would most certainly share a warm bath together. The woman would be feeling romantic, and the man would be feeling ancy. He bought her the rose bud soaps at the corner store, but as far as she knew they were from Bath and Body Works or even better, they were imported from France or Italy just for the special Hallmark holiday we call Valentines Day. The only light would be from the candles burning in the bathroom (also purchased from 7-11), and the sound of sloshing water would be complimented by the dulcet tones of Marvin Gaye or Jodeci.
       Everything would be perfect for his big opportunity to have a V-Day love fest. Right then, he would break out the ace in the hole. A series of three to four limericks, haikus, or short romantic poems. He would read them to her in his throatiest voice. She would be giddy with anticipation for his next surprise. Well, her giddiness would soon subside when his relaxed state would lead to the expulsion of a little gas. It would bubble out from underneath him, rise steadily up toward the surface, and burst into the froth of rosy suds. Their silence would be met with a stare of anticipation for what was surely to come. He would be rosy cheeked, she would be hardly impressed. After the anticipation wore off, the curiosity would ensue. They each knew what he just did, and they each knew what the normal nasal repercussions were for such a deed.  This time something was different. Not only did their bathroom not smell like a combination of broccoli and bitter beer, it actually smelled better than it did before. Did the rose-shaped soaps have a second purpose beyond just creating a layer of suds? Were they super soaps designed to soak up flatulence and turn it into a floral bouquet? And most importantly, why were these wonder soaps sold at 7-11 and not at Bath and Body Works or imported from Europe?
       Either way, I still say the purchase of the soaps, candles and Jodeci tracks from ITunes are a waste of time, money and energy. He could have skipped all that and just bought his lady-friend a bag of Wild Berry Skittles. We live and we learn bro... we live and we learn.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Rent or Pants

       I had a carful of golfclubs, and I was on my way to play a round of golf at a rinky-dink course by the Sarasota-Bradenton airport. I had only recently picked up the game, and was merely a novice at the time. My only experience swinging a golf club was at the driving range, but I had already purchased a set of brand new Taylor Made irons to match the driver I procured at a second hand store. Luckily the particular group of friends I was to meet at the course were not much more experienced than I, and if they were, it didn't show. Our tee time was 11:00 am, and I was running a little late.
       I was outside my friend Mike's house, waiting for him to immerge. He was notoriously unenergetic, and sometimes bordered on lethargic. Every comment from Mike was preceded by a long sigh. These facts would most certainly cause us to be late for our tee time now. He lived in a duplex on the east side of town. On the front of the conjoined domicile was a concrete porch with thick pillars and a knee-high concrete border. It was filled with rusty lawn furniture, a couple bags of garbage, and in the top right corner of the porch was a windchime that looked to be expertly fashioned from discarded beer cans (I couldn't see what kind of beer cans, but I safely assumed at least one was PBR). About 5 minutes had passed when the door opened. Unfortunately for me, it was the door of the adjacent home. Out walked a couple of twenty-somethings. One, a man in his late twenties wearing tight jeans and an Iron Maiden t-shirt. His brown hair sprouted out from under a backwards baseball cap on all sides with no particular rhyme or reason. He had obviously just awoke. It was funny, because Iron Maiden was the CD playing almost inaudibly on my car stereo as I waited impatiently in the neighboring driveway. ""Home, far away. From the war, a chance to live again" was being belted passionately from Bruce Dickinson's throat but was filtered into a quiet mutter through my car speakers. The girl, who was clad simply in a long nightgown, sat quite unladylike on the edge of the porch with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. It was expertly gripped by her lips and dangled dangerously as she tried to speak to the Maiden man. His interest in what she was saying could only be measured in ADHD units. I believe this particular interest level was 4 ADHDUs, whereas his interest in the shiny beer can wind chime hanging from the corner of the porch was a full 10 ADHDUs.
       I couldn't hear a thing she was saying, no matter how much I tried to focus. Even when I completely shut off the radio (silencing Bruce Dickinson), I still could not make out a single word. My interest in what she was saying was matched only by the disinterest of the person to whom she was actually speaking. That is until she said something that brought him back from his beer can hypnosis. At this point, I was sitting perfectly still and focusing 100% of my attention on her. She had extinguished the cigarette, and I was trying to read her lips. She was finished speaking, and was now just staring back at her male companion waiting for his response. We had this in common. He shook his head quickly as if to remove the cobwebs from the previous night's escapades or to literally shake off the cobwebs he had just leaned into on the porch. His response came quickly and without concern for his surroundings (including the guy sitting in the car in the neighboring driveway). He said "So, you had to make a decision. It was either your rent or your pants."
       The man extinguished his cigarette as well, and stood up to go back inside. He couldn't even look at her. He just hung his head in shame, and shuffled back into the house. As the door of their house shut, the door to Mike's home opened and he came out. Once he had loaded his clubs into my Mazda hatchback, he walked around to passenger side and got in. I immediately began asking questions about his neighbors. "What is up with your neighbors?", "What sort of crazy shit are they into?", and "Do you know why she would have to choose between their rent money and her pants?" Unfortunately, his affinty to mumble rendered his retorts imperceptible to the human ear. Mike replied with a sigh (this time an extended one), and said simply "Yeah, they are hum dum brah puh meh." Mike was of no help, he offered zero insight and less than zero conversation. I really hate that guy.
       Once again, I was forced to make up my own details. This one was not immediately bringing to mind anything sensical or logical. I asked myself again "Why would anyone have to choose between their rent money or their pants?" Then I realized something, she may not have been wearing that nightgown because she was just waking up at 10:45 am. Could her landlord have requested all of her pants in lieu of rent? Evicting someone is a costly venture for a landlord, and she could be the exact size of his wife or daughter. But how many pairs of pants would it take for her to break even with her debts? What is the dollar to pant ratio? That one was a little far fetched, even for my imagination. Why would her man-friend still have a dresser drawer full of trousers while she was left pantless?  The decision between rent or pants had to based on something else.
       The entire drive to the golf course was done so in silence. No Iron Maiden on the stereo, no conversation with Mikey Mumbles, and certainly no external monologue of what was racing through my mind. The same could be said for the entire round of golf. I was not participating in the normal chit-chat that such an outing usually requires. I occassionally offered a quip or sidenote to the discussions the other three were happily having, but only to subside their suspicions that my attention was elsehwere. I needed to know more about this "rent or pants" situation, and I needed to know soon.
        Once we were finished playing golf, I dropped Mike back at his house a few hours later with hopes that the couple would be outside enjoying another tobacco stick. Alas, such an occurrence was not the case. I would now be forced to mull this over in my head.
       I went back over the details of what I witnessed that morning. The man was fully dressed, but looked as if he had just woken up. His demeanor was that of a person dealing with the effects of a hangover, and his lack of interest in her story led me to think there may have been some sort of rift stemming from the previous evening. She was not dressed for the oustide world, yet she was not shy about being on her front porch in a nightgown. She was wide awake, but seemed a bit dazed. Her cigarette smoking did not seem habitual, but rather seemed more of a coping mechhanism for whatever was bothering her. She did not waste time removing it from her lips to talk. The information she was sharing was either that traumatizing or that important.
        The two of them reminded me of a couple that would patronize a particular and peculiar hole-in-the-wall bar to which I have had at least a few unfortunate first hand experiences. They most certainly were there last night to imbibe some alcohol and partake in oulandish merriment while doing so. This particular night must have been met with a chance encounter with an unseemly gentleman or group of miscrients. The bar of which I just spoke is a mere 8 blocks from their house, and the neighborhood they would have walked through is known to contain those types of characters. They most certainly would have come across one or both of them. They would have been forced to choose to fight or flee. The Maiden man did not strike me as the type to choose the former, and Nightgown girl would most certainly not have been able to flee as fast as he. I am sure she would have been surrounded and forced into a bad situation. These unseemly characters were not interested in casual discourse about politics or religion. They wanted one thing, and one thing only. They wanted her pants. In the 80's it was sneakers, but in 2010, pants were a hot commodity. I'm sure they were Ed Hardy or some other brand that were bedazzled with a Fleur de Lis and an assortment of tribal artwork. These would make for a great Mother's Day gift for the matriarch of one of their households. At gun or knifepoint, Nightgown girl would be asked to to strip down to her underwear and give up the booty (Pirate lingo was also very big in 2010). At which point she would realize she had her rent money tucked expertly in her 34B Victoria Secret bra. If she gave up her jeans first and without a struggle, they would never come across the stash of cash. If she denied them easy access to the denim prize they so desired, they would most definitely take it by force (bunch of savages in this town). They would also be close enough to notice the "Live Pink" emblem emblazened on her brazier, and we all know those are as good as gold for Valentine's Day presents. They would request access to that as well, and find that the rent money was hidden in her chest wallet. She may not be a brilliant woman, but she knew that giving up her pants was a better decision then giving them the rent money. She could explain to her boyfriend that the jeans he saved up to buy her for her birthday were now covering the rear end of a miscrient's mother, but her landlord would not buy that story. He's heard that one before, and would feel no sorrow and show no mercy. So, she had to make a decision, it was either her rent or her pants. She chose pants. She chose wisely.