Hunger

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“Well I can’t say it’s all that flattering.” She pulled the sunglasses from her face, collapsed them, and tucked them inside a case inside her purse. She closed her purse and hung it on the hook near her knees beneath the bar.

“Flattery is overrated. I’m all about the truth. And truth be told, you look fantastic.” He picked up his glass and took a small sip.

“You’re actually going to make me sit at the bar. Aren’t you?” She unsnaked the scarf from her neck and dropped it into her lap.

“We could sit at a table.”

“This is fine.”

“Please tell me you still drink.” He signaled to the bartender.

“I can be persuaded.” She smiled and ordered a drink.

“I’m happy to see you.” He returned her smile. “Goddamn we’re grown up.”

“What do you mean?” She tilted her head to the right.

“Well look at you. The last time we saw each other was at Grand Ol’ Days. Remember? We were on the bridge by Kowalskis. I was drunk. I remember your ponytail. Do they even call them ponytails anymore?”

“It wasn’t a ponytail. It was a braid.”

“Okay. Your braid. 30 years. Amazing.”

“Amazing to hear from you.”

“See the truth is, it is flattering. The effort it took to find you!”

“Yeah, that part is fun. The tv show part isn’t as fun.”

“Did you watch it? It’s just a silly show. You’ve got to Netflix it.”

“So you watched some tv show about a man who contacts his old girlfriends.” She took a sip of wine.

“That’s not why I contacted you. It just reminded me.”

“Well that’s what you said in the email.” She stared into his eyes.

He looked down at his glass. “Well, okay. The reason I contacted you is because George Michael died.”

“What?” She turned to face him. “Mark, that’s ridiculous.”

He turned to face her. “Okay sure. Yes. It is. Okay now wait. How well do you remember me?”

“I came. Didn’t I?”

“Fair enough. Okay look. When George Michael died I thought of you. Every time I heard him I’ve thought of you. For years.”

“I didn’t know you were such a fan.” She slid a silly smile into a smirk.

“Okay now I feel like a fool. It has nothing to do with him. He was just the soundtrack of us. Can we change the subject for a second because now I feel like an ass. We’ll get back to this part.”

“Okay.” She took a sip of wine. “So. Joan says you’re a writer?”

“Would you like to order something to eat?”

“No. Thank you. I can’t stay that long.” She shifted on her stool and straightened her scarf with both of her hands.

“I am a writer. I’ve got to get something in my stomach.” He signaled to the bartender. “How about you?”

“Oh I said I wasn’t hungry.” She crossed her legs.

He laughed. “No. work. Joan didn’t tell me what you do. I so tried to remember what you were in school for. ”

“Women studies with a minor in music. I’m an interior decorator.”

“Well that explains your clothes. Practically the only thing humanities classes are good for is knowing when colors go together. Your colors all look great together.” He laughed; she didn’t. “You do remember that we met in a humanities class?”

“Of course I do.”

He ordered an appetizer, closed the menu, and straightened his spine and smoothly rolled his shoulders until he sat straight. “Okay so I just wanted to apologize. I was an ass. I was a complete ass to you. And I’m sorry.”

She put both palms on the bar and lifted all her fingers and gave them a short shake. “Oh God this is part of some 12 step program. Isn’t it?”

Her nail polish caught his attention. He saw she wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. “Oh hell no!” He laughed. “This is an overdue apology for inexcusable behavior.”

She sat back on her stool. “You’ve found religion? Okay. Good for you but I’m not interested in hearing your story. I don’t need to be saved.” She slid through the S and hit the D.

He laughed. “No. Oh my God no!” He turned to the bartender. “Bring us another round.” He swiveled on the stool and faced her. “George Michael died and I remembered you and I remembered us. And it upset me that you and I were once so close and then we so weren’t. Maybe it’s my age or … hell so many things … but it just can’t be right that people can be so close and then one day nothing. A divorce is one thing. I get that. It’s so bitter. But just one day a relationships ends– that’s it? So I heard George Michael died and I thought – I’m finding her. And I’m going to apologize.”

She took her hand and patted his hand he rested on the bar. “My God you haven’t changed at all!” The waiter put two saucers on the bar and two sets of silverware.

“I’d like to think I have.” He laughed and turned his hand palm up and took her hand in his. “I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have a very good memory. We didn’t break up because of you. We broke up because we didn’t work as a couple.”

“I remember the sex was amazing.” He smiled.

She withdrew her hand. “We had some good times.” She took a sip of her wine. “So tell me. Married? Children? Fill me in the history.”

“No. Single. No kids. How ‘bout you?”

“I have a daughter.”

“Oh that’s great! What does she do?”

“She spends my money!” She laughed. “She’s in college.”

“So, are you single now? Joan was vague.”

“I have a partner.”

He sat straight. “Oh.” He took a drink of his manhattan.

“Mark, I’m lesbian.”

“Really?”

“Yes.” She took another sip.

“Wow. But we had such great sex!” He instantly regretted his words. “Jesus wept that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever said!” He nervously laughed.

“Lesbians have great sex.”

“I’m too old to be this stupid. I don’t know which I feel more. Humiliation or shame. My behavior is inexcusable.”

“It’s okay.”

“Oh my God could I have said anything more ridiculously ass?”

“It took you by surprise. Let’s move on.” The waiter brought his appetizer. She took a piece of flatbread off the plate. “I am hungry. So. Which George Michael song reminds you of me?”

He dropped his napkin in his lap. “Do you remember the song ‘Monkey?’” He grabbed a saucer and handed it to her. He scooted the other saucer and handed her a set of silverware.

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