I pushed a peanut shell through a hole in the tabletop. We were outside, upstairs, on a wraparound deck and the left side of me was getting burnt. The right side of him. Hot day ...
There were boats. Water. There was a view of the Oakland skyline.
"I had my first lesbian lover," I said, to get his attention. I was tired of talking about snowboarding and soccer, sports, his and hers. I was ready for some he-said-she-said, the good stuff.
"Really?" he said, with the big smile with the perfect teeth.
Our beers were half-empty, the peanut basket half-full. I told my story, watching his face, pushing peanut shells through the many holes in the iron tabletop. I thought they were scattering on the floor below, on the deck, but in fact they were piling up on my skirt.
He dates a lesbian. His name is Ratatat and he has black hair and thick, black, old-fashionable glasses, an Asian Woody Allen or Elvis Costello, only a lot younger than both of them, put together.
He also dates me. Although ... as our dates get funner, they get farther apart. And we talk more about who else we're seeing ... Which is fine. Really.
No. Really, I have a bad attitude about polyamorousness. Polyamorless, I call it. Luckily, my bad attitude is in this case trumped by a really very good attitude about the nature of reality. The nature of reality is that it is real. It's what's for dinner. No. It's what we are left with after dinner, the bones, dirty dishes, and in some cases, indigestion.
I have started a kind of a museum of Things Guys Left At My Place Because They Leave In Such A Hurry. See? I'm a realist. In lieu of the return visit, let alone flowers, let alone love, I smoke the rest of their cigarettes and wear their big stinky shirts like a nightie in the morning, with my coffee. It's a cool twist on cross-dressing, and I love it. I love the smell. I love the way guy-grade cotton feels against my bare skin. One man left a pair of sunglasses and I wore them and loved the way the world was.
But how can I explain all this to Ratatat, who treats me truly like a friend? Who leaves nothing and does come back, who picked me a flower one time ...
I can't! So I gave him the fantasy, the body count, instead: one woman, one man, since last we met. And he gave me his. The ongoing lesbian. A cute girl upstairs. Somebody else ...
Besides peanuts, which are on and all over the house, we split an appetizer with our beers: Quinn's signature, a halved tomato dressed with pesto and piled with shrimp. Perfect for the hot day, a midafternoon snack, and the bayside setting. Place used to be an actual lighthouse! Now it's a split level, split-themed restaurant, yacht club style downstairs, peanut-littered pub up.
And there really was a pirate sitting near the door when we left, after only one beer apiece. Anyway, he was a salty old-timer with a parrot on his shoulder.
After we walked past him I turned to Ratatat and said, "That guy works for me."
Because he did. I'm a fiction writer.
I gave Ratatat and his flat-tired bicycle a ride home and a hug, then went to be with the children. Then went to be with the chicken. Cakey, who I had successfully cured of broodiness by bringing her to the woods and basically traumatizing her. As I write this, she is kicking leaves and looking for bugs right next to me, a healthy, happy, and functional member of society.
Well, what's good for the chicken ...
I will get on an airplane, which is the scariest thought I can think of. My passport application is all filled out. I forget how long it takes but I got a packet of alphabet pasta in the mail yesterday. While I'm waiting I will nitpick these A's, B's and C's into top-secret international love letters, then eat the evidence.
Daily 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
1951 Embarcadero East, Oakl.
L.E. Leone's new book is Big Bend (Sparkle Street Books), a collection of short fiction.