III: Safe Harbor
When venturing to new places, be they on new roads or unfamiliar seas, it's always good to find a safe harbor. You need a safe place to rest, reassess, & figure out where you're going in life. And a safe harbor is more than just a place. It's also people--good people who look out for you, care for you, & help you when you need it. Safe harbor can be friends who you've known for a while, & they know you, because you're their safe harbor.
I knew Mrs. Bud & Countess from the summer before college. We had all signed up for a two week math & science camp, a sort of prep course for college level math & science. We ended up in the same class & formed a team that worked really well together. Mrs. Bud was then known as Topaz, because her eyes were blue like topaz, & the same gemstone was mined in her hometown. Countess was from the central part of the state, a region known for being a bastion of liberal ideas, free spiritedness, art, & progressiveness in a state better known for being conservative. I was surprised both had chosen to attend the small university. But they were both drawn here for the same reason I was: Excellent academics & the beaches!
By the time regular fall classes started a month later, we had become friends. Within a year, both pledged to & then became members of a sorority. By then, we had gotten to know each other very well. I wasn't part of the Greek system like they were & another of my guy friends. But that didn't keep us from all hanging out. As a matter of fact, I often attended a lot of Greek system parties & activities because of them, especially the girls. And before I knew it, they were my link to some really good times.
I'm not going to lie, it was a lot fun. I was somewhat a regular figure at Greek system activities & events. I helped out when I could. It was the least that I could do after eating their food & drinking their alcohol. Plus, they were a fun bunch to hang out with.
Sure, I didn't buy into all their ideas & way of life, but the Greek system members & I maintained a good relationship & understanding. The Greek system wasn't my thing, but we could still have a good time together. And I can honestly say that learning the Greek alphabet names of each sorority & fraternity did help me out when I went to Greece some years later.
I recognized a few of the letters from science & math classes, like Δ delta & π pi. But most of the letters I recognized from the Greek sorority & fraternity names, like Α α Alpha, Β β Beta, or Γ γ Gamma. Knowing those letters actually helped me find my way around Greece, venturing to where only the locals go, outside the touristy areas. It made the whole trip a lot more fun, adventurous, & meaningful.
The point is, I've known Mrs. Bud/Topaz & Countess for a long time. I knew them before they joined the Greek system, & still hung out with them long after we graduated college. I was familiar with their personalities & knew them pretty well. And they knew me. Still, people surprise you from time to time.
Bud & I met through a mutual friend that first semester. We hung out whenever possible, but he had responsibilities at the family business, so we got to hang out between classes & one weekend a month those first two years. But by the third year, he had trained his younger brothers to handle more responsibilities. Now we hung out a few times a week, even doing road trips & vacations together with the rest of the guys.
Our trip to Florida was particularly influential on Bud. He loved the Caribbean & the more international vibe of Florida's big seaside cities. It was a whole different kind of excitement & fun, meeting new people, especially the locals, & having fun, new experiences. Bud was determined to move to Florida after college, even securing an internship that summer before our last year.
We were pretty sure Bud was moving to Florida. But that last semester, as Bud was interviewing for jobs & looking for an apartment in Florida, I dragged him to a Greek system party, & there it all changed. He met Topaz for the first time. And surprise, surprise, they actually hit it off!
Bud was quiet, chill, & laid back while Topaz was loud, energetic, & always so active in so many things. They seemed like total opposites, but from the moment I introduced them, they were set. They started dating the next day. And when we graduated, Bud abandoned all his Florida plans to be with her. After two years together, they got married. And Topaz became Mrs. Bud, & they've been happily together ever since. Life happens & surprises you in the most unexpected way.
I met Sailor Jack the second semester of our second year in college. He was a transfer student from an out of state college. His navy family was reassigned to our part of the country, & Sailor Jack followed them. One, because they were his family, & he wanted to be close to them, especially as his father had just gotten back from a long deployment overseas. Second, he, too, was attracted to the excellent academics of the small university & the wonderful area beaches.
Sailor Jack was my lab partner. After that first class together, I introduced him to the rest of my friends. And we've been friends ever since, hanging out almost every day with the others the rest of our college years. He introduced us to his family, & pretty soon, we were spending holidays, events, & doing activities together as often as we could.
Over the years, we've remained close. And though we don't always find the time to hang out as often as we used to because of life, we still make an effort to keep contact & get together as often as we could. And this Memorial weekend was the perfect opportunity to hang out & enjoy each other's company.
Before we sat down to eat the delicious BBQ brisket Sailor Jack had managed to grill & smoke perfectly, Captain turned on the strings of party lights in the yard while his wife turned on some music. Now it went from a BBQ to a party with people dancing.
Countess & I were dancing. I knew what she liked. So I spun her around then dipped her while she let out a squeal of joy. We've done this many times before, a signature move we practiced & perfected at numerous Greek system dance parties. It was our signature move that won us several dance contests held for fundraisers or social activities hosted by the various sororities & fraternities.
When I raised her back up & swung her around, I noticed New Guy was looking in our direction. No doubt he was probably impressed at our spin & dip move. But most likely, he was drawn to Countess, who looked gorgeous as always.
But Countess's beauty was best enjoyed from afar, unless you wanted your heart broken. Many have made the mistake of trying to capture her brilliance, mistaking her for some ethereal firefly to be caught in a jar. She was no firefly. She was a fierce firebird who scorched the flesh & bones off those foolish enough to try to catch her.
I was worried that poor New Guy was like a moth drawn to Countess's flame, & if he got any closer, he risked getting burned. But I wasn't sure it was my place to warn him or if it was any of my business who he decided to go after. For now, I'd stay out of it.
Still, I felt bad for the guy. As soon as Countess & I left the dance area, she sat down on a bench as I went to get us some cool drinks. I noticed New Guy had gone over & sat down next to Countess. They were really close & seem to be having an intimate conversation. Soon enough, New Guy got up & went inside the house, leaving Countess alone by the time I reached her with our drinks in hand.
I gave Countess her cool drink & sat down next to her. I couldn't resist asking her, "So what's up with you & New Guy?"
Countess said, "Nothing. Just showing him the ropes."
"Tying him down in bed all ready? Isn't it a little early for kinky stuff in the relationship?", I joked.
"I was talking about work, you bastard," she said.
"Well try to keep it in your pants at work," I said. "Anyway, I'd hate to see the poor guy get crushed by you. He seems decent enough."
"Who's decent enough?," asked Mrs.Bud. She had walked in on my conversation with Countess & sat down on the bench with us.
"He was talking about New Guy," explained Countess, then she got that evil glint in her eye. That was my warning, "Yes, he was just telling me how I shouldn't sleep with New Guy, because he seems decent. I suppose I should limit myself to indecent guys."
Mrs. Bud, always ready to defend her friends & sorority sisters said, "Why is it any of your concern who she sleeps with? If she wants to sleep with him, that's her business. She should feel free to sleep with him if she wants to."
"Yes, well that's all fine & good, but we all know that she's not actually going to just sleep with him. Rather, she's going to do some very filthy things with him (or to him) using her, shall we say, 'secret lady arsenal', & it's the ditching him afterwards is what really concerns me," I said.
"You make it sound like my vagina is some sort of deadly weapon," said Countess.
So I immediately replied, "Well, given the vast devastation & numerous casualties left in the wake of its deployment, it's really more like a Weapon of Mass Destruction. I'm surprised the United Nations hasn't sent down an inspection team to investigate the dangers & damages posed by your vagina."
Countess countered, "I'll have you know my vagina is a sacred & exalted place that brings ecstasy to those who are fortunate enough to be chosen to worship it. It is as beautiful as the evening star, it is Venus!"
"More like a Venus flytrap!", I declared, "Given the amount of unsuspecting victims it's devoured over the years!"
"Bitch, please!," said Countess, "You've drilled down more filthy holes than ExxonMobil! Let's not forget the disasters that resulted from you exploring those hazardous holes! At least the men I've been with are intelligent & have class."
"Oh, please!", I scoffed, "You've dated idiots!"
"And you've dated skanks!", chimed in Mrs. Bud.
"Yes, I have!", I acknowledged, "But a good number of those skanks were your sorority sisters!"
"Oh, we know!", replied Mrs. Bud, "And we love our skanky sisters! It's the other filthy skanks you mess with that you ought to be ashamed of!"
She gave me an accusatory look. And for moment, I briefly panicked. Did she know? Then I thought, 'Nah, how could she? There was no way she could've found out!' Nobody knew what went down. I kept my mouth shut, & no way were my activities that last weekend were going to be revealed nor shared outside of where they happened.
I was thinking about the previous weekend, where I ditched our planned night out together as a group. At the last minute, I decided to leave town. I told my friends that I was heading out to see an old buddy, who was visiting relatives in a city that was just a few hours drive north. They were disappointed that I would not be going out partying with them, but they understood that it was important to see old friends whenever possible, to seize the opportunity when it came, especially if the friend lives far away.
But I knew that they wouldn't be so understanding if they found out that the friend I was seeing was Queen. The girls disliked Queen. The guys thought she was fine. That only made the girls dislike Queen even more. So the guys have learned to shut their mouths whenever Queen came up in conversation, which was rare, as if speaking her name would invoke some great & terrible evil.
It's hard to explain why the girls dislike Queen. It could be because she was in a rival sorority. They can get pretty competitive between sororities & fraternities in the Greek system. And the competition got more intense in the games & activities ran by the governing pan-Hellenic council, whose goal is to unite & show off the benefits (& power) of the Greek system, to motivate & instill pride & unity in the Greek system, & attract new recruits & members. The games & festivities meant to unite the Greek system members only fueled the drive by the individual houses to out do each other, beat out the rivals, & win as many contests as they could. Each house wanted to be the best! And the competition can get extremely fierce.
The girls were in a top tier sorority. Throughout the years, they ranked number one, earning their place from the sheer number of wins they accumulated from raising the most money for charities, earning & maintaining excellent grade point averages, & being champions at almost every athletic team events, & winning top honors for social activities like best decorations for various holidays, best house parties, & best themed floats for the various parades they took part in. They seemed unstoppable, winning every competition they entered. Well, almost every competition.
The girls' sorority won every competition that they entered in, except for the ones that were based on individual entries. They won all team events, & some of the individual events. But the top three individual honors eluded their house, always coming in second. And the person who beat them the most to first place was none other than Queen.
Queen was in a rival sorority. To be honest, it was a second rate sorority. Its merit was based mostly on being the oldest sorority on campus. Its membership was comprised mostly of old money--girls whose families have held wealth & power in the state for at least over a century. Some of their families reach as far back as when the state was part of the original Spanish empire in the aftermath of conquering Conquistadors, who laid waste to the natives who once lived in these lands before European disease & slaughter wiped out their ancient civilizations.
The girls in Queen's sorority were all legacies. That means they each earned membership because their families were members of the house from previous classes, throughout the history of the sorority. Blue bloods, in a way. Naturally, you'd expect them to be snobs. And a lot of them were were. But not all of them were ignorant nor snooty. Some were actually very nice. And Queen is actually one of them.
The first time that I met Queen was during the set up for the Homecoming Dance. I had just reached the front door of the ballroom when I noticed this beautiful, tall brunette, with a yellow bandana headband, forming a halo on her head that showcased her stunning eyes & fine features, full lips, & lush shoulder length, onyx black hair that danced in the air as the wind played with it, sweeping it from side to side. She was gliding effortlessly towards my direction & my heart quickened a beat. I felt my breath taken away & time stopped. A radiant goddess had walked into my life, & I was ready to fall down upon my knees & worship her glory.
She & I had shown up early, & when I opened the door to let her pass through first, she expressed that she was pleasantly surprised that some men still do this. We had a good laugh & joked about the changing times & mores. We worked & laughed the whole time, taking lunch together, & parted on good terms. The whole time we were working, we talked about everything from college classes to tv shows to camping & outdoor adventures. We talked about the places we've seen & the places we wanted to visit.
We talked about everything & anything that came to mind. Everything & anything except the most important topic of all. Imagine my surprise at finding out later that evening that she was representing her sorority at the Homecoming Dance. And she won, being voted Homecoming Queen! That's why I call her Queen.
I didn't realize she was a sorority girl. She didn't realize I wasn't in a fraternity. Though the pan-Hellenic council was co chairing the Homecoming activities with the Athletics council under the auspices of the Student Body Government, any student was welcomed to volunteer to help set up the activities. While dating outside the Greek system wasn't frowned down on like at some other places, here, the Greek system members generally dated each other, because that's the dating pool they were exposed to through their events & activities calendars.
After getting over the shock that the down to earth, funny, smart, adventurous girl that I had spent a few hours laughing with earlier was from the snootiest, most boring, & second (well, third tier to be honest) rate house on campus, I worked up the courage to ask her to dance, right after she finished dancing with the Homecoming King as tradition dictated. The whole time she was on stage & throughout the first dance with the King, we locked eyes on each other.
And when we danced together for the next few songs, we were lost in each other's eyes. We got to know each other better. I congratulated her on winning & how beautiful she looked. She laughed & thanked me & asked me why I wasn't in a fraternity. I asked how she guessed that. She told me it was because I wasn't wearing a fraternity pin, nor was I wearing any of the other houses colors or bars.
I looked around & began noticing that most of the dressed up fellas were sporting their pins, the house cofa (coat of arms). A few decided on the bars instead. Queen was smart & sharp & I loved it. I told her that the Greek system wasn't my thing. And it explained why our paths hadn't crossed earlier.
Her house held mostly mixers with a few other fraternities. The guests were limited to those invited house members only. Basically, they operated like a private club, not surprising given their exclusive nature & long, storied (& winded) history. It was only during large public activities sponsored by the pan-Hellenic council did her house participate in these mixed public events. And I'm so glad that they did. Otherwise, I would've never met her.
Though we were from different worlds & heading for different places, somehow, in this time, we found a common place to rest on our long, unknown journeys, a sanctuary from the storms, a safe harbor to enjoy the serenity & joy of each other's company, however improbable & brief it may be.
And if her friends & mine had anything to do with it, we wouldn't have spent any time together at all! They'd've gladly exiled us to opposite ends of the world. And a few have certainly tried to assassinate our relationship a few times over the years.
Her house thought that she could do better. And I agree. She certainly deserved more than I could ever have given her. Her sorority sisters would rather see her matched up with one of the more appropriate fellas from the other houses, especially the wealthy & well connected ones. It's not that they were outright rude or mean to me. They just had different expectations & goals & lifestyles. Their values weren't mine, nor were they Queen's.
But when I pressed her as to why in gawd's name would she join such a snobby, spoiled, classist sorority, her answer was simple. Because her grandmother was a member, as was her great grandmother, & she loved them both. Joining the sisterhood was a link to those independent, strong, wise women she loved with all her heart. Listening to her talk about her family like that only made me feel closer to her & love her even more.
I'd like to clear things up now to say that while her sorority might've thought she could do better, if she had chosen to be with me, they'd've accepted it. Begrudgingly, & I would've been expected to do twice as much work & gain twice as many achievements as the other more acceptable fellas from the approved houses. And even then, I'd've been judge more harshly & my successes would've been recognized at only half their value when compared to the legacy born suitors.
The message was clear. I was going to spend the rest of my life trying to catch up to over a century or more of history & prestige. And even if I managed to outshine them all, I would always be reminded that I wasn't one of them, that my acceptance into their roll call would come with an asterisk by my name, with a note reminding people that I wasn't born noble, that my children, & their children would rely on their mother's name to grant them access & standing in the social hierarchy of their exclusive society.
But my friends were just as opposed to our relationship. Well, the guys were fine with it. But the girls were absolutely NOT ok with what was going on with me & Queen. That she was the surprise winner of Homecoming Queen, while their representative was first runner up, irritated them. It was the first loss their house experienced. Up until then, they were on a roll, winning everything else.
The following year, the same thing happened, only this time, it was the school wide Spring Queen event that Queen won, once more rendering my girls' house to second place. Again, stopping their winning momentum. And if they didn't like her before then, the girls really disliked Queen after she won Greek Queen during our last year in college.
Queen had done what no one had ever done before, winning all three honors. If she were a race horse, she'd've been award the Triple Crown! And even more amazing, she was the last minute replacement for her sorority's representative, a girl who got drunk, fell down a flight of stairs, & busted her ass. She literally busted her ass! Her sacrum was bruised in the landing. The bad news was, she was out of the running. The good news is that her big hair managed to hold up well after the hospital released her from treatment--well worth the price she paid to get her hair done for the event. The best news: Queen won, earning her sorority their only win.
To say that my girls were pissed off at Queen winning Greek Queen, the highest social honor in the pan-Hellenic world, was an understatement! They were furious, especially since Queen had no time to prepare & wasn't expected to win. Their own entry had done a cheering demonstration as a talent, complete with a uniform & pom-poms. We were impressed with her yelling & jumps & flips. The other competitors were excellent, too, showing off their talents. But Queen was, without a doubt, the best overall. Poise, beauty, grace, talent, a sense of humor, & smarts, she had it all.
And I'm not being biased here because I had a thing for her. When she stood up on that stage in a silky, midnight blue, sparkling dress with a gardenia in her well coiffed hair, she was gorgeous! And when she opened her mouth to sing, we heard an angel, a siren, a mermaid summoning us, bewitching us, luring us with her enchanting, mesmerizing, sensuous voice. No one said a word. All were transfixed as she sang out seductively, soulfully, magically the song that she loved to sing, At Last. And we all felt that we were the love that she was waiting for, the one she longed for. Well, the guys & lesbians felt that way for sure.
My girls were impressed, no doubt. But they were really pissed off when I joined Queen to do one of our duets, our favorite song, Unforgettable. Her talent was comprised of two selections from the number of love songs we like to sing to each other, in private & several times at karaoke bars that no college student would ever venture to sober! But it's those out of the way, hidden places where we were free to be with each other & have fun. And we were pretty damned good, having won several karaoke contests over the years, even doing a gig with a band one weekend.
The happy wedding party was passing through on their way to their wedding venue in a small, picturesque town two hours away. The best man was also the band leader, & so impressed were they by our performance, that they asked us to sing our duet covers of old love songs at their wedding that weekend. Queen & I had a blast. More importantly, the happy couple & guests were surprised & enjoyed our performance very much; a few even asked for our next performance dates! It was a wonderful experience, one that we will cherish forever.
Seeing us on stage singing our duet, it was obvious that we had done this before, & we did it so well. More importantly, there was a deep connection there that permeated the way we sang to each other, radiated from the way we looked at each other, & it resonated with the way we moved together. It was a deep, intimate, special connection. It was a connection that my girls were ready to sever!
If they weren't angry before, they were really mad now, especially after I helped Queen win the coveted Greek Queen crown for her house, once more dashing all hopes of a sweeping win for my girls' house. Hard as it was to swallow, Queen really was the best, in a superior class of her own. While the other contestants did cheer routines or dance numbers or sang pop tunes or rapped, Queen was the classiest, most moving, most electrifying, & most wondrous performer of the night. She elevated the contest from beauty pageant to art!
I wish that being in rival sororities was the root of my girls' dislike of Queen. But the truth is, I don't know for sure. And I doubt my girls understand it either, even when I pressed them for answers a few times. What came out was just a general, unknowing dislike. Honestly, I just think it's one of those cases where women just hate other women. Or as my guy friends like to refer to it as Bitches hate Bitches. Must be an alpha dog (or alpha bitch) thing. All I know is, I'll probably never understand it.
Or maybe like Queen's sorority sisters' mentality, my girls might've thought that I could do better, that I deserved better. I don't know how, but maybe my girls wanted something more for me, something that wouldn't put me in the crosshairs of conflict. But I'd've gladly taken a bullet for Queen. I would do whatever it took to protect her, to keep her safe, to make her happy.
And I suppose I made things worse when I chose to spend summer break with Queen when my friends decided to go on a cruise. The guys understood when I told them after we got back to school, but the girls were furious that I chose to spend that time working on Queen's ranch instead of doing body shots in Mexico with them. But I have no regrets.
And I suppose I keep fanning the flames of discord by saying things like how much I enjoyed spending time with Queen, & when asked who I'd rather be with, my friends or Queen, I automatically said Queen. Mostly as a joke, to see the irritated looks on the girls' faces. Sometimes they'd swear at me & throw things at me. But a small part of it was true. And when pressed what I'd do if Queen asked me to go with her, what would I do? I'd say I'd go with her.
And when the girls asked one time, What if she asked you to not talk with us anymore? I said, Well, it's been nice knowing y'all, but I'd ditch y'all to be with her!
The guys thought it was hilarious. They knew Queen & liked her. And she would never, ever ask me to turn my back on my friends like that. But my girls did not like my answer, even if it was meant as a joke...probably because underneath that joke, a part of me meant it. All Queen had to do was ask, & I would do whatever she wanted.
Maybe that's why my girls didn't like Queen. She had a powerful, irresistible influence on me. Not that she ever wielded it. But it must still be unnerving for my friends to realize that independent, free spirited, stubborn, hardheaded, carefree me could fall so easily under the sway of another. They couldn't understand this weakness, this thing between Queen & I.
But you can't always understand why life is the way it is. Sometimes, we are attracted to people for reasons beyond our understanding. We connect with people because there is an instant connection, a feeling of something bigger, something powerful, something that just feels right. You don't always understand it, but you recognize it. And you embrace it. You experience it. Hold on to it for as long as you can. Connections like that don't happen very often. And very often, they change your life.
But my connection to my friends was just as important to me, which is why I keep my rendezvous with Queen a secret. No need to inform them of my plans, especially when it would raise objections & possible interference. No, my time with Queen was my own. We kept it quiet, & we liked it that way.
This feeling between us has never gone away, & we see each other whenever we can. Though we live in different parts of the country, our paths cross every now & then. And when they do, we make the most of it. Though life has taken us in different directions & far away places, the passage of time has only strengthened our bond, the flames of passion we have for each other blaze brighter & more intense than ever. Time stops, & once again, we are in a world of our own, nothing else matters. We cherish these rare moments with each other, & we kept them our own, away from the prying eyes of the other people in our lives.
Queen was in a city just two hours north of me. Her cousin was getting married. I was asked to be her date. We chose to spend a few days together alone before & after the wedding day. And it was bliss. I told no one of what had happened. And Queen kept our secret.
So I breathed a sigh of relief that my girls didn't know, & they would never know. I certainly didn't want to listen to their shrill objections or deal with any nagging complaints. Also, I felt a little guilty, because not only did I skip out of our group outing as planned, I also ditched our plan for that Saturday: we had signed up to volunteer to pick up trash on the beach, as part of a community service project. As a matter of fact, the person in charge of the beach clean up was here at the BBQ.
I'll call her Sister Sledgehammer, & it wasn't just because she often wielded a sledgehammer during the Habitat for Humanity house building projects for those in need. Sister Sledgehammer was actually a former nun, who left the convent when she fell in love with a military man.
I know, right? Sounds like Maria from the The Sound of Music. Except, this wasn't Austria, so no hills to run & twirl around on; the man was a navy officer but he wasn't a widower nor had any children (other than the ones he had with Sister Sledgehammer later on); & unfortunately, no singing nor dancing nor puppets nor curtain play clothes were involved.
But there was hiking involved, as Sister & Mister Sledgehammer loved the outdoors. It's why they organized the beach cleanup for the neighborhood, & they love doing charity work. As they were Captain & Serenity & Sailor Jack's neighbors, they developed a good relationship with each other. And soon enough, we were invited to their gatherings & activities & we invited them to ours.
In fact, we consider them family, just as they consider us family, & we liked doing good things to improve the community. Only, I chose to do good things for myself instead of the beach cleanup last weekend. But I had it in my head to make up for it by volunteering for the local shelter's breakfast program the next morning. Sister & Mister Sledgehammer were running the shelter feeding program the rest of the week. They were retired now, & charity work was their passion.
As I sat on the bench talking to Mrs. Bud & Countess, I saw Mister & Sister Sledgehammer sitting in the kitchen, talking to the other guests. I also noticed New Guy was looking our way, probably mesmerized by Countess talking all that smack animatedly at me. When Countess got riled up, she used her hands & head to make pointed gestures, emphasizing her points & making it known that she was not to be trifled with.
I said, "Don't look now, but the poor guy is looking right at you, probably pining away, clueless that you'd chew him up & spit him out without a second thought...or is that swallow him without a second thought?" I jested.
"Listen here, slut," Countess addressed me, "Not that it's any of your damn business, but New Guy is not my type."
"Really?", I mused, "Wasn't your sorority's unofficial motto: Everyone is our type!"
Mrs. Bud answered, "No! Our motto was: We are everyone's type! Get it right, bitch!", she admonished.
"After seeing the multitude of strangers that have paraded through the temple entrances to your sisters' altars, I'm pretty sure that I said it right the first time," I teased.
"Whatever, bitch!", said Countess, "You shouldn't be making judgments on people's private affairs, especially considering the sluts & bimbos you've been with over the years."
"Hey!", I defended, "What I do is a community service! Giving of myself freely to those in need of a good time!"
"What you do is service the service community!", Mrs. Bud said, "Honey, you're nailing sluts! Not hammering up houses for the homeless!"
And we laughed at that. "All right, lets just agree that your private business is your private business," I said, "I just wasn't sure if I should warn New Guy about not getting hooked on you, because you're like a drug. It's a high when they're with you & a bad crash when you're gone. It's going to require a lot of work & time & effort just to get you out of their system, if that's even possible."
"Are you saying my Venus should come with rehab?", asked Countess.
"I'm saying it should come with a warning," I said, "May cause dizziness & drowsiness. Do not operate heavy machinery after ingesting."
And we laughed at that. Then a pop song from the past played, & the three of us got on the dance floor to reenact those dances from the past. It was fun.
When we finally got off the dance floor, I noticed New Guy was sitting at the bench, looking at us. I nodded at him & he nodded back. The girls headed over to sit with him while I went indoors to use the restroom, then wash my hands. Sailor Jack was slicing up the brisket, & after all the crap that Bud & I gave him, I gotta admit, that brisket smelled awesome & it looked great! There was a line forming at the food table as I went indoors to use the restroom.
After washing my face & hands, I came back out & headed to the coolers, where I met New Guy. He was fetching drinks for himself & Countess. Poor guy, I thought.
He looked at me kind of nervous. He asked me, "Is there something going on between you & Countess?"
Ah, I thought. This was a question that, without fail, all of Countess's suitors ask me. They were unsure if Countess & I were hooking up, given the closeness of our relationship & the ways we intimately teased each other & how we often spent time together--dancing, laughing, mostly hanging out. It's difficult for some of them to understand that we're just friends.
A few of her past suitors have actually gotten jealous & refused to believe that we were just friends. And a small minority actually blamed me when Countess discards them, as if somehow my relationship with her was closer than it seemed, like she was just using them to make me jealous. But that's not what it is at all. It's hard for people to accept the truth sometimes, especially when they are looking for an excuse to explain their own failures.
Misunderstandings can cause a lot of unnecessary heartaches. So I thought I ought straighten things out with New Guy before he got the wrong idea. I've given this speech before, because the question of the nature of my relationship with Countess comes up so many times. So to end any confusion, I said, "Countess & I are just friends. She's a beautiful girl, but I'm not attracted to her at all. I love her like a friend, because that's who we are, friends. Just friends, none of the other benefits."
I chuckled then to ease the tension. And New Guy seemed a bit relieved.
"Oh, good," said New Guy, "I didn't want anything to get weird or misunderstand the situation. I didn't want to come between you two or cause any trouble."
I picked out a ginger ale & said, "We're good. No trouble. I'm glad we cleared that up. Don't be afraid to ask me any questions. I'll be glad to answer if I can."
I felt good, because I felt like I had done a good job of explaining things. Whatever happens between him & Countess was between them. I would have no influence at all on the outcome. If I felt any smug, I can blame it on the alcohol that was all ready in my system. It was giving me a nice buzz, but it was also getting to the point where it was slowing my reactions & making things a bit cloudy, if not slow for me. That's why I was picking a ginger ale to drink.
Pride comes before a fall. Maybe if I wasn't so drunk, I would've seen things clearer. But then again, sometimes, I can be blind & clueless to the things that are right in front of me.
"Listen," said New Guy, "I have something that I want to ask you."
'Here it comes', I thought, 'he wants advice on how to approach Countess & ask her out.' A part of me just wanted to say, 'Just buy her some dinner & drinks & you're all set buddy!' But I chided myself as I chuckled at my own joke. This was just drunk me thinking silly, drunken thoughts. It was a good thing that I decided that I've had enough alcohol, & I should just focus on hydrating myself & keep myself from doing anything embarrassing or anything that I'd regret the next day.
I thought, 'If New Guy wants to ask Countess out, then I ought to be polite & give him the best advice to make the best impression on Countess.' Besides, who am I to judge love? We don't always understand it, but it happens. And for all I know, this could be the real thing! And if I can do anything to help love along, then dang it, I'll do whatever I can!
So I said to New Guy, "Ask away," as I started to mentally list all the things & places that Countess enjoys.
New Guy asked, "What do you think about canoeing tomorrow on the bay, on the way to the beach?"
'That sounds promising', I thought. Countess did like outdoor activities. She also loved white water rafting. I was sure that she'd love a canoe date on the water. Hell, it was almost romantic, just the two of them in a small boat in the water, surrounded by beautiful nature & great weather. So I said, "That sounds like fun! Is there anything else that I can help with?"
New Guy looked happy. Then he said, "Great! The canoe is in my garage. It just needs to be loaded tomorrow. Should I pick you up or do you want to meet at my place?"
Huh? Now I was confused. Why would he want to pick me up or meet him at his place? Did he need help loading up the canoe & finding a good launching spot on the bay? I guess I could do that. I've done it before with other friends. I hope Countess appreciates what I'm doing to help her have a great canoe date!
So I said, "I'll meet you at your place. Give me the time & address to meet up."
We exchanged information & decided to meet early in the morning. Then New Guy said, "Great! I'm looking forward to it. Maybe we can have lunch after."
"Sure," I said automatically. New Guy looked happy & headed over to where Countess was. No doubt, he was off to ask her to join him on a lovely canoe date. I stood there, about to open my ginger ale, when it suddenly dawned on me.
'Wait a minute, does he expect me to meet them for lunch after their canoe ride? Does he need help putting the canoe up? I'm sure Countess can help him put the canoe up. Or does he expect me to join their canoe ride as some sort of chaperone, then we all get lunch after? Huh? That's strange,' I thought.
Then a horrible realization dawned on my drunk, slow mind. I reviewed the conversation in my mind. And the more I thought about it, the clearer things became, & the clearer they became, the more complex they got!
Oh. Dear. Gawd. Sweet baby cheeses! There was no way around it. New Guy wasn't asking for advice on taking Countess out. He was asking me out on a date! And I had said Yes!
Sure enough, when I turned to look over at them, New Guy was talking to the guys, while Mrs. Bud & Countess were gleefully smiling back at me.
Those Bitches knew! They knew New Guy was gay, & they knew he was eyeing me the whole time & had probably planned to make a move on me! Those damned demon cows! Those wicked, sneaky bitches! Oh, hell no! I've been set up! Those scheming skanks!
I was surprised that they could be so devious at my expense. Then again, I should've know better. It's not the first time they've pulled a prank on me. And had I been sober, I might've spotted what those two whores were playing at. But I was too wasted to see what was happening, and now, I set myself up on a date with another guy!
I wish that I could blame the alcohol for my failing to realize that New Guy was interested in me, not Countess. But really, it's my own fault. I have no gaydar or any kind of orientation radar. I honestly cannot tell who is gay or straight or some other place in the spectrum. I've made too many mistakes misidentifying people's orientation, so I don't bother guessing. I figured the best way to know for sure is to just ask or wait for the person to tell me what they are. And it's a system that works fine most of the time. Except for those few times when mistaken assumptions are made, like today. Usually, it's resolved quickly, often with laughter. But this was the first time it has led to a date!
Granted, other guys have asked me on dates before, & we all laugh about it when I explain I wasn't the type of person they were really interested in. I admit, it's flattering to be asked out, even if it's under mistaken impressions. I joke that when you look as good as I do, of course people are going to ask me out. Usually the girls groan & roll their eyes at this point while the guys laugh. Sometimes, humor is gender specific.
And I have been on dates with women inadvertently. How does one date a woman without knowing? Easy. When she asks you out at work to join her for drinks after work at happy hour or for lunch, & you mistakenly assume everyone else from work is going. Only, it's just the two of you that show up. And it doesn't help matters when you pick up the check. You might do it because it's what you've been taught, because you're feeling generous, or because you're naturally chivalrous. But to the woman, it's a sign that you're interested in them, even if you're really not! Prepare for awkwardness at work! Relocation & reassignment is necessary & preferable.
I didn't think relocation nor reassignment was going to help me out of this situation. I wasn't sure what I was going to do. But I did know one thing. I was going to head over to where those two bitches were sitting & give them hell for setting me up like that! I'm about to curse those bitches out in language so foul that it was going to make the potty mouthed, cussing neighbors next door sound like they were doing scenes from Shakespeare's plays! Vengeance will be mine!
But before I could execute my revenge on those two scheming bitches, I ran into Sister & Mister Sledgehammer. Any vengeance I planned would have to wait until I dealt with the good Sister & Mister Sledgehammer. I maybe furious. I maybe drunk. But above all else, I was courteous & raised to act appropriately in social situations involving elders. And courtesy & custom demanded that I spend time talking with these two elders & make every effort to be polite to them.
And that was a very difficult thing to do, given that I could see those two conniving bitches across the yard, giggling out loudly everytime our eyes met! Oh, it was on sisters! One way or another, vengeance would be mine! Payback's a bitch!
When I finally ended my conversation with the elders, I made my way over to the table where the girls, Bud, & Sailor Jack were waiting. New Guy was done eating, & he was actually in the sun room, playing pool with Captain & few other guests were with them, enjoying the game & camaraderie. I noticed Bud & Sailor Jack had saved a plate of food for me. That's why I loved them. They looked out for me, like friends do.
As for these two skanks! Oh, it was on! "You bitches!", I said, "You knew he was gay, didn't you!?!" I accused them.
Those bitches just laughed out loud!
"Who's gay?", asked Bud.
"New Guy is gay", I answered.
"What!?!", both Bud & Sailor Jack were surprised, just as I was. "How do you know?", asked Bud.
"Because," I declared, "he asked me out on a canoe date!"
At this point, those two whores cackled & giggled even harder! Their eyes were actually tearing up from laughing so hard!
The guys looked stunned. Then Sailor Jack asked, "Dude, how does that make you feel?"
And I honestly replied, "Like I'm the prettiest girl at the ball!"
Now they all laughed! And heartily did they laugh at my expense. When they finally all calmed down again from the laughing fit, I said to those two sluts, "I can't believe you bitches knew he was gay & didn't tell me that important piece of information! I made a complete ass of myself!"
Those two bitches laughed again before Countess said, "That's not the only of important piece of information we have. And it's not the only time you've made an ass of yourself!"
Now I was curious. What else where they hiding?
"Bitch," started Mrs. Bud, "We know your lying ass ditched us last week to go be with Queen!"
Now I was stunned! How the hell did these bitches know that? I was over two hours away in a city up north & posted no pictures nor shared any of that information with anyone! And I was pretty sure that Queen kept quiet about our weekend, too.
Mrs. Bud explained,"Thought you could keep it on the down low, your wedding date with Queen!?! Well guess what bitch!?! Cheerleader was there! Her husband is a fraternity brother of the groom. And she not only recognized Queen, but she recognized you, too!"
Cheerleader? That loser from the Greek King & Queen contest? That bitch did more than just tattle! She actually took fotos! And Mrs. Bud & Countess were showing those fotos on their phones! There we were for everyone to see, me & Queen holding hands when we arrived at the church, sitting together with our heads touching, dancing on the dance floor, & sitting at the table, just laughing or holding on to each other. They were actually very lovely fotos, except for the fact that they were taken by a sociopath who shared them with her psychopathic sisterhood!
Well, my secret rendezvous was out, exposed for all to see. Damned those snitching sorority sluts! Those evil gossiping bitches! I asked, "So setting me up was your way of getting back at me?"
"Oh, we were just going to give your ass a hard time, but then you started messing with our sorority & when we realized you were clueless about New Guy, well, then we just went ahead & planned this little set up," said Countess.
Oh, these clever bitches! While I had spent the last few hours getting plastered, they concocted an elaborate plan to embarrass me & get back at me for insulting their slutty sisterhood!
Mrs. Bud added, "Your ass deserves a whole lot worse!"
"I make no apologies for my decision to be with Queen!", I stated proudly.
"No, but your sorry ass needs to apologize for ditching us at the beach cleanup. While we were sweating under the sun picking up filthy trash, your ass was just dancing & partying at a wedding!", said Mrs. Bud, "You trash! If there was a dumpster here, I'd push you in it for ditching us & lying about it! Slut!"
I was not going to apologize! No regrets! If I was sorry, it was only because I had been caught. Next time, I'll keep a better lookout for spies!
"Now, we're even, bitch!", declared Countess, "That'll teach you for ditching us & making fun of our sorority!"
Then those two bitches called out their sorority name, did their "secret handshake", then high fived each other over their victory.
But if those bitches thought that it was over, then they had another thing coming! They may have succeeded in setting me up for embarrassment & punishment, but I was about to drop my secret weapon on them. So I said, "Well enjoy your laughs now, sisters. And make sure you get enough sleep tonight. You both have a big day tomorrow that starts bright & early at six in the morning!"
The two harridans looked confused, "Why the hell would we be up at six in the morning? The boat ride doesn't start til ten," said Mrs. Bud.
"Oh yes," I agreed, "the boat ride starts at ten. But you two have to get up early & be ready to do some work."
"What work?," asked Countess, "It's a holiday tomorrow!"
"Oh, it is a holiday," I conceded, "And since you're free tomorrow morning, I volunteered your services to help set up & feed the people at the shelter tomorrow. Sister & Mister Sledgehammer were so happy to learn that you two wanted to volunteer your time & energy doing good works! You're both going to look lovely in your hairnets!"
"Oh, you bastard!", "You muthaf*cka!" They cursed at me. "You better tell Sister & Mister Sledgehammer that we can't make it!"
"You tell them yourself," I challenged, knowing full well that these two wouldn't do anything to break a commitment to do charity work with Sister & Mister Sledgehammer.
Game over, bitches! I won! I may have been too drunk & too stupid to see the trap they had set for me. And my secret rendezvous may have been exposed. But I was not going to take this lying down without a fight!
It was very fortuitous that I ran into the elders at the coolers before I proceeded to confront those two skanks. The conversation with the elders & their charity work & needs led to a strategy. Being courteous to elders does pay off sometimes! And it gave me time to cool down & think things through.
Resolved that they were stuck with an early morning date to serve meals & wash pots & pans on their day off, the girls cussed me out & vowed vengeance.
Yes, one day soon, they would strike again. But I had won the day. I had won the war. The guys chuckled at the turn of events. Then Mrs. Bud said, "Well, at least your ass will be right there with us, scrubbing pots & pans!"
I said, "Oh, did I not mention it? I can't join y'all tomorrow morning at the shelter. I have a previous engagement."
The girls turned their murderous eyes on me, Mrs. Bud said, "What previous engagement, you lying bastard!?! You don't have any plans for tomorrow, so your ass better be there or I'll call you in the morning & put Sister & Mister Sledgehammer on the phone!"
"But I do have plans!," I said.
"Liar!", declared Countess, "What the hell are you doing tomorrow morning?"
I looked them straight in the eyes & said, "I have a canoe date!"
Loose Lips Sink Ships Act I: Cast Off
Loose Lips Sink Ships Act II: Shipshape
Loose Lips Sink Ships Act IV: Homecoming
The Feast of Predatory Beasts