“I went out with Jennifer and the gals last night,” Ramona said just before she dug into her salad Niceoise. A little bistro had opened on West 18th Street – Le Quai à Nice. All very lovely and evocative, until Ramona made a face after tasting the tuna. She shrugged and took another bite. “We went to that awful ‘Kittens’ place in Soho on Saturday. Blecchhh! Lily wanted to go. Never again. Anyway, for the first time in like forever I got really wasted. Margaritas.” She leaned toward me confidentially. “So I did something I never did before: I took the bus home!” “So?” I said. “Well, I made it home safely, which was surprising, since I never drove a bus before.”
She spread out her arms in a “ta-da!” gesture, which caused me to laugh so abruptly that I choked on a bit of frisee and briefly wondered if Ramona could be trusted to actually perform the Heimlich maneuver rather than just take my gagging literally – as a gag. The joke was pure Ramona. I’ve adored her for 35 years.
“So Mo,” I said. “What am I going to do about Dan?”
“Dan who?” It’s not that she didn’t like my partner. She was just wildly jealous of him. If I hadn’t come out during our senior year in college, I’d have married Ramona. She was stunned and hurt by my big revelation, which I accomplished involuntarily when Mo caught me getting blown by an all-but-blind physics major. After the operatic and very public first week (the spectators being the entire student body of Haverford College, the opera reminiscent of Lucia di Lammermoor), she recovered quickly. Her rampant sex drive saw to that. She didn’t exactly set out to plow her way through the soccer team, but she didn’t leave many guys out in the cold. Her mother hasn’t spoken to me since.
“Come on, Mo,” I said. “This isn’t funny.” New York State had just legalized same-sex marriage when Dan stopped speaking to me over my fling with Jack Fogg. The timing wasn’t ironic. It felt more like inescapable fate – dark and portentous, kind of like Oedipus but without me screwing my mother and gouging my eyes out.
“Guiltyflora.com?” She smirked at her own wit. I giggled.
“Please?” I begged.
“OK,” she said through a mouthful of green beans. “Here’s whatcha do. One night when he’s at home working into the wee hours, get out of bed, go to the secret place where you’ve hidden a dozen red roses – long stem; you’ll look bad if you cut corners – and surprise him. Be naked. It’s both sexy and abject, both of which you are.” She forked another bunch of beans and delivered them to her still-chewing mouth. “Mmm, ‘n get down on one knee. Act chivalrous.”
So I did. I hid the roses in a vase in the closet where I keep my toolbox; I’s bet his life he’d never go in there. Naked, I offered my apology, roses and love to my life partner, and he accepted it. I also brought out a bottle of Pernod and two glasses. Then we…well, it’s actually too personal to write about, even for me.
Pernod, the legendary anise-flavored aperitif, is mixed with a little water and served in what are called longdrink glasses – tall liqueur glasses that flare out beautifully at the top. I bought ours on eBay. I remember the items’ description vividly: “Rare and Superb Pernod Glasses.” I got two for $1.98 each plus shipping.