A BOTTICELLI BEAUTY
It was the most beautiful dream: at a dark smoke-filled bar I listened to jazz music while sipping an appletini. I was in my 20s again, wearing that sleek red dress that I know I gave to the Goodwill after Travis was born. Out of the smoke, he appeared. Wearing plaid and blue jeans, he was the cowboy I never was able to find in Massachusetts. His dark, rugged good looks were only accentuated when he tilted his head back to take a gulp of his beer. Budweiser, of course; no weak light beer for this man. He straddled the stool next to me, and I could hear the denim of his pants stretch to the point of bursting. I crossed my legs because men like that kind of thing. I was wearing stiletto red heels--obviously this was a very far-fetched dream. Leaning in close to me, smelling of cheap, manly Brute cologne, he slowly blew in my ear. I could smell the strong scent of the hops and alcohol on his breath.
But, wait; I could smell the hops and alcohol, for real.
My eyelids popped open, frantically trying to adjust to the darkness. A constant warm caress of alcohol washed over my face, as I stared into the face of a stranger. My heart raced, and I was able to stifle the gasp trying to escape from my lips. Lying stiff as possible I waited for the darkness to fade away, and Norm snored on the other side of me. He once slept through a tornado about ten years ago, so getting his attention would be very tricky without waking the young man.
I passed the time, thinking of what to do next. I stared at the digital clock on the nightstand next to the young figure: 12:07 it read. The glow in the dark rosary beads I used every night were still glowing a very dull neon green, and I pondered how long it had been that I had fallen asleep. A wave of yeast came across my face again with the exhale of the sleeping man. I focused in on the inebriated face: he couldn’t have been more than 22 years old, long eye lashes, porcelain skin, short but mussed up dark hair. Perhaps he was an angel; he certainly seemed to be a Botticelli beauty. My heart raced even faster--this time for a different reason.
An offensive snort from behind assaulted this quiet moment as Norm mumbled something in his sleep in his deep baritone. Quickly I reached behind me and caressed his side; this always puts him back down into the abyss of sleep. Sure enough, he was off in dreamland within minutes. Propping myself on my elbow, I don’t know what came over me. Some sort of demon possession, perhaps. Definitely not a Christian thing to do, that’s for sure. The women’s auxiliary at church would have been shocked.
The young man’s mouth closed, and he looked completely at peace lying next to me. My hand, shaking as if I had acquired my mother’s Parkinson’s, made its way to his forehead and my fingers combed through his hair. So soft, so, so soft. It seemed like a small smile brightened his face, illuminating the ordinarily bleak bedroom. I felt a quick stab in my chest. Was I having a heart attack? Oh, wait, no, I was holding my breath.
Then it happened.
He jerked his arm in a motion like he was going to swat a fly from his face. My elbow flew back and jabbed Norm right in the ribs—hard. He almost fell out of bed as he started groaning and stretching to his full, corpulent glory. He was like a grizzly being forced awake during hibernation, just as cranky and possibly even more hairy. It was too late to do anything now. The young man’s eyes looked right into mine. They looked almost black or gray, but in the dark everything is in shadow, so I could have been wrong. He no longer smiled; instead, he scampered out of the bed, grabbing the nightstand for support. The alarm clock and rosary fell to floor, and Norm jiggled his way to the door as fast as possible in pursuit of the man. I secretly hoped Norm wouldn’t go outside; he was only in his Fruit of the Loom white underwear. I wouldn’t want to inflict that sight on any of our neighbors-- they’re good people.
The sound of a scuffle and things crashing to the floor rose from down the stairs. I leaned over and picked up the alarm clock, setting it back in its original, dusty spot. With a sigh, I grabbed my rosary beads. With eyes closed, I clutched those little balls of toxic green plastic and began negotiations with God. I needed just one more dream.