We were standing side by side at the double vanity getting ourselves ready for dinner. I was nearly ready because, afterall, I had had all day. Kara was next to me but she didn't have her clothes on yet. She shadowed her eyes with a little spongy nub that applied - I mean, what it looked like to me - spreadable smoke.
Being naked, she pumped out light, misty shots from a big green glass bottle onto her chest and stomach and lower than that. Moisture beaded up on her skin, but she didn't rub it in with her hands. But when I noticed later, it had disappeared anyway.
I didn't have anything left to apply or fuss with, I was just standing there looking down and scratching at a dried spec of something on my tie, thinking it was probably a left-over from last year's party. Cockail sauce or something.
Kara complained to me about running late. There was an accident only a block from the parking garage, those cars must have crunched together right at five o'clock she said. It had been rainy off and on all day and I bet her that was why. Why did they hold this sort thinga on a Friday night anyway?
She reasoned with me from inside the mirror. By that I mean, she answered without looking at me, and told me, "Because most people are busy on the week-ends."
I took that to mean most people other than me, but it probably included her.
In the ten minutes since she'd arrived home from work, she'd pulled off most of her clothes while climbing the stairs, listened to her iPhone on speaker - quickly clearing out her voicemail while brushing her teeth - and adjusted the tones of her face; something for evening.
She was scrutinizing a mascara bristle-brush when she asked me, "Honey, would you mind grabbing me a dress from downstairs? It's in the closet....it should still be in a bag. Umm, maybe it's next to your coat."
I was finished getting ready anyway. I said I was, "On my way."
Passing her on my way out, I thought Kara seemed a lot happier standing around naked in our new bathroom than the one we had before. She spent more time at it anyway. So I wondered about that a little. The bath's pretty big, with a walk-in closet attached, and like I said before, a double vanity.
For the first three years, we'd lived in a little appartment near an exit off A101 in Walnut Creek, but last week we moved to this new condominium building in the City. It was closer to Kara's office. I didn't care either way. It was basically the same deal for me. Half-hour to school.
With the subject in my mind, I supposed the old bathroom was too small to even want to spend much time in, and had a door you mostly kept closed because it opened out to the living room. Also, it had tiny mint and black tiles on the floor - covering the shower too, no tub of course , and they ran up the wall almost to the ceiling. It gave off the feeling of an old motel, like you were only short term. Maybe it was the the same idea for Kara too. If it was, she never mentioned it .
Anyway, the way I think about it now, there's really no way to compare that place and the way things are now.
Here, though, she looked like one of those star athletes, walking into the showers while giving out interviews to a crowd of reporters. Except they're all men of course; and usually they're black, and their dicks flopped around. In that instant, I let the whole thing go. I looked at Kara's body again and I won't explain it, but it looked same and I was glad about that.
"What color?" I asked.
"Green silk. The one you took to the cleaners a while back."
Downstairs, I poured us two white wines from the refridgerator into a matching pair of very of thin-sided glasses, like paper. They're those big balloon kind, so it took half a bottle to fill them even a third of the way.
I took an gulp for myself from the bottle.
"Don't forget too call the caaa..b! Roy....did you heard me? The cab?" I tipped another bolt into my mouth and palmed in the cork. I put it back in the door slot next to another bottle just like it.
"Roy? You hear me?"
"Yeah, yeah. Called the cab!."
I told myself that I hated these things. Her parties. But that wasn't the truth.
I remember, part of, a drunken speech I made to a bartender one night. "yasser, nothing but grotesque celebrations of obscene profit," I told him, "made by vicious and corrupt minions of Corporate America, leeching the system, merely, by recycling money. Over and over and over and o..ver and OH...ver again!" Hoo-hah!
But if I still believed that, I didn't make speeches about it anymore. It was three hours of free food and booze I no longer connected to politics. And besides, after they valet park my car and come around with sushi, I get the feeling it's like Saving the Rain Forest. That place is doomed.... whether I ever buy a set of teak patio furniture or I don't.
I'd already told myself The Truth a while back: Brown and Mortenson parties get me out of the house . All I have to do is play matching hubby to blossoming flower on her way up. The way it is, I'm still in school un-apologetically, occupied for a few more years than the norm. But that was part of our plan back in the beginning. I paid the rent, Kara hit the books. Now it's verse-visa. And, at twenty-six, I'm young enough to be the subject of envy rather than ridicule. So far.
Smile. It's a party!
"Just a few more minutes. Did we get any mail?" She appeared from the walk-in closet with an armfull of shoes.
"Yeah, tons," I said. I made a note I should probably check the mailbox.
I was standing in the door way with the two big wines in my hand, I watched Kara waggle into the dress I gave her. If she noticed when I set her's down on the granite sink top, she didn't say anything.
There was a big opaline window over the jacuzzi-tub. It was beading-up with persperation. The temperature surrounding our home was continuing to fall. If people knew the truth, they'd know that a lot of years, December's a great month, weatherwise, in San Francisco. Mark Twain should have mentioned that part but I don't think he ever did.
Kara detonated a can of hairspay. The cloud left swirling around her head didn't go away for awhile. I was getting bored.
"Did you know, .... the penalty for poaching pheasants in Texas can include five years prison and $250,000 in fines? You'd have to transport the birds across state lines, but still..."
"But..," I continued. "in the very same state of Texas, you can absolutely slaughter all the Eurasian doves you want. And do you know why?"
She said something back to me, but it was, " Can I get away with these shoes?" She pushed her foot into one of them. She twisted her ankle back and forth.
The one's she showed me were black leather... pumps? Heels? I didn't answer, not right away. I used the time deciding how they might be different from the other five or ten pair of identical black heels I saw in her closet. I considered it. They were pretty tall... tonight was a sort of a work thing. To spikey? Too slutty? When I thought I had waited the right amount of time, I gave her a thumbs up.
"Why you say? Because...,"
She put a pair of earrings next to her lobes , but this time I nodded right away and raised my voice a little, "Because, the Eurasian dove is not native to Texas. Therefore, not regulated as a gamebird. Kill as many doves as you want. But use abuse a pheasant's rights - you've got Gov. Happy Switch fucking Perry to deal with ."
"But here's the catch: Pheasants aren't native to North America EITHER!. They weren't introduced from China - go figure - until 1857."
"And..?" A red lipstick came out of her purse. She considered her lips in the mirror. But then I saw her look down at her wine glass and she stopped that. Instead, she took a swig.
"Yummy. Thanks for the wine baby. Okay! All done."
I'd bet it was because I was getting a little bored or frustrated, but I wanted to let her know, that if it was my own opinion she wanted, she looked better a half-hour ago when she was more naked. But I didn't say that out loud.
"So you're killing these ducks? Time?" She tapped on her empty wrist and walked over to a big jewerly box on the bureau.
"Thanks. Okay, pheasants."
"It's a classic double standard, equal protection under the law. Pheasants are allowed advanatages not given to doves. Clearly, Eurasian doves have been socially disenfranchised in this country!."
"I think you heard me."
The way she was looking at me, I didn't know what she was thinking.
"Wow! Maybe we should start a movement! DovesOn dot org.. I'll make some signs, you get the old gang back together; I know old Mr. Simms would lend us his barn for a rally...hey kids, let's put on a show!" She gave a mighty hurrumph with her arm.
But then she made a point of saying nothing else to me. Wherever the nerve was that I found, whatever is was, it was open to the air.
"What's wrong?" I told her no animals had been harmed in the making of this observational humor.
But there was nothing but wheel turning and tongue biting.
"What?" I shrugged.
"Is this what you do all day? Research obscure fish and game regulations on the internet? Really? I think there might be something really wrong with you, really."
"Well, I wouldn't exactly call it 'research'. In fact, I'd say it took only three or four open tabs on the browser. Unless.... you count porn sites devoted to a particularly nasty use for tail feathers, but I'd perfer not to get specific. Additionally, there's the fouteen Texas regional chapters of the man/bird love society."
"Roy Stop I can't take it. I'm being serious."
"Hey, hey. I'm kidding. And seriously, stop being so serious."
Words to the effect of 'Stop getting so wound up about these stupid company parties' came to my mind, but I decided against using them. Call it a vibe. I didn't exactly now what to do.
I told her she was starting a fight and maybe I'd join in, but I didn't have a clue what this was all about. That's when she told me that was par-for-the course. I stepped up and put a medium-hard kiss on her forehead anyway. This part must have taken her by surprise because she just looked at me.
I bear hugged around her. She stood still for that too, but her eyes told me she didn't know why. I said, "Come on. I don't get it, but whatever it is, I'm sorry. Fun night, remember?. Ho-Ho-Ho. Deck the halls?."
"Okay, I'm sorry, let's drop it. Okay...where's my wine?" I returned it from where it was, when I handed to her, I could tell something in her had returned to the scene.
"Look Roy, maybe...maybe I wanted to come tonight to something a little more soothing than Larry, Curly and Moe. I get nonsense all day at work, and I get home.... and you've been here all day, and I'm thinking is that what I ....".
She was heading herself into a very bad direction. I was listening, but didn't want to follow. But, then she took a long breath through her nose. "Oh just forget it, I don't know. It was a helluva day."
I sat back down on the bed and waited for her to tell me about it. She paced around with her wine telling me about Ted Purdy, ' the asshole from A & G' who kept throwing paperwork back at her, setting her 'team' back another week. And she said, then there's a deal going belly-up somewhere in Kansas. She claimed I knew all about that - she'd told me 'all about it just last week' - but even when she filled in some detail, not that I could stop her, the in's and the out's remained a mystery I couldn't decode.
But I kept nodding and making stupid sounds like 'hmm" and 'oh, yeah..', staying with until she finally started losing steam. I looked at her wine, it was empty, I asked her if she wanted to head down now.
Downstairs, we sat quietly on the couch talking, normally, about each other's day. She worked on another wine. Ocassionally, I sneaked a kiss on a small, good spot near her temple that I knew was reliable. Short crackling sounds escaped that came low from her throat that she seemed okay with.
Five minutes early, a taxi came honking into our drive.
Kara re-checked herself in the entry way mirror. I gave the driver a wave from the door step. That's when I remembered the mail.
It was a small thing. But when she made a last minute visit to the bathroom and the door closed, I sprinted out past the cab and hauled in the mail. Just some junk and a free ballpoint pen stuck inside a flyer.
A very light rain was moving through. Tiny fireflys sparkled in our taxi's headlights.
Inside, I sifted through a Home Depot coupon book wondering how pissy the cabby was getting, if he was one of those kinds of guys; and, whether the price for the Dewalt included the extra-battery in the picture.
Kara inspected me and gave my tie a jerk and a tug. "Very handsome."
"Thank-you. Wait a minute, what is that? Were you chewing on a pen?"
I shifted around her and looked in the mirror. There was a dime-sized stain tatooing the corner of my mouth. What could I say? Unconscious habit. I should start smoking again. I grabbed the hankerchief out of my jacket pocket, gave it a lick and rubbed at the spot. I checked it again. Beautiful! Now it was twice the size.
"Jesus Roy! Okay, hang on, just a sec." Kara retreived a small bottle from somewhere under the guest sink. "Here give me that." She tipped the bottle of liquid into my hankerchief and dabbed at my mouth.
"Phuu-ee-yuck!" I spit the taste out of my mouth. "What in the Bejesus is that shit?" I took the bottle from her hand. "Fingernail polish remover? Come on Kara! Jesus!."
"Oh stop it, it won't kill you." She took my chin in her hand and inspected her work. " There, see, all gone."
In that way the problem was solved. When I pulled the front door shut, Kara was already half-way to the cab, determined to keep things on track.