Getting Closer

This morning, Suzanne and I didn’t dance. In fact, we played no music. We both seemed somehow different. She served me tea and honey. We sat there, looking at each other, both reflecting on the night of champagne and strawberries.

But first, set the stage.

So, after the episode with the itinerant oriental muse the other day, Suzanne suggested we do something special last evening. My first thought was, “Well, well, well, this might be interesting. Maybe there’s hope.” If you catch my drift.

I asked, “Well Suze, what did you have in mind?” I knew full well that going out for dinner with her was out of the question. It would have indeed been a strange sight, me ordering a table for two, and no one could see who I was with except me. Imagine how it would have looked, ordering a fine wine, two glasses and then drinking the whole thing myself. A more curious scene I can’t imagine.

She said, “How about champagne and strawberries?” I stopped right there. Somehow, she knew that Joanie and I would have that on Easter Sundays every year for a long time as a special treat, along with eggs Benedict. How she knew, I have no clue, but I would try and weasel it out of her as the champagne did its work. I’m thinking too, “Might get lucky tonight.”

I told her that would be special treat, but I had pictured her more of an Ouzo sipping type, sitting at table in some outdoor cafe on the South side of Athens on a warm summer night with some of her muse girl friends and a couple of gay guys that liked to hang out with them. I asked her about the guys I could see her with. She told me, “We liked them. They shared some of our interests, and though they weren’t muses, they had a lot of the same sensibilities we shared.” She also told me they were a welcome change from the young Athenian men who ran around all full  of testosterone, bombast, bragging and much thumping of the sculpted armor plate that hid their man boobs. She said, “We girls used to joke that the guys who wore the armor must not have been working out enough and their man boobs were beginning to sag, making them embarrassed to go to the beach.” Then she laughed, as if she had told me the funniest story ever.

We were having a wonderful time talking, and the champagne is mellowing us both out. I opened a second bottle. Her eyes seemed softer, with points of candlelight reflected brightly back at me. So, I asked her, “Why are you here?”

She just looked at me and said, “Oh, Bobby,(Nobody calls me Bobby, and she knew that too.) I’m here to help you get closer.”

I told her, “Well its good to hear we both have the same agenda, only in my case I’m trying to get closer to you.” She laughed, and called me a “silly boy.”

“Come on, darlin’ you have to admit you like me more than just a little bit,” I said, “And help me get closer to what?”

“Robert, (Now she calls me Robert. She makes me crazy.) I do like you very much, but I’m not to get involved with a student.” I asked, “What? It would violate your Muse Union Code of Ethics? C’mon. I promise I won’t tell anybody.” I thought to myself, “That line had worked before in another time.”

“Pour me another glass, Bobby, and I will try and explain.”

Then it hit me like a bolt, she had been involved with a student at one time. I couldn’t let an opening like this go and I pressed. I said, “Suzie, (I know she hated being called that because she told me that the second day after she got here) do you expect me to believe that in the 2500 years, give or take a few, that you’ve been in the Muse racket you never went to bed with a student?”

Home run! For the first time since she’s been here, I seemed to have gotten to her. Her face flushed, and as her cheeks started to run red, she made a point of turning her head to avoid directly looking at me.

Then, slowly, she turned back to face me and started to speak, ever so softly. I melted immediately. She had a melancholy look on her face like I’d never seen before. “There was a time once when I did fall in love with a student,” she began, “He was a man, much like you, younger, but not much. I only spent a brief time with him, but there was something mystical about him that spoke to the deepest part of my heart. Then one night, we were sharing stories, along with champagne and strawberries. One thing led to another and….” Her voice trailed off to an inaudible whisper and, in the candlelight I saw a lone tear roll down her cheek. She sat there, seeming to glow, in all of her vulnerabilty…. I sat, in stunned silence, transfixed, more in love with her than ever. The beauty of the moment left me without voice. Both of us sat there, afraid to break the spell. My eyes filled, and tears rolled down my cheeks.

I poured us both another glass, and we sat there silently, in the flickering light of the only candle left burning, as the shadows of the night wrapped us in the warmth of this truly magical night.

She looked at me and all I could think of was champagne, strawberries and how lucky I am.

Take care, be well and keep in touch. You know what to do.



About Bob Kallberg

Retired reporter. Concentrating now on recounting Joanie's 12 year battle with cancer, a battle she waged with extreme courage, determination and an indomitable spirit, that, for me, serves as an example.
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