Emotional Heights (Beginning)


“I’m gonna develop a subdivision and call it Emotional Heights. I’ll build on a hill somewhere with a nice view, and homeowner’s association dues will help defray the cost of required weekly counseling for all residents. I’ll people it with folks like you and me – I mean it.” Janet mops the salad dressing with a crust of walnut levain as she speaks. The plate sits between her and Sherry, and the gorgonzola has mixed with the vinaigrette, so she’s scooping white liquid onto the edge of bluish bread. Sherry watches her with a little fascination.

“Whoa! How did we get here from your law firm client? Slow down, girl.”

“I’m sorry. You’re right. I need to relax. Where’s our waiter? I want some iced coffee.”

“Like that’s going to help.” Sherry laughs quietly and sits back in her chair.

A busboy pauses at their table. Janet signals with her eyes that he can take the salad plate. She swallows and tosses her chin-length hair before continuing to speak. “The firm needs some tax consulting, and I have the perfect specialist to introduce this afternoon. But I’m kind of involved with the two individuals, so things may get emotional.”

“It sounds to me like they already are, Janet. You’ve been on a roller coaster for nearly a year; what is going on now?”

“Okay. Both men are Michaels, but neither uses his first name. Mike MacDougal is the law firm administrator, and Michael Solomon is the tax lawyer he needs to consult. MacDougal goes by ‘Mac,’ and that fits him; he’s six and a half feet tall, not fat but big, and calm as a slow river. His long bones turn me on. And he seems to like me too. He’s married, but he never talks about his wife. He’s real good at eye contact. There are possibilities there.

“Mike Solomon couldn’t be more different. He’s maybe five foot five, small but fit, fastidious, nervous like a bird. He answers to ‘Solly,’ and that fits his Jewishness. He dyes his thinning red hair, wears his clothes too snug, appreciates cosmetics on women, resents his orthodox parents for refusing to let him get growth hormone shots. I’d swear he’s gay, except there’s no indication of it beyond habits of speech, posture, and attitude; he’s always dating and forever talking about finding the woman to marry.”

“Has he ever been married?” Sherry swallows the last of her mineral water after this question; she refills her glass from the big bottle they’ve opened.

“No. And he’s now past fifty, so I’m always surprised when he talks about fatherhood and his biological clock. Where’s that waiter?” Janet stretches her head up to the full extent of her neck and looks around the large room with an expression of annoyance. She’s momentarily too distracted to continue speaking. “Excuse me,” she taps the upper arm of the tall waitress at the adjacent table, “but can you send our waiter over? Tha-a-a-nks,” she gushes as she turns her attention back to Sherry.

“He’s been looking so long that he’s developed criteria that this woman must have. Let me see if I can remember ‘em…” Janet hums the last syllable as she breaks off another piece of bread and begins scraping its edge along the top of the butter pot. “The perfect woman must be: smart, small, sexy, single, successful and Semitic. Senior too, I think, cause Solly doesn’t want a young chick any more. Though how he reconciles the senior part with the childbearing idea is completely beyond me. And this is a man who got a Ph.D. in physics before he went to law school; rumor has it he’s smart.”

You meet his criteria.”

“Yup. At first I thought I wasn’t small enough; I’m at least an inch and a half taller than him. But I asked him about ‘small’ when he first recited the list to me (I was still married to Jack then; it wasn’t a loaded question), and he said he had no problem with a woman of any height; he just figured the woman might have a problem with it, and he might as well be realistic. Anyway, he says ‘small’ means under five foot eight, so I do qualify. Aaah,” Janet pauses to talk to the wayward waiter. “Can I have an iced coffee?”

“We don’t really have any, ma’am. I mean, I can pour regular coffee over ice, but it will be pretty weak.”

“Can you bring me a triple espresso, served over ice?”

“We can do that,” the waiter drawls. “Would you like cream and sugar with it?”

“No. Black is fine.” Janet looks at Sherry. “And now I’ll have to watch the iced tea boys. They cruise around looking to top glasses and they’ll think my iced coffee is fair game for their pitchers.

“Back to the subject. I’m kind of looking forward to introducing these two. The visuals alone will be worth it. But there’s bound to be some emotional issues. I’ll want to flirt with Mac, and Solly will be watching me.”

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