“You realize I lost the rest of my iced coffee in the course of that debacle,” she points out. “Let me say this. At Emotional Heights, iced caffeine will be readily available.”
“Yeah. Yeah. And we’ll be able to get all dressings on the side. Dream on. And tell me about, what did you call her?”
“Teeny. If I ever introduce you to her, you cannot let on that I call her that.” Janet puts her fork down and sits back. “Her name is Christine, she’s five feet tall, and she acts short. She’s a little obnoxious, so I fondly think of her as Teeny.”
“And she’s in love with you?”
“No. Just obsessed. With something. It’s not me. It’s love or sex or the need to have a relationship or desperation or mania. The thing about Teeny is,” Janet leans forward and speaks with whispered energy, “she’s one of those gay people who acts like her corny concept of the other gender. You know what I mean? I’ve met men who acted dippily, helplessly feminine, and I found that repellent. Well, Teeny acts like the classic short man. She smokes cigars. She has a foul mouth in the other sense of the word too. She’s rudely horny. She’s obnoxiously outgoing and positive. She drives a Porsche and she does it aggressively. It’s creepy behavior when a man engages in it, but it contains an element of dishonesty for a woman to act that way.”
Sherry nods her understanding. She’s done with her pasta and sees that Janet isn’t going to finish her fish. “You want dessert?” she asks.
“I’ll share something. I could really use some hot coffee.” Janet looks around again.
“How much coffee do you drink?”
“Oh, you don’t know about my caffeine jones? Shit, I do an eight cup pot before I leave the house in the morning, a double cap on my way to the office, regular refills there all morning, and coffee in whatever temperature at lunch. Then I usually stop for the day, although I sometimes need a little more around 3:30. I don’t drink it at night unless I go out for dinner. In the last five years or so, I notice it tends to keep me awake.” Janet sees the waiter and watches him avoid her eyes.
“I’ll have coffee now too. Tim’s coming home late tonight, and I plan to be awake when he arrives.”
“Where has he been?”
“Computer show in Las Vegas. He left Sunday. He’s driving all the way back today. He’s trying to do it on one tank of gas.”
“Way. He’ll probably make it. That old VW is really just a four-wheeled motorcycle. And he’ll coast every chance he gets. Tim has all these memories of fantastic road trips. You know: San Francisco to LA in a Corvair with no brakes; cross country on $23.75 for fuel and food…to make some tall stories short.”
The waiter comes to their table. They ask him for coffees and a dessert menu. He describes the desserts instead. They order one pumpkin bread pudding with two spoons. Janet picks at the stain on her shirt and excuses herself to visit the ladies’ room.
The coffees are served quickly. Dessert arrives just after Janet returns to the table. She’s a little excited.
“Look who’s over at the table by the far side of the bar,” she directs without pointing. “Can you see them?”
“Oh, God. Is that Sheila? It’s Sheila and Gwen! I haven’t seen them in at least a year! Should we go over and talk to them?”
“I don’t think so,” Janet advises. “I mean, it’s been so long since we spoke, and they’ve been through a lot in that time. I think we’d look like rubberneckers.”
“I can’t see too well. How big are they? How long has it been since Sheila’s awesome operation?” Sherry squirms a little with curiosity.
“I noticed them on my the way to the bathroom so I checked out what I could as I came back. I’d say they’ve both lost weight. They’re still big, but they’re both tall.”
“Sheila had like a two hundred pound cyst removed. Right?”
“Two hundred fifty seven pounds. I remember the numbers. She was near six hundred pounds and then dropped to around three hundred in one day.” Janet considers. “I’d say she’s about two fifty now. But she’s at least five foot ten, so she’s in an acceptable range. Gwen never got as big as Sheila; now they look like they’re around the same size.”
Sherry looks over as discreetly as she can. “There’s some man joining them. Can you see from there?”
Janet glances and then goggles. “That’s Solly!”
“The guy you spoke about earlier?”
“The same. Do you suppose Sheila and Gwen need tax help? Hmmmmm,” Janet spoons spiced whipped cream on pudding into her mouth. She looks again and shrugs.
“Janet, I think the man is flirting with Sheila. That’s how it looks from here.”
“Come on. She doesn’t meet any of his criteria. Except single. And Semitic. And maybe smart.”
“It looks like love from here. I think your afternoon just got easier. Now you simply have to avoid flirting with the big guy.”
“Now I simply have to build that subdivision. Too bad I can’t buy an island in the bay for it. As it is, my residents will probably have a long commute. Like two hours each way.”
“Which is why they’ll need the counseling that comes with Emotional Heights.”