Earlier this afternoon, I was sitting on a pleasant restaurant patio and sipping an adult cocktail, something I hadn’t done for at least two days, when I heard a commotion in the nearby parking lot. I peered over a well-manicured hedge and spied a vision equally manicured, namely my good friend Margarita, something I also hadn’t done in at least two days. She was standing beside her diamond-encrusted Kia Piñata, demanding that the driver in the nearby slot move his car immediately so her own transport could shine more brightly in the midday sun.
I smiled, mostly with happiness but there was a small degree of fear in the mix. Margarita could be extremely entertaining and beguiling, yet the joy of basking in her glow could come with a price. After all, this is the woman who famously dug Noah Webster out of his grave and insisted he change the definition of “high maintenance” to something that better suited her personality.
A few minutes later, Margarita clattered onto the patio, accompanied by her trademark Dolce & Bandana couture bag, out of which stuck what may or may not have been a loaf of French bread. She signaled at one of the quivering attendants with a bejeweled hand (“Libations! Now!”) and then proceeded to join me at my table, indicating that I currently held favor in her Rolodex of Acolytes. (One never knows, day to day.) “Hello, Poodle,” she squealed. “Are we being naughty or nice today?”
“You know I prefer a little bit of both,” I said, pausing to watch as a tow truck dragged away the offensive vehicle that had dared to park in a sun-blocking way, the driver sobbing at the now-elevated steering wheel. “I see that you’ve done some recent redecorating.”
“Yes, that wretched man simply wouldn’t listen to reason.” Margarita hauled out a ruby-encrusted laptop and plunked it on the table. She popped it open, fiddled with something, and then turned it around so we could both view the screen. “There!” she announced, with the flair and personal satisfaction of Marie Curie suddenly realizing why her breasts glowed at night.
I stared at the blank screen. “Should that be doing something, or do you just like looking at your reflection?”
Margarita sighed. “No, Sarah Palin. I’m just getting it ready for when I need it. This is my new thing. I play music videos to further enhance my already-stunning conversational skills. It’s all the rage in Malaga.”
“That sounds… different. When would you want to do that? Why would you want to do that? I don’t see how it would work and-”
Just then, one of the quivering attendants (her name tag read “My Name is Alphonse Sally!”, indicating a new hire and thusly dooming her survivability in this situation) approached our table and gingerly set a martini down in front of Her Highness. Margarita glanced at the beverage and then gasped. (Sally quivered even more.) “One of the olives is smaller than the other two! This is an outrage!”
Sally, who should have just ripped off her hand-me-down nametag and fled the country, meekly attempted to salvage the operation. “I could bring you another olive.”
“No!” countered Margarita. “You are going to take this entire glass of swill back into your hovel of a restaurant, throw it in the face of the hag who made it, and then fly to Italy and fire the person who picked the olives in the first place.”
Sally and the heretical glass were instantly gone. Far off in a distant Tuscan village, there was a surprise knock on a door.
Margarita turned to me and smiled sweetly. “THIS is how it works.” She punched at a key on the laptop.
As the sounds of Elton making sure that everyone knew his name faded, I found it an appropriate time to broach the intricate variances between “politely but firmly expressing your displeasure” and “outright psychotic break”. Quickly realizing that Margarita had long lost any grasp on subtlety, I went for the bold chess move. “Honey, you really need some kind of medication.”
Margarita: “Why, whatever do you mean?”
Me: “Sally is not your problem. There’s a deeper issue here that some type of professional should take a whack at, but I really don’t want it to be me. Life’s too short.”
Margarita sighed. “I suppose you might have a point, although I rarely concede such a thing as I don’t have the right outfit in my wardrobe. This might come as a complete surprise, but I had a troubled childhood. You see, I was raised in a really rural part of rural Missouri.” She sighed again, wistfully, and then one lacquered fingernail reached out and hit that special button on her laptop.
Margarita continued her story, despite Dwight having wandered off to look for another cowboy hat that could disguise the fact that the waving wheat on his head had long since been harvested. “I was born a sharecropper’s daughter. Except there was no sharing or cropping. Or even a farm. Not that I recall, anyway. I think it’s fair to say that I didn’t pay an extreme amount of attention to anything that was going on around me unless it affected my desire to rule the world. You know how it is.”
Me: “Not really. But I still have half a vodka gimlet and my phone isn’t pinging, so please carry on until one of those status updates changes.”
Margarita did. “I was really lonely, in that time before I could belch on social media and 76,000 people would instantly click ‘like’ and then have a small orgasm. My childhood was wretchedly desolate. Sure, there was that whole ‘education’ thing, where I had to pretend like I cared for twelve intolerable years, taking endlessly insipid tests that meant nothing. Seriously, how can passing a test that other people designed improve your life in any way?”
Me, down to one-quarter of a vodka gimlet and starting to get a little tense about this development: “It must have been horrible. How did you ever survive?”
Margarita: “I did one of the only things a girl could do in rural Missouri. I got a job at the local shopping mall.”
Me: “Really? A mall a thousand miles from nowhere? It must have been very exciting and glamorous. And how many stores did this mall have?”
Margarita “Three. Well, really only two, because one of the stores was a Methodist Methadone clinic. That sort of thing happens in a state where they can’t decide if they are Republican or Democrat. Still, I somehow managed to become the manager of one of the real stores, Lottie Mae’s Spectacle Emporium and Livestock Exchange.”
Me, down to the merest dregs of the gimlet and anxiously looking around for anyone who might still be employed at this establishment after The Martini Incident: “Fascinating. Perhaps you could help me see the point of all this?”
Margarita: “The point is that I found my first true love at Lottie Mae’s. I was mucking out one of the stalls, all sweaty and unimpressed with my life decisions, when I heard a beep indicating that someone had just walked into the store. I glanced up to see a shockingly-fine specimen of manhood standing there, all bulging in his tight jeans and precisely-trimmed three-day beard. I stared at him, he stared at me, and my hopes and libido swelled.” (Lacquered fingernail, special button, laptop.)
Me, firing a flare gun into the sky to indicate that my glass was empty and useless, hoping that any waitress within a five-mile radius would rush forth and rescue me: “That sounds very romantic, just like the movies that you think you’ve made but really haven’t. Let me guess. He swept you off your feet and you made passionate love on top of the dumpster behind the methadone clinic.”
Margarita: “Actually, no. I was the only one who was doing any sweeping, shoving Trigger’s compost toward a blocked drain in Aisle 3, near the polarized sunglasses. Bulging Man was simply there to pick up his boyfriend, a quietly-burly man whom I didn’t know much about except that he castrated pigs on every other Thursday.”
Me, watching the flare fall back down on our table and then ricochet into a dusty corner where it would continue to be ignored by anybody who could do something about my parched state: “At the risk of repeating myself, is there any type of value to be gained from what you’re telling me?”
Margarita: “Of course there is. I learned that love can be instant and powerful, as long as it doesn’t happen in a Livestock Exchange where you haven’t properly vetted the employees. At the end of my shift, I raced home, packed a bag, and then I got on a plane to Paris.”
Me: “Really? You couldn’t just binge-eat ice cream and watch Lifetime movies like all the other women who have been romantically-thwarted by pig castrators?”
Margarita: “I don’t believe in low drama. It has to be high drama that may or may not involve a passport. And I’ll have you know that moving to Paris was the best decision, ever. I let go of my ill-fitting Midwestern values and slept with hundreds and hundreds of men. Of course, I quickly learned that 99 out of 100 men couldn’t induce a female orgasm if they had a gun to their head, but when you find that one percent, you light up brighter than the Eiffel Tower. There was a certain bartender in a hotel on the Rue Cadet who could get me howling at the moon and scratching his name on the ceiling with my toes.”
Me: “Hundreds? That sounds a bit tawdry. Envious, but still tawdry.”
Margarita slapped the key on her laptop once again.
Me: “Well, then. It certainly seems like you had an enlightening but Chlamydia-risky romp in foreign lands. Is that when you lost all sense of social propriety and started having people fired just because the olives don’t match?”
Margarita: “Oh, no, Paris wasn’t quite the turning point. That was all about free love and clove cigarettes and the best museums in the world. But after three days in the City of Lights, I realized it was going to be quite difficult to continue that pace if I didn’t have any money. So I returned to the States and did the only other thing a girl could do in rural Missouri.”
Me: “You started a blog?”
Margarita: “No, not yet. I gave up my dreams and my identity and went to work in Corporate America.”
Me: “Is this when your soul was depleted?”
Margarita: “Yes. I died a little bit every day, year after year. But then one day I woke up and decided I was done with making other people happy and it was time for a change. That’s when I started a blog which became hugely popular and then I became a supermodel and then I bought that small country and people started writing songs about the way I smile. The only way to have a good life is to make sure that YOU control it.”
Me: “Which is why all of your olives must be the same size.”
Me: “But do you really need to be so rude to people? People who are only in your way because they didn’t see you coming until it was too late and they don’t know what to do once you get here? I still think there’s some unhappiness in your life.”
Margarita: “Well, there is one thing I would like to change.”
Me: “The fact that you chose Blogger instead of WordPress?”
Margarita: “No. I’d like to reunite with the love of my life.”
Me: “The guy who likes other guys who work with pigs?”
Margarita: “No, not that one, the other love of my life. The one in Paris. He means the world to me. I just can’t remember his name. Which is why I have a team of investigators studying the ceilings of hotel rooms across the City of Lights. One day my prints will come.”
Previously published in “Bonnywood Manor” on 04/01/17. Minimal changes made. For the record, I had intended to share a completely different post this evening, but I happened to stumble across this one whilst looking for something else, and I just had to shove it back out there. Sometimes the Muse moves in mysterious ways…
As for that “something else” I was seeking, do any of you seasoned Bonnywood Manor guests remember a story I shared that had a bit where two mice broke into the chorus of “Proud Mary” after discovering a wheel of cheese? I know I wrote it, I just can’t find it, which seems to be an increasingly dominant personal theme as I sit here and decay in front of a keyboard. Please advise if this rings a minimalist bell…