Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Cynthia, Part Two

After the prom, Cynthia phoned me every ten minutes, day and night. Yes, it got a little annoying, but on the plus side at least she didn't ask for her money back. She wanted to see me again, and when flattery didn't work she turned to bribery. "We'll have lots of fun," she said, "and I'll pay for everything."

I knew I was gay, but I agreed anyway. When you're living at home, with no car and no money, it's not like your Friday nights are booked. I went out with Cynthia just three or four times, yet somehow our names got linked like macaroni and cheese. The more I conceded, the more she wanted, until she started "accidentally" turning up every time I walked out my front door. I'd express annoyance and declare that I needed my freedom, but I shut up when food or jewelry appeared.

We saw Cynthia's friend Barbara again maybe a month into our couplehood, when she had a party at the family's Hancock Park estate. Her haughty folks acted like I should have been thrilled to be there, but frankly I wasn't impressed. In Europe, rich people use cash to show off their refined taste. They buy Rembrandts, drink hundred-year-old Cognacs, commission Frank Gehry to design their country homes. Judging from the party, American money went toward Devo CDs, frozen eggrolls and eight hundred feet of orange crepe paper. Sure, the family had a library named after them. What good was that? Give me a call when somebody springs for a Porsche.

To entertain a room full of her high-school friends, Barbara had arranged a scavenger hunt. Each couple was given a list of odd items to scrounge up in the neighborhood, with exactly one hour to get them. Cynthia grabbed my bicep and squealed her excitement. I rolled my eyes and groaned. The only thing I'd be looking for was alcohol.

"And the winning team," Barbara announced, "get these." She held up her hands: in one was a Cartier tennis bracelet, in the other a Rolex watch.

I sprinted past the other guests and out the front door. "You get the first five items," I yelled to Cynthia, quickly disappearing in my dust, "and I'll get all the rest."

I'd found three things before Cynthia caught up: empty-handed, angered by my desertion, and crippled by her high heels. She toddled irritably behind me as I pounded on every door and quizzed everybody who answered. Do you have a plastic spork? A flea collar? A picture of Millard Fillmore?

To my surprise, the neighbors turned over everything I asked for. I made a mental note to come back alone and ask for Armani suits and Kenneth Cole shoes. One by one we checked off everything on the list until all that was left was a pound of pastrami. We had exactly five minutes left.

"That's probably good enough," Cynthia said, massaging a blistered foot. "Nobody else could have come close." I felt an odd twinge of pity for her. She'd have been happy strolling down the street holding hands. She didn't want a tennis bracelet: she wanted a boyfriend.

Too bad for her, I thought as I pounded on one last door, that boyfriend wanted a tennis bracelet.


David said...

"A pound of pastrami"

Is that what you called it back then?

RomanHans said...

I think I know the difference between a man and a pound of pastrami.

One is sometimes hot, sometimes fatty. And the other is good on rye.