Unlovable Traits—Elaine Bonow
“Do you think Vinny could be gay?” Lil said as she took off her dark glasses and sat down at the outside table.
“Hold on, hold on woman. That’s my brother you are talking about. What are you drinking? The usual? Hey Stevo, a Tanqueray and tonic for my friend, lots of lime and a Perrier for me.”
“Thanks honey. I am so stressed out.” Lil scooted her chair up to the table settled her oversize purse at her feet, adjusted her thick Norwegian sweater, squirmed until her jeans were comfortable. She put her IPhone face down on the table, ran her red manicured nails through her short black bob, jangling her collection of silver and gold bracelets, finally ready exactly when Stevo brought the drinks out.
“Now, Tell me. What has been happening? I know you guys have been on rocky ground at least from what you have told me. You’ve been together now for how long?”
“Yeah, you know how they say familiarity breeds contempt, well, whoever thought that up was dead on.” Marian took a long sip of her drink and sat back in her chair with a deep sigh.
Meanwhile, while the girls were having a blather, Vinny was on his way to the gym. He usually dressed in all black and today was no exception. It was black sweats and hoodie, a pair of black Nike’s with a hint of red. His short black hair was carefully trimmed. Beards were in fashion and his was short but definitely tribal just like his tattoos and hoop earrings. He was running late and already sweating when he got out of the car.
He had to look great. Everyone in town knew him or knew how he was supposed to look. His stage persona required it. He was on display wherever he went and even though his “star” wasn’t at a high point, right now, people still pointed at him and nudged one another when they saw him at a restaurant or at a show. Vinny played the guitar. His career had soared in the Eighties. The band had a breakout hit and when music changed “The Few” faded. Lately there has been a re-interest in eighties music scene. Vinny was back practicing with the boys.
“It looks like we’d better have a bite to eat.” Marian hailed Stevo and ordered salads for the two of them. “But you guys have been together for so long. What’s happened? What has changed?”
“I guess I hadn’t noticed in the past but lately he has been acting strangely. Look it’s like this. He’s become so concerned about how he looks. He spends so much time in the mirror. He’s going to the gym everyday sometimes twice a day.” Lil slumped in her chair.
“Girl, sit up straight you don’t want to be spotted looking like that, not now since the band is getting back together.”
“You’re right. I don’t want people to start gossiping about me, to think I’ve got something wrong with me. It’s Vinny who has the problem. I thought because you are his twin sister he might have talked to you.” Lil raised her hand. “Stevo bring me another please.”
“I don’t know what to say Lil, I haven’t really talked to him since Christmas. I might be his sister but he has never confided in me. He’s always been so standoffish to the family and he’s always been eccentric.”
“Yeah I guess that’s why I liked him so much. I was everything to him.”
“Plus you had the money.” Marian smashed a slice of lime into her Perrier with her straw. “He didn’t have to really work, he could just live off the little fame he had, and the royalties from their one hit wonder The Pleasure Principle.”
“We did have a great life. I did everything for him you know. I created his look; I picked the clothes he looked so good in. I learned to cook everything he liked just how he liked it.”
“Did you ever think you might have spoiled him a little?” Marian sprinkled the tinniest bit of vinaigrette on the spinach salad Stevo delivered.
“I don’t think I spoiled him I just took care of him after all he was or should I say is quite the lad. He was so into me but that has faded too.”
“I probably don’t even want to know what you mean by that remark but seeing as I am already caught in this drama.” Marian pulled her pale blue Pashimina around her skinny shoulders. She had been away from the city for a lifetime devoting her time to raising a brood of kids in Central Oregon. Her husband Dan had recently passed from a long battle with lung cancer and the so-called children now adults had taken their lives in their own hands and moved away. She sold the farm, traded that for a lovely condo in Northwest Portland.
Lil hell-bent on unloading her own troubles, plunged into details of her private life with poor Marian’s dear twin brother.
The gym was necessary to Vinny. If he wanted to revitalize his musical career he had to look young and vibrant. He thought he might have a new chance to make it and if he made it he could finally be his own man. He worked on the Elliptical and pushed himself hard on the free weights. This particular gym had other fitness classes. In fact he’d found out that he really enjoyed practicing Zumba.
He’d never told anyone especially Lil who would have laughed in his face or worse yet tried to take the class with him. It was his secret and he was going to keep it that way. His favorite instructor Chris, was a little late this afternoon. He waited patiently by the door.
By the time Lil was finished telling Marian all the things that she despised about Vinny, Marian was more than ready to pay the check when it came. She tipped Stevo generously kissed Lil on both cheeks twice. The girls promised to keep in touch.
“Please don’t tell Vinny we hooked up and I told you all our secrets. He gets so mad almost jealous when I talk to anyone and he hasn’t even seen you yet. I don’t want to mess things up more than they are already.”
“Oh Lil don’t worry. I’m sure everything will work out soon. I do think you guys should go to counseling. It is so hard to live with much less pretend to love someone that you can’t stand. It might be best to move on.” Marian quickly moved on herself to her waiting Prius and her new life as a rich widow.
Marian softly staggered towards her crowded tram stop. Her thoughts were much more confused under the influence of the Tanqueray. She knew Vinny was at the gym so instead of going home decided to stop into Jake’s until rush hour was over.
Having a bit of time to think while he was waiting for Zumba, Vinny knew he had to be real with Lil. They had been together for years now but this was the first time in a long while that he felt alive and excited again about life. What a total mess this was going to be. Lil might try and kill him for all he knew.
Chris finally arrived for class. Earlier, Vinny had put a small box by the stereo. Chris saw it, caught Vinny’s eye in the mirror and smiled. “Here we go kids.” The Latin beat was thumping. Vinny started bouncing to the beat. Chris could really move and Vinny followed move for move thrusting and grinding in time with the music. Chris came up behind Vinny and adjusted his hips. He whispered into Vinny’s ear “Thanks for the gift darling. I’ll meet you at the usual place after class.”