Monthly Archives: April 2016

Emotional Intimacy—Elaine Bonow

Emotional Intimacy

He recognized her immediately as she walked into the room, framed for a few seconds by the traditional knickknacks that were considered decor by the long-time owners of the much-loved Mexican restaurant.

She spotted him and with a wave of hand blessed the Virgins, Martyrs, Saints and Elvi that were layered in the maze of faded turquoise walls and mango door-frames. He thought she looked the same, older and wiser perhaps but still a magnificent woman.

“Gloria,” he said standing up to kiss each cheek. “I’m so glad you could get here.”

“Hola, Vicente, you look marvelous for an old coot. I was so surprised to hear from you after all these years, plus having you here in person is so wonderful.”

“Oh my, has it been that long? It seems like yesterday. You look fabulous. I see that life has treated you well.”

“Yes, I was counting the years since I last saw you in person when you swooshed into town to tell me that you had decided to move to the Baja for good.”

He motioned the waitress over. “Do you still enjoy Margareta’s Glori? If so we’ll have two Margaritas blended, no salt and with your top of the line Tequila, por favor.” The sullen, heavily tattooed server said nothing but brought the drinks to them promptly.

“Tell me, Vicente, what brings you back up north. I follow your occasional tweets. How is the hotel business? I’m sure the resort is a huge success.”

She sat looking at his lined face tanned deep copper from too many sun-lit days, thinking about those days before he met his wife Maria-Tuliza who passed a few years back. Thinking back to those days when the two of them first went down to Baja in that ancient VW bus made her emotions rise to the surface. She felt vulnerable and raw.

“Remember when we first cruised down the coast? We were such innocents on a barely paved road.”

“It was before the gringos gentrified that wild place and people like me capitalized on that freedom.” Vicinte’s eyes closed and a smile arose from his thin lips. “Yes, well that is the main reasons I came up here. My memory of you and my past life was jolted by an incident that happened recently. That and the fact that I am, now don’t be alarmed, but I am sick, Gloria. I have to get my affairs in order and an old coot like me has a lot of loose ends.”

Gloria felt tears starting but aging up was the same for all of the Boomers. Parents died one after the other; your children’s children were going to be ready to have children soon. This was the reality they all faced.

“What do you have Vicente? Something exotic I hope nothing ordinary like cancer or heart failure?”

“Oh Glori, it’s a long story without a trick ending. I’ll tell you later. First I wanted you to know that an old friend of ours wanted me to get in touch with you.”

“Oh My God! Let me guess. Was it a man? Did he have golden brown skin? Did he ask about Gloria or did he say his wife?”

“Well, obviously you know just who was asking.”

She leaned back in her chair a smiling at the old memory. She closed her eyes. “I can see him now, well not as he probably is now but how he was when we all met. Do you remember that club?”

“Yeah, we just talked about that a week ago down in Cabo.”

“In this huge world how did you manage to run into Mr. Tonio Naciento Torres?”

“Just by chance, at my resort. He’s been living outside PV for years. It must have been fate that somehow we recognized each other. He looked great, very fit, bald now and still wearing those square sunglasses perched on his nose. Very tough looking harder than before like he’d been through a hell of a life.”

“I’ve got to tell you a little story, something about me that you don’t know.”

“I think this calls for another drink. Verdad?”

The server noticed his look. Vicente ordered two more margaritas and a plate of nachos while Gloria found the bathroom. Settling back in her seat taking a long sip of the fresh drink, she began her tale.

“Vicente, we have known each other for the best part of our lives and even though we haven’t hung out for many years there is one part of my life you know nothing about.”

“Wow, Glori. I am surprised. I thought we had talked about everything over the years maybe not in person but… I’ll shut up and let you tell it.”

“When we were together there was a big reason that I broke up with you.”

The memories of those days long ago came flooding back to Vicente, the first trip down the Baja, the many nights at that run down club where they spent so much youth and time drinking and drugging in the dark, recovering sanity on sunny afternoons on hot sand.

“We met Tonio there, remember?”

He could almost smell the sultriness of Club Nuevo, the sourness of cheap Tequila, the sharp drain of cocaine in his throat.

“Tonio would come into the club with his posse.”

The image of the gang was etched in his memory, the first officers leading the formation, his Capo first, to his left the enforcer and to the right the tall dark-skinned woman. Tonio protected in the middle with two more toughs backing him up.

“Remember he would swoop into the club and then arrange everyone’s place at the tables set aside for him. Tonio, of course, always sat facing the door flanked by his protectors, welcoming those who came in to ask favors or pay him what he was owed or just to entertain him.”

He could still see the flashing eyes of the prettiest waitresses who would take turns each week, available for his use, anticipating the enormous tip he would leave.

“When he saw that we were regulars and also cokeheads he demanded that we sit at his table as his guests. We really got caught in his web, drinking the best, snorting the finest, dancing and singing every week for months.”

It was after almost a year of this outlaw life that somehow he decided to make drastic changes in his life. He was so cruel to Glori. They had epic arguments that bordered on violence. He told her he was leaving. He told her she was ruining his life. He gave her a one-way ticket back to Seattle.

“You were so mean to me at the end. I was thinking you were having the time of your life with me. I was sure we would be together forever and then, BOOM. I was cut loose. Tonio had plans to move to Mexico and quietly, secretly asked me to join him. Towards the end of spring before our breakup, Tonio and I had an affaire. We really found a connection during those halcyon days. There was such intensity in his eyes. I felt desired, protected by his power.”

“And I didn’t suspect a thing. I had no idea Glori. I became so possessed by my desire to capitalize on the country. I had a vision of being the richest landowner on the Peninsula.”

“I took your offered trip back here but only to pack my things. I turned right around and flew down to Mexico. Tonio met me and set me up in his new compound. It was quite beautiful surrounded by Bougainvillea, overlooking the ocean. I had a maid, a cook and a driver with a brand new bulletproof Mercedes.

I had all the trappings of a well-kept mistress but I was lonely. He was always away doing “Business” for weeks at a time. I never knew if he was going to be gunned down by rival gangs or thrown in prison.”

“How long were you there? I have so many questions? Did you get any of my letters, the ones begging you to come back, that I was wrong, that I was sorry for the way I treated you.”

“I stayed for a little over five years. I mean I really loved his strangeness. We did get married in Mexico but I was never sure it was legal. A man came to the house a month after I moved in and performed a beautiful ceremony. Tonio put a ring on my finger, kissed me in front of his gang and staff and from then on always introduced me as his wife.”

“Damn, I don’t know what to say. He told me that a lot had happened to him since those Baja days. What is really funny is I think he is still a drug dealer. He came to my hotel nightclub in the same style as the old days flanked by his generals, not the same ones of course but the same style. Once we got re-acquainted he asked about you.”

“Tell me Vicente, are you still in touch with my wife, your ex-girlfriend, Glori? Please, if you hear from her tell her I still love her.”

Glori smiled,” Cool, he did say his wife. He remembered.”

 

 

ZENITH – DAPHNE BELLFLOWER

ZENITH – DAPHNE BELLFLOWER

      Vivian rooted through her closet impatiently, looking for something to wear. She was going to be late if she didn’t figure out what she was wearing soon. Vivian was fully aware that the worst thing about her outfit choice was that Jenny truly wouldn’t care what she had on and wouldn’t be dressed up herself. But Vivian had standards. Self-imposed standards, but standards none the less.

 

      She grabbed a black crepe dress from the 50s, and thought about accessories. Tight patent leather belt, big jewelry, and bright red lipstick. She could do the whole Liz Taylor thing from “A Place In the Sun.” Vivian glanced in the mirror and shuddered at the black circles under her eyes and the horizontal lines in her forehead. She remembered that Liz was still a teenager when she was in that movie. She’d need more sleep and a lot more Botox if she were to even attempt “A Place in the Sun” Liz. Outfit rejected.

 

      She pulled more dresses out, briefly considered them, then tossed them in the reject pile on the floor. Vivian had loved clothes her entire life and had the wardrobe to prove it. She rarely threw anything out and associated certain outfits with various events in her life–her first job after college, her first trip to New York City, her dad’s funeral, and the date she went on with Anthony Kiedis during her Red Hot Chili Peppers phase. Her date clothes were always chosen carefully. As she went from dress to dress, she realized she could probably reconstruct the past 35 years of her sex life just by going through her closet.

 

      Her boyfriend Jack—technically her fiancé for the past 22 years—peeked into the bedroom, watched Vivian throw clothes on the floor for a few minutes, then headed to the living room to watch the baseball game. “What time are you meeting Jenny?,” he yelled from the relative calm of the sofa. “It’s almost seven. You’re probably going to be late.” He switched on the game and absently wondered how long it would take her to choose her shoes.

 

      Vivian pulled out the pink and silver Pucci dress she had inherited from her Italian grandmother. This would be perfect for tonight. Late 1960s or early 1970s. She could still do the whole Liz Taylor thing, but instead of the teenaged Liz she would do the drinking and fighting all night with Richard Burton Liz. This version would be a lot easier to pull off, especially since she was 52 and hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep for a week. She pulled out her black eyeliner and went to work.

 

      Jack winced as he listened to her heels clatter down the hall on the newly refinished wood floors. “Nice outfit,” he said, watching her rummage through the closet for a coat. “Where are you going tonight?” he asked. Vivian grabbed the white vinyl jacket she had bought last year in Austin. It wasn’t her first choice, but because she was so late it would have to do.

 

      “The Palace Kitchen,” she said, searching through her purse for her car keys. “Jenny’s choice, not mine. With all the new restaurants in Seattle to choose from, Jenny has to pick the old standby.” She found her keys and ran through the living room to the front door. “I’ll be back in a couple of hours,” she yelled. “Maybe we can go out after Jenny and I are done eating. I’ll text you.” She slammed the door behind her, and Jack breathed a sigh of relief. He figured he’d have a few hours of peace before Vivian returned to tell him about how dull the Palace Kitchen was and decide where they would go out that night.

 

      As she ran to the car, Vivian texted Jenny. “IM LATE IM RUDE IM SORRY CU SOON.” She knew Jenny wouldn’t read her texts due to her bizarre anti-digital principals, and this would give Vivian the perfect opportunity to extoll the virtues of the Internet. As she sped across the West Seattle Bridge, Vivian mentally rehearsed the key points of her pro-Internet speech. See how easy everything is now? Everything you want is on your phone! Heard of any new restaurants? Why yes—I was just reading Yelp! You’ll never guess who’s getting divorced…and you wouldn’t have to guess if you had Facebook!

 

      She and Jenny had been friends for over 20 years, and Vivian could never really put a finger on why. They had met at a now-defunct book group, but had kept in touch. Vivian couldn’t imagine how two friends could be so different. Jenny married her college sweetheart Tate, was a devoted mom to her two now-grown children, and was the director of marketing for an organic baby food company. Tate was rarely home these days. He spent much of his time in Africa working for a micro-lending startup, but came home every year for the holidays and every August and September for hiking season.

 

      Like Jenny, Vivian had a successful career of her own. But as far as Vivian was concerned, the similarities between she and Jenny ended there. Vivian and Jack never had children, and weren’t held hostage to the grueling schedule every bourgeois family in Seattle was on. Instead, Vivian concentrated her considerable energy into getting on the guest list to as many parties, concerts, and black tie events as possible. Still, Vivian and Jack managed to drag Jenny and Tate out during the kid years. They were both disappointed that Tate wasn’t home very often after their kids went away to college, because the time the couples spent together was enjoyable. She and Jenny got together more often now that Tate traveled so much for work.

 

      As Vivian drove through downtown Seattle, she marveled at all the new tall buildings and the ongoing construction of even more new tall buildings. Everyone she knew from the 90s lamented the new Seattle—the traffic, the brogrammers, the condos, the rents. But Vivian loved it. She thought the new buildings were beautiful, with the exception of a few misfires. She liked all the new people, how they crowded downtown and Capitol Hill all night. There were so many new restaurants and bars she could barely keep up. Seattle was exciting now, not the sleepy little city Vivian moved to in 1990. Old Seattle would have to figure out how to keep up with new Seattle.

 

      She found a place to park on Fifth Avenue, and ran as fast as her strappy heels would allow to the Palace Kitchen. As usual, it was packed. Vivian could never figure out why it was still so popular. The Palace Kitchen had been open for years, the food was fair, but it was way too expensive for what it was and there were so many new places to go. But regardless of Vivian’s opinion, the restaurant was packed tonight with middle-aged patrons. Vivian briefly thought she shouldn’t be so opposed to the middle-aged clientele, but she quickly pushed that thought from her mind. She hoped Jenny had made reservations.  

 

      “Vivian,” she heard Jenny shout. “Vivian, I’m over here at the bar.” She pushed her way through the crowd and found Jenny was sitting at the bar with her coat draped over the adjacent empty barstool. Several people were milling around, staring meaningfully at Jenny and then at the barstool. Vivian was happy that Seattle’s infamous non-confrontational ethos was in full effect tonight and Jenny’s claim had remained unchallenged even though Vivian was at least a half hour late.

 

      “Score on the seats,” she said, hugging Jenny. “I thought we’d be standing for the next 45 minutes. And I really don’t want to in these shoes. Sorry I’m so late. The West Seattle bridge was a mess and I couldn’t find a place to park. What are you drinking?”

 

      “Dirty martini,” Jenny said, holding up her glass. “Two olives. I’m hungry. I didn’t know how long it would take you to get here.” She waved her cell phone at Vivian. “I got your text,” she said. “And I do think you’re rude.” She looked at Vivian’s and smiled. “You were easy to spot tonight. Are the 70s back again?”

 

      Vivian sat down at the bar, and finally caught the bartender’s eye. That took a little longer than it used to. “I’ll have a dirty martini too,” she said. “Grey Goose.” She looked around at the crowd. “The Palace Kitchen,” she whispered in Jenny’s ear, trying to imitate Marlon Perkins. “The exotic watering hole where Seattle’s middle-aged gather as the sun goes down.” Jenny shook her head and laughed. “Be nice Vivian,” she said. “Aren’t you 53 this year? And I love this place. We’ve had fun here for years.”

 

      The bartender set her martini down on the bar. Vivian had been disgusted by the bar’s surface since the day the Palace Kitchen opened. The white hex tiles and dingy grout always reminded her of a train station bathroom floor. She wrinkled her nose and raised her glass. “Cheers,” she said clinking her glass with Jenny’s. “To your mom jeans. And as you well know, I’m still only 52.”

 

      Vivian took a sip of her drink and looked around to see if she recognized anyone in the crowd. She immediately regretted it. “Oh great, Jenny,” she hissed. “Your good friend Eddie’s here.” She nudged Jenny under the bar. “He’s sitting over there. I think he’s with one of his kids.” Jenny’s gaze followed Vivian’s nudge. She started laughing. “I’m glad you think it’s funny,” Vivian said. “I told you we should go someplace new.”

 

      “I’m not laughing at you. OK, I’m laughing at you,” Jenny said. “The only reason Eddie and I were friends is because our kids went to the same school.” She motioned the bartender for another martini. “I’ll bet he’s not thrilled to see you either.”

 

      Vivian met Eddie through mutual friends during her crazy fun serial dating days before she met Jack. At the time she found Eddie wildly attractive, and she slept with him several times after they all went out dancing at the Rebar. It wasn’t a complete waste of time. Vivian credited Eddie with teaching her a valuable life lesson: sex with a handsome man did not translate into romance.

 

      After several semi-regular post-Rebar encounters, Vivian and Eddie went out on exactly one date. Vivian didn’t know he drove a red Porsche until he picked her up at her apartment. That was cheesy enough, but Vivian considered it a potentially forgivable offense. The real issue was how dull he was. She stared at him during dinner trying to figure out one of life’s great mysteries–how could someone be so good looking and so incredibly tedious and pompous at the same time. In addition, Eddie was wearing a pink Izod polo shirt with the collar flipped up like one of the characters who ended up dead early on in “Less Than Zero.” That thought of that shirt still gave Vivian the willies.

 

      After that one dinner–at the Palace Kitchen–Vivian never returned Eddie’s phone calls. He eventually married a school teacher from Montana and had three daughters. From Facebook stalking, Vivian was amazed that Eddie continued to be handsome as hell, even 20 years later. He posted a photo of he and his wife on their 20th wedding anniversary. The photo reminded Vivian of a peacock posing with a peahen, of the difference between the shimmering plumage of the male and the muted brown feathers of the female. She didn’t exactly fault his wife. Vivian assumed listening to Eddie drone on night after night would eventually grind anyone down.  

      “Let’s shake things up at this old place,” Jenny said, setting her drink down on the bar. “I’m going to say hi.” Vivian watched in horror as Jenny stood up and waved at Eddie. Eddie smiled, got up and walked over to the bar. He hugged Jenny, then turned to greet Vivian. “How nice to see you. What a pleasant surprise,” he said, as he awkwardly kissed her cheek. “You look great. You look just the same.”

 

      Vivian smiled at him, and touched his sleeve. He had on a slim-fitting plaid shirt, skinny dark jeans, and expensive looking loafers. “You look great Eddie,” she said. “It’s been a long time. I hope you’ve been well.” She couldn’t resist leaning in toward him and touching his hand as she spoke. It was one of her old tricks from her single days, easy yet effective.

     

      “I’ve been doing really well,” he said. “It was a little hard with what happened last year, but I think everything is settled down now. Business is good. Life’s good. I’ve got no complaints” He looked back at his table, and waved to the girl sitting there. “I’ve got to get back to my table,” he said. “I don’t like leaving her alone too long. Who knows what might happen, right?”

 

      Jenny was staring at his table. “Is that one of your daughters?” Vivian asked. “She’s really pretty. Congratulations.”

 

      Eddie laughed. “My daughter?” he said. “Oh Vivian, now you’re making me feel old. She’s my wife. We got married last year.” He kissed Vivian again, missed her cheek and got the tip of her nose instead. He turned and hugged Jenny. “Great to see you both,” he said. “Say hi to Tate for me.” They watched as Eddie sauntered back to his table.

 

      “Did he just say his wife?” Vivian said. “Are you fucking kidding me? She must be at least 20 years younger than he is.” She looked at Jenny. “Did you know?”

 

      “Of course I knew,” Jenny said. “I’m kind of surprised you didn’t. Eddie dumped Robin last year after their third daughter graduated from college.” She finished her drink and smiled at Vivian. “I thought with all your social media connections you would have known before me. Don’t tell me that you, out of all people, are shocked.” She grabbed Vivian’s hand. “Maybe you don’t know about this either.” She swiveled her stool to face Vivian.

 

      “So why do you think Tate’s out of the country so much,” Jenny said. “After our kids graduated and moved out, I started sleeping with our next door neighbor. You know him, you’ve met him at our house several times. He’s that botany professor from UW. Should we eat dinner at the bar, or try and get a table?”

 

      Vivian stared at Jenny speechless. She wondered what Jack was doing right now. Was he watching the baseball game and smoking weed or was he sleeping with the clerk from the mini-mart? At this point, she seriously did not know. What the hell was happening to her peers. She looked around at the crowd with a different perspective. Suddenly Vivian felt her age.

 

      “Let’s eat at the bar,” she said to Jenny. “I’m too tired to wait for a table.” She grabbed her phone and texted Jack. “NETFLIX TONIGHT? I’M NOT STAYING OUT LATE. LET’S WATCH A MOVIE.” 

Uberventure – Dalmatia Flemming

Uberventure – Dalmatia Flemming

 A trickle of sweat ran down Brad’s forehead.  He wiped it off with his forearm.  “There was something really wrong with that driver” Brad said.

 “He was really giving me the creeps.” Dianne said.  “I’m glad you gave him an extra fifty just so that we could get out of his car, even though now we’re out in the middle of … who knows where.  It was worth it though.  We have GOT to report him to Uber.”

 “ … Yeah …” Brad said, his voice trailing off.

 Brad had become distracted by a large house half way up the rocky desert hillside.  It looked to be a fine example of a mid-century modern mansion.  The whole side of the house facing them was a wall of glass. The setting sun was reflecting off the windows obscuring what was inside.  But Brad could tell that a large party was in progress.

 “Look at that house Dianne” Brad said, pointing in its direction.  “I don’t think they’d even notice if two extra people showed up.”

 “… Wow … look at that … it’s beautiful with the light shining on it like that.” … “Yeah, let’s go” Dianne said.

 Brad and Dianne commenced on what would be a 20 minute stroll along a gently curving road integrated into the hillside.

 They could hear faint voices and laughter so they knew they were getting close.  As they rounded the curve to the front of the house, an exquisitely manicured desert-scaped yard came into view, complete with a large kidney bean shaped pool.  Revelers were spilling out from the house into the yard and long driveway.  There were 5 garages, each one with its door open and each containing a different high end sports car, except for an SUV in the garage closest to the house.

 Brad and Dianne walked in a little closer.  They could now see that the house appeared to be built into the hillside.  At one end of the house was a huge boulder that looked to be piercing the glass; both inside and outside of the house at the same time and surrounded by glass on all sides.

 “Is this cool or what” Brad said.

 “This is definitely cool” answered Dianne.

 “Let’s go in” Brad said.

 They were greeted by a domestic at the front door.  “Welcome to Dr. and Mrs. Einstein’s house.  Please come in and make yourself at home.”

 “Thank you” Brad said.  He stepped aside, put his arm around Dianne’s waist and whispered in her ear “Dr. and Mrs. Einstein, how intriguing” as they entered the house.

 The house was jammed with people talking, laughing and dancing.  There was a bar in each corner of the huge living room.

 “Let’s get a drink” Brad said loudly to Dianne, making sure to face Dianne as he spoke and to accentuate his mouthing of the words.

 “OK” Dianne practically yelled back in his ear.

 They walked over to the closest bar and got in line.  As they looked around, they could tell that this group was in general, older than they were.  It was a boomer crowd.  The band was playing a lot of “hippy” music.  Brad and Dianne smiled at each other and started to attempt their best 60’s and 70’s dance moves.  A few characters walked by, saw them dancing and joined in for a few beats, then moved on.

 “This tops our previous plans, don’t you think” Brad yelled.

 “Sure does” Dianne yelled back, while doing her best Jerk.

 Brad and Dianne got their drinks and moved to a quieter spot to people watch.

 “Look at that guy over there” Brad said, discretely pointing to a man with wild, curly gray hair wearing a shirt with a physcodelic print and Birkenstock sandals.  “I’m guessing that’s Dr. Einstein.”

 … “Hmmm” … Dianne said … “but that woman standing next to him … do you think that’s his wife?”

 Standing next to the gray haired man was a short plump woman who looked to be about 20 years younger than the gray haired man.  She had short, dark hair and large studious looking black rimmed glasses.  Her dress had a crew neckline and was fitted to the waist, then flared out and hit her mid-calf.  She was wearing a long sleeved crew neck sweater which was only buttoned at the top button.  She wore a single string of pearls and she was wearing flats.

 … “Well … maybe he married one of his students; that happens a lot” Brad said.

 … “Yes … yes … Look over there.”  Dianne said as she gestured with her head to the right.

 There looked to be an informal tour of the house in progress.

 “Let’s get another drink and join in before they leave the room” Dianne said.

 Fresh drinks in hand, Brad and Dianne merged into the group from behind.

 Their informal tour guide did not look like the typical party reveler; she looked more like a real estate agent.  Turns out she was a docent from the local museum and also a friend of the family.

 The tour was very interesting; Dr. Einstein’s father, also a doctor, had commissioned the house to be designed by a famous architect who had left the big time to live and work in this desert town.  Before the elder Einstein settled down with who would later become the younger Dr. Einstein’s mother, he had a series of mistresses.  His favorite one wanted to have her own separate retreat space.  So the elder Einstein arranged for an addition to be made, adding a second story about one quarter of the length of the overall house to the western facing end.

 It was in this addition that Brad noticed a door with a large translucent glass insert.  He touched the door knob and very gently turned it.  It was unlocked.  The tour guide was starting to move on.  Brad grabbed Dianne’s arm and said, “Hey Dianne, this door’s unlocked.  Let’s go in.”

 Dianne, startled, turned to look at Brad’s face.  There was that mischievous grin again.  She was a sucker for that grin.  … “Well … OK”, Dianne answered.

 They waited a few seconds to let the rest of the group clear out and then entered the room.  Although there were plenty of windows, it was now dark outside and therefore inside as well.  They didn’t want to draw attention to themselves by turning on a light, so they stood there a little longer to let their eyes adjust.

 “What IS this … a lab?” Brad said.

“… Maybe … but there are things laid out … very precisely … and they have labels in front of them.”

 Brad and Dianne slowly walked around the room, looking at the carefully laid out items.  The tables were arranged end to end so as to lead one around like one was in a queue at a bank or airport.

 “… OK … this one is made out of stone and carved bone, with leather wrapped around it.  It says it’s Greek” Brad said.

 “This one is made from animal intestines.  It’s item number 16.  Does that one have a number?” Dianne said.

 “It’s number 9.”

 “… OK … so there is an order … how about these over here”.  Dianne moved ahead towards the other end of the room.

 “They appear to be some sort of tool.”  Brad said as he picked one up to show Dianne.  “This one looks like one of those things that you stick in the honey jar and then drizzle the honey all over your toast.”

 “Brad, put that down” Dianne said.  “I don’t think we should be touching them!”

 “Sorry … this one is silver with Ivory inlay … from India.”

 … “Wait a minute … this one, near the end … it’s electric … it’s number 211 … the rest of these are electric … the last one is number 217.  …   Oh My God!  Brad … these are self-pleasuring devices for women!”

 “No!”

 “Yes!  Yes, they are!  Can you go check to see if anyone is around?  I would like to turn on this small table lamp over here.”

 Brad walked over to the door, cracked it a little, peered out and said “the coast is clear.”

 Dianne turned on the small lamp.

 “Brad, look at this poster on the wall.”  Dianne studied the poster as Brad walked back over to her side of the room.  “General Electric Appliances … they made these appliances in this order … the tea kettle, toaster, sewing machine and fan … the fifth was a self-pleasuring device for women!”

 “No!”

 “Yes!”

 “That’s what these things are?”  Brad said.  “But, some of these are really old.  I mean, some of these are B.C.”

 Brad and Dianne looked at each other and started to laugh.

 “… Well then …” Dianne said.

 They laughed some more.

 “Brad, look at this poster of the founders of General Electric.  I think that our presumed Mrs. Einstein looks like she could be a descendant of this Mr. Coffin dude.”

 Brad walked up to the poster to study it. “ …Yes …yes, I can see the resemblance!”

 They looked at each other and started to laugh again.

 “So this is an extensive collection of female self-pleasuring devices” Brad said.  “And look” … Brad began to walk back through the collection, stopping to point out an example here and there … “just about every continent and era is represented!”

 “I know, well …” Dianne started to laugh hysterically.

 Then Brad did.

 “Wow! … Well, it all makes perfect sense then doesn’t it; the elder Dr. Einstein with his mistresses, the current Mrs. Einstein being a descendent from one of the Founders of General Electric who made these devices” Brad said.

 “How so?” ask Dianne.

 “I don’t know.  It just seems like a good summarizing statement, don’t you think?”  Brad said.

 “Yes Mr. Van de Brake”, Dianne said in her sexiest school girl voice as she pressed up against him and put her arms around his neck.

 “Careful now”, Brad said as he grabbed her around the waist, “or I will have to use one of these things on you.”

 Dianne screamed in mock horror, turned off the table lamp and began to run around the room.  “You’ll have to catch me first Mr. Van de Brake!”

 “Hey, not fair Dianne, I can’t see.”  Brad began to chase her though the maze of tables.  “Ooo … my knee” … “Whoa” … there was a loud crash, then silence.  … Oooooo! … Brad lifted his head from his prone position on his back on the floor to see that he had knocked a small wooden framed case with glass sides from the table, and it landed on his chest.  He carefully propped himself up on his elbows.  “Oh man, thank God I didn’t break it.”  Brad carefully got up and placed the case back on the table.

 Dianne came running over, “Are you OK?”

 “Yeah, I’m OK.”

 “Good save! … Sorry Brad, I guess I should behave myself in other people’s houses, especially when I don’t know them and I’m secretly checking out their extensive collection of self-pleasuring device for women.”

 “Yes Dianne, perhaps next time you will be better behaved.”

 Brad and Dianne gave each other a little platonic-like hug.

 … “But what is this” … Dianne peered through the window of the small wooden framed case and read …  ‘Cleopatra …  a hollowed out gourd … to be filled with angry bees’” …

 “Let’s see” … Brad said as he leaned in to have a look for himself.

 “Ooo” Dianne said.  “I think my phone is vibrating.”

 “Your phone is vibrating, ha ha, very funny Dianne” Brad said.

 “No, it is.”  Dianne answered her phone.  “It’s our 15 minute warning for a pick up.”

 “Oh, and we’re not there, we’re here.  Let’s get outta here.”

 Brad and Dianne cracked the door and peered out.  No one was around so they made their way back to the living room.  The party was still going full force.

 “Let’s get one more drink while we wait for our pick-up.” Dianne said.  “It’ll make all your aches and pains go away.”

 “Yeah, and give me some new ones for tomorrow morning” Brad said.

 “I’ll call Uber and make sure they have our correct location” Dianne said.

 “And I’ll go get the drinks” Brad said.