I hit the bell boy up for breath mints and on the way up to the bar in the lift and finger combed my hair and repeated my drunken mantra which I believed would allow clear speech:
A proper cup of coffee from a Proper copper coffee pot A proper cup of coffee from a proper Copper coffee pot A proper cup of coffee. I hit the bar and ordered myself a bracer.
She didn’t take much locating: she was the only woman in the deserted bar. She sat by herself at the end of the bar.
I drink my bracer and take her in searching for an opening line, a gambit, some leverage that will allow her to see beyond the human Hesperus that I had seen whilst attempting to groom myself in the mirrored lift. I order another bracer and this time tell the bartender that I would like to meet the lady at the end of the bar. He agrees to book introductions conditional on a fine bottle of wine, suggesting an Australian vintage: ‘05 Grampians Shiraz. He winks at me as he quickly précised a review for me with full-bodied and perfumed given innuendo. I agree and he opens a bottle for her explaining that it was from the gentleman who wished only some convivial conversation.
She puts down the novel she had been reading as the barman brokers the suggestion of booking with a fresh drink. She looks to me and smiles and gestures that I should join her.
She smiles again as I seat myself next to her and raising glasses we toast each other with cheers; clinking rims and drinking deeply.
I note her book as Hemingway and make my opening gambit.
I said: ‘“The world breaks everyone…”’
She said: ‘Which one are you?’
‘Shouldn’t be too hard. Limited choices and all.
Very good, brave or gentle?’
‘That remains to be seen.’
‘An under-committed pragmatist? My favourite!
I sense a willingness for combat: vulnerable and achievable.
‘So, War and Peace Too heavy?’
‘Figuratively or literally?’
‘Why do you ask?’
‘“Nothing is so necessary…. As the company of intelligent women.”’
‘“Though a loose woman will suffice
If intelligent women are nowhere to be found.”’
‘It was all they had in English… Hemingway can be…If not enjoyable at least readable.’
I am struck by my immediate need for her approval as we lock gazes: immersed in the beauteous green of her well set eyes.
I said: ‘So give me you. Broad strokes: Mustard for it!’
She said: ‘Is this your usual approach? Rapport, sympathy, seduction?
‘I am aged and must use Cunning and guile and
That old Shakespearean Directive of “Hath not a man a tongue”’
‘Even if the Bard is, to say the very least, Misquoted. I prefer Genet.’
‘“Those Women: Hot Numbers, Succulent Morsels, Everybody’s Darling”’
‘Is this the broad stroke?
Or a statement of preference?’
She laughed and said
‘Let me buy you a drink and I’ll tell you all about it!’
She orders another bottle, explaining it as:
‘Vibrant in colour and aroma, a deep purple Shiraz invitation of cherry and blackberry with a little vanilla and liquorice. An initially tart blackberry and cranberry Flavours transform over hours into sweeter blackberry and cherry, Backed up with some spice on the finish. The mouth feels that runs a line from fleshy to intense and zesty before easing into the long smooth finish.’
‘Is this the broad stroke? Or a statement of preference?’
We talk and drink until the bar empties and the bar man finally calls time. She is candid and truthful. I find myself retreating to the position of interviewer; avoiding the insertion of personality, asking questions as led by her.
I realize that immersed in the beauteous green of her well set eyes I have practiced little more than the seducers arts.
She laughed and said: ‘I must be drunk!’[Giggling] You’re cute. I mean ugly but appealing.’
I sense my opening postulating a continuance on the morrow, an early dinner with drinks: a recess necessitated by time and the growing aridity of the argument. I relay my enjoyment of her company.
‘Sure. I got a day or two to kill. I’m up for it.
She smiles, takes my hand and she kisses me
And I [drowning in her eyes]
Fall down: arse up in love.