Price Breaks and Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
Foreplay On The Edge Of Forever
(This is a true story, yes I changed the names but all the really embarrassing stuff happened. That kind of stuff always happens to me.)
In the end there are really only four women that I truly loved.
The One I Loved First.
The One That Was Almost Forever.
The One I Never Told.
The One That Was There All Along.
While (Spoiler Alert!) Tallulah was merely The One That Was Almost Forever I will remember our year together long after forever is over. When I kissed Lilly those kisses were the kisses of a boy, shy, tentative and playful. With Tallulah it was different, the kisses we shared were confident, passionate and we used our tongues.
One date became several, friendly greetings became embraces. We weren’t even twenty yet and we were both still living with our parents but damn if the bond that was growing between us didn’t feel like the kind of actual grown up love we’d been shown in the movies and TV.
School and work had seemed to fade in to the background. The moments we weren’t together were just empty pauses. When you're in the throes of a new relationship you become strangers to everyone else in your life, nothing else matters. If your loved ones see you at all those sightings are fleeting and Sasquatch-like.
My love life was a topic of conversation in every corner of my life; my friends wanted to check her out so they could compare her with what they had, her family wanted to look me over and see if I was up to snuff with what they wanted for their daughter and my family just wanted to make sure that Tallulah actually existed.
I parked my car in the crowded driveway of my house. It was a bleak looking two story affair bordered on the left side by a used car lot and on the right side was a halfway house for ex-felons. I still find it interesting that the rate of recidivism for tenants of that dwelling was lower than anywhere else in Albany. I like to think that perhaps living next door to my family made those former inmates eager to become productive members of society.
“Well,” I said. “Here we go.”
Tallulah was leaning on my shoulder, “It's your family. I should be the one worried.”
“You don't know them, they can get very... Grand Guignol.”
“I'm not sure I understand.”
“Well you see, the Grand Guignol was a theater in France that spawned-”
She issued a grunt of playful exasperation and bit me on the shoulder, “I know what it means. I just never heard anyone describe their family like that.”
“Trust me,” I said as we got out of the car. “They're one chainsaw short of a massacre.”
At the sound of Tallulah's car door slamming shut the 12 Shitzus my mother still had left from her dog breeding days went berserk, filling the air with high pitched barks and little growls. The cries of my family trying to shut them up followed a moment later but that only drove the dogs into a greater frenzy. If only there had been some way to harness the power of this cycle we might all have flying cars by now.
My brother Phil greeted us at the door, he was wearing shorts and a leer, “You two took your time. What ya doin’ there Al? Slipping her the hot pork injection in the driveway?”
I tried to speak but all I could do was sputter with humiliation and rage.
“Hot beef,” Tallulah said.
My brother and I both said, “What?”
“The term is ‘hot beef injection’” she corrected Phil again, “and I’m Tallulah. May we come in?”
She pushed past him and I followed. I could hear him grumbling to himself, “I coulda’ swore it was pork.”
You might think with all the dogs my house might have smelled of dogs and pee but I think you would have been pleasantly surprised to find your nostrils deadened by the odor of cigarette smoke before you could catch a whiff of anything else.
“Tallulah this is my stepfather Big Phil,” I gestured to the slender man sitting at the kitchen table wearing a t-shirt revealing his allegiance to the United Association of Plumbers and Pipe-fitters.
“Nice to finally meet you,” he got to his feet. “I can see why Albert wanted to keep you to himself. You look just like Ann Margaret.”
“Well I am glad to be here, he’s said such nice things about all of you.”
“Oh look!” I took Tallulah by the hand, “Here’s my Mom.”
My mother turned away from the stove and gave my best girl a hug, “Is this the girl that’s got my son walking on air?”
“You’re too nice,” Tallulah said. “Makes me wonder what he did with himself before I came along…”
My mother ended that moment of uncomfortable silence that followed that statement by suggesting we have a seat at the table. My brother and stepfather were already there, talking animatedly about carburetors. I seated Tallulah on the opposite side of the table from them and sat to her left. A quick count of the place settings made me realize, “Is Greta going to be having diner with us?”
“Yeah,” my Stepfather said. “We just sent her down to the store to get some more cheese.”
“So,” my brother grabbed fork from a place setting at random, scratched himself vigorously with it and then put it back. “What are you doing dating my brother?”
“I…” Tallulah took a moment to gather her thoughts before trying to answer. “I almost don’t know, he isn’t the kind of guy I’m usually interested in but there’s just something about him. There’s more to him than meets the eye.”
“Awwwww,” my Mom said.
“Yeah, more than meets the eye,” I grinned and pulled my best girl closer to me. “Just like the Transformers.”
That was my stepfather’s cue to go “Awwwwwwww.” But the inflection was totally different.
My Grandmother and Great Grandmother arrived next, they made polite conversation with Tallulah; both of them commented on how much she reminded them of Gene Tierney.
“It’s so zajebiste to see you with a girl,” my Great Grandmother said. “No more wasting time with those Dungeons and Dragons games.”
My Grandmother nodded, “Thank God for that.”
“What’s Dungeons and Dragons?” Tallulah asked me.
I promised to explain later but of course I’m sure a most of you out there know what a game of Dungeons and Dragons is. Let’s face it when it comes to role playing games you either know the stereotype or you are the stereotype.
There was a much larger stigma attached to the game back in the late 80’s, it was seen as an obsession for socially inept and emotionally unstable man-children. Now of course role playing has a much more egalitarian image and role playing is seen as obsession for the socially inept and emotionally unstable players of all ages.
You might not be surprised to learn that I had sold or set aside most of my Dungeons and Dragons stuff by this point. By the third date with Tallulah I was pretty much certain I would never hold another twenty sided dice in my hand again.
“Hey Al,” my sister joined us at the table. “How have you been?”
“Good, this is Tallulah. How have you been sis?”
“You know you and I need to just take a few hours and catch up.”
Greta nodded, “That would be great.”
My brother Phil belched loudly, since we hadn’t started eating yet it was something of a pre-emptive strike.
My Great Grandmother bristled, “You show some manners matkojebca! Company’s here.”
“Oh he’s not doing anything wrong,” my mother started serving ham and cabbage to us. “He just doesn’t put on airs that’s all.”
My mother favored Phil with a loving glance, it seemed to me that the more feral a state he devolved into the more she loved him.
“Al tells me you’re a dog breeder,” Tallulah said.
“I don’t think I’m going to do it anymore honey,” once everyone’s plate was overflowing with food my mother sat down to her own modest portions. “It’s so much work and it seems like I always end up having Albert’s brother drown one or two of the runts.”
Tallulah’s horrified gasp and Phil’s playful gurgle were almost simultaneous.
“I think you two make a cute couple,” my Grandmother said.
“Oh yes,” my Great Grandmother said then a worried glance crossed her features. “You’re not a Protestant are you girl?”
Tallulah said, “Uhm... no. I'm Catholic the same as all you.”
“I'm sorry but why would that matter?”
My Great Grandmother's face paled with fury, “Why? Because in 1939 I had to flee from the Protestant tanks to this country.”
“Grannie...” my sister said as gently as she could, “The Nazi's invaded in 1939 but you came to American in 1938 remember? It was because your parents wouldn't let you go out dancing.”
“Don't you tell me what happened!” my Great Grandmother shouted. “Just because you're a little kurwa doesn't mean I was!”
With that my sister stormed back into her room. My brother wasted no time scooping the food from her plate onto his own. Tallulah leaned in close to me and whispered, “What's 'kurwa' mean?”
Just like the date and the first kiss, the first lie in any relationship is a special and unique thing. This lie was no different. “I think it means 'spunky lass'”