At 11:45 this past Wednesday morning, Linda, my one time and just about out of my memory bank, significant other, walked into my office. I was pacing and talking to my stockbroker on the phone when she opened the door. Surprised and flustered, I covered the mouthpiece and leaned over to peck her hello—but a split second before our lips met she quickly turned her head so my kiss caught her cheek.
Suddenly I couldn't remember whether I was buying or selling but decided to wait for the paperwork and not ask my broker because he was always yelling at me for not listening to him. I hung up.
"It's been two years,” she chirped. "I was passing through the neighborhood and suddenly remembered that it was your birthday and I said what the hell—enough time has passed."
She sat down on my desk and pulled from her pocketbook a pack of Marlboro Lights, turned over my THANKS FOR NOT SMOKING sign and lit up. She dared me with her soft green eyes as she blew an arrow of smoke from her first deep drag past my head towards the ceiling. Then she crossed her long legs, hitched her skirt thigh high, turned towards me and pursed her lips. She tapped her ash on the back of my sign.
That purse of her lips. It came thundering back—the essence of all that I disliked about this woman could be summed up in two words. Pursed lips. Linda loved to purse her lips, and she did often. If only she had known how truly offensive I found it—she would probably have stayed pursed.
"I've decided to forgive you. You can take me to lunch," she announced, obviously forgetting that lost weekend she spent with the bartender and lifeguard that precipitated our break up. Maybe she was forgiving me for burning her clothes and mailing the ashes to her at work.
Her announcements. I had almost forgotten about her announcements. I hated them second only to her lip pursing. The trouble was that she knew how much I hated her announcements and she would pick and choose her times of using them for maximum effect.
But still incapable of saying no to her, I got my coat and we rode the elevator with her chatting non-stop.
"So how you been? You’re looking well. You probably tried to call me but I moved and my number's unlisted. You still wear Canoe—did you notice I changed my shade of lipstick? I was color analyzed. I’m Fall."
Out of the elevator and down the hall and out the door, idle, innocuous, inane chat.
"Still feeding the cat pepperoni? I’ll bet you are. You know it's going to kill her some day."
Linda's specialty—nothing of substance. Drivel.
"Did you notice the eye shadow? You never noticed stuff like that. You haven't changed a bit."
With her still talking as we left the elevator, I steered her through the lobby and out to the parking lot and finally to my car. I unlocked my door, got in and started the engine only to look over and notice her standing primly next to her door waiting for me to open it. Primly. Do I have to tell you how I feel about primly?
Exasperated, I opened my door and got out and started around to open her door; when over the top of the car I saw Linda standing ramrod straight, prim as can be, lips pursed, staring away from me. Waiting. Waiting and expecting. All the Linda that I had pushed out of my mind for the past two years came crashing home as my internal klaxon sounded, and instinctively I spun around and got back into my car.
On this Wednesday's lunch hour, that is how I last saw her, in my rear view mirror, with her Fall coloring, standing primly and pursed amidst a swirl of dust and smoke—as I sped off out of the parking lot feeling as if I had just dodged a bullet.