Joe climbed out of the pool, dried off with his tee shirt and headed west on Cimarron Parkway. The apartment was less than a quarter mile away and there was still light in the sky though the street lights had all been activated with the coming night. When he got back into the apartment Misty had laid aside the text book and was sitting on the couch looking at People Magazine.
“Studying hard I see,” Joe said with a big smile.
Misty stuck her tongue out at him and smiled. “Yeah, I just couldn’t study anymore. I kept reading the same paragraph over and over and I was highlighting everything on a page, not very effective, huh?”
Joe draped his damp shirt over a kitchen chair and sat next to her. “Doesn’t sound it.”
“You took a while, everything okay?”
“Oh, yeah, sure. I ran into Sulu at the pool and we were talking about the race.”
“Valentino.” Misty tilted her head and scrunched her right eye up. “Valentine. Greg Valentine? The guy that I say is a dead ringer for Mr. Sulu?”
“Who’s Mr. Sulu?”
“The helmsman from Star Trek. The oriental guy! He looks just like him!”
“What?! That’s Star Wars, not Star Trek! And Han Solo isn’t oriental!” Misty burst out laughing. “Funny. Real funny. I never know when you’re kidding about this stuff.”
“I know the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars. Just because I’m not a Trekkie. And the word is Asian, not oriental.”
“I’m not a Trekkie. I’m a fan. And since when is it Asian? The difference is that Trekkies think it’s real and I just think it’s fun.”
“Yeah, yeah, keep telling yourself that Mr. Sulu. Oriental is like a rug, Asians are people. I thought I told you that when I took that world protocol and etiquette class? You told me how you should never pat a Vietnamese kid on the head because it’s an insult in his culture and I told you not to say oriental? No? I swear I did. Anyway, was he there with the ladies?”
Joe and Misty had both noticed that Greg seemed to have at least one lovely lady with him whenever they saw him. Joe had made a faux pas when he had called one luscious redhead Naomi which had been the name of a different girl. The woman had raised an eyebrow at Joe and Greg had teased him about blowing his cover. Misty and he had started joking about Greg’s revolving door policy and that it seemed silly to learn the names of the women Greg introduced them to when they seldom were seen after a date or three.
“No, he was swimming laps. That man is sickeningly fast in the water. And I don’t mind being called occidental.”
“Yeah, tell me about it! Deal with it, Joe. The term is Asian. The only speed sport where I kick your skinny ass and he makes me look like I’m standing still. And nobody ever called you occidental in your skinny butt life.”
“Excuse me? You kick my skinny ass? My ass is not skinny, it’s thin and shapely, thank you. And now that I think about it you are right. I cannot recall a single time anyone ever called me occidental.”
“See? I told you. Okay, I like your behind, but you swim like a man who’s trying not to drown and isn’t sure if he’s succeeding. Greg have anything to say?”
“Ouch! Big bully! I’m telling your mom! First you pick on me and then you say, ‘Told you so!’ Yeah, we talked about Sunday’s race. He said that he’s been interviewing with the FBI. He said it’s getting pretty serious.”
“Stop being such a big baby! Huh, that sounds pretty cool! He’s not a cop. What does he have a degree in?”
“He’s an accountant and he knows a lot about computers. He said he was an M.P. when he was in the navy, so I guess he’s sort of a cop.”
“Hmm. Did he have anything to say about the race?”
“Yeah, that we should leave early and that it’s hilly. He figures he’s gonna do about an hour and fifty minutes so that’s my goal. Just because he can kick my butt in the water doesn’t mean I can’t keep up with him running and biking.”
“Well you should count on waiting for me then. I figure it’ll take me at least two ten, and that doesn’t include changing shoes or taking off my helmet. You still planning to ride in toe clips and straps?”
“Yep. I love those Look pedals and all but untying my running shoes and then tying my cycling shoes’ll take more time than using the Looks will save. You sure you don’t want me to put your old pedals back on?”
“Heavens yes! I hate toe clips! Those Looks on my nice new Super Sport will do nicely for me, you have fun with your no shoe change make me go faster over all mantra. I’m not trying to impress anybody!”
“You don’t have to try. You do it anyway.”
“Yeah, just like Mazio’s old lady!”
Joe and Misty had gone on a group fun ride from the Dunwoody store after work five Wednesdays previous. At the end of the ride Misty had pulled over to the edge of the parking lot and tried to get unclipped from her brand new Look clipless pedals. At zero miles per hour she had fallen off her bike and onto another rider.
The woman whom Misty had bumped into chastised Misty with great energy and limited vocabulary and Joe had stood by listening without knowing how to handle the situation. Misty had been at fault but the other woman’s response was rude and out of proportion to her offense. She had not even inquired to see if Misty had been hurt before berating her.
Misty had seemed about to take her to task for her lack of compassion when Joe had intervened and picked up Misty, then her bike and walked both of them away from the fuming woman. After most of the riders had left J.T. came over and said to them, “Uh-huh. That’s Mazio’s old lady. She really should learn some manners. Don’t let her bother you. I’m glad that you’re alright Misty. Don’t let grumpy pants keep you from doing more rides with us.” They hadn’t.
“Oh, for! Would you let it go? She was a jerk, don’t give her the power of controlling you!”
“I’m playing, sweetie. Don’t take everything so seriously,” she said as she kissed the tip of his nose. “You reek of chlorine, you need to shower!”
“Do I? I can’t smell it, but I’ll take a quick shower and then I’m heading to bed. I’m beat.”
They kissed and Joe got up. Misty said, “Don’t forget to-”
“Grab the shirt from the kitchen! Got it,” he picked up his damp surrogate towel, kicked his flip flops into the closet and hung the tee shirt on a hanger to dry. Truth be told he would have left the towel on the chair and his shirt and flip flops on the bedroom floor if not for Misty. He wasn’t the neatest man in the world but he enjoyed making his wife happy and anticipating her desires and acting on them was a game he enjoyed playing.
He popped into the shower, rinsed off and used a pea size amount of shampoo to get the chlorine smell out of his hair. After that he dried off, brushed his teeth and headed out to say goodnight to Misty.
“Joe! The curtains are open! At least put a towel on!”
“Oops!” He covered himself with his hand, quickly kissed his bride of 103 days and hurried out of the living room and back to their bedroom. As he scurried away he said, “You coming to bed soon?”
“Just a minute. I’ll be right in.” Joe slipped between the sheets and fell asleep in seconds.