Tanya’s appearance scattered to the wind the magic that had been building between Winsome and me. Winnie was just as lovely but somehow Tanya’s interruption had changed our mating dance into a far less romantic proposition. I sat tongue tied for a moment and then, remembering how our date had been initiated, I asked, “So. Daughter. Lives with you?”
“Yes,” Winnie said with a grin. “Or, at least officially. I hardly ever see her. School, work, friends, boyfriend. I seem to be last on her list; which is the way it should be but that doesn’t make me any less lonely.”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “I know exactly what you’re saying. I have a son who’ll be twenty-six in December and a daughter who turned twenty-three in May. Eddie’s married but Lizzie lives with her mother. It’s nice that they grow up but that doesn’t mean that we don’t miss them.”
“So, you live alone?” Winnie asked.
“Yes. Since before the divorce. Going on four years.”
“Are the kids close by?”
“Anne and Lizzie are now in Lincoln and Eddie and Cathy are in Chicago. Anne’s my ex and Cathy’s Eddie’s wife.”
“See them often?”
I paused while Tanya placed an iced tea in front of Winnie and napkin wrapped silverware in front of both of us. “You want me to bring your salad with your sandwich or separate?” she asked.
Winnie nodded and said, “With the sandwich, please. And thank you,” she added, taking a sip of her tea.
“No problem. I’ll bring your meals out just as soon as they’re ready,” Tanya answered with a smile.
After Tanya slipped away I said, “You two seem to know each other pretty well. You come here often?”
“At least once a week. It’s within walking distance. What were we saying before?”
“You asked if I see my kids often,” I replied. “Not often enough. Eddie likes to Skype but I can only do so much of that, so mostly it’s just me at home by myself.”
“And you said your daughter’s name is Lizzie? Is there plenty of room at your ex-wife’s place?”
I smiled. “If you’re asking me is it just the two of them then the answer’s yes; at least as far as I know. Anne left me because I didn’t pay her the attention that she needed. I neglected her; I didn’t abuse her. I have no idea if she’s seeing anyone or not. How about you?”
“David left me for a younger woman. Much younger. At least she’s old enough to be Angie and April’s big sister. Those are my daughters, April is the younger; she’s the one who lives at home. Our new home. David and I sold the old place and I bought a little raised ranch about a quarter mile from here. Nice neighbors but not exactly the same kind of neighborhood I’d grown accustomed to. How about you? I really don’t know where you live!”
“About a mile further up the road. Little apartment. Very different from what I knew as well, although it’s very similar to what Anne and I started out with. It’s fine.”
“That’s got to be very difficult,” Winnie said, placing her hand over mine.
“It is,” I agreed, “but I brought this largely on myself.” Rotating my hand palm upward I took her hand and added, “But I’ve learned my lesson. I don’t think I’ll ever be neglectful of a relationship again.”
Winnie grimaced. “That’s a good lesson to learn. I’m afraid my divorce taught me not to be so trusting,” she said, squeezing my hand to take some of the sting out of her words.
“Okay,” Tanya declared from four feet away, “two tenderloin sandwiches, one house salad and one coleslaw.” After laying the food on the table she took ketchup and mustard from her apron pocket and laid that on the table adding, “I’ll be right back with more tea,” before smiling at us and then departing.
Looking at my sandwich I said, “Wow, this is big. Doesn’t even fit in the bun.”
Winnie gave me a mischievous grin and deadpanned, “That’s what she said? Yes, like I said, I usually wind up taking half of mine home.
“I think Tanya is on edge because I brought a date, she doesn’t usually shout out her presence from so far away. It’s almost like she’s afraid she’ll come around the corner and find my stocking foot in your crotch.”
“Is that standard behavior for you on dates?” I asked.
Winnie snorted and declared, “No. At least not for the last three decades or so. Mustard?”
“Please,” I responded, adding mustard and then placing the top half of the bun along with the lettuce tomato and onions to my tenderloin. I cut the sandwich in half and then cut a bite with my knife and fork, “This is good,” I said, placing my hand in front of my food filled mouth.
“Told ya,” she said, squeezing a blob of mustard on the plate next to her sandwich and adding her vegetative garnish to the meat and lower bun but setting aside the top half of her bun.
Tanya returned with the tea and performed the server’s classic deed of asking if everything was okay just after I’d filled my mouth with my second bite of sandwich. Winnie said, “Delicious,” and I nodded expansively to indicate agreement.
“Great,” Tanya said, adding, “Enjoy!” before heading back to the kitchen.
“Why do they always do that?” I asked.
“Do what?” Winnie inquired.
“Ask how the food is when our mouths are full.”
“Ha! They do, don’t they?” Winnie asked. “Do you think it’s on purpose? Maybe we should get KCCI, News Channel 8 to investigate?”
“It might be a conspiracy,” I answered, nodding my head solemnly, “and even if not channel eight could always sell it that way.”
“Yeah; there’s no doubt that we live in a world of spin.
“Hey!” she continued, “Did I tell you about the guy I met at the Spaghetti Works? Just before Christmas?”
I tilted my head to the side and raised an eyebrow. “I don’t think so. Why? Someone that I know?”
“Oh! Ha! I guess that did come out weird, didn’t it? No, it was for the Wells Fargo holiday party, I took my friend, Kim, who’s a nurse? We ran into a guy in the salad bar line. It’s a funny story; wanna hear it?”
“How can I resist?” I asked. “Shoot.”
So, she shot.