“So,” Winnie began, “This was, what? Three months ago, now. I guess that’s about the same time we really started to become friends, huh? Before you lost your shirt button; right? So, I guess I wouldn’t have told you. Anyway, work was having a holiday party at Spaghetti Works, over by the civic center? You been there?”
“Sure,” I answered. “Plenty of times.”
“And April had indicated that she’d go with me but then something came up and she couldn’t so I wound up taking my friend Kim, instead. No big deal, Kim’s been my friend forever and we have fun together and she was happy to go out for dinner and drinks on Wells Fargo’s dime, you know? And, you know that they have a salad bar; right?” she asked. I nodded assent.
“So,” she continues, dipping her fork into her vinaigrette salad dressing before spearing a chunk of iceberg lettuce from her house salad, “we’ve ordered drinks, as in we’ve already downed two, and Kim and I walk to the salad bar. I get there first and a guy about our age gets there after me but before Kim so Kim starts to get in line behind him and he says, ‘You two are together, right? You can go ahead and get in front of me; but you owe me.’ Well, Kimmy turns to him and purrs in a little sex kitten voice, ‘Owe you what?’
“You should have seen the look on his face! Kim is a tall, dark brunette, about ten years younger than I am and she’s a looker. Finally, he says, ‘No charge this time, but next time I’ll have to haul you in.’
“So, Kim smiles for him and then turns back around and she sees that there’s a dispenser with hand sanitizer at the salad bar and she takes two big squirts, rubs her hands together then starts waving them wildly to dry ’em, you know? And I do mean wildly and so the guy behind us starts laughing and says, ‘Whatever you may have owed me you just paid with that show. It looked like you were a bird trying to take off.’ And he’s right, she does look like some sort of demented bird when she dries her hands like that and so we both laugh and she says, ‘Fair enough. I’m a nurse and I use this stuff all the time but when I use my keyboard at work if I have any left I get a little electric shock. Must be the alcohol.’
“‘Or the moisture,’ he answers. ‘Chocante,’ he says, though this guy’s as white as white can be; even has a little white Santa beard going. So, Kim asks him, ‘Are you here with Wells Fargo?’ and quick as a wink he says, ‘Yes. I’m the CEO of Wells Fargo,’ and after a tiny pause adds, ‘and I’d keep going with this charade but I don’t know the name of Wells Fargo’s CEO so I can’t keep going with this.’
‘‘I pipe in with, ‘Well, I know the CEO’s name so good luck with that. We’re here for a Christmas party, what are you here for?’ And he says, ‘My grandson. He was born just last week.’
“Now I think little babies are awfully sweet but Kim’s just nuts about them, so she says, ‘Really? Where are you sitting? We’d love to come and meet him. What’s your name?’ He points to a table behind us and but when he tells her his name he says, ‘My name’s Keith but you have to remember Kevin, Katie and John; that’s my son, his wife and mi nietio. When you come see us I want you to act like you’re old friends of Katie and Kevin and that you saw them and wanted to meet the baby. Can you do that?’
“‘Sure,’ Kim declares. ‘No problem! Kevin, Katie and John, right?’ ‘Correct,’ Santa beard says, ‘Kevin, Katie and John.’ ‘Okay,’ Kim declares, ‘we’ll come see you in a little bit.’ ‘Perfect,’ Keith says and we go back to the party.
“Now, we may have had another drink or four along with our dinner and Kim says to me, ‘Ready?” and I ask, ‘For what?’ and she says, ‘To go meet baby John. And, what were mom and dad’s names? Kevin and Katie, right?’ So, I shake my head, say, ‘Right,’ and we make our way to the section that Santa beard had indicated and there he is facing us. Santa sees us, does the tiniest little head nod and Kim walks up to the table and declares, ‘Kevin! Katie! This must be little John! How great is it that we ran into one another!’ Now, I’m trying my best not to laugh and it’s obvious that Kevin, Katie and Mrs. Claus are not in on the joke. I’m trying so hard not to laugh and Kimmy keeps this going for at least five minutes before we start laughing and laughing and Santa tells his kid what’s going on. It was great fun and a lovely way to end a lovely night, although I do know of even lovelier ways to end an evening out; don’t you?” she asked, stroking my hand.
Winnie’s lightning fast transition from storytelling to innuendo laced question catches me completely off guard. It had been so nice to be entertained by her anecdote that I had sat enraptured by her, just listening to her retell her recent exploit. Finally, I stammer, “Yes. I suppose I do. Lots of them I guess. Anything you had in mind?”
“Oh, I have lots of things in mind,” Winnie says, “but what would be great is if you’d walk me home; never know when trouble might come sneaking up on you.”
“No, you never know,” I agree, not sure of the kind of trouble I might be getting myself into.