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PART FORTY-SIX

“Statuesque” was hardly adequate in describing the towering, six-foot tall Craft Street hostess who beamed a smile down at Stacie and party. Karla’s razor sliced, bleached blonde, punk locks did not ascend to Sierra’s comely chin and she and Suzann stared in amazement at the WNBA poster child before them. “Stacie!” Sierra waved her hands excitedly in front of her at shoulder height before taking the teacher’s shoulders in her long, slender fingered hands and exchanging a quick hug and double cheek air kiss. “Great to see you. It’s happy-hour,” she sang in a passable imitation of Oprah Winfrey.

Stacie smiled back. “Great to see you too. Not too packed in here,” she added looking around the restaurant. “What are you, ninety-percent of capacity or so?”

“Yeah, It’s slow. Just give it a little time. You guys want to sit outside or at the bar?” she asked, eyebrows raised.

“Uh, no. Neither,” Stacie said, biting her lip and shaking her head slightly. “Actually, what we’d like is a table in the back where it’s hard to see us, but we can see the door?”

“Oh?” Sierra asked, head tilted and eyelashes beating rapidly, “Scoping out the men, are we?”

Stacie produced a big smile and a single, etiquette required cough of a laugh. “Sort of. We’re looking for one guy in particular,” Stacie said before adding, “To avoid.”

“Ah,” Sierra flashed a knowing wink. “Got it. Tyler’ll be glad to hear that,” the hostess said, leading them to a booth in the corner of the restaurant. Handing the trio menus, she added, “Loren’ll be your server. Good luck staying away from mister wrong!”

With Sierra’s departure Suzann cocked an eyebrow and asked, “Tyler, eh? And who might this Tyler be?”

Stacie colored slightly, brought her lips together in a frown, turned her head down and to the side and answered, “Oh, stop. He’s my next-door neighbor. You know? The Steven Tyler, Sean and Tyler thing? Tyler’s a server here and Sean works in the kitchen. They’re great! I just love ‘em.”

“And, from what MS NBA star said, the feeling is mutual?” Suzann asked.

“Oh, please! They’re babies! Well, not babies. My age now that I think about it. I guess I just hadn’t thought about them like that.”

“Well,” Karla interjected, “if they’re guys you can bet they’ve thought of you like that. Unless, they’re, you know, funny?”

“‘Funny’?” Suzann asked, brow furrowed deeper than a corn field in spring, “Did you really just say, ‘funny’?”

Karla blushed. “Oh, you know what I mean. Guys are guys. They’re always thinkin bout that. It’s just whose pants they want to get into, that’s all.”

“Well, the hostess -what is her name anyway?- indicated that this Steven Tyler wannabe is sweet on our little Miss Stacie here so it doesn’t sound like they’re, ‘funny.’”

“Funny, no. Hilarious, yes,” Stacie answered. “I really love having them as neighbors. Sierra, by the way. She’s Danish. She tells me that most Danes are tall.”

“‘Danish,’ eh? Perhaps it’s Stacie who’s ‘funny.’”

“What?” Karla asked before her eyes popped open and her smile flashed. “Oh! I get it! Danish! Like a Danish! Like Stacie’s sweet on Sierra. That’s funny!”

“Yes. Funny,” Suzann said as a diminutive, long haired blonde approached the table. “Hi, everyone. My name’s Loren- Oh! Hey, Stacie! How are you? Great to see you. What can I start you all off with? Drinks! Appetizers?”

“Great to see you too!” Stacie returned. “I’m not ready to order food yet. Would you please tell Steph I’ll have whatever craft beer he recommends, please?”

Loren smiled, “Got it. Ma’am?” she asked of Suzann.

“Moscow Mule, please.”

“Sure thing. And, excuse me, Miss but I’ll need to see some ID?”

Karla raised her eyebrows and said, “No you won’t. I’d just like a water.”

“Okay,” Loren answered with a smile and quick head nods. “That’s Steph’s choice for a beer, One Mosco Mule and a water. I’ll give you guys time to look at the menu and be right back with the drinks,” she said before turning on her heel and departing.

“‘Ma’am’ indeed,” Suzann groused.

“Well, don’t feel too bad. She wanted to card me. Obviously not very good at figuring out people’s ages,” Karla declared. “Hey, this is great and all, but can we get down to business. Please?”