Real Faux Pas
Bill and I had a late dinner at Palomino on Friday evening, during which I lost another item from the list of "Things Left Before I've Seen It All." In the middle of our salad course, he said, "Ohmygod: Look over at the woman sitting with her back to us." I looked over and was aghast to see, hanging from the back of her sweater at the neck, the Banana Republic price tag.
I'm the type of person who doesn't like to see others suffer unwitting embarrassment. I know what it's like to leave for work in new pants and realize at 11 a.m. that the vertical size sticker with "L L L L L L" on it is still stuck to the back of my leg.
"I have to go tell her," I tell Bill.
"Don't you dare; you stay right there and mind your own business," he scolded. So I sat, powerless to help this woman. I felt bad until I looked back again and saw the very large boyfriend who previously escaped my flawed periphery.
After thinking about it, perhaps it wasn't my place to alert this woman that she looked like a display rack in pumps.
If she lacked the presence of mind to remove the tag, maybe she merited the secret revulsion of those around her.
Bill went on to tell me it apparently had been en vogue in recent years to leave price tags on to make others unequivocally aware of the price of one's clothing. I was amazed; the only person I had ever seen with a price tag intentionally left on her clothing was Minnie Pearl with her ever-present straw hat and dangling $1.98 price tag.
I asked my friend Jacque about it the next day who told me she still sees hanging price tags occasionally. Although Bill had mentioned that he could see the little plastic bag of buttons hanging under the tag. That tends to say oops.
I thought perhaps the she intended to return the sweater, but she still could have taken off the tag and kept it. Then I recalled that there was a very small, white tab sticking askew off the side of the tag. The sweater was a markdown. So unless she wanted everyone to know what a great bargain she got, this was merely an oversight.
Once in awhile, something fun happens quite by accident, rather unexpectedly. Such was the case when my girl pal, Molly and I struck out on Friday. The usual was on tap — a tasty dinner, some drinks, a little dancing and new faces in the various places we frequent. The rain was not going to dampen our spirits this holiday night so we opted to head downtown and kick up our heels Rockette style.
First on deck was food and Bella did not disappoint. The calamari, salad and scallops on my tastebuds made the night a success without leaving my seat.
Cautioned that 9:30 was too early to proceed to our next spot, we were escorted to the second floor for a little bubbly (effervescent wine correctly noted from Italy) and a gingerbread man on a miniature ginger cake. Yummy! To add to the desert appertiff, we also had a bird's eye view of the Aronoff crowd flooding the street post-Rockettes. Much to our delight when we swiveled on our perch, we also found a small table occupied by two guys who seemed game for cocktail talk. Brothers, none the less.
Introductions ensued and the conversation jumped all over the place from jobs, menu, living quarters, higher concepts and blah, blah, blah. Of course, the burning question running through my mind was did brother No. 2 have a wife to go with those 3 kids? It seemed impolite to bring up just yet, so we discussed other socially correct topics like sex, drugs and Rock & Roll. It was what it was — the talk of strangers thrown together in Cincinnati on a rainy Friday.
Then the manager approached (he had already made our acquaintance so nicely with the gingerbread treat) and greeted the brothers, "Duos Marsanos". The lightbulb went on. Imagine my surprise when I realized that this brother No. 1 is someone I had an e-mail tag game with for the better part of a year. How weird is that?
When the four of us were once again alone in our loft of bar & table, I clarified the name and the looks on their faces were equally incredulous. Brother No. 1 and I had hit send and reply over the course of months, living in close proximity, parallel lives to an extent, but never taking the leap of faith to meet for lunch or a drink. We wrote and toyed with the idea. Took the risk? Not on your conservative, responsible life.
Suddenly our polite cocktail talk turned into high adventure and handshakes went to kisses on both cheeks. Duos brothers volunteered to be our partners in crime and who are we to say no to serendipity?
Saturday night I found myself waiting for Shawn to call. So much for plans to see the Fairmount Girls at Southgate House. I'd watched all evening as the arms of the clock wrapped their arms again and again. I'd almost given up on him, when, at quarter 'til one, the phone rang.
Our last-ditch attempt to hang out was to meet up at the Comet. When we arrived, Buckra was playing and lead singer Dylan was serving up his usual antics. Jacob was tearing the guitar a new sound hole and I was snugly at a table with Shawn, Rob and Joe. Somehow, I always find myself surrounded by things I can't have.
After giving Shawn a well-deserved lashing for neglecting to call me, all was forgotten over a Heineken and a round of pool. I noticed at the next table, a guy I used to see at The Clubhouse when I was 15. He had long, black dreads then and was very goth. Shawn told me he'd had a baby with some girl who was not the same one he was sitting beside. Apparently, things had not worked out. He looked less goth now, with shorter hair and more conservative black clothes. I wondered if he remembered me at all, dancing carelessly at the all-ages club that used to be on Ruth Lyons Lane. I decided to leave my memory encapsulated and not find out.
"I really want to go to Wal-mart," I said, to no one in particular.
"Me too," said Joe. A nervous guy, Joe often speaks quickly and inaudibly, But I understand shopping at any speed or decibel.
Just as Shawn was returning with my favorite after-beer drink — ice water with cherries — Joe and I were getting ready to leave. I ate my cherries anyway and off we went.
One of the last 24-hour Wal-marts is on Colerain Avenue. There's something comforting about being able to purchase inexpensive goods at 2 a.m. No one is there to bother you about your purchase of a six-pack of Hanes-Her-Way and no one can mow you down with a stroller.
After walking and re-walking the florescent-lit aisles, I was set. I bought a pair of black bowling shoes, a present for my cousin and one of those ceramic frogs that holds a plastic scrubber in its gaping mouth. Joe bought nothing, but we did discover, by using the free blood pressure monitor, that he probably needed to check in with a physician.
After Wal-mart, we stopped in at a Dunkin' Donuts down the road. Besides a teen-age couple and the two Middle-Easterners working, Joe and I were the only other souls there. When the other customers left, an employee let us indulge in cigarettes with our coffee and Boston Creams.
We stayed until 4:30, just like the old days, before we knew each other, when a cup of coffee lasted six hours at any of several Perkins. What did we do the whole time we were there? I suppose we just talked and dreamed about what we would be doing someday.
And now, suddenly, someday had arrived.
— Ilsa Venturini