Nena: Book 6
Remind Me Again
by Maddy Bell
Copyright © 2015 Maddy Bell
All Rights Reserved.
“Damn you, Dennis,” I muttered as I poked myself in the eye with the mascara wand again.
So okay it was my choice to make but Dennis’ earlier remark cut deeper than I thought so here I am, tarting myself up to go eat dinner with a bunch of bus drivers. It’s not even that anyone has doubted my apparent gender but I guess Den hit a nerve, a thread of insecurity. It’s hardly surprising, whilst I think I make a reasonably convincing woman, well if the charade was laid bare the consequences would be dire and not just for me.
The whole Nena thing has gone from a bit of a lark to prove a point all the way to this week where I actually sort of volunteered to appear as my alter ego. I can’t deny it’s had its fun moments but it’s not me, it’s a part I’m playing, underneath Nena’s bleached locks and the girly clothes it’s still Chris Hornby. Which is where things get a bit weird, my significant other doesn’t seem to mind who’s in the bed, Nena or Chris.
“It’s gone seven,” Den called through the door.
With a sigh I capped the mascara and with a last look in the mirror departed the bathroom.
“About ti…” Den stopped mid sentence.
“Er,” he started, “when I said, well I didn’t mean…”
“I know but it was in the case shouting ‘wear me’.”
It was the white leather dress Nena, that’s me, bought on a previous visit to central Europe. Of everything in the shared Julia/Nena wardrobe why the heck did she pick this? It’s white, not exactly warm and it’s rather, er close in the fit department. A black roll neck helped with the warmth aspect but the only suitable hose wasn’t gonna help and the supplied white ankle boots lost any winter practicality with their three inch stiletto heels – oh well.
“So we ready then?”
“I’d best change my shirt,” Den opined.
I kept a tight grip on Den’s arm for the walk to the Rusticana, fearful of taking a fall in my impractical footwear but isn’t that women all over? He didn’t have a tie – well other than his company one so even swapping his polo shirt for a ‘proper’ full button left Den at smart casual rather than formal which meant I felt less of a narna when we de-coated in the convivial interior.
It must be like women’s sixth sense, Anne Marie was dressed, well more dressy than usual too – I’ve not seen her without full war paint, even when we were skiing but tonight was more er posh.
“So, Nena, how’s the arm?”
“Still a bit sore,” I allowed, to be truthful it hadn’t been a problem until this afternoon, the silly bobsleigh ride didn’t improve my comfort.
“I guess you won’t be on the slopes tomorrow then?”
“I think my skiing is over for this trip.”
“Hasn’t stopped other winter sports, eh?” Rudi remarked from down the table.
Anne Marie raised an eyebrow before looking toward an oblivious Den. Thanks pal.
“Not that sort of sport,” I hurriedly mentioned.
“Young people today,” the French woman sighed, “no sense of fun.”
I suppose that as I’m posing as Den’s love interest it wouldn’t’ve been out of character but not going there, ut uh, not happening – even in someone else’s head.
“I got conned into a sledge ride in St Moritz,” I allowed.
So of course between my first spritzer and the arrival of a huge tureen of risotto I had to recount the tale of Nena Ziegler, bobsleigh passenger. Of course it seemed more ridiculous and less terrifying each time I recounted things, mind you I don’t think I’ll ever forget the fear as we hit that turn at silly miles per hour. At least with that out of the way we could get on with the main business of the evening, eating!
“Well if we aren’t skiing tomorrow, how about we take the bus to Bormio,” Anne Marie suggested as we nursed our coffee.
“The bus needs fuelling and cleaning,” I told her.
“Dennis can do that, come on, lunch is on me,” she tempted.
“Dennis,” she called past me, “you can clean your bus alone, yes?”
“There you go, Nena, Dennis will clean the bus, we can go shopping!”
Does she never give up?
“I’ll collect you at nine, wear something nice, no ski suits eh?”
“I er,” I started.
“Anne Marie, come,” Francois instructed from by the door.
She rolled her eyes, “Looks like it is time for my winter sports, eh? Nine o’clock sharp, Bonsoir, a bientôt!”
“What was that all about,” Den enquired as the waitress delivered another round of drinks to the remaining diners.
“Apparently I’m going shopping tomorrow.”
“We can sort the bus out early, give you the rest of the day to ‘bond’.”
“Less of the we, you sort of volunteered to do it on your own.”
“See, that’s confirmed the situation,” I giggled.
“I walked into that one didn’t I? We meeting for lunch then?”
“Girls’ day, we’re going to Bormio apparently.”
“Don’t worry, Dennis, Johannes and I will take you up the mountain for some beer,” Rudi chuckled.
“Well that’s sorted then,” I declared, only question is, what do I wear?
“Penny for ‘em?” Den asked as we returned to the Aparte Federia a little later.
“She played us both didn’t she?”
“Yeah,” he agreed.
“You okay sorting the bus on your own?”
“It’s not too bad inside, I was going to take her up to the truck wash anyway.”
“I don’t have to go with Anne Marie,” I offered hoping for a reprieve.
“I’ll cope, I’ve done it before, just bring me something back.”
“’Kay,” I sighed as we reached our accommodation.
It looked like it was going to be another clear day, cold but dry and bright, no help now as I stood outside of the Federia waiting for Anne Marie shivering my bits off. I checked up the road again, no sign of the French woman so of course I nearly jumped out of my skin when her voice called out to me.
“Come on, Nena, don’t want to miss the bus!”
I looked around for the accompanying body but to no avail.
I spotted her then, leaning out of the taxi’s window, you’d have thought I’d have cottoned on quicker after the other day.
“I thought we were catching the bus?” I asked as I slid in beside her.
“We are but the station in the these shoes is too far.”
The car took off in a hurry and seemingly moments later we were at Livigno’s answer to Victoria Coach Station, two platforms sharing a single Plexiglas shelter. Not being a regular wearer of women’s heeled shoes I tottered along behind Anne Marie to the bus at the front of the platform.
“Due retituisce a Bormio per favour.”
“7 euro a testa,” the driver replied.
We found seats; despite it being a service bus they were coach style so at least we’d have an element of comfort. It’s always a bit of a novelty to be a passenger rather than driver or courier and I settled down to enjoy the ride. However, Anne Marie had other ideas, we hadn’t set off before she started a non-stop, mostly one sided, conversation.
I missed the view out over Livigno; we were at Trepalle before she drew breath, the bus pulling up outside the ski lift station
“There is great skiing at the Mottolini,” motor mouth advised.
“Isn’t that where the cable car goes to, the one near the coach park?”
“Yes, there are several lifts up to 3000m.”
“Maybe a bit beyond me,” I allowed.
“It’s no worse than the Carosello, so maybe there are some technical runs.”
We were dropping down into Bormio in apparently no time, the continual chatter reducing the hour-long journey to a few glances at the outside world. It might be a bigger town than Livigno but the bus station was no better although it was at least in the town centre. Not sure what we’re going to do all day but here we are.
“Coffee first,” Anne Marie declared leading the way towards a convenient coffee house, metres from the bus stops.
“So er what’re we doing now?” I enquired once we’d got our caffeine kick.
“There are some nice shops along the Via Roma.”
Well she did say it was a shopping trip I suppose, not sure why I’ve had to get dressed up mind. It’s a ski resort so clearly there were plenty of stores selling all the clobber, expensive compared to Livigno but even I can pick out the big brands, several having their own brand stores. My guide paid these scant heed, I guess unless you need a new jacket or salopettes it’s not stuff you just window shop.
Interspersed with the sports stores were the boutiques and whilst there was a H&M concession we’re really talking designer stuff. My eyes boggled just looking in the windows, €600 for a pair of jeans!
“Come on,” Anne Marie encouraged at the door of one such store.
“Well you can’t buy through the windows,” she pointed out.
“I can’t afford this stuff,” not that I intend buying anything today anyhow.
“Neither can I,” she told me, “but they don’t know that.”
Obviously I’ve seen these places on my travels but it’s not like they are of any interest to me, Julia maybe but certainly not Chris. Inside it was empty, well not actually empty but the amount of stock was tiny, certainly not rails rammed with stuff. I took my lead from Anne Marie who had homed in on what looked like a pretty ordinary cable knit dress.
“What do you think Nena?” she asked holding it out for inspection.
“I think you’d need a perfect figure to do it justice, it’ll show any er, bumps,” I suggested.
“What are you saying?”
“I didn’t mean you, just that it’s not very er, forgiving.”
“You are right of course, maybe one for the ski bunnies.”
She moved on and I took the chance to check the tag, how much?
Whilst I declined to join in when she went as far as trying on a €900+ dress in one place, by the fifth store I was a bit more comfortable and was taking a little bit more interest.
“My feet are killing me,” I stated as we returned to the street.
Anne Marie raised a delicate brow.
“I don’t wear heels that often, not very practical on the bus,” I filled.
“Lunch then, Enoteca Guanella is not far.”
“Eh knot g’nella?”
“Enoteca Guanella, it’s a gem, you’ll love it.”
“Okay, lead on.”
Clearly my guide had been before as she didn’t hesitate in leading me into the, let’s say un-prepossessing interior after a short walk back towards the Via Roma. Well the restaurant was as promised, excellent – a typically rustic interior set the tone but the food. In the end I went for gnocchi al forno, the resulting bowl of pasta was huge, I had to leave some there was so much.
The shared bottle of red left me a little light headed, it’s a good job I’m not driving until the morning.
“A few more shops?” Anne Marie suggested.
“A few,” she allowed.
What the heck, “Lead on.”
We only actually managed one more shop as my ‘friend’ got distracted by an offer in Friseur Anton. Well a hairdresser is no worse than the expensive boutiques so I barely hesitated in following her inside.
©Maddy Bell 09.08.16
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