By Kelly Blake
Work was a bit frantic over the next few days. We had the opportunity to obtain a huge new account but the potential client wanted to see some ideas first. This was always a somewhat risky business because there was little to prevent an idea from being stolen. Anyway, I had been spending most of my time either at work or in my room attempting to come up with something to add to the collective creative pot.
I guess it was Wednesday night when I smelled an aroma so familiar and immensely stimulating and compelling that I needed to put my pencils down. I became too incredibly distracted and aroused that I was beside myself! And I couldn’t seem to refocus for anything. Suddenly there was a knock on my bedroom door.
“Hey Andi…would you like some popcorn?”
Popcorn…my bane…food of the Gods!!!
“Andi…” My door slowly opened and Allie stuck her head in. “Would you…”
“Yeah…! Sure…! Absolutely…!”
I hopped up on my knees, my pad sliding onto the bed. I felt almost like a dog with its paws up in a begging position. Allie entered my room smiling. I giggled upon noticing that she was wearing a similar nighttime outfit, her tee shirt dropping to just below her knees and her house robe falling open.
“Come sweetie. It’s in the kitchen. Do you like cooking shows? Want to join me for the Iron Chef?”
“Uhhh… Sure…” I grinned and followed Allie into the kitchen after grabbing and donning my robe whilst salivating the entire way as the aroma of the popcorn became almost overwhelming.
“Oh wow…! You made the real thing.”
There resting on the center island was a huge two gallon pot filled past the top lip with popcorn. Now I happen to consider myself the popcorn king…queen…royalty? But Allie’s did smell pretty good…for an amateur’s attempt.
Allie began to fill her bowl when I asked if she had a larger one that I could empty the pot into. She pointed toward one of the cabinets and I spotted a large bowl through the glass cabinet door. After dumping the contents of the pot into the bowl, I immediately went to the sink and, after putting a bit of soap into the pot, filled it with hot water and placed it on the counter top to soak.
“Oh you are so cool Andi. I think we’ll get along splendidly.” Allie’s smile was…blinding. “I’ll finish cleaning it later.”
“Nopers…! You cooked so I’ll clean.” I grinned.
“Oh we are definitely going to get along.” Allie giggled as her sparkling eyes gazed at me.
I actually loved to do the dishes, and the cleaning, and even the laundry with its many banal sub-tasks. The time provided me with the opportunity to think about…things…things that normally took up more valuable time on other occasions.
As we sat in her media room I relished the visual pleasure of watching the picture on a really large screen. I was so accustomed to my computer screen or the small set my mother had at home and now I sat in front of a sixty-inch monster. I sat at one end of the three seat center sectional piece of a huge multi-piece ‘pit’. Allie sat on the opposite end. I set the large bowl on the empty seat between us.
“Do you mind…?” I began to ask.
“Not at all…!” Allie replied before I could even finish my question.
“Are you sure?”
I went and retrieved a thick terry cloth towel to place beneath the bowl. We sat in somewhat comfortable silence as the show began. I used the towel to wipe my fingers and Allie appreciated that she could save the napkins she had previously brought in. I sat down and mimicked Allie’s position; my legs tucked beneath me, and my body leaning into the arm of the loveseat.
Allie grabbed a hand full of popcorn and eyed me closely, a look of curiosity on her face. She slowly picked kernel after popped kernel with her lips and slowly munched each whilst staring at me the entire time.
“What?” I smiled.
“Nothing...” Allie giggled and shook her head. “It’s just that…” She paused to pull a few more kernels into her mouth. “It’s just that…well…are all your clothes…they’re kind of…” Her face suddenly took on a pained expression as if she was afraid she might hurt me? “…kind of femme?”
I blushed and smiled and nodded my head.
“Yeah... Well…” I was quick to add. “…mostly androgynous…? It’s kind of like I told you. I just have this image of myself. Like in slacks and cute jackets and blouses, you know?”
Allie nodded her head but the curious look was still there. She sort of understood, but not quite. I turned my body slightly to face her more evenly.
“I like the way certain women’s clothes feel; the materials and the styles. But I don’t wear dresses or skirts or stuff.”
“Why not…?” Allie smiled and giggled.
I laughed nervously.
“Well…I always thought I would look ridiculous dressed that way. I mean…I know I’m a guy and I guess I do have my…limits?”
“Okay.” She shrugged. “Do you like the popcorn?” Thank God…! A different subject…! But I just knew she wasn’t done with this one.
“Oh yeah, it’s really good.”
Food always got me excited; recipes and such were such a rush. It was so much like what I do in that you take very ordinary things…like spices and such…and make something quite extraordinary by combining them.
“You must let me make this for you some time. I have a secret recipe that I think you’ll love.”
“Oh yeah…? What’s in it?”
Allie grabbed a throw pillow and clutched it to her; hugging it and resting her chin atop it. I took one from behind me and began to do the same.
“Oh no…!!! Not that one!!!” Allie was quite emphatic. “I sit on that one!!!”
“Ewww…” I held it up and away from my body and face.
“Try this one. It’s much better.”
She laughed as she handed me one closer in size to the one she held. I took it and again mimicked her by clutching it to my chest and resting my chin upon it. I could smell her scent on the pillow. I could smell something else that was quite…attractive; her essence maybe?
“So…?” Allie said with a giggle. “What’s in it?”
“Well…?” I giggled. “If I told you then it wouldn’t be a secret recipe.”
We spent the remainder of the evening very pleasantly watching various shows. Allie liked to skate channels but she always seemed to skate to particular shows. One was a fashion design show. Another was a bridal show. Whilst these programs were all kind of fantasy things, they were not all that far from what she did for a living. And yet I could sense it was the fantasy aspect she was enjoying.
Soon the large bowl was empty and the night was over. Allie joined me in the kitchen as I washed the bowls and pot. I wouldn’t let her do anything other than to show me where the things were kept. We talked of various bits of nothing; the kind of mindless talk that seems to bring people closer together whilst doing the drudgery part of living…such as washing and drying pots and bowls.
Saturday came around soon enough. I hadn’t seen much of Allie since our popcorn feed fest and, having come in only God knows when, I suspected I wouldn’t see her till sometime Saturday afternoon. Much to my surprise she joined me in the kitchen for coffee around ten. She didn’t look well at all with dark circles beneath her reddened eyes and her skin paler than I’d ever seen it.
I poured her a mug and slid it across the counter top to her. Allie smiled weakly and bent over the counter slightly holding her forehead in her hand. She made no move toward the milk and sugar I had placed in front of her.
“You should probably go back to bed for a while. You really don’t look so good.”
“I’ll be okay after I shower.” She spoke without looking up. “Anyway, we both need to have our heads chopped.”
“Would you like something to eat? Can I fix you anything? Maybe some…”
Allie held up her hand palm out telling me to stop. She looked up and again smiled weakly.
“If I eat, I’ll only barf it up. Too much of everything last night...” She placed her forehead onto her palm with her elbow on the counter top.
I stayed with her long enough to know that she was beginning to come around and then I left her to get myself ready for the day. I quickly showered and washed my hair. Having never been to a salon, or having had my hair cut by a ‘stylist’, I didn’t know what to expect. The one thing I did know was that it was way long and I didn’t want any tangles to exacerbate the styling situation.
After donning a panty and tee, I blow dried my hair combing it straight back. It fell to my shoulders so I knew there would be latitude to try something…edgy…for me? I dressed in a simply cotton short sleeved apple green blouse with front buttons and a pair of buff colored cotton Capri pants. My skimmers matched my blouse and a simple cordovan leather belt completed the outfit.
I looked at my image in the mirror and it didn’t quite match the one I had in my mind. I needed earrings. I had gotten my ears pierced when I first entered college. It was something I felt I needed to do and, with no one to stop me or make weird comments, I went and did it on my second day away from home. I had two piercings done in each ear lobe. I actually considered having three in one lobe. I was always a sucker for asymmetry but I figured I could always have it done later.
I rummaged through my jewelry box to find something…suitable. Though I always purchased two sets of the same earrings, I rarely wore the two. In fact, I often wore a dissimilar set again out of a sense of asymmetry. But today I went for my favs; antique glass beaded drops. The largest bead hung from the bottom and progressively smaller ones went up to the hook.
I loved the way light hit the facets of the beads because a multitude of colorations flashed with gold and brown being predominant. I also had a matching three-strand necklace and bracelets that I promptly dug out and put on. I dashed to the bathroom mirror to check myself out. This was def much better. The drop earrings hung down about three and one half inches that was perfect for highlighting my long and slender neck.
I glanced down at the bracelets and shook them rapidly. The design was such that it was difficult to see where the catch was. The thought flashed through my mind that it might be nice to be secured to a bedpost with silk scarves running beneath the bracelets and then tortured with the gentle sensation of fingertips caressing my body. I shivered with a flash of excitement and wondered ‘where ever did that thought come from’?
Back at the jewelry box I surveyed my assortment of rings. As with my other adornments, these were nothing truly precious but each piece was selected very carefully. I hated junk and the only thing worse was tasteless junk. I reached for my ‘cats eye’ agate, which was my fave piece and that went on my right index finger. Next a silver band with a polished amazonite stone for my left pinky and a jaspagate for my right pinky.
I grabbed my hobo bag after throwing my wallet into it. I met Allie in the kitchen. She took one look at me and laughed. My hands flew to my face. What had I done wrong? Was I that off in what I had chosen?
“What?” I was nearly in tears. “Do I look that awful?”
“Oh no sweet heart…” Allie’s expression suddenly turned to concern. She reached out and took my hands in hers, pulling them away from my face. “You look amazing! You look like you’re ready to go out and get laid!” She laughed again.
“Too much…?” I knew it! Well…maybe not really.
“We’re going out for a haircut honey. You look like you’re ready for a date.”
“Okay…wait just a minute and I’ll change.”
“Oh no you don’t…!” The serious look on Allie’s face was simply that; serious. “I wish I looked as good. Are you sure you’re not hiding a vagina on you somewhere? Maybe in your pocket or something…?” She giggled.
We both laughed at that thought and we headed down for the street. But her comment echoed in my ears. What would I do with a vagina even if I had one? Allie took my arm as we strolled toward the salon. Her easy chattering help sooth my nerves. Having never done a salon before, I had no idea of what to expect. And even though I saw other guys in the shop upon entering, my nervousness was still not quelled.
The first thing that struck me upon entering the salon was the smells. My all too prominent nose was assaulted by the stench of chemical…fumes. I found it hard to believe that anyone would want anything that smelled like what I smelled in his or her head. The second thing that struck me was the very loud techno music blasting over the speakers. Allie must have sensed my hesitancy.
“Don’t worry Andi. We’re not doing anything radical…today.” Her giggle didn’t help.
A woman, perhaps slightly older than Allie, approached us. She greeted Allie warmly and was introduced to me as Leona.
“Allie has told me all about you.” Oh my God…! All about me…? “You really look amazing and I’m sure I can add quite a bit to your look. We need to wash your hair first.”
Leona swept my hair back over my ears and removed my earrings.
“Here honey…you’d better hold these. They’ll only get in the way.” She began to hand them to me.
“I’ll take those.” Allie held her palm out and Leona dropped the earrings into her hand. Allie took each one by the hook and gazed at them. “These are really quite lovely.” She held them against her lobes and gazed at herself in the mirror. “I may not give these back to you.”
She laughed as she turned her head this way and that, checking out the swing of the beads as she held her golden locks back as she watched them swing. They did look great on her but really…take them?
Leona took my arm and gently, but firmly also sensing my hesitation, escorted me to a line of sinks about halfway through the shop. She sat me down and didn’t simply shampoo my hair; she massaged my scalp as well. I felt so relaxed by the time Leona finished that I was reluctant to get up from the chair.
Leona quickly and briskly towel dried my hair and escorted me to her station which was at the front of the shop. She removed the towel from my head, placed a cape around me, and sprayed some clear liquid all over my head. She then briskly massaged that throughout my hair and then combed it out.
“God…your hair is so straight and thick!” Leona laughed. “And long… We can do a lot with it. Did you have anything special in mind?”
“Uhhh…” OMG…! Who thinks that far ahead? “Maybe trim the ends?”
My psychic pain must have shown on my face. I had no idea what-so-ever.
“Well? You’re in the real world now Andi and you need something that looks great and is easy to care for. You can’t spend hours making it look good and the pony tail will become a bit worn after a while? You need a look so you might as well start now”
Allie was right on that one. Though I had the pony tail for years, I was in the business world now and had to at least look the part. Leona rubbed her chin in thought as she glanced at Allie, and then me. Almost at the same time they both chanted.
“Chin length bob!” Their gaze switched from each other to me and their smiles were almost mischievous. I, of course, had no idea of what they were speaking about; chin length bob?
Now I must tell you, nothing is more frightening then having to step into the unknown with both eyes closed and with the biggest leap possible. When Leona took her shears and clipped a long length of hair off of the side of my head, I lost my voice and kind of squeaked. Then I shut my eyes to both ladies’ giggles and let Leona do her thing.
I tried to block everything out, especially the clipping noise of Leona’s shears. But it was simply not possible. Between the ‘music’, the clipping noise, and Leona and Allie’s constant chatter, I was besieged by sounds. The only saving grace was that I knew this would end…someday! And finally it did.
“Okay sweet heart… Open your eyes.” Even with my eyes closed I could ‘hear’ Leona’s smile.
I opened them as Leona swung the chair around to face the mirror. I was shocked, no stunned and totally blown away by the image in the mirror!
“It needs to be washed again and blown out but…” Leona bent down a bit to appear alongside my ear with a big smile. “…let me show you something.” Leona grabbed a thin cylinder and sprayed a glob of foam into her palm. “Just in the event…” Leona spread the foam throughout my hair and then combed it straight back. The kind of femme chin length bob was gone and a kind of butchy guy cut took its place.
“Nice…huh…?” She giggled.
I smiled as I turned my head this way and that. I had to admit the cut was…perfect! Leona took me back to the sinks and once again washed my hair. Then, after towel drying, I was ushered back to her station where she blew dried and combed out my new ‘do’. I also had to admit that the more I watched her work her magic, the more I liked what she had done.
My smile was a mile wide by the time she had finished. I loved it! Fluffed out slightly it seemed to complete a picture in my head. I touched the sides of my new cut gently as if too heavy a hand would break it. The bangs were longish and the middle part kind of hid my forehead. I shook my head rapidly, playing with the way my hair simply seemed to easily fall back into place.
Leona shouted letting me know that Allie now needed the space I occupied as well as her styling talents. Before Leona could even raise her shears, I held my palm out to Allie and giggled. She took the little darlings out of her ears and placed them in my palm.
“But I do want to wear them one day…and maybe with the necklace?”
I smiled and nodded. I actually felt quite warm and fuzzy with the idea that someone like Allie, who I considered to be quite well put together, even in this casual mode, would covet something I owned. After putting them back where they belonged, I stood off to the side half watching Leona work and half watching myself in the mirror. I think I was falling in love with myself; my image!
After Allie got trimmed, we went to a small restaurant nearby. We sat outside and had sandwiches and a glass of wine.
“So what are you up to tonight?” Allie asked a great question because I really had no idea.
“I was thinking of maybe doing one or two of the galleries. Preston’s had a new exhibit using glass and light.” Suddenly a light bulb went off in my head! “Want to come along?”
I nearly made a sour face after I spoke. Did I sound…desperate…for company? Allie’s eyebrows shot up in surprise and she smiled and giggled.
“Are you asking me out on a date?”
“No…I…” I blushed a totally new shade of crimson and began to mentally choke up.
“Relax sweetie…I’m just teasing.” Allie giggled again.
She does have such a lovely giggle when I think about it. I cleared my throat.
“I just thought you might like to see something new and…to be totally honest…I would love your company.”
“Oh God…you are so sweet. And…actually…? I’d love to go.” Allie frowned a bit. “But I have a date tonight.”
Her voice trailed off a bit. She looked down at her hands. I knew that gesture well enough. I reached across the table and covered her hands with mine.
“Something you feel like…talking about?” As if I’m an expert in anything other than inks and crayons.
Allie took a deep breath and let it out. She looked up at me and then took my hand in hers.
“No… It’s just that…this guy…” Allie looked up at me and back to our hands. I could sense she was mulling something over. “It’s just that I’ve been seeing him for six months now and nothing is happening…you know?”
No…not really... But I’m willing to learn. I mean you could count my relationships on a no-fingered hand. But I knew about hurt and pain and that’s what I sensed in Allie.
“Nothing…?” I said in a surprised manner.
She giggled and smiled again. Well…that is something I guess.
“You’re so silly. I mean he treats me nicely and he is attentive when we’re together and the sex is…well…amazing.” She rolled her eyes upward as a huge grin appeared upon her face.
“But…well…every time I mention taking it to the next level? He’s just not there.”
In truth I wasn’t really sure what she meant by the next level? But I could guess it was an intimacy type of thingy.
“Well how often do you see him anyway?” Allie looked up at me and I could see there was a bit of anger in her eyes.
“Well you see…that’s just the thing. Sometimes I see him almost every day and other times he’s gone…like for a week or two.”
“He travels a lot for his work. He’s a financial analyst? He visits the companies he analyses and sometimes he’s gone for as long as two weeks.”
At this point I really should have kept my mouth shut and simply stayed a good roommate. But nooo…not me…! I could see tears begin to well up and I really felt for her. I mean…maybe I was just reading too many personal advice columns or something.
“Well how about holidays? Is he with you then or does his traveling know no bounds?”
“Sometimes he’s with me.”
Honestly I would have expected ‘sometimes we’re together, you know?
“What does his family think of you?”
“Well, my family seems to like him though we don’t often visit them. But he’s not on great terms with his parents? I haven’t met them yet.”
He’s married! Can’t you figure that out? What’s wrong with you? Don’t you know that he’ll never get any ‘closer’?
“Oh God…” I frowned. “That’s such a shame.”
“Yeah…” Allie looked down at her hands again and then took another sip…well…actually more of a gulp. “I don’t know what to do.” Her voice dripped of sadness.
FUCKING DROP HIM!!! HE’S MARRIED YOU FOOL!!!
“Well…maybe you should cancel tonight and see what his response will be.”
“Yeah... I did that once and he got all bent out of shape. ‘Oh…we have so little time together as it is’…” Allie animated what she said in a whiny voice and flopping hands. “…and ‘I can’t be without you’ and ‘I had such a special night planned for us’…it was almost embarrassing. It was like I was the guilty party, you know. And what was worse is that I felt like I was.”
LEAVE HIM! HE WILL CRUSH YOUR HEART..YOUR SOUL!
Why can’t she hear me? Why can’t I simply take her by the neck and wring the truth into her? I felt so connected to her pain. I knew what it was like to pine for something…someone I couldn’t have.
“My friend Jillian…? She thinks he’s married.”
NO SHIT SHERLOCK!
I felt like smacking the back of her head and hitting the reset button.
“She could be right you know. At least it sounds like he’s hiding something.”
“Yeah… I know.” Allie verged on tears.
What had started out as a really nice day had kind of turned to poopie shit. It was my fault I know. I shouldn’t have gotten so involved in Allie’s personal life. It really was none of my business. But I couldn’t help myself. There was something about her that I could relate to. I suppose in a way we bonded…over popcorn…at the salon? I guess weirder things have happened. I wanted desperately to change the topic at this point.
“Listen sweetie…” My first term of endearment for her...? “I hope you don’t mind and I certainly don’t want to encroach on you, but, would you give me a call on my cell phone if you stay out all night…or if your plans change?” Allie looked at me with a very surprised expression.
“Sure Andi…but why?” She smiled sadly.
“So I don’t worry about you? Anyway, it’s a good thing to do. I’ll call you in the event that a miracle occurs and I’m out all night. Okay…?”
“Oh God… That’s so sweet. Okay... Yeah, it’s a good idea.”
We walked back to the apartment arm in arm and, truth to tell, I felt very comfortable that way. I mean…it was not like she was my girlfriend and yet…in a very real sense…she def was my girlfriend…or at least becoming that.
I did get back into the feeling of my new hairstyle. I felt so very much lighter without that mop on my head and I loved the way the wind caught strands and locks of my hair, tussling it about. And I was even getting a few…stares? Allie was quick to notice and pointed out how both guys and women were checking me out.
When we arrived back at the apartment, Allie went to her room to rest up for her date and I went to mine to undress, get comfy, and stare at myself in the bathroom mirror. There was no doubt that the cut helped hide my longish face and unduly large beak. There was also no doubt that I would have an interesting day on Monday at the office looking as I did now.
To be continued
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