After my drinking buddy Patti got to move away from Winterville, I was alone for a while, but then I was amazed to make friends with a very sassy woman named Salina. I arranged to meet her at a local coffee shop (to make sure that our original meeting wasn't something I dreamed up and that she did in fact exist!) and here's how it went.
There I sat in a stuffed chair at the downtown coffee shop, relaxed in my jeans, long-sleeved shirt, leather jacket, and high-heeled boots, enjoying a hot tea. Then, I felt someone staring daggers at me, and turned to investigate.
She looked vaguely familiar, but it had been a while since I’d given up networking with Winterville’s young professionals and I didn’t recognize her from any of my jobs. She was undoubtedly a Winterville native, with straight hair striped with highlights hanging to the middle of her back and a figure that could only be described as Rubenesque. Although her gaze was fixed on me, there was no flicker of recognition from her when I met her glare, so I casually looked down at my magazine and waited for Sal to arrive.
I combed through my memory archive. Who could she be? I wondered. Then, it came back to me. She was one of the people I saw at the young professionals mixer, the only one there with a naked ring finger like mine.
A minute or so later, Sal walked in and spotted me right away.
“Hey!” she said, setting down her large yellow bag in an overstuffed chair next to mine. “Love the hair. How are you?”
“Fine,” I said. “Thanks for meeting me.”
“Of course!” she said. “I’m going to get some coffee; I’ll be right back.”
There was no line at the register, so they served her right away. She carefully set down the cup of coffee and then collapsed into the chair.
“It took a lot to get me moving this morning. What is up with it being so cold?” she asked, fidgeting with the bright yellow scarf around her neck. “It’s actually warmer in D.C. today than it is here. Too bad my trip home didn’t last this long.”
“How was it?” I asked.
“Pretty good. I caught up with my ex. That was good- I’ve really missed him since moving here. Not that we have long-term potential or anything, but male companionship every once in a while is nice.”
“I know what you mean,” I said. “I went to a party at a pub in my old hometown right before Christmas. I swear half the guys I liked in high school were there. I thought I’d forgotten how to flirt, but somehow I was able to dig deep and remember.”
“We just haven’t had any practice!” she said and laughed. “So how was your new year’s celebration? Anything fun?”
“Actually, I went out back home with some of my longtime friends,” I said, “for a rockabilly show. Got to dance with some cute English dude. He was extremely noncommittal and very happy to know I was from somewhere else. But still, dancing with a cute guy is dancing with a cute guy. What about you?”
“A house party back home. My ex and a lot of our old friends were there. It was relaxing and so, so fun. I got to talk to so many people. I really miss that. And you know how it is; it seems like life starts back up again once you leave this town.”
We laughed. At the same time, a group of women nearby erupted into laughter. I recognized the Rubenesque starer and She Who Flaunted Her Diamond Ring among them.
“Do you know any of them?” I asked Sal.
“Not really, but I know who they are. We have to cover what they do in the magazine. They’re Junior League.”
“What’s the deal with the one with the blonde streaks?”
“Jane, they all have blonde streaks.”
“The one shaped like Barney the Dinosaur, then,” I said, and she laughed.
“Oh. Rebecca Johnson. She’s the daughter of a rich couple in town. She’s been a b bridesmaid about 15 times; they like to publish wedding pictures of rich local families in the magazine. Anyway, I’ve heard she’s a real bitch. She seems nice to my face, but it’s that fake nice, you know? I keep a good distance from her just in case.”
“Interesting. She was just giving me the stink-eye.”
“Well, I guess life hasn’t been easy for her since Thompson, Bell and Johnson was shut down. Pretty big deal for her family I’m sure.”
“Oh yeah, I worked there!” I said. “Briefly,” I added.