My Insouciant Companion

24 Jun

Have you ever known a lesbian who considered herself a model citizen, a standing member of the community, a solid woman by all standards – good job, established home owner, nice car, a tidy savings – all the established prerequisites. And then you  come to find that she is, in fact, clearly out of her mind.

This is about a story of one such woman.

My Insouciant Companion


There was a group of lesbians in Albany, New York who, at the time, seemed to hang around with each other week after week. I used to call them the “Century 21 real estate agents.” Century 21 –   is not the big real estate agency it once was, and I suspect the group of lesbians who once hung around week after week aren’t hanging around with each other anymore either.

But at the time, and for about a good ten years after that, the Century 21 spent their time with themselves and no one else. I believed these women were all very well-to-do. At the party they all talked about their jobs – their good, well-established jobs – their homes, their manicured lawns (each had either a landscaper or took the time to garden), they were tanned – truly an anomaly in the northeastern climate – and they all had similar hairdos. I remember this distinctly about their hair: short, teased up high on the top, caramel-colored, with vanilla streaks of frost in a bang coming down just over their brows. If they had a gold blazer, like the Century 21 agents used to wear, they’d all be salespeople, and in my eyes they somehow were salespeople, albeit the unscrupulous type.

Invariably they were paired, the older butch with a younger femme – not by many years, maybe 10 years, but a defining difference in age nonetheless. The older woman, typically in her late 40’s, would sit next to her younger counterpart with adoring eyes, fawning over her like a chimp would fawn over her young preening its baby chimp with no regard for time.  And this is what I saw, as Linda picked at Deb – for what seemed like minutes on end, straightening Deb’s bra strap into its rightful place. That younger counterpart in this situation was my roommate, Deb.

One of the only reasons I went to this party in the first place was that Deb didn’t want to go alone because she didn’t know Linda too long and wanted me to tag along. It was a pity invite and I knew it, but I enjoyed the hors d’oeuvres and tequila. The party ran high into the evening and with the summer sky on a clean black slate, and the stars dancing on the  ceiling, I wasn’t feeling half bad.

There were five couples, and, in appearance, two other single women, and myself. The couples looked somewhat alike, same kind of body type (but that happens when women are together for some time – they sometimes start to dress alike, too; thank God Deb didn’t look like Linda).

Deb was a strawberry-blonde, mid-thirties, slim, not tall, insouciant – and yet was a self-made woman who had started her own photography business (and it was successful) only three years earlier. Deb did well financially. Linda did well financially too, in spite of a face like a brute and a mole the size of a dime near her right eye.  In fact while I was drunk but still cognizant, I realized everyone at the party had made more money than me – a lot more. I was definitely the poorest.

“Have another drink,” I heard. Her voice, coming my way, where it seemed to follow me right to where I stood while munching away on the cheese and crackers, was a tone of concern but then she scoffed, “like you need it,” and turned away and walked back to Deb out of my sight and out of range for me to reply. And I thought, “Linda, you stink, and my friend is too good for you.”

Deb bowed her head in knowing as she sat under a spotlight in a chaise lounge near the tiki torches that blew citronella smells around her, while Linda positioned Deb between her thighs in front like a bull rider about to be let out a gate.

I stood nearly twenty feet away but Deb could see me motion my head, craning my neck for her attention. Underneath I was saying, “Come here, I have something to tell you.”

I walked off to a quiet place inside the house – the kitchen! A few seconds later the door opened and in walked the biggest of the Century 21 agent hair, with the biggest of Century 21 smiles you could ever see.

“Hey!” she says, “What’s your name again, I saw you with Linda!”

I was leaning against the sink.

“Excuse me,” she says, “I need the sink.”

I moved left so fast I nearly banged my elbow against the refrigerator door. “Oh, sorry!” I said nervously, “I was just waiting for Deb!”

“Deb….Deb….”  she trails off, big Century 21 is washing a dish, a glass, she is hurrying, and then she says, “She’s with Linda, right?”

She talked fast, her blonde-frosted hair was so tight on her head it looked like flypaper. She was slouching over the sink, and I noticed she was very freckled-faced and when she turned to wipe her hands she smiled, and then I noticed a gape between her teeth.

I said, “Not sure she’s with Linda. But, yes… Deb’s my roommate…she invited me.”

“How do you do?!” She’s excited and stretches out her soapy wet hand, “ I’m Marcia. What’s your name?”

“I’m Terry.”

“Oh, right, right. So…”

Here the pregnant pause, here comes the question. I know this question, I always know this question, so when she asked,

“So… what do you do?” This is the qualifying question; this is the “How much do you make?” question, and all I’m thinking is,  “Where the fuck is Deb?”

And then:

“There you are! Are you drunk enough, buddy?!”

I could feel Deb’s hand slap me on the back and a deep rub of a quick massage across my shoulders lightens me up.

“Hey, Deb,” I said, “Your timing is excellent.”

“Are you having a good time?” Marcia said to Deb, her voice grew two octaves higher over the sight of Deb.

Deb’s charm claimed all souls, so when she told Marcia in response to her question, “This has to be, by far, the most perfect barbeque,” Marcia smiled wide and said,

“Alright, perfect. I’m going back outside…” her voice began to trail away, “if you need the guest bathroom it’s down the hall to the right.”

With Marcia out of sight and everyone out of earshot I said to Deb in a low urgent voice, “Let’s get out of here. Let’s go to Girl Bar.”

And then we both turned when we heard, “Now why would you want to leave a perfect party?”

To Be Continued

Copyright of Terry Rachel, 2011

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