Had she missed the bus? I stood outside the movie theater with a view of the bus stop, waiting for JC* and watching the buses go by. She knew the stops and times by heart, so it was unlike her to have made a mistake. My thoughts were disturbed by the nagging horn of a new, shiny, black car parked right in front of me and as the passenger window automatically rolled down, I was surprised to see a smiling JC inside.
Astonished, I approached the car as she happily said “…This is Richard, He was kind enough to give me a lift…” I must admit, I liked him as soon as I saw him. It wasn’t just because he was trim and tan, with a well-coifed head of white hair. There was something about him that reminded me of my dad; he exuded an inner confidence, a swagger about him. I’m sure that JC had noticed it too.
I said a quick hello as she jumped out of the car and they said their goodbyes. After our usual greeting of a kiss on each cheek, she assumed we were going straight into the theater. “…Oh, no…“, I said. “…There is no way I can watch a movie for two hours without the quick version of what just happened…”
She smiled coyly as we found a place to chat. Last night, she had attended a Cinco de Mayo Dance with a friend of hers. Richard had asked her to dance and after a few dances in a row, stated assertively that he was taking her to dinner Saturday night. Always the savvy New Yorker, she declined politely, not comfortable going on an outing with a complete stranger.
After much conversation, Richard’s son intervened. He had invited his dad to the dance in the hopes he might meet someone and wound up to be the one who finally brokered the deal: JC would choose the restaurant and Richard would meet her there.
After a few more dances, exchanging contact information and making their final plans, JC assumed she would not see Richard again until Saturday, so was surprised when her doorman said he was in her lobby the next afternoon. The giant bouquet of roses hid his smiling face and the light kiss on the cheek surprised her. She explained that she was on her way out and he offered to drive her to the movies.
From then on, her life was a constant soiree of cocktails and dinners at lovely restaurants, movie dates, afternoons at the race track, all commencing with a dozen roses. Just as I had done so many times in the past when I had a date, she would model her outfits for me and together we would choose just the right accessories.
It was Mr. Wiz* who brought us both back to reality. He had a devotion to my mom and always felt very protective of her, especially since my dad’s passing. The first evening that we double dated, he hardly spoke and I could see that he was taking it all in. The next day, he announced to me bluntly “… There is something about Richard that I do not like. He’s a con man…” Mr. Wiz was too good a judge of character for me to dismiss his opinion. And after all, what did we really know about Richard?
Fortunately, at the same time, JC was starting to have her doubts. As much as she wanted the fairytale to continue, she was too clever not to notice the red flags that slowly would begin to wave right in front of her eyes. Richard mentioned how he missed home cooking and hinted that dinners at home (her home) would be much more romantic. He suggested that if she purchased the racing channel, they could watch the horse races cozily at home (her home). He would allude to the fact that living together (in her home) would be the ultimate happy ending.
Some people are born with a certain magnetism and allure and create illusions that can carry them through an entire lifetime. Richard was one of these people. Seeing that his demonstrative performances were not working on JC, he set the stage for his reality. Yes, he did live in that condo in that affluent town, but he was only renting a bedroom from a millennial that constantly traveled. Yes, he was a crossing guard, but he did it for the salary and not to volunteer. Yes, it was his car, but it was leased and he could just about make the payments. And yes, Saturday nights, he did look like he had stepped out of a Polo Ralph Lauren ad, but that was his only dress outfit and he carefully took care of it.
Richard was perplexed. Why was his usual strategy not working this time? Little did he know that his scheme’s demise occurred when he casually mentioned that JC would have to share her closet with him when he moved in. No one gets between JC and her closet. If life were a chess game, his one last aggressive move of a one week deadline to make a decision was checkmated on the spot by JC’s response: she was not looking for a roommate.
And so, marked the departure of the Dickster, my nickname for the handsome hustler who chose the wrong woman to dance with on Cinco de Mayo.
*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.