"You weren't supposed to find out about this," Tony cheats at me through my husband's bedside iPhone. "Besides, if you could keep your man happy, we wouldn't even be talking about this now, would we?"
Call it arranged infidelity if you like, some aerosol Easy Cheese dispensation of relationship hubris onto somebody else's cracker, but tonight's attempt at indiscretion doesn't come exactly as a surprise. About a week ago, whilst in the throes of whatever makes the onion bloom in his wild prairie of a head, my husband Alan — who is not exactly known for his graceful public appearances — had another one of his brilliant ideas, this one involving the going of the out.
Exactly four clumsy sighs after he got mad at me for not calling up Rollins' WPRK radio wave emission outpost and screaming "Glen Campbell" at somebody who probably doesn't know who Glen Campbell is for no apparent reason, he clattered and knocked out a directive: there was a'gonna be a country show up at Will's Pub, and hoo-doggy he wanted to go. Great, I thought. That can be arranged.
A rhinestone dropped from a cowboy hat off in the distance.
In the ensuing week, it was tacitly decided that powder-keg revolutionary Alan would probably just accompany Tony to the hayride, a notion that would somehow Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice its way into a sticky Frederick's of Hollywood catalog of sneaky ‘70s winks and nudges for Tony and I, but one that in it's metaphoric process of spermination clearly bypassed Alan's steely gaze of prudence. Which brings us to right now, in my living room, awkwardly.
"Oh, you're going," Alan's eyes go all menacing and punitive at the sound of the jig being up. "I'll be damned if you're not."
"Even better, I might have a drink, and you can't," the policing continues.
"I'll be sneaking him drinks," Tony intercedes.
Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf? I am.
Fortunately, there doesn't seem to be a boot to shoehorn my anxiety into yet when we first arrive, just some minor-key four-part harmonies in sound check mode surrounded by the shuffling of early bird heels supporting 10-gallon heads with wrinkles on them. Interspersed in the aging Folkways crowd are just the right number of fey boys in skinny jeans to suggest Brooklyn or Austin or Portland decided there was a niche in need of some irony siding, so what the hell, let's form a band. But there's also the cold comfort that Alan and I had one of our first dates at Will's (albeit the old Will's) some 10 years ago. Oh, how we drank and fought and drank again.
"Why don't you get us a drink?" Alan's left eye twitches a little.
The three of us Dixie Chicks grab a table in a corner next to a safari-themed video game with tits and set about on the slow motion square dance of public conversation where none is really due. In many ways it's like the forced chatter of ski-masked robbers waiting for the dynamite to explode on the safe, but in others, oddly, it's the annoyingly cerebral consonant-clacking peculiar to dorm room heads exploding under blacklights.
"Truth … blah-blah … subjectivity … blah-blah … Kierkegaard!" Tony's moleskin is showing.
"Nihilism … blah-blah … evil … blah-blah … I am not Nietzsche!" Alan's bathes the letter "s" in a fast glass of wine.
"You guys are totally blowing my mind," I should have killed myself in high school.
A woman with a baby in a bar walks by to stare at the digitized safari tits and get bathed in nicotine, a little vignette of awful that overpowers the pages of philosophy and smacks us back to the terrible white of now. Our only real conundrum is whether to exhale.
Some girl from some band from somewhere between Chicago and Indianapolis happens upon our respiratory stall with a conundrum all her own, lazily bathing in Alan's compliments on her vocal prowess while exhaling her own stupidity poison. Tony grills her on the "twang scene" in Chicago causing her face to go blank, then grants her a pass with a query as to her influences in the hallowed world of country and western music. She's never even heard of country and western music although she is in a country and western band.
"Well then how would you characterize your sound?" Tony CMJ-softballs.
"Folk-pop?" she Jewels.
Alan, never one to miss a good airing of his "get the guest" routine, has spotted his glazed-eyed opportunity.
"So you haven't even asked us what we do yet," he releases the safety on his verbal shotgun.
"Oh, sorry. What do you do?"
"Wellllll," Alan's left crazy eye darts to me and then back again, "I am embarking on a revolutionary plan that will start with taking over the smaller mines in the former Belgian Congo territories, then we'll move up to the larger mines, and then …"
It goes on for about 10 minutes like this and ends, peculiarly, with Alan finally finding that errant tail he's been circuitously chasing and promptly spitting it out.
"Nah, why bother?" reason kicks in. "I wouldn't really want to lead people. People are dumb."
Our little Leann Rimes has already disappeared by the end of the diatribe (which is unfortunate, because I think it was about her), as has Tony, at least for the moment.
"Where'd Tony go?" Alan hops out of his African video game and back into our festering domesticity vortex. "He snuck off to get you another glass of wine, didn't he?"
"I have no idea," I lie. "I mean, I think he might have gone to the bathroom."
He hasn't. Tony arrives back at the table with a glass of wine balanced on the palm of his hand, casting a sideways ‘70s look at Alan.
"If you could keep your man happy," he splashes a little, "we wouldn't be talking about this now, would we?"firstname.lastname@example.org