Part of my idea for this blog was to play around with some characters in my head who haven’t warranted a full novel. I’m going to have them each as a “guest blogger” of sorts. I’ll label the parts of their story numerically so you can follow along. I’ll also create a category for each character over on the right-hand sidebar. I might do a Cast of Characters type page as well, once there are several residing here. Until then, here’s the first one, Reed Callaway…
There is one word that has the power to repel any man, young or old, rich or poor, handsome or plain.
“Lawyer,” I say, counting down: 3…2…he’s looking me up and down, trying to reconcile the long legs extending from a short red dress and the long, flowing blonde hair…1.
“You’re a lawyer?” he asks, as if he could more easily comprehend a unicorn or a leprechaun appearing before him.
Continuing the conversation is pointless. It won’t last more than another minute or two. Then he’ll retreat to the other side of the room so as not to catch whatever it is female lawyers exude from their being. If you haven’t heard, this decade’s version of the black plague is carried solely by females with a law license.
I smile sweetly, “I sure am. Do I not look like Perry Mason to you?”
“It’s just…” he says, stammering as he looks me up and down again, “female lawyers aren’t usually so attractive.”
“It must be that memo we get in law school, the one about how makeup and trendy clothes are grounds for disbarment. Thanks for the compliment though.” I flash another mega-watt smile at him. I know better, but I secretly hope maybe this guy is different.
He continues to eye me while he swigs the frothy amber nearly overflowing the glass in his hand. I’m sure he never imagined I’d passed any bar other than maybe the one next door on my way in from the parking lot.
There’s an awkward pause as he plans his exit strategy. It’s easy to be psychic when you’ve relived the scenario night after night in every bar in town.
“Well, I just wanted to say hi. My buddy, Reggie, over there,” he says, pointing back to his friends by the door, “it’s his last night before reporting to the Army. Gotta go throw a few back for old time’s sake.”
I’m relieved when he scurries back to his buddies, no doubt telling them the crazy tale about the blonde who looked like a bombshell and turned out to just be a bomb.
I finger the skinny straw protruding from my vodka tonic, rolling it between perfectly manicured red nails. They’re fake, like my hair. It’s not my fault I inherited weak nails and impossibly dark hair that makes my natural skin tone resemble paste. As I stab at the lime in my drink with frustration, I wonder why maintaining my appearance means I can’t also be intelligent and successful.
Don’t men always say they want a smart, beautiful female by their side? Who knew there were qualifiers? She has to be smart, but not smarter than him. She can make money, but he has to make more.
Aubrey arrives and convinces me that it’s who I’m meeting and where I’m meeting them. “Reed, honey,” she says, her voice as sweet and Southern as a Vidalia Onion, “you’re never gonna meet a man in a bar.”
I protest, but a third vodka tonic convinces me to return to her house, where we grab a bottle of wine and stare at the inviting welcome of eMatch.com on her computer screen.
I thrust my empty glass at her, which she answers by sliding the bottle in my direction, distracted with the checkboxes lined up in front of her. She’s already clicked on Create New Account and is mulling a decision between describing me as Skinny and Petite. When she chooses blue for my eyes, I remind her they’re grey. Like my grandfather, rest his soul.
I’m halfway through a bottle of Two Buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s when she says, “You have 21 matches already,” smiling through perfectly white teeth. It’s easy to dole out dating advice when you’re dating the most perfect specimen of male in all of Atlanta. Aubrey’s boyfriend, Nate, is a former baseball player turned stock broker. Aubrey is a teacher, who makes considerably less than him and has dinner ready every night when he walks through the door. Enough said.
To my amazement, several of the guys actually look like men I would date. Brad, a 32-year-old fellow slave to the billable hour, plays tennis and enjoys vacations to the beach. A commercial real estate broker, Peter, is my age (26) and shares my devotion to the Florida Gators.
Aubrey disapproves of Jordan, a 27-year-old auto mechanic. “It’s not that he’s an auto mechanic,” she says, in that bless-his-soul tone of voice that says that’s exactly what it is,“it’s that he didn’t go to college. I’m afraid you have nothing in common.”
I tell her to add him to the list because I find his green eyes delicious. Or maybe it’s just the wine I find delicious, it’s hard to tell at this point.
Aubrey skillfully sends messages out to Brad, Peter and Jordan, wherein she chooses from contrived questions like: What’s your philosophy on travel? Where would you go on a Friday night? How would you describe your relationship with your parents?
We stumble onto her back porch, giggling about the guy whose Olympic swimmer Halloween costume revealed a tad too much in his photograph. “I’m sorry,” Aubrey says between giggles, “but did the words ‘banana hammock’ not cross his mind when he chose yellow?”
I burst out laughing, nearly choking on my Chardonnay. “It’s only funny because you aren’t the one who is reduced to dating Banana Boy. Me, on the other hand, I’m only laughing to keep from crying.”
We continue to have drunken fits of laughter over the guy who looks an uncanny amount like his dog and the one who really did see a spaceship last fall (seriously though, what does it say about me that they matched me with that one).
I wake up the next morning, a bit chilly from having slept (er, passed out) on the wicker loveseat on Aubrey’s screened-in back porch. My head is throbbing and my tongue is stuck to the roof of my mouth, unable to free itself because I’m so dehydrated that my salivary glands have gone on strike. I look around for Aubrey, but find no trace she was ever here, not even an empty wine glass. Really, who can polish off two bottles of wine and still be sober enough to clean up before they go to bed?
Aubrey, that’s who. Perhaps the mystery of her having a man and me not isn’t that complicated after all.
Then it hits me. That little no-good matchmaker put me on eMatch.com last night! Ugh, the pounding in my head has escalated to a vice grip at this point. I stumble into the house and head for a glass of water.
I set my glass down and start up Aubrey’s computer. If I hurry and delete my profile, maybe none of the guys will get the messages she sent last night. As the monitor clicks on the bright light pierces through the darkened room. My retinas are revolting, sending sharp pains through to the back of my skull. I locate the brightness button on the monitor and dim it until the words are barely visible on the screen.
Thankfully, Aubrey left the computer signed onto the website. I hit Account Settings and notice that the mailbox in the upper left-hand corner has updated: 1 New Message. I chug the rest of my glass of water, wishing it was a little hair of the dog instead. Might as well read the message before cancelling the account, right? So what if curiosity always killed the cat. Didn’t it have nine lives anyway?
The reply is from Brad. I snicker, figuring it’s because he’s already at the office at 9:34 on a Saturday morning. Billable hours never rest, at least that’s what my senior partner told me. I told him I don’t work weekends. That leaves me counting the days until they relieve me of my great billable burden.
It seems Billable Brad is a good test taker, his answers matching my wish list. He’s most likely to be at a sporting event on a Friday night, he’s always ready to travel, and he’s close to his family. Sounds great on paper. What happens when the sporting event is soccer (I hate it), he can’t travel because he’s Billable Brad, and being in touch with his family means he talks to his mommy every day?
He does have a handsome face and a decent job though. Plus, he’s a lawyer. Surely lawyers can’t discriminate against other lawyers, right?
The dull thud in my head is growing louder. I can’t possibly stare at this screen any longer. As I stagger to the plush couch in Aubrey’s living room, I mull over the possibility of writing back to dear Billable Brad. One tiny date couldn’t hurt. What’s one night out of my life? Unless he’s a serial killer, of course.
As I begin to doze off, I remember the guy from the bar last night. Maybe dating a fellow lawyer is exactly what I need.
[Stay tuned for Part 2…]