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By Norb and Mary Vonnegut
There was that weekend several years ago. We were four guys, maybe five. I can’t seem to recall, because my memory is fading these days. That’s why I’m writing down the details. It would be a crime to forget our Saturday night, to misplace 45 wondrous minutes somewhere in my ward of aging brain cells. We were husbands and dads, guys away from our families and jobs and all the other things that worry us one way or another. We four had braved the winter and journeyed north to play poker, tell lies, and watch the Super Bowl. Maybe we were five. I just can’t remember. One of our wives dubbed the weekend, “Brokeback Rhode Island.” But we paid no attention. Saturday night we were on our own, just guys “batching” and boasting and beating our man breasts. We stormed Newport, musketeers searching for adventure or red meat. Whatever came first. 1
He likes them shaken so hard the ice breaks into shards and turns the mixture cloudy. Peter’s a rolling ball of sensitivity like that. We were Yankee cold. The evening didn’t start with Pauline. that’s the night we took Peter von Maur to visit Pauline on Thames Street. He learned about vodka icebergs from me.That’s the night I’m struggling not to forget. But it was a lot. And drive the hell home. however. Outside the restaurant the chill New England air rolled off Narragansett Bay. the sequel. He even let the blood dribble down his chin to keep us happy. a sputtering neon light beaming her wares. Everybody knows real men don’t eat bait. I think. He showed the common decency. I can’t recall what I drank. part two. It’s just who he is. 2 . There were poker chips and stogies waiting for us. Peter asked. I just can’t remember. who didn’t wear a coat. who has considerably more padding than Jack. It was dark and dank and damned cold. “Are you guys sure about this?” He always was the voice of reason. lean and athletic. For Peter it started with two vodka martinis before dinner. Ten minutes later we found ourselves outside her parlor on Thames Street. The smart decision was so easy. The cards had never been out of the box. But no. And we were a bunch of middle-aged farts behaving like adolescents. Pile into the car. Some kind of wasabi-tuna shit. The brittle wind slapped our faces. Head for the parking lot. Or maybe it was Bob. and now he’s a damn can of whoop ass when it comes to martinis. Or puberty. But the rest of us crabbed at him. and I think it was Jack. Cohibas. You see. And there was no turning back. to change his order to Porterhouse. I had told the guys about Pauline. Puberty. Peter tried to order sushi for dinner. I’m sure of that. It stung our cheeks and made our eyes water.
Pauline stood before us. shivering in the winter mist on the seedy street. we’re going in.” one of the guys answered without hesitation.vodka martinis notwithstanding. The guys had no idea what to expect. body garters and floppy things you never see in Bronxville. It was probably Raymond. Jack. or maybe it was Bob. “Who’s first?” she purred. Damn if Pauline didn’t pull it off. She looked better than a super-sized box of Juicy Fruit. We were all freezing our butts off. She wore all kinds of wraps. The colors of her scarves didn’t quite belong together: purples and pinks. and green checks with orange polka dots. sexy and sultry with bright red lips and too much mascara. large and in charge. “Damn straight. He wasn’t wearing gloves. blues and reds. opened the hoary door to the studio like it was Pandora’s box on steroids. But they weren’t the least bit disappointed. 3 .
smothered and covered by scarves and all kinds of paisley things. For all we know. It makes you feel good. which really has nothing to do with this story. Somebody else can go first. Peter’s grin radiates energy. My editor tells me not to write “curves” 4 . not with Pauline emitting her own kind of energy. Peter. “Get in there. In the Philippines “1000-volts” is slang for gonorrhea. says. “I’m enjoying the hell out of this world even if I don’t know what it all means.” the rest of us chanted. “Are you sure?” he asked. She dropped it between her ample breasts. “I don’t want to be an imposition. a curious blend of warmth and confusion. It was time to get started.” And I handed Pauline a $20.” We weren’t focusing on Peter’s smile. that bill might still be falling in the black hole of Pauline’s cleavage.” He smiled that 1000-volt grin of his. vulnerable and charismatic all at the same time. though. the one that burns brighter than all the GE stadium lights over the Meadowlands. The von Maur smile is contagious and disarming. And here’s where we need to take a little timeout. sends photons flying every which way. One of the guys shouted. I just think it’s important to clarify the description in case you’ve been to Manila. Talk about yum. That beaming kisser.“Von Maur.
“Get in there. Happy. I went low. “Are you guys sure? Somebody else can go first. The consummate pro. We cracked the doors to peek.” Pauline winked at us and closed the swinging doors behind them. his way of hitting the brakes. But I can’t help myself. Her eyes burrowed into his. though.” 5 . Pauline grabbed Peter’s hand. She was built for comfort. she eased him into a separate room. Pauline was in no hurry. Like she really thought the plantation shutters would keep us out. Doesn’t like it one bit. Her fingers traced his right palm.when describing women. Her lair. That woman had ‘em. He thinks the word is sexist. played with the butterflies in his stomach. He grabbed the first chair and sat. You could rip the treads off a Porsche 911 on her curves. She savored the moment.” This time we all chorused. not speed. “My friends call me Mr. “You’re a very happy man.” she said. We weren’t about to be denied. Peter looked over his shoulder and asked. We could tell von Maur was nervous. The other guys clustered high.
“I’m a fortune teller. Pauline didn’t reply to von Maur. In that moment I forgot those black mascara eyes. “He sucks.” she replied in a voice bordering on a yawn. not a statement. there are other things you want to know?” she asked. Pauline turned pensive and intense.” Peter gasped. “Surely. and all the cleavage swimming in scarves. the low sultry voice. Belongs on a bird of prey. I thought.” he ventured. “You’re curious about something?” It was a question. fool?” “Will the Giants repeat by any chance?” Peter asked hopefully.” Raymond whispered. yes.” von Maur started.” Pauline announced. if it’s not too much trouble.” “Oh. all lips and black eye shadow.” “Yes.” he stammered.Give me a break. She challenged him with those mascara eyes. She pressed closer. Norb. Her words. a babushka made from allure. “You doubt me.” But I shushed him. Giants fans are all alike. Pauline leaned into Peter. “Well. chastened by the dig. like she was asking. “You need to get your money back. Not aloud anyway.” “Not with Eli Manning. “ The year you turn 49. 6 . arrested my every thought. “I’d like to know if the Giants win the Super Bowl before I turn 50. like the question had been far too easy. Even in the dark light I could tell she had a hooked nose. “Well. the hooked nose. I thought. there is something. “not a miracle worker.
They’ll marvel how you cook meals and shop for groceries.“If the Giants win the Super Bowl when I’m 49. Know what I mean. “I only ask if it’s no problem. If 50 works for you.” “I like to clip coupons.” he said. “We could discuss 60 if that’s easier for you. Peter. Your wife will throw you a huge party.” Pauline replied. Your friends will salute you. “Nothing like a pair of scissors and the Sunday paper. “your friends will come to celebrate your great life in a party at your home. She’s crazy about you. what happens when I’m 50? Will I still be sexy? Like I was at 17?” Somebody snorted. But the questions still made me wince.” he said.” “Will there be martinis?” “ The guy next door will bitch if there aren’t. Pauline?” “When you turn 50. not at first anyway.” 7 . Ms. I don’t want to impose or put you out because whatever you decide is okay with me. I told the guys to be quiet. it works for me. Peter didn’t wait for an answer. He may even run home to get his shaker. and it will be a happy time.
” von Maur snapped. “But what’s this thing you have about underwear?” “What do you mean?” “You’re always promising to strut around in sparkly bikini briefs.” she replied. 8 .” “Vodka martinis will do that.” “I like a tight fit. defensive and suddenly hurt. Your family will insist on getting him a sister. Set too high a standard. “It’s all good.” he acknowledged. “It’s good clean fun. “What’s this I see?” “Is something wrong?” hesitating and alarmed. She grew tentative. They’ll say you make them look bad. then a second time. especially about your gardening.“ The wives will agree that everybody needs a Peter.” “Really?” he asked incredulously. he asked. They’ll just do it.” “Comet needs a playmate. and you won’t notice at first.” “Well they can bite me. “At the party your friends will start chanting for you to take it off. “ The other husbands will tease you.” Pauline blinked once. You’re always so hell bent on getting to paddle tennis on time. For a moment I thought she had discovered something fowl on his hand. “You have a dog?” “ That would be the Anti-Christ.” Pauline soothed.” “Nice!” he cheered. not knowing how to respond. She peered at his palm and smirked. Maybe a wart. And you’ll be tempted. They won’t ask. And you’ll have no choice.
Ms. “Starting on your birthday.” “Your kids are wonderful.” “Do you want to know the winning Powerball numbers for 2009?” “Can you do that?” He sounded more curious than hungry for a quick buck. It’d be nice to go back to Giants football. Luke on the 19th.” “No way. I don’t know.” he gasped. you must play the following numbers every weekend during 2009: 2. “Have I been wrong yet?” “Well. could we forget Comet for the time being? Only if it’s not an imposition. It’ll take 30 minutes to clean out the ruts with a pencil.” “I know those numbers. and 22. Her coal eyes blazed fiery and intense.” “ Trust me. Pauline. and even then you won’t get it all out. “And your wife is something special. 19. You’re a 9 . and Thalia on the 22nd. “If it’s okay with you. and you’ll step in puppy pooh that squeezes into the treads of your brand-new sneakers.” she said.” she observed.“You’ll come home happy and victorious from the match. Emma on the 7th. “ They’re our birthdays. 9. 7. Believe you me. But only if it’s okay with you.” he scoffed. There’s a second dog in your future.
the party on his 50th birthday. “Listen. “ That’s easy. Maybe the Powerball number is 50. That took some doing. “What’s the Powerball?” Peter asked. We all heard her. the martinis. Happy. too. “if you have some spare time. That’s when we stormed the doors and whisked von Maur away from Pauline’s Tarot and Astrology shop. the shopping.” Not that again. It all came to a sudden end. She knew Comet’s name. Happy. I had never known him to play the lottery.” Pauline noted. Mr. the underwear. his wife who adores him. and even the Giants Super Bowl victory. the paddle tennis. I’ll give it a shot. She got everything right. all four or five of us. eggs. Pauline reached into her cleavage and pulled out a list.” “Mr. and for the life of me I can’t remember one stupid thing. Sometimes I wake up at night. and Thalia’s. thinking about Pauline’s predictions. She stated the number. I still can’t remember if there were four or five of us.lucky man. His question surprised me. 10 . “Milk. “I’d love to. the gardening.” he said. And that’s my problem. It’s going to haunt me for the rest of the year. butter. pasta sauce.” she said.” “Everybody needs a Peter. the Anti-Christ. Maybe somebody else remembers. We had poker to play. would you mind doing some grocery shopping for me?” Peter examined the list. I can’t remember that damn Powerball number. I thought.” she echoed from earlier in the session. No way we were going shopping that night. The fortune teller was right about everything – Peter’s wonderful kids.
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