Well, Saturdays are Saturdays, even in Paris. And here it was Saturday morning, so my lover and I stretched and yawned and took turns peeing and did a little post-game canoodling in the sheets, just for the fun of it, then covered our treasured nakedness – Chantal lent me a blue top and some shorts and some open sandals so I wouldn’t look like the morning after in my dark slinky dress and heels – and we went to our favorite cafe, the one with the terracotta floors and the big, bright windows and the fragrant bread and all the other Saturday people, and we took some coffees and croissants and split a brioche, and just let it be Saturday. I think we both needed that. I sure did.
I got to tell Chantal the rest of my story about seeing Aunt Carol, how happy we both were to see each other again, how much, despite all the crazy, crappy, good and bad and ugly stuff of the rest of my life, I still missed her, and she me. How she was still willing to put up with hearing all the BS I told her to get to the juicy core goodness of it all, the juicy core goodness, as she still somehow sees it, of me.
That felt kinda good, I gotta say. That, even if it was telling Chantal about my aunt, that I could say there was some core goodness about me my aunt might still see and want to get to. There, I just said it again, I did. Don’cha just love Saturdays, for things like that? For letting you see things you miss the rest of the week?
Anyway, we weren’t in any hurry, and we just let the people and the sounds and the sunlight coming through the windows and spreading out on the hard reddish-brown earthy floor flow and shift and change all around us. Here it was the very last day of a July like none other I’d ever had in my life, the very last day of a month that would pass and never come back, never ever again, Paris was on the cusp of its big holiday month and along with the Parisians there were the obvious tourists and visitors and exchange students and all the rest, and here we were, cute little Rosie in her borrowed top and shorts and sandals with her beautiful, sophisticated, grown-up lover Chantal, just enjoying coffees and sweet baked goods and each other, and sharing the things that Saturdays are best for sharing.
Okay, so that was Saturday morning. But what about Saturday afternoon, you ask? You want to know what happened with Sid when all this sweetness and light and coffees and croissants with Chantal was over, don’t you? Just hold on. I’ll get to it. Can’t a girl enjoy her Saturday morning a little while longer?
Anyway, yeah, all things good and otherwise must end, and when we finally left the cafe and wandered back to Chantal’s place on the sunny Saturday sidewalk, I was starting to feel that puckered-up feeling again, not knowing who or what I’d find when I got back to my apartment.
At the entryway to her building I decided not to go back up to Chantal’s. At that point there was no reason to, we’d had our special evening and night and morning together, and I’d already decided to leave my slinky dress and heels at her place, in her closet, since don’t lovers always leave clothes at their lover’s places? I knew she’d understand, and she did, and we kissed in the sunlight and embraced and she gave me one of those looks of hers that said, you know, chérie, whatever you decide, it’s your choice, I still will be there for you and you always will have a place with me. She didn’t have to say it with words. She said it with that look and her kiss and her embrace. And then the businesswoman Chantal popped out, almost as an afterthought, just before we parted.
“Yes, of course, Chantal. With pleasure, I will be there.”
It’s like having two bookends that don’t match. One is all pretty and graceful and always sits straight on the shelf. The other is kind of gnarly and weird and is all cockywampus as it leans one way or the other and sometimes lets the books fall over. They’re both interesting bookends in their own way, as different as they are, but they don’t make a set. That’s Chantal and Sid, the two bookends of my life these days.
I don’t feel like calling and Sid will either be there when I get to the apartment or he won’t. I need the transition time of walking the several blocks home to change the gears in my head, so that’s what I do.
I’m trying to lay odds whether it will be Mr. Hyde or Dr. Jekyll who’ll be waiting for me, if he’s even there, and maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I’ve put my chips down on Dr. Jekyll. I’m banking on the nice Sid from yesterday afternoon still hanging on. I mean, after all, if I had just scored a couple mil wandering around the globe for a few weeks eating curry and kippers and bunny chow and getting hand jobs under airline blankets and happy-ending Thai massages I’d be in a pretty good mood, I think.
Well, you never know with Sid, like I’ve said, but for once my bet is right and the croupier pushes a pile of chips over in my direction. Dr. Jekyll is in his cabinet today, and there he is in his doctor’s get-up of blazing red silk boxers and not another thing. He’s showered and shaved and smells good and looks good enough to fuck, and it appears he doesn’t even want to.
“Seems you had a pretty good time. Didn’t you go out looking like Mata Hari yesterday, and now you come back looking like Jeanie the Tourist? Lose something at Chantal’s?”
“I’m impressed you noticed, Sid. Usually you wouldn’t notice something like that, or even care. But yes, I had a great time, and I borrowed the Jeanie clothes from Chantal so I wouldn’t go to breakfast with her looking like, as you put it, Mata Hari. Seemed a bit out of place. What have you been up to?”
“Nothing special. Just hanging out. Slept. Did some tubing. Needed the down time.”
“Cool. Yeah, it was a pretty intense few weeks. If you don’t mind me saying so, you seem in a lot better mood than usually you’re in after one of your trips. What’s with that? Was it me being with you on this one? Or the Saturday morning cartoons?”
“Who knows. Even with the odd cock-up, it came off okay. You know, for a kid you handle yourself pretty well, when you’re not all blubbery and feeling sorry for yourself. I think my training’s paid off with you.”
Nothing like feeling like a trained killer whale. Jump through the flaming hoop and get a bucket of soggy mackerel at the end. It’s all Sid’s training. Of course he’d see it that way. But, hey, I’d been “handling myself pretty well” before I ever met Sid. He can’t see that, of course. Or won’t admit it.
“Of course it’s your training, Sid. Not that I’m smart and sharp and have been living by my instincts since long before I ever met you, is it? That couldn’t be it, could it?”
I don’t want to upset Sid’s good mood, but sometimes he just pisses me off and I have to say something. Anyway, he’s a big boy and I’ve said a lot worse things to him.
“Hey, chill. Yeah, that might be part of it, too. I mean, I picked you, didn’t I, and I must have seen something in you to do that, huh, little Miss Smart Ass? So, yeah, we both bring something to the table.”
I guess that’s about the biggest concession I’m likely to get from him. Nothing is ever just something I’ve done. It’s always got to be something he’s done, something he’s played a part in. I’m Sid’s creation, as he sees it, his Eve or his Frankengirl, whichever is most appropriate at that moment, and that’s just the way it is and it’s not going to change. Along with being a sadist, Sid’s a classic narcissist, too, and it’s what I’ve come to expect.
“Yeah, I guess we do. Both bring something to the table. Nice of you to at least admit that.”
“What can I say. I call ’em as I see ’em. Look, Rosie, you did good, and I told you you did. If you’re expecting a medal for doing your job, sorry, we’re fresh out of medals. You get rewarded, plenty, but if you think you’re ever going to get to call the shots, you’ve got another think coming. Understand?”
“Yeah, I understand. I’m not trying to call the shots, Sid. I wouldn’t know where to begin. It’s not even a business I’d want to be in, if it wasn’t for you and it being your business. I just want to get credit for being me, for being Rosie and not some stupid little girl. Not anyone can do what I do, and you know it. That’s why I’m here with you right now, and you know that, too. That’s all. So do you understand?”
“Sure, I understand. You’re smart, Rosie. I tell you that all the time. Even that sometimes you’re too smart. And you’re right, that’s why you’re here, why I picked you. Well, besides that you’re young and cute and I go bat shit over your little tits. You gotta admit there’s that, too.”
I give Sid a playful jab to his exposed gut.
“You prick. You’ve always got to say something to knock me down. I know you’re a perv and like young girls. I’ve known that from the day I met you. You probably wish I was still 12. And when you find another 12-year-old who tickles your fancy I’ll probably be put out to pasture, like an old nag.”
The bastard’s grinning at all this, and he knows he’s gotten my goat, again, damn it.
“How did you guess? Maybe 12’s a little old. I’d like to get more miles out of her and lord knows there’s plenty of 10- and 11-year-olds who’d jump at the chance I gave you. How do you like your grass? Green and juicy or a little on the drier side?”
Now even I’m grinning. I don’t know how Sid does it, but he can bust my chops for all they’re worth and beat the shit out of me and make me do the most god-awful things, and I still wind up back on his side. It drives me nuts, if anything does.
Well, after all this I take a shower and change into some of my own Jeanie the Tourist clothes and we go out to some sidewalk cafe and enjoy the warm summer sun and some vermouths and olives and eaux minérales and steak sandwiches and more frites, and we don’t talk about the trip or the drugs or my aunt or any of that, and actually we don’t say a lot to each other, just sit and watch people and dogs on leashes and traffic go by, sort of semi-smiling, like a couple of half-wits, both of us, it’s partly the vermouths, but more it’s like I said, such a relief to just be able to relax and not be always on edge, and that, if you must know, is how we spent Saturday afternoon, Sid and me.