Authors: Shane Bolks
For Mathew, my Dave.
No one will ever believe I wrote this before meeting you.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
There's No Business Like Show Business
I've Got a Crush on You
Come On with the Come-On
Life Goes to a Party
I've Got the World on a String
I Won't Dance
Let's Face the Music and Dance
Are You in Love with Me Again?
It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)
Ev'ry Time We Say Good-bye
Flat Foot Floogee
I've Got It Bad and That Ain't Good
All the Way
Night and Day
Shout and Feel It
A Chicken Ain't Nothing but a Bird
It Had to Be You
I've heard it said that in order to find her prince, a girl has to kiss a lot of
Start calling me Wart Lips.
When I was a little girl I'd dress up in my pink leotard, ballet slippers, and tulle skirt, paint my nails Pretty Princess Pink, and set my rhinestone tiara high on my red pigtails. Then I'd line up my subjectsâMalibu Barbie, My Little Pony, Strawberry Shortcake, the Cabbage Patch Kids, the Monchhichis, and a stuffed white kittyâand play princess.
The object of the game was simple. I ordered everyone around. If any of my vassals disobeyedâStrawberry Short-cake in particular had a stubborn streakâI'd threaten to banish her to Ick Land, i.e., the hallway where my older brother Grayson waited to pounce on her and pull off her head.
If my subjects were good and obeyed me, then they earned the privilege of sitting with me on my pink-canopied daybed and watching through the bedroom window for the noble prince's arrival.
I'm still watching.
Come to think of it, not much has changed in the twenty-something years that have passed. I still get dressed up, I still paint my nails, and I still have to deal with those stubborn Strawberry Shortcake types.
Only on days like today, I wonder why I even bother with the someday-my-prince-will-come routine.
I'm wearing a cream silk blouse and black wide-leg trousers, Ã la Katharine Hepburn in the early 1940s. I'm not into vintage footwearâsixty-year-old foot odor is not appealingâso I've got on three-inch black satin slides by Anne Klein, and I'm sporting a matching bag. My nails are painted OPI's Chicago Champagne Toast, a nod to the city where I live, and my red hair is a perfectly straight, shiny cascade down my back (I checked earlier in my bathroom mirror).
I look like a princessâa princess surrounded by a bunch of screaming, red-faced buffoons, a dozen sweaty guys in jerseys and shorts that are too big, and a toad I was hoping would turn out to be my prince.
Translation for those of you not living in Fairy Tale Land like me: It's the last game of the Bulls basketball season, I'm at the United Center, seated directly behind the players and next to Dave Tivoli, aka the toad.
A howl goes up from the crowd and the toad jolts me as he jumps out of his seat. “Go! Go! No, no, no! Damn!”
The referee makes some motions, and a deep bass voice booms, “Foul on Chicago number three, Tyson Chandler. Rockets number fifty-five Dikembe Mutombo to the free-throw line.”
“That wasn't a foul. Come on!” Dave and half the auditorium scream. I stand and peer over the players' heads. Not that I care what's happening. I just need to stretch my legs. Dave's arm goes around my waist, and I glance at him. His eyes are still on the game, but his touch sends a tiny shiver through me anyway.
Pressed against me, Dave's body is tense and focused. I wonder how all that power would feel concentrated solely on me. Under meâ¦
“No.” Dave slaps his free hand to his forehead and I look back at the court. The Rockets player is still at the free-throw line.
“Dave?” I say quietly near his ear.
“Hmm?” He doesn't look at me, then suddenly he yells, “Yes! Yes! He missed. One more to go. Miss! Miss!” There's a split second of silence, and even I have to look. The ball sails toward the basket in a perfect arcâand falls just short.
The crowd roars, and Dave pulls me hard against him and kisses me. It's not a long kiss, or even a particularly passionate one, but something about Dave always sends my senses spinning.
By the time I reel said senses in, we're sitting again, and I say, “What was that all about?”
“We're still ahead. Mutombo's got to be hating that he missed those free throws. He played for Chicago before we traded him to Houston.”
“Hmm. Fascinating.” I had meant what was the kiss about, of course.
“No way!” Dave jumps up again to watch the game, and I sit back and sigh.
I have no idea how I got here. I mean, I know how I got hereâin Dave's Land Roverâbut I don't know how it's come
to this. How IâAllison Lynn Hollowayâhave come to be sitting in a sports stadium with a toad.
I look over at him: tall, football player build, spiky blond hair, nice buttâ¦Okay, he's a hot toad. I'll give him that. I met Dave a few weeks ago. My best friend is dating his best friend, so we ended up hanging around together, then moved to hanging around on our own.
Dave isn't my type. At all. Not even his looks. Dave's all casual and rugged-looking. I like some refinement in a man. And Dave's a guy's guyâ“Hey, man, how's it hanging?”âand all that macho bullshit. An advertising exec with Dougall Marketing, Dave lives in an apartment in Wrigleyville. My type owns a Porsche, a penthouse, and his own company.
Dave and I had been out five or six times when he called last week to ask me out again. I was having trouble getting a handle on Dave at that point. He seemed to like me, but he wasn't taking any of my cues to move things to the next level.
It isn't so much that I'm dying to sleep with Dave, though I'm not opposed to the idea, but I don't want to jump into bed if that's all it is. I've been there before, bought the requisite “I Had Sex and All I Got Is This Lousy T-shirt,” and I'd rather use my frequent dating miles elsewhere, thank you.
It didn't take a genius to see that Dave would need a lot of work. And while it's true that
Chicago Home & Garden
called me “an inventive interior designer with a flair for the understated,” inventive as I am, I just don't have the patience to make over a man after remodeling rooms all day. So when Dave called again I gave him the let's-just-be-friends speech. Or was it the it's-not-you-it's-me speech?
I don't know. Dave's a jock; I don't have to be inventive. The point is, I thought that was the end of him.
Until a few days ago, when he decided to impose his too yang environment on my happily balanced yin.
Coincidentally, we happened to be lunching at the same restaurant. He was sitting with some fellow ad execs, and I was presenting my new feng shui ideas to a longtime client. Between the appetizer and the entrÃ©e, the waiter brought me a Melonâvodka, midori, pineapple, and lime juice.
Okay, so Dave's no fool. He knows I love Melons. And he knows Le Colonial is the only place that makes them right. He probably also knows that in the past I've dragged my best friend, Rory, across town to Le Colonial solely because I craved a Melon. Le Colonial is on the low end of expensive, but Rory is always saying things like we'd get a better deal from Jabba the Hutt, which I think means we're getting ripped off.
I don't care. The Melon is worth it.
But it hadn't occurred to meâwell, not seriously occurred to meâto order a Melon that day. I've been to business lunches where the clients drank me under the table, but I doubted Mrs. Bilker-Morgan drank anything stronger than herbal tea. Edith M. Bilker-Morgan is Old Money, having been part of Chicago society since the earth under State Street cooled. But more important than the fact that she's a founding member of the Chicago elite, she's also on intimate terms with my parents. In Edith M. Bilker-Morgan's presence, I don't even allow myself to entertain thoughts of Shirley Temples.
But when the waiter set the Melon in front of me and said it was compliments of the gentleman, then inclined his head toward Dave's table, I was too surprised to object. I'd seen the toad when I walked in, and he'd seen me. I thought we were ignoring each other.
There's no question he knew I was with a clientâa
stodgy, sober-looking clientâand he'd sent the drink anyway. Thenâand this is the most aggravating partâwhen I looked over, he winked.
Like we had some private joke between us or something.
Did he not understand the let's-just-be-friends-it's-not-you-it's-me speech? Was I going to have to give him the lecture again? If so, I decided to add a section detailing why an ugly Regis Philbin silver tie and matching shiny shirt should never be worn outside of Halloween.
Mrs. Bilker-Morgan's voice stopped me. “Well, Miss Holloway, are you going to drink it or am I?”
“I was thinking I should send it back.”
She huffed. “Allison Lynn Holloway, I'm going to call Mitsy this very afternoon and tell her she failed miserably in her attempts to raise you. In my day, we called a boy like that a real catch. If you don't want him, I do.”
I stared at Edith M. Bilker-Morgan, then burst out laughing. She may be almost eighty, but she cuts to the point quick and pretty as a pair of pinking shears. Then Dave came over, introduced himself, and somehow, face-to-face, talked me into going out with him again. I didn't even realize I'd agreed until he left and Mrs. Bilker-Morgan asked if he was my steady.
Not only was he so not my steady, I thought we'd broken up.
But life isn't that easy with Dave. To get what he wants, he can be unbelievably manipulative. Exhibit A: the aforementioned Melon Incident.
And of course Exhibit A led to this evening and the Bulls game. Dave said we were going to do something really excitingâat which point I was thinking private jet to New
York and mind-blowing sex in the bedroom at 10,000 feet. So when Dave picked me up and told me we were going to the Bulls game, I wondered if, were I to commit assault, a shoe could be considered a deadly weapon. See, Mrs. Bilker-Morgan wouldn't think Dave was so great if she'd known basketball was his idea of a date.
Yeah, it's partly my fault. The jet thing is way out of Dave's price range, and he might not have presumed basketball was exciting to me if I hadn't pretended I liked it the last few times we were out. I didn't lie or anything. Dave knows I was a cheerleader, and I sort of let him assume that meant I liked sports.
The crowd at the game settles down, and Dave sits and smiles at me. I return the favor by shooting him the withering glare I copied from my mother, Mitsy, who, in her heyday, could wither a man at fifty feet.
Dave grins and shakes his head. “I'm not ignoring you.” He takes my hand, and I forget what I was about to say.
Exhibit B: If Dave can't use alcohol or little old ladies to manipulate a girl, he gets physical.
I struggle to remember why I was angry, and then a voice startles me with a loud time-out announcement.
I'm surrounded by sweaty equivalents of the Jolly Green Giant, and the toad beside me doesn't seem to realize this is not the fab fete he made it out to be. “Is the exciting thing we're doing this?” I gesture to the court.
He winks at me.
“Look, Dave, sports are fun”âI have to suppress a shudder when I say thisâ“but not exactly exciting.”
“What are you talking about? This is probably the best game of the season.”
“Dave.” I wait until I have his full attention. “I know I'm
using some two-syllable words here, so focus really hard. Sporting events are not, no matter who is playing, exciting.”
“But if the Bulls win this game, they go to the play-offs,
”âhe gestures to the seatsâ“we've got the best seats in the house.”
Though I'm sure the effect of my expensive eyebrow wax is lost on him, I raise one of my perfectly arched brows. “If I am not mistaken, while you may consider basketball a way of life, the majority of the civilized world still considers it a
and therefore it falls under the not exciting category.”
Okay, let me just point out here that I say this in my most scathing tone. And let me further point out that the big, dumb toad isn't affected in the least.
He keeps smiling, leans over, and says, “So, Red, what are you trying to imply here?”
I stiffen. “Do
call me that. My name is
“Maybe to the civilized world, but to a barbarian like me, you're Red.” He strokes my hair, letting the sleek auburn sheet spill over his hand, then lifts my fingers and kisses themâ¦What were we talking about?
Argh! The physical thing is the biggest problem with Dave. Whenever he touches me, a shiver runs all the way from my toes to the roots of my hair. Seriously, my
tingles. No other guy has
made the roots of my hair tingle. And that makes Dave very dangerous. I either have to make him over or get rid of him.
Neither idea seems tenable at this point. I've been sitting here all night contemplating my dilemma, and I've still got nothing. I gaze disinterestedly at the game. The score is pretty close. Rockets: 81. Bulls: 79.
The ref blows a whistle and play begins again. Othella Harrington takes the ball down the court, skillfully evading
the Rockets defense. I scoot to the edge of the bench and crane my neck to see over the Goliaths in front of us.
Harrington nears the basket and turns to throw the ball, just as Yao Ming from the Rockets rushes by and collides with Harrington, knocking him over. Yao takes possession of the ball.
“What the hell!” I jump up and watch as Yao Ming dribbles the ball down to the Rockets side of the court and slam dunks it. The Rockets side goes wild.
“Foul!” I yell. “That was a foul.”
Beside me, Dave yells, “I can't believe this.”
In front of us Benny, the cute Bulls mascot, jumps up and down in frustration as play continues and the Rockets' treachery goes unpunished. Then, to add insult to injury, Clutch, the Rockets mascot, bounds over to Benny the Bull and points and laughs.
The Rockets bear has to be the stupidest mascot of any NBA team. He's gray with a big white muzzle and a goofy grin, and he's dressed in a red-and-white jumper and big red shoes. Benny the Bull hangs his head.
“No, Benny,” I call. “Stand up to him.”
“Hey, Redâ” Dave begins.
Clutch wags his big red butt in poor Benny's face, and that's it. I slip off one of my deadly heeled Anne Klein slides and throw it as hard as I can at Clutch, hitting him square in the ass. He jumps, turns, and the crowd around me goes wild. Really wild.