Our pals had already left the cellar joint. I knew this as Glenda had just pawed my shoulder and said as much. "So…" I said, meaning the information was not of any interest and thus, not worth mentioning.
The problem came next.
It happened as Glenda said "Zmrzlina time" – using one of my favorite Czech words to suggest getting some ice-cream. It pressured me to wonder, yet again, how much longer our friendship would last.
Prague, a place known for its beer, found no sway over Glenda, who when given the choice, would sooner order chocolate milk than any brewery's concoction.
A vegetarian, Glenda was a dairy products devotee, consuming large amounts of fried cheese, cream sauces to every conceivable type of dish – be it rice, pasta, or potato – meals which always ended with the local, aptly titled cream ice-cream.
Glenda, a hulking redhead in Prague for an undergraduate exchange year, had beady, quick eyes and an acerbic way which greatly perplexed me.
Or more correctly, her eating habit did. It frayed my nerves, accordion-style.
I once saw a woman chew a piece of stringy beef before depositing it in her kid's mouth. It left an indelible image, rendering me prone to sudden, feral disgust.
So that over the course of our time together, I had inadvertently developed a repulsion to eating with Glenda. To confirm whether my irk could be classified as a bona fide repulsion, I revisited Polanski's Repulsion to see how well Catherine Deneuve's wincing would match up to invoking certain images of Glenda.
Like Glenda mopping a forkful of pasta with creme fraiche, nudging it into place with the side of her index finger, and bringing it to her expectantly agape mouth. Like Glenda's wet, endless tongue suckling ice-cream – sideways, horizontally – twirling the cone again and again. So much joy in her eyes, bulging out every time.
It was downright indecent.
"Don't get particular – Glenda's cool – think of something else," I warned myself, in an attempt to stay focused on Glenda's many merits. The Glenda who candidly answers "If I'm having fun, you can be sure it's due to Stockholm Syndrome" when asked by idiots how she is doing. The Glenda who was the only one I could relate to on more substantial grounds.
To get a grip on my predicament, I had recently avoided eating with her altogether. That was an essential maneuver, a must to preserve our relationship.
Why did she have to ruin it by mentioning ice-cream? It immediately inspired a certain creeping loathing, a vision of her as a drooping sack of potatoes smothered by goads of sauce.
I wanted nothing to do with her then, and soon found myself saying "If you feel like going, go. I'll call you tomorrow."
Glenda had obviously not considered this option so took a lapsed moment before responding, "Righty then, tell me what treasures you've dug up tomorrow. I'll be running along now."
For a lame theatrical effect, Glenda was imitating a British accent in an attempt to mock it – I hated when she did that. Pathetic Glenda-Blender.
"Fine – bye Blend…er-Glender," I cheered with my just arrived shot.
"Did'dja just call me Blender?" Glenda eyed me intently. "No," I answered, a little too emphatically.
At that, Glenda stuck her fingers in her pant pocket, producing crumpled notes of 50 and 100 crowns, which she proceeded to flatten with the meat of her hand before setting them on the table.
"Um, I thought you were leaving," I nudged with all the subtlety I could muster.
Glenda planted herself back on the seat. "Well, so did I. But no. I can stay a while – why not!"
"Why not? Because despite a few subtle hints you can't bear to part with that oft-washed Primus t-shirt you wear every time we meet past 6," rang a voice from my ear to the back of the throat, like an audio loop, which I spliced out for the sake of momentary harmony.
I only hoped someone would view the shirt ironically, though nothing but the unintentional seemed so on Glenda. At that moment the bartender nodded in our direction, signaling he was ready to take the order. "Three Becherovkas, please," said Glenda, putting up the three fingers as an illustration.
"Three?" I questioned.
"Yes three, the third is for that guy over there," Glenda sniggered. I looked over my shoulder to see.
He was wearing a red shirt with a peacock feather motif I thought was rather ebullient – ironically, of course. His build was scrawny, on the malnourished side of it. He had very dark eyes and a set, deeply concentrated expression under panes of longish black hair slightly receding at the temples, adding to the wistful, wounded-by-life-and-all-its-attendant-woes bit.
And best of all he was all by himself. Unguarded. And just like that, as those film folks would say, the bit player had just won himself a major role.
It then occurred to me that having Glenda there would not necessarily be an impediment. As I had to concede that a woman drinking alone rarely attracted the best specimens. A woman drinking with a friend, even if that friend was Glenda-Blender, was way better.
I have been described as what the French call ugly-beautiful, wobbling precariously in one or the other direction according to the light. Tonight, I only hoped that light, garish though it was, would cast fortuitously to my aid.
If Glenda would only go along with the current of the evening by not being a constant reminder of nerdiness, everything would be just fine.
I just wanted to have a good time, like everyone else there, except that unlike them, I went out a tad less often. Every year or so, for a fact. But that night I had to admit I felt like getting sloppy. I felt like getting laid.
Usually, I loathed that term, but in all honesty a man's body plonked against mine sounded about right.
It had taken a year for this particular itch to return. I had even wondered whether I was one of those rare asexual types – frigid as my granny would say – being that during that one year I couldn’t think of a handful of times when I had felt the urge.
Obviously a successful relationship for someone lacking a robust appetite for what was said to be a glue to it, was out of the question. Before Prague I had broken up with a long-term boyfriend, in large part due to his eagerness and my begrudging assent. A week later, I slept with a guy I'd met in a bar, the perfect stranger, having the orgasm of the year.
It had put a smile on my face all the way over from Boise, Idaho.
But that was a year ago.
As luck would have it, this new guy was just my type.
For synchronicity's sake, his screen name in online ads was "Balalaika Itch," a name I would have loved for its rowdy, parochial silliness, had I known of it.
Unknown to me also, was Glenda's intention of tampering with her virginity and Balalaika's great love of cream.
© Mariana Sabino 2008
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mariana Sabino is a mad nomad with literary ambitions and a newly launched lit journal called Greenbeard.