Sam closed doors to the kitchen spice cabinet and gave up trying to perfect taco meat which simmered in an old iron skillet. Piecing together the recipe started OK, as he carefully followed a family recipe. The phone rang. Perfect timing. Donna’s voice disarmed him. It had been awhile. The surprise, like a thief, stole his voice away. His tongue grew thick and chewy, too cumbersome to join consonants and syllables. No hello. No true greeting. Just a feeble grunt. He managed to say “hey,” then awkwardly cleared his throat, lucky to avoid making more rude noises. Futile manners excused. Donna, in her usual way, anticipated his tongue-tied gasps; her smooth voice tickled his ear. She ordered him to join her for dinner at 8, then a movie. Trite, but it seemed a less-than-flawed formula for getting to know more about her, being as how all of this was still new to him.
She suggested “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Super heroes to be awed or to stoke jealousy. Mere fantasy or haunting thoughts? The phone clicked which gave Sam no choice. This took care of his failed attempts to prepare a hum-drum Mexican dinner in his studio apartment, but subsequently created a dilemma for what to wear being ill-versed in fashion. Sweat-shirt sports bar or button-down Applebee’s? Six of one, half dozen of another. Can’t change the stripes of a nerd. Like all dates with Donna, he sprayed hormone-spiked cologne on his collar and below the waste band of his boxers, enough for her to withstand his annoying timidity among other shortcomings. Nothing special. The fragrance smelled of spilt wine. Yet, one must prepare for any and all contingencies. The right measure of vibrant scent erased unwanted musky odors and a potential gag reflex. Forbid anyone throw up in their own mouth for any reason including Sam’s dire need for a powder. Ever hear of nervous sweat? A good way to bring good times to a screeching halt in any case. Well, not with Donna. She tolerated the fool hardy and neglectful to a fault. She even dismissed the food stains on the front of Sam’s shirts. At any rate, a pleasanter smell to match the occasion acted in his favor, in fact invited the more desired amorous effect.
A once over in the mirror dissolved any remaining worries. Sam observed the perfectly pressed collar under a classy sweater, hair moistened in place, a close shave, the armor slipped on. Shiny as ever. Yet, there will be chinks. Always. A weakness. A chance for mistakes. But Sam knew to leave the “guarantees” to marketing. Aside from his superficial garb, the rest would be up to him. His soulful charm, naturally. Powers of persuasion, of course. Good looks help, but don’t take priority, contrary to popular belief. At times, good looks can be a detractor. The vulnerable can be a star-struck caused to go mute, Hollywood style. The mouth moves, yet nothing comes out. Donna had the right amount of beauty, curly black locks, dusky eyes and a sprinkle of reddish freckles across the bridge of her button nose. Truly salt of the Earth. Striking enough though she didn’t stand in the way of Sam’s rightful place.
Sam sauntered back to the kitchen, his socks rubbed across the carpet sending mini lightning bolts into his toes. The smells of spicy taco meat struck his nose reminding him of his otherwise stale life. It also reminded him of the way in which his grandmother gently grabbed hold of his proboscis and cheeks, to remark how cute her grandson looked. Imposition? Hardly, but a reassurance of a warm home, the heart, where he felt safest. If he was just short of handsome, she would never ever tell him. The same as with Donna.
Sam dug the well-done taco meat out of the skillet, placed it into a ceramic bowl, wrapped it securely in tin foil, then placed the container into the refrigerator next to fresh vegetable toppings. But of course, minus cheese. God forbid. Unless he wanted silent deadly slips of wind to creep out of his Hounds Tooth slacks. The ingredients for a marvelous concoction of gastric delights there waited for another day, perhaps after flakes of cannabis tightly wrapped in a Zig Zag could be toked on a sun drenched day whilst he lounged on the backyard patio in front of the pool; his regular therapy also proved prelude to munchies. Donna forgave his days of eating the lotus flower, knowing Afghanistan did a number on him.
The move to step out on the town with his take-charge girlfriend symbolized sacrifice. Taking leave of his security for the night relied on another’s skilled hands. The outcome depended on the decorated Michelin chef at the yet-to-be chosen eatery near downtown, just off the beaten path. She preferred family owned chic, a place where velvet curtains could be drawn in case she got the urge to be frisky. That’s putting it mildly. They had evenings when they left full meals on the table. Date night turned adventure meant a few extra well-treasured words in his journal, where most of his classified life resided. She might want to know his opinions, but Sam figured why would she? She was there. He was sure she formed her own. It’s a like referring to New York as the Big Apple when some might think of it as rotten fruit. Sam did, and besides, any experience with Donna was a good one.
Finally out the door, prompted by a text that said, “our chariot awaits.” An Uber driver sat patiently behind the wheel of a black S-Class Mercedes Benz. Sam relented to her direction. There Donna waited in the backseat wearing a mini skirt of wonton proportions telling him to get in. On most occasion modestly covered, this time she brought out her long legs to advertise and entice. Completely unnecessary but whenever the rare mood struck, how could Sam not appreciate the gesture. Now, comfortably under her spell, his heart raced. He eagerly crawled into the car’s back seat clad in an underdressed polo sweater and grey slacks. She didn’t waste time and kissed him; then she was back to her curt ways, ordering the driver to make haste, which sounded to him like taking the Bridge at Remagen. This time she picked a space age cantina called Scum and Villainy. It would satisfy her taste in Martinis and her desire to bask in the nostalgia of Star Wars where she felt right at home.
Truth be known: the couple met off-world. And before you go stomping off here thinking Earth is finite and we’re alone, keep an open mind. Without Donna, Sam might have gone off-world in a different way, if you catch my drift. And in case you’re thinking little green men on the Moon. Strong imagination. If I’m crazy, or Sam for that matter. Or, I’ve spent too long in books. You couldn’t be more wrong. Human beings, referred to as the Five-Star beings, because of our heads, arms and legs; well, listen here buddy, we human beings cover a vast array of so-called space, and Earth my friend is just one of the many experiments going. Oh, and by the way, God created everything, and I mean, everything. Not convinced? I suggest Googling That Shit (GTS). In Sam’s case, he got lucky, meeting a living, breathing Encyclopedia Britannica.
As for Donna, she answered the question(s) we all have, in particular the right one for my friend Sam, and subsequently the right one for us all:
What is Love?
I’m confident, one day we’ll all find the answer(s) as Sam did. Funny how it takes an outsider to learn that stuff.