Monday, June 18, 2007
Aw, but they're cool people (2)
Where to begin with Hayes? As she approaches our table - actually "approaches" doesn't really cover it. It's maybe twenty-five yards from the door to our table, and for the few seconds it takes her to walk this distance she's making an entrance. She's rocking the monochrome, but daringly, has branched out with a white chemise. She regards us with a cool eye, from beneath a natty, chestnut fringe. It's almost a relief when she sits down and once amongst us proves herself to be as droll and amicable as her comment board persona. A fellow can only handle that much charisma for so long.
We're lucky with the waitress. She's a patient, soft-featured girl, who handles us attentively and unobtrusively. Her colleagues seem like a difficult bunch, stomping around impatiently, sporting brief shorts and brief, unconvincing smiles. She deals with the afternoon's setbacks - a CO2 shortage and a smashed glass (not one of ours) - with good humour and minimal fuss.
The only individual who's not enjoying the day so far, perhaps, is the toy ferret, whom we have dubbed "Steve". He's been liberally doused with duty-free cologne, and tossed through the air in a display of astonishing legerdemain by the author. Retrieved, he sits on the table as a marker to latecomers.
We order food, and as we do Nancy arrives, with her husband Bob in tow. This is something of a conundrum for me, as Nancy and I have fallen into a pattern of bickering and mutual denigration that has its foundation, at least as far as I'm concerned, in a deep affection. I like most of the people who contribute to the Surviving Grady board, but she and I know each other as well as two people can, who have never met, nor shared more than the scantest details of their lives with each other. Which is to say not well at all, but it doesn't feel like that. The geography of the table, as well as a natural instinct for what is seemly, prevents me from monopolising her company. Anyway the scouting report on Nancy is that in person she is somewhat reserved, in spite of her garrulousness at the keyboard. Evidently, anyone is going to seem a little quiet, relatively speaking, when a noisy, shameless Englishman with a couple of lunchtime beers under his belt is showing off in the corner. But she's not the mime I feared. She's funny, and charming, and a part of me is irritated that I didn't get a chance to talk to her at any length. Bob maintains an air of bemusement. He's a solidly compact fellow, with a warm smile.
JD and Rob are here now. Later, along with Cyn, they will shepherd me around Fenway. They're the kind of couple who were put on this earth to remind the rest of us of our shortcomings. They're handsome, athletic, generous and entirely impossible to dislike. JD is a willowy blonde, with an infectiously gossipy way about her. Rob strikes me as the kind of guy who would always go out of his way to make a stranger welcome. I'm greatly indebted to them both for helping make the day special.
I enjoy a club sandwich. Kelly has chosen an unusual side dish, a kind of fondue, in a cottage loaf. The hollowed-out crust is filled with a warm Florentine sauce into which you dip your chips and crudités. I'm not sold on it, but I dip in anyway, reasoning that if I don't fuel up now I'll be asleep by the sixth inning. I'm falling in love with the waitress. She has these enormous brown eyes which seem to regard me with what I take for indulgent affection, but which could just as easily be pity. Confusingly, JET looks just like her. Seriously, they could be sisters. And just to add to the effect JET seems incredibly pleased to see me. Obviously I've come a long way to meet these people, but at the same time I must smell of beer, bacon, and cheese, and I'm pretty sure I have spinach in my teeth. By now, I'm romanticising everything about the day, the beer will do that to someone like me, and I detect (spuriously, in all likelihood, and without any real evidence) a certain melancholy in JET. I want to give her a big hug and smuggle her back to England with me. Fortunately I stop short of voicing this sentiment, and realising the depth of my folly, I slow down on the drinking. There is a general, post-prandial lull.