I got home and found my mother in the kitchen.
“Guess what happened.”
“I said guess.”
“Give me a hint.”
“Nope, you’ve got 30 seconds to guess.”
I lit a cigarette while I waited.
“I suppose I can rule out that you quit smoking,” she said.
“Better than that.”
“I don’t know. I give up.”
“Me and Paula met this guy and he and his friend are gonna make us dinner tonight.”
“Who is this guy?”
“His name is John,” I told her.
“I didn’t ask.”
“Where does he live?”
“I don’t know. Paula has the address.”
“How old is he?”
“I don’t know.”
“Gee Al,” my mom said. “He sounds great!”
“C’mon mom! He’s really nice. And he’s cute. He has blonde. Curly hair and blue-gray eyes and a boat.”
“Did you meet him at the beach?”
“No. On the freeway.”
“Yeah, I kept smiling at him and he kept smiling back and then he told us to follow him to his boat at the marina.”
“You mean you followed some strange guy to his boat? He could have been a rapist or something.”
“We thought about that, but we figured that two against one was safe.”
“You two are crazy,” she said.
“I know, but isn’t it neat?”
“Yeah, I guess it is. What are you going to wear?”
“I don’t know. Help me pick something out.”
Later that evening Paula came over to get me and we went to John’s apartment.
When we arrived, John and Tony were still making dinner, so Paula and I sat in the living room and had a glass of wine.
John’s place was small, but very nice. He had a fantastic stereo system that literally shook the tiny apartment.
After a while John came out and put some plates and silverware on the coffee table.
“The kitchen is pretty cramped,” he explained. “So I thought we could eat out here.”
Soon dinner was done and the guys brought it out to us. I couldn’t believe it, I was expecting hamburgers and potato salad at the most. But they came out with bowls and plates full of some of the best looking food I’d ever seen.
There was teriyaki salmon on a bed of rice, fresh steamed vegetables, hot baked bread with real butter and a huge fresh fruit salad.
They dished up our food and sat down on the floor, John was next to me and Tony sat by Paula.
“It looks great,” Paula said. “Did you two make this all yourselves?”
“Uh-huh, I hope you like it,” Tony said, smiling shyly. He had a great smile and the cutest dimples I’d ever seen on a guy.
Paula looked over at me and winked. I understood … she got Tony.
While we ate I found out that John had worked in a gourmet restaurant and that’s where he’d learned to cook. He was working as a computer programmer in a bank and was only a year away from getting his degree as a psychologist.
Tony was in law school and during the summer he would go stay with his relatives in Europe to study foreign law. He also came from a very wealthy family, so he wasn’t working.
After dinner John and Tony went to do the dishes. We offered to help, but they just gave us more wine and said to sit back and relax. We did, we weren’t about to pass up a chance to get waited on hand and foot.
When they were through in the kitchen, John and Tony joined us in the living room. For a while everything went smoothly, and then as most people do on first dates, we began running out of things to say.
Tony finally spoke up. “Hey John, why don’t you get out the octopus?”
The octopus? What the hell was the octopus? My mom was probably right, they’re both rapists and the octopus is some kind of weird, sex torture device.
John went into his bedroom and came out with four gas masks that doctors use to put people under before they operate. From his pocket he pulled a little metal bowl with four small pieces of tubing sticking out of it. Then he lifted one of the inlaid tiles from his coffee table to reveal what looked like a know hole. He set the little bowl in the knot hole and stuck the rubber hoses from the face masks on to the tubing on the bowl.
When he was done, it did look like there was an octopus on the coffee table. When he took a baggie from his pocket it finally hit me: this was some kind of bong he’d made.
“Now the fun begins,” he said as he handed each of us a mask. “You girls like to party, right?”
Paula and I nodded. I didn’t really like the effect that pot had on me. It just made me tired. But I didn’t want to be the only one who wasn’t high. Besides, the octopus was so neat I had to try it.
“Okay,” he said. “There’s a little hole on the front of each mask. All you do is put your finger over the hole and inhale. Then when you want to clear the smoke, take your finger off the hole and keep breathing. It works just like a bong but with no water.”
We all held the masks over our faces and John held the flame from his lighter over the bowl. I put my finger over the hole and breathed in deeply. Soon I could see through the clear plastic that the mask had filled up with smoke. I inhaled a little more, then lifted my finger from the hole to clear the make.
I held the smoke in until I was aching for air, slowly I exhaled and felt that familiar rush when I took my next breath. I knew that I had better take only one more hit if I wanted to stay awake for the rest of the evening.
When we were through with the octopus, John gathered everything up and put it back in his room. When he came back he turned off all the lights and lit some candles; then he put a record on and turned it up loud and started burning incense.
It was a weird feeling with the candle light making strange shapes on the wall and music so loud I could hear nothing else. For a while, we all just sat there and “experienced” it.
John was saying something to me, but I couldn’t hear him so I got up and walked over to where he was sitting. I bent down to he could talk in my ear and he pulled me onto his lap.
“Isn’t this great?” he asked.
“It’s weird,” I said. “It’s like being in another world.”
“Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas amymore.”
“Auntie Em, Auntie Em! It’s a twister!”
That seemed to be a cue for John and he began doing a short hand version of The Wizard of Oz. He could do almost any voice in the movie, but was particularly good at being a Munchkin.
While I listen to John, I watched Paula and Tony. They were wrapped around each other on the couch and seemed to be getting along quite nicely.
They seemed oblivious to John and me being there. I noticed how opposite they were. Paula had blonde hair and fair skin, while Tony had dark hair and olive skin. As tangled together as they were, they looked a bit like a human yin-yang symbol.
By this time, John was doing Glenda The Good Witch. “Are you a good witch or a bad witch?” he asked me.
“I don’t know,” I said.
“Well,” he said, in his real voice. “We’ll just have to find out then, won’t we?”
To be continued …