When last we left our intrepid hero, he was wondering what the hell good it was doing to stand at the window and watch the street below as he pondered the future of his relationship with Lesli, who was still asleep in his bed.
Not much, he decided. Push unquestionably had come to shove. He wasn’t quite sure how he knew. But like looking in a lover’s eye, he knew.
Lesli was, as she saw it, done beating around the proverbial bush. They made what they jokingly called “making love and a half,” then lay there, long after, out of breath and making semi-coherent pillow talk.
Rolling out of his arms, shrugging the sheet over her shoulders, drifting back off to sleep, Lesli had made it clearer than ever before that she felt they were ideally suited. That she meant an end to this relationship of dates and shacking up on the weekend.
It meant this because she was, yes, a savvy lady, but, as well, a headstrong romantic. It meant this also because she was 28, going on time to stop playing the field and have a man about whom she was going to be serious.
She had, on occasion, hinted at, nudged around, and sent up all the signs that she wanted commitment. Now, she was insisting. Pleasantly. But making no bones about it.
“We’re a perfect match,” were her exact words. “Yes, yes, I know. You’ve had your independence for a good long while. You have a hard time telling the difference between a wedding ring and a noose.
“That’s all right,” she continued. “We can try living together. Would you like that? For a time. Just long enough so you can see that one fits around your finger and the other goes around your neck? You wouldn’t have to keep eating your own cooking.” A wink.
“Don’t say anything,” she added, “just think about it. Remember, though, my heart is riding on your decision.” Another wink to lessen the gravity of her words, then she’d nestled back into the pillow.
There are times, he knew, when you don’t take a woman at her literal word. And there are times when it is a mistake not to.
God knows, were there a woman worth committing to, this was the one. Something about her strength. And not just being strong. A special quality. Lesli, somehow, some way, was tough as nails yet soft, sweet as sugar, at the same time.
Not that she was perfect. But he didn’t mind that she could be jealous. Besides which, she never went overboard with it. Musicians and insecure women aren’t, for an obvious reason, the best mix in the world — never have been. Not with all the wild chicks you run into.
Lesli didn’t like some hanger-on at a gig getting too forward and would give the broad — and sometimes him, too — a look that could kill. Maybe make a catty remark. And she was a pain in the butt neat freak: a place for everything, everything in its place and so forth.
Every time she went back to her place, he made a point of leaving more stuff than usual lying around. Not that he was an Oscar Madison, but just for the principle of the thing. And yes, he would have to keep eating his own cooking, because Lesli was a hell of a lot better in bed than she was in the kitchen. The woman could mess up a pot of boiled water. So, no, she wasn’t perfect.
She was, nonetheless, the best thing that had ever happened to him. No question.
On the one hand, a handful of others had once been the best — Laura, Eidrienne, Ase and Lee. They’d all had wonderful qualities. There was a wrenching of the gut to his heart’s content, that delirious angst that scared him half to death while it gave meaning to every hour and moment of the waking day.
On the other hand, not a one of those women had worked out. At least, not for as long as things had gone this well with Lesli. And they’d gone pretty damned well. He could talk to her. Just as she was intelligent, someone to whom he could listen.
He’d been hanging with his best buddy-cat, Gerry, about the baddest bass guitarist known to man, touring with, it may’ve been, Bobby Womack, tooling around what they took for downtown Philadelphia. Keith happened to look in a tee-shirt shop and couldn’t wait to reach for his wallet. There was a Kelly-green sweatshirt emblazoned, “All This and Brains, Too.” That had Lesli written all over it.
There was also one reading, “Oral Sex: A Dark and Lonely Job, But Somebody’s Got To Do It.” Which he bought, but Lesli refused to be seen walking down the sidewalk with him wearing that in public. She had no problem sporting it, though, at barbeque cookouts amongst friends and family. And saying to her girlfriends, with a knowing nod, “He just so silly.”
It was, in a word, working. So, why was he standing back, fixing to lace up his sneakers? He was still staring out the window, looking down at the street when he heard her stir out of bed. Making her way to the bathroom, Lesli called, “Honey, you there?”
Next week: Keith stops looking out the window for answers.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.