The following Friday morning was an ice cold, sunny day. Why was it so freakin’ cold this year? Finn and I had spent the previous evening bar-hopping (including the Pines where we laughed with Louie Mack about his shocking bar jig, something that was becoming almost an instant classic) Finn and I both slept late, as we didn’t have to be in Bridgeport until three o’clock, to pick up jailbird Christian. Evidently I’d told Darla that she could come along as well, and there she was, calling me at ten am sharp, waking me up in the process. Didn’t she realize I had the day off?
“Where you at?” she roared “Are we going to get Christian?”
“Jesus, woman!! They don’t let him out until three!” I fumble around the nightstand for my cigarettes and lighter. “Hold on a minute!” I use the bathroom and quickly brush my teeth. I can’t enjoy a morning cigarette without first freshening my breath so that the cigarette can dirty it back up. I return to the bed, prop up my pillows and lounge back down. I can hear Darla’s voice through the receiver long before I get it back to my ear. She’s knee-deep in a conversation with herself.
“Whoah, whoah, whoah- stop the clock!” I say. “Who the hell are you talkin’ to?” I light up a Newport. Darla stops abruptly. “What?! Haha! I’m talkin’ to you, dummy!” she says, cackling. “Well- I haven’t even been here- I went to brush my teeth. What are you babbling?”
“Oh! hahaha” she giggles. “I was just tryin’ to tell you how cute Christian is. Wait till you see him!” I’d seen Darla’s version of cute before. It pretty much encompassed all males, everywhere. Discerning, she was not.
“Well, Darla….I can’t wait to meet a cute guy who’s fresh out of jail! Sounds like marriage material!” I laughed.
“Oh, Lee Lee!” she replied “He’s only in there for Motor vehicles stuff! Reckless driving and not having insurance. It’s just that no one would bail him out! Not even his parents!”
“Well, in that case- he sounds- dare I say it? Perfect!”….I blow smoke rings to amuse myself.
Darla laughs. “Okay” she says, “but I’m tellin’ ya- he’s foxy!…Anyway- when are we leaving?”
“Probably around one-thirty” I say “I gotta call Finn. Then I’ll come get you. Be ready!” I demand.
“Oh, I will be!” Darla cracks, “I can’t keep Queen Lee waiting!”
“That’s right, sister!” I say “…and you’d best keep it that way!”
I roll up to Darla’s a little after one.I pull into her condo complex,follow the road (and annoying speed bumps!) all the way to the end of the development where she lives (number 99) and stop in front of a huge barrier of freshly plowed snow. I beep the horn, and out she comes, between a break in the snowdrifts. She dances out, goofing around, dressed flamboyantly (as usual) in a dazzling mixture of fabrics and textures. What I can decipher: Hot pink long sweater, thick black belt, black leggings, black scrunchy suede boots,bright glittery scarves piled on,and clunky plastic pastel bracelets. Her signature spiky brown hair (kind of a Carol Brady long shag with spikes) is on point, and she wears lots of makeup. Darla was not shy, and she dressed as boldly. This was nothing but a simple ‘day’ ensemble. I had opted for a neon green sweater, Guess jeans and white high-top Reeboks- the kind with the velcro. My hair, longer, but also spiked on top- is Aqua-netted to within an inch of it’s life.
Darla jumps into the front seat, her presence sucking up all the air. “LEE LEE!” she exclaims, leaning into me with an air kiss, and strong hug. “HOW’S THINGS? WHAT’S GOIN’ ON? WHAT ARE WE LISTENIN’ TO? LET’S GO!” She’s all in my space and louder than hell, but that’s her style. She’s genuinely sweet and means well- even when she drives me nuts. Which is often. I check the rearview and pull out onto the snowy street to the opening riffs of Van Halen’s ‘Little Dreamer’. Darla immediately starts to playing a violent air-guitar, elbowing me hard in the process. I give her a look. “Move…over there, will ya?” I say, gesturing towards the passenger door. The Caddy has huge bench seats, and Darla’s all over me me.
“Sorry!” she says, laughing. She scooches over. Then she turns down the music. Before I can stare daggers she says “I gotta tell you about last night!”
“What?” I ask, mentally trying to trace down when I last saw her the night before. Was she playing pool with a crowd of people?
“Well….I kinda hooked up with somebody” she says, eyes glittering. Oh brother. What now? I think.
“Do you know that guy William Post?” she asks. I do. He runs with a New Wave crowd.
“Yeah, sorta” I say.
“Oh, Lee Lee!” she says, hands clapping together. “He’s SOOO cool!” Darla falls in love every other week, and although I know it’s her business, I think she moves a little too fast, and these guys usually don’t stick around. I’m only worried because I’m afraid she’ll get knocked up, and end up having a baby she can’t possibly raise properly.
“I hope you used something!” I say. For someone who’s as active as Darla, birth control seemed to be an afterthought. Almost as if it weren’t that important. She tried the pill, but she’s too absent-minded to remember to take it. I’m completely pro-choice and know without question that I wouldn’t have a baby unless I could afford it (and I take my pill…) but Darla says she could never end a pregnancy ‘because it wouldn’t be right!’. Her Mom is pretty religious, so I see where she gets it from, but I wonder about a philosophy that says abortion is wrong, but sleeping around equals no big deal. Whatever. I always figured pro-lifers must be down with staying virgins, as no other ‘method’ is more effective at preventing babies, but what do I know? This was in a time long before Tebowing was even a word (or person, for that matter)
“Yeah- I know! I need to do something about that” says Darla. “I really need a diagram”
I start laughing. “Really? I thought you knew what you were doing in that area! What don’t you know how to do?”
“Well- would I have to go to a doctor to get one?” What? Doctors are passing out sex diagrams? I’ll have to get one at my next check-up.
“Don’t you have that Helen Gurley Brown book?” I could swear I saw it in her room. Sex and The Single Girl. Though I’m still not entirely convinced she reads. She says she does-and has borrowed books from me, but conversations about said books are difficult and vague.
“They talk about diagrams in there?” she asks. What?? Wait a minute. It suddenly occurs to me what Darla is saying.
“Oh my God! Do you mean you need a DIAPHRAGM?” I ask, shaking my head and twisting up my face.
“YESSS! That’s what I said!” she chirps. Oh God. Here we go again…Sometimes when I’m with Darla, I expect springs to start popping out of my head simply from trying to follow her train of thought.I’m starting to doubt it’s the little engine that could…
Finn is outside waiting when we pull up. He’s wearing a brown leather and lambswool bomber jacket and acid washed jeans, arms folded from the cold, taking furious drags off a cigarette. When he sees the car, he flicks the butt into a snowbank and rubs his hands together until the car pulls up to exactly where he stands. I feel like I’m landing a plane, the snow crunching under the tires, while getting as precisely close to Finn without embedding him in the snowbank on the side of the road. Don’t come to me and make it easier, dear friend-I am here to serve you! Finn opens the passenger door and starts laughing at Darla. “What the hell are you doin’ here Miss Missy?” he says. He sounds nasally, like he has a cold. “Go on! Get yourself in the back!” he says to her. “No way!” she booms back. “Lisa- Tell Her!” he says, hand on his hip. He’s serious. “Oh, for God sakes, just get in the back! You can have the front after we go to Bridegeport” I tell Finn. He sighs and squeezes into the back seat as Darla holds her seat forward dramatically. “Hurry up!” she says, like the weight of the world is on her Atlas-like shoulders. Finally the door is shut. If we’re the Three Stooges- at least I’m Moe.