Since we can't stop the global economy from crumbling around us, let's lighten the mood with a modest bit of humor via my serialized comic novel "Four Bidding For Love." (Those who find absurdist humor and adult situations offensive, please read no further.)
Kylie leaned down to read the email and Ross had to suppress a desire to pull his sweet-smelling friend into a passionate embrace that would thoroughly muss her damp locks. Even as he typed, he sighed inwardly and told himself, forget it; you're 33, getting fat and barely scraping by on disability. Kylie is a Goddess and you're a mendicant crawling round on your knees, smiling through your tears.
With a supreme effort Ross forced his attention from Kylie's damp brown hair and faintly flowery scent to the politely worded email he was composing to one Robin Tagore: yes, I would be delighted to transfer ownership of the movie poster to GreenDollGal but negotiations must be made in person. He clicked "send" and then turned with an owlish grin to Kylie.
"But why demand in-person negotiations?" she asked, and his grin widened.
"Because you'll turn a raging tiger into a kitten," and as Kylie grasped the import of his comment her expression hardened.
"I am not meeting some strange guy just to bargain for your stupid toaster."
"Not just any toaster, I remind you," Ross said soothingly. "A T-20Z, which is a mere stone's throw away from Nirvana itself."
"I don't care if it's Nirvana, I am not meeting some guy for you."
"Don't worry, he's harmless. Look at what this Google search turned up; he's a buyer for independent grocery stores in San Francisco, for goodness sakes. All you do is meet him in a cafe, exchange the stupid poster for the stupid toaster, and you'll earn an incredibly easy $100."
Ross knew his alluring young neighbor was as impecunious as himself, and he hoped the promise of $100 would overcome her doubts.
"But why not just go yourself and save the $100?" she asked most reasonably, and he replied, "Because I don't trust myself. If she refuses to hand over the T-20Z, I might go crazy and end up throttling him after I rip the movie poster into shreds."
"You're just lazy," she said accusingly, and he shook his head in vehement protest. "No, this really does require disinterested parties for the negotiation. GreenDollGal must feel the same way, otherwise why would she recruit this Robin Tagore as her intermediary?"
Kylie folded her arms thoughtfully and then laughed. "All this for a dumb toaster."
Ross issued a long sigh. "Look, collectors are neurotic. We all know it, but dammit, we can't help taking our collections very seriously."
Kylie's wide mouth formed a wry grin. "And are all collectors lonely slob bachelors?"
"No," he retorted. "Some are lonely bachelorettes. And by the way, I haven't heard you leaving for many hot dates recently."
Her jocular tone vanished and in a strained voice she asked, "Meaning that you're spying on me?"
"If you did have a boyfriend, I would see him in the course of my normal routines."
"Which means you're spying on me without appearing like you're spying on me."
"I just meant that meeting this Robin will be like a blind date," he replied peevishly. "It could be fun."
"If a blind date's so fun, why not ask Alexia out?"
"Ask the woman who nearly robbed me of my future? Ha, double ha, triple ha. You want me arrested for justifiable homicide?"
Kylie grinned primly at his annoyance. "I haven't seen you go out on any hot dates, either."
His irritation deflated by humiliation, he turned to his computer screen and said, "Look, the last time I had a woman in bed, state-of-the-art birth control was mashed up leaves and berries."
Kylie's grin faded and she said, "You mean your wife."
Sagging in defeat, Ross confessed, "Yes, my wife."
"And how many years has that been?"
"Four. Time flies when you're a slobby bachelor."
Fingering the plastic Tarzan figurine taped to his monitor, she said, "You need a social circle with some dating material in it. How about a Tarzan fan club? There's probably a really cute 30-year old here in Berkeley just waiting to meet another Tarzan fan."
"Mock my collections, if you must," Ross said and his weariness with romantic defeat was abundantly evident.
Leaning close, Kylie murmured, "Maybe if you overcome your fear of a job, your fear of dating might disappear, too."
"Thank you, Mrs. Freud. Let's get back to the T-20Z. I'm only begging you because this is important. This is the single thing which could turn my life of defeat and misery into victory and prosperity."
Kylie's dark eyes flashed and she settled her fingers on her comely cheek. "If I'm negotiating with this Robin, then why meet Alexia?"
"You already bought the shoes. Don't you want them?"
"Are you kidding? Gorgeous lime-green heels? Do you know how hard it is to find those in my size?"
"Good," Ross said with sudden sharpness, "because if she's as tough as I think she is, you might end up dealing with the Dragon Lady herself anyway."
"You really know how to sell me on this," Kylie replied sarcastically. "I do so enjoy negotiating with Dragon Ladies."
Ross shifted his bulk in the torn leather chair and said, "If it will make you feel any better, I'll be your backup when you meet Robin. I’ll skulk in the background and keep an eye on him."
"And that's supposed to reassure me?" she asked archly, and at that moment his computer beeped to announce a new email. Both Ross and Kylie read the reply from Robin, agreeing to meet in person at the San Francisco craft fair, and Ross yelped in glee.
"So will you be my intermediary or not?" Ross asked, and Kylie sighed. "Yes—but only because of the $100. And if you're there to take over if things don't work out."
"Excellent!" Ross boomed, and quickly typed a reply to Robin setting a 2 p.m. meeting at the San Francisco Craft Fair's refreshment booth. "You're my secret weapon," Ross said gleefully. "As far as he knows, he's meeting me."
"And what if I need a favor someday?" Kylie asked pointedly, and Ross slapped the desktop for emphasis. "If you get the T-20Z, I am your man for anything short of wading through a school of piranhas in the Amazon."
Kylie leaned forward, nearly touching her nose to her friend's chin. "And I was just going to ask you to carry me across the Amazon's most piranha-infested stretch," she said wistfully, and Ross had to chuckle even as he suppressed a desire to pull his sweet-smelling friend into a kiss with no end.
Next: Alexia Whiffs Romance: All Strikes, No Hits
To read the previous chapters, visit the "Four Bidding For Love" home page.
TWO NEW VIDEO PRESENTATIONS FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE:
Gordon T. Long and CHS discuss Unsustainable Expectations: compelling charts galore: