Have you ever met a real life Jessica Rabbit? I have and, let me tell you, she’s glorious.
Many years ago I was working as a commission accountant for a commercial real estate firm and my boss was interviewing candidates for an open receptionist position. Since my office was across the hall from my boss’s, I saw girls coming and going. Most of them nondescript.
This absolute BOMBSHELL walked past my window, her elegant hands holding a portfolio, her tailored black dress moving gracefully with her confident stride. She was tall, her figure a perfect hourglass and her long glossy hair a gorgeous hue of light red.
Of course she was hired. Who wouldn’t want to look at THAT as soon as they walked into an executive lobby? Well, who wouldn’t want to look at that ANYWHERE???
I was introduced to Maddy and instantly liked her. Her green eyes were kind and sparkly, her smile warm and friendly… and as I got to know her over the next several weeks I realized she was not only beautiful on the outside, but also on the inside. She was caring and compassionate to everyone and she, for some unknown reason, took a liking to the middle-aged accountant down the hall. Maddy would stop by and tell me jokes or ask me how my day was going, or bring me a Starbucks if she was going to buy herself one. Sometimes when I was on the phone with my door shut she’d booty dance in front of my window until I was practically falling off my chair trying to hold in the giggles.
Maddy became one of my dearest friends and she’s stuck by me over the years through good times and bad.
And speaking of the “bad”…
As I mentioned in a previous blog, I’m currently in therapy with a wonderful psychotherapist I call Rosamunde. During our last three sessions, Rosamunde has been performing Brainspotting on me (I’ll write more about that next time- it’s SO interesting!) and ever since Brainspotting treatments, I have been experiencing a bit more emotionalism. Ok, well, a lot of emotionalism. With some histrionics thrown in for good measure. And did I mention menopause? Anyway…
I tell you all of this as a backstory to the incident that happened a few weeks ago at a bar between me, Maddy and a guy named Eugene.
Maddy and I were in Scottsdale sitting on a ginormous patio perusing a menu full of giant wieners, alcohol and appetizers. We chatted and giggled companionably together, and our doggies (my Morkie Poo, Jovie, and Maddy’s Pug, Kyo) were curled contentedly in our laps.
While we sipped cocktails and munched on french fries and a Bavarian pretzel, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that three pigeons and one sparrow began closing in on us- slowly pecking away at minuscule crumbs on the ground while they side-eyed our table. I watched them warily because Maddy is terrified of birds and these feathered friends were inching their way ever nearer to her pretty sandaled feet.
One particularly daring pigeon suddenly straightened his plump grey back and strode over to me. He was actually quite handsome (for a pigeon). His chest was puffed out confidently and his feathers were sleek and well-groomed. He didn’t look greasy and bedraggled like the pigeons I always see in the WalMart parking lot.
He was also expectantly looking at me, arrogantly swaggering over to my side as he gave me a “What’s up, doll?” eyebrow arch. I swear he even winked. I got the impression lady pigeons didn’t often tell him no.
“Geez, he’s bold,” Maddy said, tossing her luxurious red hair and eyeing him cautiously.
I gently kicked at the pigeon without making contact to scare him away from us. Instead of flying off, he shifted his weight from one foot (claw?) to the other and merely regarded me reproachfully as if to say, “Have a care, lass, I just want to share a meal with you. That be alright?”
I giggled and looked at Maddy. “Looks like you’ve got another male admirer, Jessica Rabbit.”
“He’s staring at you, Chelly,” Maddy pointed out.
Which was true. Great. The males I now attract at this stage of my life are… pigeons.
I looked down into his weird yellow-orange eyes. “Ok, you cheeky bastard, times up. My friend doesn’t like birds and you’re a little too close.”
I kicked at him again and this time my shoe brushed his wing.
He and I stared at each other, our eyes narrowing slightly. It was a stand off- just like in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Except with Jessica Rabbit. And one of the main characters was a pigeon.
I’d had enough. I reached down and urgently flapped my hand around in front of his face, but instead of flying off like a NORMAL bird, this one merely picked up his wings and cocked his head at me.
Now, I don’t know if he did it on purpose or if it was purely accidental, but some of his feathers brushed across my hand and, startled and disgusted, I let out an ear-piercing scream.
People sitting at tables around us quickly turned to see who had been murdered, but all they saw was a crazed woman holding her hand as far away from her body as she could, shrieking, “He touched me! I’m going to get a bird disease! Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!”
I must note that at this point Jovie was completely still and relaxed, and the eye rolling expression she shot across the table clearly said, “Just another normal day, Auntie Maddy, maybe I could come live with you?”
I swear I could feel bird germs racing from my hand up my arm and infiltrating my previously bird-free body. As I held my fingers as far away from me as possible, tears began to course down my cheeks.
I DO NOT KNOW WHY I WAS CRYING.
Babbling, I said to Maddy, “I touched a pigeon! A PIGEON!!! I am going to get a flesh-eating bacteria! I AM GOING TO DIEEEE!” And with that I put my head on the table and sobbed.
Maddy, unflappable, poised, statuesque, stood up, took Jovie from my lap, and with a dog under each arm, tenderly said, “Why don’t you go wash your hands?”
Her sweet voice snapped me back to reality and I leapt from my seat, embarrassed and contrite. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” I was beginning to feel really bad because MADDY was the one scared of birds but she was being the calm, cool and collected one. Also, I was behaving like a raving lunatic. And, also, the entire bar patio was staring at us, their expressions both fascinated and apprehensive. I saw a few people shoot Maddy sympathetic looks like, “Aw, it’s really nice of you to try to take your unhinged friend out in public.” I also saw three men stare at her legs and one at her butt. Some lady in the back tried to stifle a laugh which ended in a pig-like snort.
Holding my hand as far away from me as possible, I ran toward the bathroom which was right by the kitchen. A bartender was standing close by and he saw me lunge for the ladies room door.
“Someone is in there,” he warned.
In desperation I held out my hand so he could see it. “I TOUCHED A PIGEON!!!” I yelled into his face. “I NEED TO WASH MY HAND!” Tears began pouring down my cheeks again.
The bartender backed away slightly. “There’s a bathroom across the patio on the other side. Why don’t you use that?”
I streaked across the patio, giving Maddy a wobbly smile as I loped past her like a deranged giraffe. I could feel SO many eyes on me from around the patio all reflecting different emotions- concern, amusement, confusion, distaste, suspicion, bewilderment. Mostly bewilderment.
I rushed headlong into another building which was small and dark. Older men were sitting around a wood bar and they all looked up when I burst through. I gave a nervous laugh which actually sounded quite insane and warbled out (à la Peter Brady), “Bathroom, please?”
A female bartender pointed to the left and I made a beeline for the ladies’ room where I viciously held my hand under water as though I were trying to drown it. I soaped up over and over and over until bubbles filled the sink and began rising into the air, floating, popping, landing in my hair and on my clothes.
I stared at myself in the mirror and was embarrassed to see that not only did my eyes look wild and full of panic, but mascara had streaked it’s way down my cheeks and across my face. My hair, frizzy and disheveled, spiked around my head like some sort of bizarre sea urchin.
I think we all have Come to Jesus moments in our lives, but I never really thought one of mine would happen in a bar bathroom. Over a pigeon.
As I wiped the wayward make-up off my face and tried to smooth my hair down best I could, I wondered if the reason I was having random meltdowns like this is because I had spent too much time and too much energy over the years holding in feelings of angst and frustration and sadness. And now it’s all coming out randomly and in spurts as I work through processing grief in therapy. Which is a good thing. But maybe not such a good thing for my friends. Especially in public.
I walked back out to the patio, calmer, but full of regret. Maddy and the doggies were patiently waiting for me, their expressions kind. I sat down, full of apologies.
“Chelly, it’s ok,” Maddy said. “You never have to apologize to me. I love you.”
“I’ve embarrassed you.”
She waved a manicured hand dismissively. “Nope.”
“Everyone is staring at us,” I worried.
True. Everywhere we went people stared at the voluptuous Maddy. She was used to it. But this time was for a different reason.
“Because they think you’re with an insane person,” I hissed. “They’re looks of pity.”
“Whatever.” Maddy sipped her cocktail and I marveled at her perfect cat-eye eyeliner. “By the way,” she said casually, “a bunch of the servers rushed over here after you went to the bathroom and asked, ‘Is your friend ok?’”
OMG. Poor Maddy! I dropped my head into my hands.
“I told them you touched a pigeon.”
I looked up and giggled. “They must think I’m truly demented.”
“They asked me which pigeon.”
I straightened, intrigued. “Wait, what???”
“I told them what he looked like: plump, well-fed, big, strange orange-yellow eyes kind of like the color of Beaker’s hair- you know, Beaker from the Muppets.”
I looked at her admiringly. Now that was descriptive. If she ever witnessed a crime the cops would adore her.
Maddy went on, “So the servers knew exactly who I was talking about. They were like, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s just Eugene. He lives here. Thinks he owns the joint and isn’t scared of people. Sorry he bothered you guys.’”
I laughed and regarded her with affection. “Thank you for being so sweet about everything.”
Maddy reached across the table and took my hand. “Good friends support each other. It’s ok to be emotional sometimes, Chel. We’re all just looking for love and acceptance and I hope you know you always have both of those with me. Besides, you know I hate birds. They’re terrifying and disgusting. I’d have acted exactly the same way you did if he’d touched me. Except after washing in the ladies’ room I would have just left and gone home to take a long, hot Purell bath.”
I smiled, overcome with gratefulness for the glorious soul in front of me, when suddenly there was a great flapping of wings and a forceful “coo-cooing” sound.
Eugene had returned.
But, thanks to Jessica Rabbit, so had my sanity.