Dancing with Your Own Devils in the Pale Moonlight

For a man who gets paid to notice things in restaurants, I can be horrifically unobservant when I am really into something else – book, newspaper, conversation, or even my own thoughts.  Thiswas the case one recent evening when I was enjoying a cigar, a bourbon, and the editorial section of the New York Times at one of my usual haunts.  I didn’t notice the striking woman in the winter white pant suit until she was standing at my bar table.

“Hi there” she opened; “I need you to settle a bet for me” she continued without giving me opportunity to return her salutation.

“Good evening” I said while rising from my chair.  “How may I help you settle this bet; and would you care to have a seat while we resolve this?”

“Thank you, I would like to sit… and I’m Jessica”

“Jessica, I’m Refugee; it’s a pleasure to meet you.  Now what is the bet?”

“Well, my girlfriends and I” she said while pointing to two women sitting at the far end of the bar “saw your wedding ring…”

“Not  a wedding ring as I am wearing it on my right hand ring finger” I corrected.

“Exactly.  That’s the question.  We have it narrowed down to: you’re from some country where they wear wedding bands on that hand but I think your lack of an accent eliminates that, or you’re actually married but shift the ring to the other hand when you go to bars, or you’re gay and wear that ring to let other men know you’re available.”

I snickered a bit at the options before replying “There are a couple of flaws in your logic.  If I was the kind of married man who switched his ring in bars, why would I ever admit to it?  Also, I am not positive about this, but I am fairly sure that gay people, especially gay women wear rings on the thumb to indicate such – though that may just be an old wives tale.”

“OK, let’s check your left ring finger for tan lines then” Jessica said with a bit of a smile.

She inspected my hand and declared my hands tan-line free.  “You didn’t answer the question about being gay” Jessica noted.

“No, I didn’t… I am straight” I acknowledged and answered.

“So why the ring?” she pressed.

“It’s a long story, but the short version is that I bought it as a gift to myself and a reminder of the lessons I tried to learn when I took a yearlong sabbatical from women several years ago.”

Just as I finished, Jessica’s two girlfriends arrived at the table demanding to know the verdict on the bet.

“Well, none of us were right.  Apparently, Refugee here has another reason having to do with a ‘sabbatical from women’”

I stood and formerly introduced myself to Stephanie and Maria.  They sat down and we ordered another round of drinks.  Before the cocktails arrived, Maria asked “So tell us more about this sabbatical.”

I laughed to myself before answering “You know, I am normally much more of an open book type of guy, but that’s just a bit more than I am willing to discuss this evening.”

I hadn’t meant for that to be a conversational grenade, but the table was silent for an uncomfortable moment.  Stefanie broke the quiet with “Well then, Mr.-Normally-An-Open-Book-Refugee, what would you be doing if we hadn’t crashed your table?”

I drained the last of my bourbon as our server had just brought the next round and said “Literally just having a drink, smoking a cigar, reading and waiting for a phone call that I don’t expect to come… metaphorically, I’d be running towards the football and foolishly thinking that Lucy won’t snatch it away again… maybe starting another sabbatical.”


8 Responses to Dancing with Your Own Devils in the Pale Moonlight

  1. Dear Refugee,

    First, where is the bar where you may have a cigar? VA, eh? Tell me which restaurant and maybe I could bum the forbidden cig? Oh, how I long for it…

    Second. let’s get to the ring: I once knew a man–important to me–who moved his wedding ring from left to right finger to off: He is a good guy, super conflicted about his marriage. So, no assertions here: only interest.

    You do, indeed write the most intriguing stuff.


    I would love to reveal that information, but a guy has to have some secrets, right? Regarding the status of my ring, there is no part of me that wears it for deceptive purposes.

  2. Lisa says:

    It always pissed me off when Lucy did that. I was always all, oh, don’t fall for it again! No!

    It is a particular kind of insanity, no?

  3. Good lord, the old “settle a bet”. We women really do seem to have a penchant for ganging up on guys in bars. It’s unconscionable.

    I didn’t feel ganged up on… and the question wasn’t too intrusive, but the answer was too personal.

  4. kitty says:

    your responses are always so well played.

    Thank you.

  5. brookem says:

    it’s funny how many people assume that there has to be a reason a man would wear a ring on their right hand. my manfriend wears one on there, and he said he’s been asked the same question about being from another country and married. hmm.

    In my experience, there usually there is a reason, a story, a notion, behind most pieces of jewelry. And their question was even more reasonable given that my ring is in the same style as a wedding band.

  6. Gofahne says:

    First of all, your bar encounters make me feel like I’ve stepped back into an old black and white movie. I love them.

    Second, I don’t think there is anything wrong with an answer being too personal for someone you just met in a bar. I think they could have bought you a bourbon for the part of the story you told and written their number on the cocktail napkin if you ever felt like sharing the rest.

    Could’ve led to a much different ending.

    No numbers were written on cocktail napkins… business cards ostentatiously slipped into the breast pocket of my suit, yes.

  7. mscarlita says:

    “Waiting for a phone call that I don’t expect to come…”

    Very nice. I like the noir feel of this vignette.

    I’ll be reading more.

    Thank you, and I an rather enamored with the compliment of this being a vignette with a noir feel.

  8. Conversation grenade? That’s a great one.

    I wish I could take credit for it but I am rather certain that I lifted that term from someone.

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