Raymond called the next evening and asked Margie if she had any plans.
She hesitated for a nearly imperceptible breath and said she planned to take in a street concert. The address was near where they had watched Arsenic and Old Lace.
Raymond asked if he might join her at the concert.
They met in front of the band stand as the lead band, a salsa band, was warming up. Unlike the theater, the gathering crowd recognized Raymond as their representative and it cause a stir.
The only way Raymond could make time with Margie was to dance with her. Otherwise, various constituents collared Raymond and wanted to talk politics. The constituents were evenly divided. Half wanted to talk about the lack of jobs. The other half berated Raymond for not immediately implementing Universal Basic Income and Food-and-Rent Subsidies.
Afterward Raymond figured out that news of his presence had gone out on social media and people actively sought him out to share their opinions.
The public attention was a new experience for Raymond and was disorienting.
Margie found it immensely amusing when Raymond confided that he HATED dancing...but dancing with her was better than getting harangued by disgruntled constituents.
Margie’s picnic basket contained stemware, grapes, crackers and VB ORS, the new sport drink that was all the rage in LA.
Toward the end of the evening Margie grew quiet and pensive during one of the few slow dances. Raymond asked if anything was wrong.
Margie replied, “A girl gets to a certain age and does not have time or emotional resilience to waste. I was wondering, what are your long term intentions? Do you see me as a short-term play-thing or a distraction-of-opportuntiy or as something different?”
“Why would you ask that” Raymond puzzled.
“I find you attractive and I am starting to have feelings for you.” Margie said. “There have been other guys that I thought might be ‘the one’, but weren’t. As I get older I find it takes longer to heal and I want to cut my losses if we are not on the same page.”
Raymond found himself cornered. He did not want to screw this up.
“I told you I have a problem with alcohol, right? I am dealing with it. I am very active in Alcoholics Anonymous. In AA we have a bunch of slogans and thoughts for the day to help us deal with life without alcohol.” Raymond said.
“Some of the slogans involve letting time be our friend. ‘One day at a time.’, ‘Easy does it.’ Other steps or slogans involve acting with integrity. Guilt often triggers drinking as a way to numb pain.” Raymond continued.
“I cannot know what the future will bring. Nobody can. But I know that when I am with you I only have the most fleeting urges to drink. I apologize if you are insulted that I measure your importance by my need to drink, but for a while that was the only standard by which I measured my life.” Raymond said.
“Forgive me if I cannot talk in flowery sentences, that is not my way. But I want to be with you more than anybody else in the world and being with you now is more important to me that anything that might happen tomorrow.” Raymond said.
“So you aren’t just trying to slide me into the sack?” Margie said.
Raymond smiled. “The thought occurred to me. ” he said. “But that is not what I am thinking about now. Now, I would be honored with a simple kiss. Tomorrow can take care of its self when it comes.”
And with that they kissed on the dance floor.