We were ten minutes late to Branchwater Tavern and I know Tom and Jackie were probably wondering where we were. Stephanie insisted we listen to “Seven Nation Army” three times in the parking lot before we went inside.
“Good things come in threes,” she said.
Branchwater is a strange mix of old school rich leather and dark lighting coupled with some modernist touches.
It has a “meet up for an affair” vibe but seems to normally be coated with Houston’s midtown 30-something ladies with a few metro sexuals on lap tops sprinkled at the bar.
It is the definitive “Jackie cocktail palace” and I’m sure she insisted on it because it was her lair and would give her the high ground in case the double date went bad fast.
Tom’s cheeks were flushed red from whatever clear booze he was drinking. He was smiling broadly and gave off the aura of a cherub. Made me remember how we come into this world as babies and slowly deteriorate back to that state once we reach 50.
“Are you ready to ad lib your ass off?” Stephanie whispered in my ear.
“Just be kind, okay?”
“But of course.”
As you can imagine, things got a odd real fast.
They both instantly notice the matching bands on our ring fingers. Tom, however, is the only one drunk enough to slur out: “Are you guys married?”
He jumped sharply in his seat and I can only assume that Jackie stabbed him in the thigh with a fork.
“Oh no,” Stephanie laughed. “We aren’t married. These rings are a symbol of our commitment to remain sexually pure until Jesus decides it is time for us to be joined as one.”
“You’re a virgin?” Tom asked with disbelief.
“No, born again virgins,” I said, trying to play along.
“Yes,” Stephanie said in sugary voice. “We have both committed to a life of abstaining from sex as Jesus commands.”
Jackie looked shocked.
“So no sex?” Tom asked again.
“Well, no vaginal sex,” Stephanie said with a straight face. “The vagina is sacred. But the Lord gives us other options, doesn’t he Lazlo?”
Jackie choked on her bourbon while my face turned scarlet.
But to her credit, Jackie quickly recovered and steered the conversation back to normalcy, basically blocking Stephanie from pushing the ruse any further. Jackie poured on the charm, drowning Stephanie in niceness.
Soon both girls had warmed to each other and were comparing notes on my peculiarities.
1) I snore, but in a cute “little bear” way
2) They like my feet
3) They want me to quit smoking and my smoking makes me a “weak” person
4) I am funny “ha ha” and also funny “strange” but not funny “queer” even though I have awesome shoes
5) They think my laugh is hilarious just by itself but sometimes I talk way too loud
6) They both think I’m sensitive and hate that I never pick the bar, restaurant movie etc
7) I was told to shave every day because I have a baby face
Tom was completely blotto and of no use, as expected so I basically tried to defend myself as needed and blushed if they said something too nice.
Eventually, they left for the bathroom together and then instead of coming back to the table, they stopped at the bar and would occassionally look over and giggle.
After about 20 minutes of listening to Tom drunkenly tell me that Obama is not an American citizen they finally came over and announced it was time to go.
Tom insisted on paying the bill. Jackie insisted on taking his car keys.
“Well, how was it?” I asked Jackie when we got back to her car.
“You did great,” Stephanie said. “The whole virgin thing was a bust because she’s too nice. I was picturing super bitch.”
She gunned the engine and rocketed us out of the parking lot and announced:
“Me, her and you… We’re going to be friends.”
“Yah, but I’m the only one dating your ass.”