Monday, May 10, 2010

High Society Smack Down

The hot spring afternoon was compelling the group of well-dressed Charlestonians into the small waiting area of the swanky East Bay Street restaurant forcing a jovial but uncomfortable closeness so everyone could escape the heat outside. The leaders of the group, a good-natured, middle-aged man wearing a tan cotton suit and his wife in a purple cocktail dress hovered over the podium used by the hostess discussing seating arrangements with the young girl busy scribbling notes and talking with the lead waiter next her. Behind the middle-aged man was a slightly younger version of himself dressed in a simple black sports jacket with a green polo shirt and khaki pants that would alternately make a joke at his older brother’s expense or be pushing his very young trophy wife up against the wall to whisper something in her ear. When the trophy wife was not giggling at whatever her husband had privately said she was checking the position of her strapless dress and pulling it back up to a more respectable position. Given how short the one-piece dress was the repositioning was a careful balancing act between showing too much on top or below.

After several minutes the lead waiter, who had walked back into the dining area, returned informing the hostess that the group’s tables were ready. Right after the podium the restaurant’s bar began narrowed the passageway to the main dining area and forced the group to walk two-by-two giving the impression of people walking down a fashion show catwalk. The patrons seated at the bar and sipping cold drinks watched the finely dressed men and elegant ladies pass by wondering what sort of celebration had drawn such a crowd out in the heat.

At the other end of the bar the restaurant opened up into the dining area allowing the group to fan out and take seats at the hastily arranged formation of joined tables in the center of the room that still had various waiters and waitresses adding silverware, napkins, and other table items. The precession of high style had interrupted the normal flow of the wait staff but with them seated the waiters and waitresses quickly returned to their coordinated dance of beehive efficiency centered on the counter situated close to the bar where the food and drinks were picked up to be brought to the tables. Two chefs worked behind the counter making last minute corrections to the items placed on serving trays oblivious to the fire raging in the brick oven behind them.

Most of the idle curiosity the other patrons had about the group were satisfied after they raised their newly arrived glasses of mixed drinks and ice tea in toast to one young lady sitting at the far end of the joined tables congratulating her very recent college graduation. The young lady thanked everyone for their well wishes and the number of pricey gifts and only hoped that a job would soon appear so she could put her expensive degree to some use. After the laughter died down and the young lady returned to her conversation with the people seated close to her the group sank into shared anonymity with the other patrons. That was the case until one last couple appeared escorted by the hostess that once again had drawn the attention of most of the people in the restaurant.

The late arriving man and woman, both in their early twenties, cut an even more eye-catching entrance than the rest of the trendy group. The man was dressed in an US army uniform and was still wearing his black beret inside the restaurant which was arranged on his head in a slightly out of regulation manner making him appear more striking and dangerous. Pinned to the shoulder tabs of his uniform were brand new bronze colored bars signifying a newly minted Second Lieutenant and attached to the lower portion of the lapels of his army green jacket were the crossed rifles showing he was an infantry officer. The high point of his young military career were the highly polished airborne jump wings positioned above his left pocket and overwhelming his two minor ribbon awards attached between the pocket and the coveted silver wings. On initial observation, the young soldier looked calm and confident but anyone taking a longer look could see that his eyes betrayed him showing a hint of the insecurity and nervousness about being around a group of people far more use to the rules and procedures of high society.

The blonde woman walking by his side was dressed in a blue silk dress with a tiered skirt cut short. The modest cut in front showing little in the way of skin was offset by the bold plunge in the back that had every man in the place staring as she passed. Just looking at the stunning woman the first thoughts passing through an observer’s head would be just as wrong as they would have been on her soldier companion. While she presented an air of refinement and breeding looking into her eyes and watching her graceful walk, you would have seen something akin to the beauty of a shark swimming through the water alert for prey. The gorgeous woman scanned her surroundings as confident and powerful as a queen and was not afraid to stare down anyone who looked at her a little too long.

When the young couple arrived at the tables both the middle-aged man and his wife in charge of the fashionable group jumped up and greeted the two enthusiastically. The young blonde-haired woman addressed the middle-aged man as her dad and gave him a big hug then greeted and kissed her mother on the cheek. Once his female companion took her seat the young soldier grabbed and shook the hand of the father, mother, and finally the uncle before sitting beside his girlfriend. After another round of informal banter prompted by the couple’s arrival the table soon quieted down again as waiters and waitresses began serving the meals. The returning quiet was only a brief respite from the main event that would shock everyone in the restaurant.

As the group was nearing the end of dessert, the lieutenant cleared his throat and banged his butter knife against the side of his water glass then carefully standing after moving back his chair. That had the result of silencing not only the conversations at the joined tables but attracting the attention of most everyone seated nearby.

“This seems,” the young officer said addressing the group he was a part of,” to be the best time to do this with Sally’s family all around.” With the smooth movements of someone who had practiced the maneuver countless times he pulled a small box out of his pants pocket, bent down on one knee, and opened it before his shocked girlfriend. “Sally,” he said looking with all earnest at his girlfriend, “we’ve been a part of each other’s lives since our first year in college. I have loved you from the first minute I set eyes on you and have known all along that we would spend the rest of our lives together. Please do me the honor and marry me.”

All around the restaurant the spectacle had brought smiles to most, gasps to several older ladies, and tears to a few for reasons known only to them. The air in the restaurant was electric as the moment hung heavy waiting for what everyone expected would be the happy ending as the beautiful young woman said yes to the handsome soldier. The tension only increased as the young woman cradled the rugged face of the man who had just professed his love in her soft hands and smiled at him as only an angel could.

“Jeff my dearest,” she said sweetly with everyone expecting a positive answer, “there is no way in Hell that I would ever marry you.” Silence had dominated the room with everyone anticipating a different answer but now a heavier stillness reigned as everyone could tell the hammer was about to fall with her explaining why she had crushed the man in front of her who was frozen worse than any marble statue. “Jeff I have known about your insipid social climbing ambitions since we first met, you only saw me as an avenue or tool to family riches and influence. For those reasons alone I would be a fool to marry you but your little fling with my best friend last summer alone ended any chance we had together all by itself.”

Jeff, not one to go down without a fight returned to his chair and looked at the woman who had just embarrassed in front of everyone listening. “If you thought I was only after your family’s money and social standing why did you keep me around for so long?”

“Sweetie,” Sally said looking at him like an owner might talk to a pet dog, “You were nothing but meat to me. Good in bed and fun to be around but nothing more.”

Anger began to well up in the spurned man with his face turning red and his hands shaking. The silence in the restaurant had gone on for so long that everyone knew something bad would have to happen to break it. At Jeff and Sally’s tables, most of the group was trying hard to look some other place while Sally’s dad stared at the boyfriend worried what he might do next, only the uncle was smiling enjoying the unfolding drama.

As Jeff’s hands continued to shake with his mind someplace far away and bloody Sally gently touched his shoulder. “Jeff give up the dramatics,” she said. “You are making a scene and if you do anything stupid your life will never recover. You and I can walk out of here soon and you can go your own way and be the injured party with any number of like-mined social sluts eager to take my place.”

Like a deadly storm that had changed course to disappear over the horizon Jeff’s face cleared and his hands stopped shaking. After everyone was finished and the check was paid, the group left almost as regally as they arrived. The young officer departed first and alone with his head held high. Sally left with her sister and a few friends laughing about the whole affair and openly talking about a young lawyer she had met the week before. For the rest of the people in the restaurant still stunned at what had happened, a slow realization crept in their minds that you could not pay for such high quality dramatic entertainment.

Author's note: Spent Saturday doing some sightseeing around Charleston and while having lunch with Dragonwife and Miss Wiggles at an excellent restaurant this event took place. Now understand I added a great deal of "color" to the story but the basic premise of a dude associated with the military going down in inglorious flames after asking his obviously high society girlfriend to marry him in front of everyone was real. I changed many things just to avoid any possible legal issues like names and descriptions of people in the story but anyone with a little knowledge of Charleston restaurants should be able to guess the place we were eating. The food was fantastic and I will return whenever I am lucky enough to get back down to the Holy city.


Teresa said...

OMG, I live here...sorry I missed that and I bet he wishes he could have. Good "Colorization" ?

sunshine said...

I live for action like that! :P

Last week at Gabby's First Communion, a man fell to his knees and spread his arms wide apart as he was accepting the host from the Priest. I didn't think anything could top that one for awhile!
But this story did. :P

What a great story! OMG.. I would never have the nerve to do that to someone. I'd say yes and then give it to him later in private. (the boot that is..)

So.. more importantly, what did you eat??? :P


TomCat said...

That's one hell odf a tale, Beach. Hope your artistic license covers your butt.

Given how short the one-piece dress was the repositioning was a careful balancing act between showing too much on top or below.

God bless the dressmaker!

MadMike said...

Brilliant piece. Loved every word and like Tom said God bless the dressmaker!

Beach Bum said...

Teresa: Yeah, it was fun but I had no sympathy for "Jeff" in real life. He struck me wrong teh first time I saw him.

Sunshine: Actually have a story about the old fashion Summer tent revivals my grandmother made us go to in the works. Lots of Southern folks dancing around on that one and a possum being exorcised.

I think "Sally" knew what "Jeff" was going to do and set it up this way.

The question is what I did not eat. I had a grilled chicken wrap, it was hot and when I'm hot I don't usually eat much. But I had most of Dragonwife's seafood platter and Wiggles' pizza.

Tomcat: Its a gigantic blog universe but weirder things have happened. Trophy wife was hot but the hottest character I had to cut out for not really being important to the story was a brunette dressed in a revealing purple evening gown.

Madmike: Dragonwife was home today and actually read the second draft I left on the table. She is convinced I'm insane (always has actually) and asked me what restaurant I had lunch in on Saturday. I literally had to mentally walk her through the time we stepped inside the restaurant and explain what really happened and what I colored.

I worry about the strangely common complete lack of imagination found in many overly educated types. But with her family I think it is genetic.

Jessica said...

Love it- could see every moment of your story!

Liberality said...

I hate the rich, I really do. They believe the world revolves around them and that they're so "special". They are special alright, special assholes.

Beach Bum said...

Jessica: Glad you liked it, that was a good day and if I can ever get around I will post some pictures. Although I did not take any of the inside of that restaurant.

Liberality: Yeah, the rich are not really on my Christmas card list right now. Just too much damn stuff is going their way with all the rules benefiting them and they are not being held responsible for the shit they cause.

Joan Perry; Sidewalk Curator said...

Wow! Here I am trying to figure out if I know the group. I was hoping you'd write about your Charleston trip.

Beach Bum said...

Joan: As my usual practice I changed a bunch of things about the characters when they are based on real people but this group was very well off.

"Jeff's" military branch was changed but the rank was the same as was my basic description of him. I let him slide more to the factual since second lieutenants are pretty much a dime a dozen and look alike no matter the service.

I did not take any pictures of the actual restaurant on East Bay Street although you might have had lunch or dinner on their patio beside the building with a series of shrubs hiding the parking just on the other side.

The picture on the post is one I pulled off the Internet and his not the actual place.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

I love it when pompous ass-wipes like Jeff get their come-uppance. I just wished that it would happen more often (I don't know, say like maybe to Rush Limbaugh or Dick Cheney perhaps).

Beach Bum said...

Will: Setting aside the changes I made the real people who gave me inspiration for this story were definitely way above my pay-grade and social standing. Whether the real "Sally" was a heroine or a snob herself I have no idea.

Although "Jeff" was kept pretty close to the original except for the branch of service but he did strike me from the very beginning as a real jerk.

Randal Graves said...

Someone isn't supporting the troops or the rich. I'm reporting you to your Congressman!

TRUTH 101 said...

Would that I could also just be a "piece of meat" to a fine looking socialite chick.

Beach Bum said...

Randal: Well, if it had been anything other than a second lieutenant I would have wrote the story more in his favor. Those low life creatures have killed more soldiers than all the land mines in the world. If they survive to make First Lieutenant, that's different they might actually be worth something but you still can't be certain till they make the rank of captain.

Truth 101: Good point, we should all be so lucky.

Naj said...


This was the best lunch break in a long time. :) Now I want to scroll down to all your stories; but work calls :(

Rhiannon said...

Hmmm...I don't think I care for either of their attitudes...her's "snotty" but brave of her with her "not" letting him down easy.

"He" on the other hand kind of sounds full of himself and a user...loser, user man, snotty lady, but at same time maybe she said "the truth" about him and just the way he really is. I've met men like that through the years..full of themselves and selfish..and I've made comments to them however tactful I was they were incredibly rude and mean and had to "strike" back to me by trying to intimidate's all a big, relationship. I think I will buy a nice vintage type ring at the goodwill or salvation army and plan to marry's true..I've seriously been thinking about this. I'm happiest with myself and am I "stronger woman" and will "stick with me until the end"..he he.

Both don't deserve anyone special. Maybe when they both grow up.

Good writing good story. I've seen interesting situations throughout my life but not good at writing such good "spellbound" post about them.

Be a playwriter!..:o)


Marja said...

Ah your observation skills and the expression of it are priceless.
and eh "coordinated dance of beehive efficiency" you can write poetry as well

goatman said...

Whew, what a trip. So much to describe and so little time between courses!

Your writing course seems to be paying off in descriptive verse. I wonder what these people were like when changing a tire?

TomCat said...

Tomcat: Its a gigantic blog universe but weirder things have happened. Trophy wife was hot but the hottest character I had to cut out for not really being important to the story was a brunette dressed in a revealing purple evening gown.

No video?!!? :'-(

Beach Bum said...

Naj: Thank you so much. At least I should have most of the typos gone.

Rhia: I wrote a very small post not too long ago were I said that the minute a couple thinks that they cannot live without each other they should each buy a puppy and go their separate ways until the feeling passes.

Marja: That one was absolutely true, the waiters and waitresses literally danced around the tables.

Goatman: Thank you, I really enjoyed that course. Since my wife, daughter, and I did not have reservations we had to wait at the bar which allowed me to observe the group as they came in and our table was more or less across from them once we did sit down.

Tomcat: LOL!!!! I have a video function on my camera but that is something I would not even begin to try. The purple evening gown had a lot of thin, lacy material and around her boobs it revealed a lot.

Distributorcap said...

you are one heckuva writer

Beach Bum said...

DCap: Thanks, it was a fun story to write.

Rhiannon said...

BB, I just read your recent comment on my blog and it looks like you and I have much more in common then I realized..your family and siblings sound a lot like mine..but I am the middle one and the younger "in her shoes blond one" and then there is my older sister...3 of us. I have absolutely nothing in common with them I feel completely opposite in politics and spiritual ways also. I am more "deep" than they are and thought not a college education have always seemed to have more knowledge of "life" than them so it's hard to have a conversation with them..they don't get it or get mad that I am so different than anyone else in my family. The "Black sheep" also. I have lived in another country also and I think that really changes you and you "grow" and "evolve".

Just thought I'd drop by and let you know "your not alone" in these crazy family situations. When I see close families that really all love one another and accept their differences I just love it and also envy the show "Brothers and sisters"? them, they yell and get upset and argue but the love is still always "there"...just a tv show I know you would say.

Have a good spring week.