A Modern Day Romance Broken Down
Jud and CiCi were never an item
This is just a work of labored-fiction. It may or may not make you think of two people in your own life that you know in your office, factory, apartment building or sitting on the same green park bench that needs water-treatment when you go to the post office.
Jud, his ficticious name, worked as an assistant's assistant in a graphics design firm. Naturally. Jud was a Brown College grad with a head for art and design, but was unable to find a position where he could have his own office and CD system to play his favorite classic rock tune, "Season of The Witch," by rock legends, Al Kooper, Michael Bloomfield and Stephen Stills. Jud was semi-content to be a 'runner' for Mike Julian, personal assistant to a Mr. Stephens, the vice president over Creative Design for the graphics firm, Lowell, Dinkston, and Mabry, on 10th Avenue East, New York City.
To set the stage for the coming slaughter, Jud was a sharp dresser. Most days. Once he had accepted the fact that he was not going to experience any form of advancement with Lowell, Dinkston and Mabry, he settled in to just wear average-colored sweater vests, corduroy pants and brown loafers without socks. Jud didn't give one iota about fashion. What good would it do him to be just another pair of $500.00 luxury shoes?
CiCi Donovan, was a proverbial free spirit with a more-than-average IQ. She was not one to flaunt her wisdom of World Politics and Scientific Philosophies--CiCi just enjoyed a dry martini before and after work by herself at her favorite bar, Loggan's Bucket, near the graphics firm where Jud worked. CiCi had lost all of her college friends due to a dark misunderstanding on her graduation day. It seemed to many that CiCi was a lesbian, but in effect, she only appreciated other girls, but not the point of having sex with them. CiCi was strange that way. Her ideal good time was to spend the day with a girlfriend just to listen to her talk about shopping, makeup and hosiery. CiCi would lay on her stomach across the girlfriend's soft, canopied bed and listen for hours without saying a word--her blue eyes fixed on the girlfriend's lips as the words rolled off of them like doughnuts on an assembly line.
But CiCi made the best of it. She took the hurt from the freeze-out by her once-good friends, and and turned it into a personal strength. She loved to be her own person and set new trends in drinking martini's and finding the most-unusual friends as a collector would collect stamps.
To fully understand the rest of this romantic story, it is best defined as Jud and CiCi's swift-founded and floundered romance was like a jigsaw puzzle being put together piece by piece by the two hands of fate. Each piece had a place. And every piece fit. At one time. It was the one times that things fit that Jud longed for in latter days in his dark office overlooking the busy, nasty streets of that section of New York City. Jud was a private young man. He didn't have the luxury of male friends in the office to share his defeats in the game of love and life. Jud just took his own stride and made do as flexible as he could be when he was with CiCi.
It was like the day was carved into the ceiling of the universe. On a fateful Friday evening in September 1996, Jud turned off the one lamp in his office along with his Macintosh computer that hummed as it shut down. He grabbed his suede jacket and started for the elevator. Then something mystical happened inside Jud's head. A drink would be nice. Yes, a drink--maybe Scotch Whiskey neat would be a great pick-me-up after the day I've had, Jud thought to himself as he pushed the 'down' button.
There were other employeees of Lowell, Dinkston, and Mabry who were only talking among themselves, not to Jud, as they all waited for the Otis elevator to make its appointed stop. A middle-aged lady, somewhat attractive and had the smell of a female about her, brushed against Jud's shoulder as they boarded the elevator--still, Jud was anxious to have that Scotch Whiskey neat drink, but at what bar or pub? Jud didn't go into a downward spiral. He thought he would let fate direct him to where he would have his reward of a drink to cheer himself up.
Jud sloffed along the sidewalk across from Lowell, Dinkston and Mabry--not really trying to find the right bar to have his drink. Then in the foggy Friday night lights he viewed Loggan's Bucket shining like an alcoholic beacon to those who partake in casual and social drinking as a step in status. He smiled to himself as he checked his bowtie. He thought himself to be average-but-decent looking as he opened the twin glass doors to Loggan's Bucket.
Loud talk and laughter clouded his mind as he made his way along the wall toward the bar where the "it" people--socialites, lawyers bragging on their recent "kills," hookers dressed in New York's finest fashion waiting to make another $500.00, and then there were Jud's type of people--average men and women sitting quitely sipping their Manhattan's, Jack and Coke's, Jack by itself, Michelob beers, and dry martini's and not bothering to mingle with the upper-crust of successful people who were dominating all the barstools.
What the heck? Jud thought. Why can't I sit at the bar like someone that is successful? Tonight, Jud never knew what impact that one decision would have on his obscure life. Suddenly, an attractive blonde hooker with a mink wrapped around her shoulders, smiled at Jud as her escort led her from the bar leaving one barstool open. Jud immediately took advantage and sat down. "What'll it be?" the highly-educated bartender asked. "Uh, think I'll have Scotch Whiskey--neat, please," Jud replied while scoping out the bar for maybe a nice-looking girl to just talk to. He was in no mood for fast, nameless and meaningless sex. Not tonight.
Not noticing and not that aware of what was happening around him, Jud sipped his Scotch Whiskey neat and looked at the floor minding his own thoughts. He hadn't noticed that another barstool had opened up beside him and who should be sitting there but CiCi Donovan with her long, straight blonde hair cascading down her shoulders and smelling so good just like a scratch-and-sniff ad that you find in most women's magazines. Her scent instantly caused Jud to look to his right. CiCi had ordered her dry martini and was looking to her left eye to eye with Jud. Jud was first to smile. Cici acknowledged him with a wink and softly said, "I am CiCi Donovan. I am here to only have one drink. I am not going to sleep with you so just don't start with those overused pick-up lines on me. Okay?" Jud was half stunned and half shocked. He gazed into CiCi's twinkling blue eyes. This was like in an artistic movie made by some undergraduates from Yale, he thought. Who is this woman talking to me? He thought some more and finished his Scotch Whiskey neat.
Sad story short. Jud made the usual and accepted small talk with CiCi who really wasn't that uncomfortable with his topics of conversation, witty one-liners and his patented impression of Jack Benny. CiCi thought inside herself that there just might be a spark of free spirit in this man and maybe he can create things for me out of nothing. CiCi had another obsession other than listening to girlfriends talk about shopping, she loved artwork made from seashells and drift wood that was found on the beaches of the Eastern Shore near New Jersey. She had a two-night-stand with a guy named Bo a few months ago from the Eastern Shore, but he left her for a job in Maine. CiCi never missed Bo that much. She occupied herself with reading about girls who love to shop.
Jud and CiCi made a date that night at Loggan's Bucket after a few more Scotch Whiskey neat's and dry martini's. They seemed to hit it off as romantic writers are prone to write. And by all appearances, they were on their way to making a nuclear couple living the nightmare of survival in the cement jungles of New York City, but appearances lie. Nothing is really what it looks like on the outside. Jud wanted more and more commitment from CiCi as the weeks flew by and then winter came and still, CiCi was still content to just be casual drinking friends and sex mates when the mood was opportune. Jud was feeling empty and confused each time he looked into CiCi's twinkling blue eyes. Funny, she doesn't look like a girl from Kansas, he thought over and over. Fact was, CiCi was born in South Carolina and her parents had been killed by a drunken burglar leaving her to be raised by her grandma Nellie who lived in Greenville, S.C.
Date after date. Cute talk after cute talk. On and on like a grinding wheel at a wheat mill their relationship kept sticking in the mire of social conflict and personal fear of being hurt, but they made things work until the following spring, Jud's favorite time of the year for that was when CiCi broke out her yellow sundress with one red rose embroidered on the right side above her waist. She looked dazzling as she would twirl for him and laugh that laugh. Once she tried to get Jud to try the yellow sundress on for her. Jud was suddenly propelled into an arena of questions. Was she bisexual or just strange in her sense of humor? Were two of the probing questions that burned Jud's weakened mind.
CiCi was more at ease and relaxed as spring came into blossom. She laughed and talked more and more to Jud who by now was confident and personally-persuaded that he and CiCi were going to be a couple who went to dinners, movies, cruises, to friend's homes when they made friends, and own a dog, maybe a Terrier named Robbie. Jud was smiling more and feeling more at ease as their relationship began to grow and become more intense.
One day while Jud was running off at the mouth like most guys in love do, his one friend at work, Joe Alexander, informed him of a phone call. Jud excused himself from the group he had been bragging to and went to his dark office. It was CiCi on the phone. She laughed and asked what he was doing for lunch. Jud's chest swelled with manly pride. CiCi had never asked him out to lunch for as the told him that she was not ready to be seen with him in daylight. Jud wasn't offended at her honesty, but always wondered why she would say such a thing.
CiCi was sitting on that green run-down park bench waiting for Jud who was almost running as he seen her come into view. She looked at Jud and halfway smiled. Jud's hair on his neck began to rise. He knew, like all men know who are in an evolving relationship with a free spirit that something was coming down the track and it was the evil black train with a whistle that spelled break-up for him and CiCi.
"Why?" Jud asked like a beggar asking for bread behind a cafe. "Oh, I, uh, just want us to, be," "Friends! Right?" Jud screamed as he interrupted her making her face red with embarrassment. "Yeah, that's it, Jud. I like you as a buddy, maybe even a guy, but not as a man in a relationship with a woman," CiCi stumbled on her words to explain to a hurting and trembling Jud.
"But all those dates, dinners, walks on the filthy beach where I made you those pieces of art from seashells and driftwood and how about those walks in the park, huh?" Jud argued with the expertise of the ficticious defense attorney, Perry Mason.
"They were all nice, Jud, but in all the time we were doing those things, did you ever hear me call you 'honey,' 'sweetie,' or anything pertaining to cute?" CiCi explained looking off across the city skyline halfway smiling like an intoxicated troll in Fairyland.
"No, you didn't say those things, CiCi, but we did have sex about three times a week and went to arobics together--I thought that those were signs that we were a working couple," Jud said.
"Poor Jud. Poor misguided Jud. I wish I were sorry, but I am not. And why I am not is not because I am cold-hearted, but because I never said that you and I were in a relationship so I don't have any remorseful feelings about just wanting you to be a friend, or maybe my uncle figure--you would like that, wouldn't you, Jud?" CiCi said standing up smoothing down her yellow sundress with the one red rose embroidered above her waist.
Silence coved the atmosphere between these two young people---CiCi and Jud like fresh cement used in a new office building. No words were exchanged, only looks of hurt by Jud and freedom by CiCiCi.
Then Jud did something that no man in the recorded or spoken history of the man-woman relationship has done or probably won't ever do again. His top lip slowly curled at each side upward toward his cheek, a glitter came into his eye as he saw CiCi frozen in the moment awaiting his response.
Jud reached inside his favorite suede jacket and pulled out a miniature lumberjack's axe..with a shiny new blade and slick Oak handle. CiCi's face grew concerned and stiff. Jud handed her the axe and said as he slowly walked away not looking back . . . .
"Here's your axe that you were to use on my neck. Not this time. Hope you find some use for that axe, because I'm walking away with my pride. Wish I could say the same for you."
EPILOGUE: Jud, from that one moment of bravery, went on to channel his new-found confidence into making something of himself at Lowell, Dinkston, and Mabry as the vice-president of Graphic Design and Market Research, Miami Beach Division and CiCi, she had to have months of therapy to rebuild her female prowse because she had let Jud slip from the downward stroke of her "break-up axe," and eventually moved back to Greenville, S.C. to run her own small grocery store and produce stand. She lives there today, alone, except for her cat, "Taylor," and her bird, "Bob."
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