When Greaseballs Meet
Snowstorm, Fate, and Monopoly
She rushed behind the bar, serving drinks almost as fast as she took the orders. She was short, blonde, and well-formed. At 5’2” the bar looked as though it would swallow her, but she commanded it. I waited for her to bring my order and when she did, I told her to keep the change. She said, “Thanks,” then returned to mixing and pouring drinks.
I brought the drinks back to the table where some of my coworkers were waiting. Work-talk bled into bar-talk, and we sat drinking and discussing the mundane nuances of our jobs. I was going to have to start drinking something harder if we were going to continue with this line of conversation. Luckily, the night wore on quickly and the married guys had to return home or suffer the lash of their significant others. Another coworker began talking to a girl and soon disappeared with her into the darkness of the bar. Soon, I was alone.
I watched the bartender racing around, slinging drinks and smiles. I thought, at first, it was her ability to perform her job, but there was something else about her that intrigued me. I turned my attention to the big screen TV and mindlessly watched, trying not to stare at that bartender. The weather warnings began appearing.
It was the winter of 1996, and a snowstorm was blanketing Baltimore. I looked outside and it was coming down hard. I lived about half mile away, so I was not worried. Still, I was thinking I should get going, but I hesitated. My roommate was an asshole and if he saw me, he might want to have a conversation. He thought he was a writer and he would invariably inform me of his skill in the writing craft. Worse yet, he might want to start reciting his awful poetry.
I headed out. The storm had already dumped about six inches of snow on the ground. I got in my jeep and started it. I had large tires so six inches would not be a problem. I let the jeep warm up and watched as the bartender exited the bar and went to her car. She started her Ford Focus, but I could tell that she was going to have a problem. She immediately began spinning wheels. I couldn’t help but laugh from afar as she beat her steering wheel and silently cursed. I drove over to her car and got out.
I said, “Do you need help?”
She rolled her window down and said, “I didn’t think it was going to get this bad so quick. The car won’t move.”
“Where do you live? I can give you a ride if we leave now,” I returned.
She stared at me for a moment trying to figure out if I was a maniac. I answered her stare, “I’m not a crackhead.”
This seemed to appease her, and she shut off her ignition and locked the car. I walked her over to my jeep which towered over her. She said, “Jesus, you’re not one of those rednecks that goes to tractor pulls and watches NASCAR?”
I laughed, “No, I just like being able to get to and from work in snow storms.”
She rolled her eyes as I closed the passenger door behind her.
I got in on the driver’s side and she began fiddling with the radio. She asked, “What do you do?”
I answered, “I am a mover.”
She asked, “Isn’t that a lot of hard work? Do you like it?”
I said, “Yeah, it sucks. Where do you live?”
She said, “I live over in Essex.”
I started driving but we didn’t get too far because the radio announced that the roads were being shut down. The governor ordered that only emergency vehicles were allowed on the road. I wouldn’t make it to Essex and back without being in violation of the order. I said, “That’s not good. What do you want to do?”
She was frazzled and said, “Goddammit. I knew I shouldn’t have come into work.”
I said, “It’s okay. There is a motel right down the road. Or, you could go back to the bar, I guess.”
She said, “I can’t afford a hotel. What if I’m stuck there two days? I can’t go back to the bar. They were shutting down early. I doubt there is anyone there. Besides I can’t stay there.”
I was going to offer to help pay for the hotel, but she was right. She could get stuck there for two or more days and hotels like to jack their rates in snowstorms and emergencies. I didn’t have that much money. I said,
Okay, look…you can come back to my place and take my room. I have an asshole roommate who thinks he’s a novelist. He is pompous, but he’s not dangerous. You can call someone or message them with my pager, so they know where you’re at and they’ll have my number.
She studied me for a moment using what I would come to learn was her bullshit detector. I must admit that I was really digging her and hoped that she would come home with me. There was just something about her that drew me to her. She held out her hand and I placed my pager in it. As she messaged her mom, I drove to my apartment and asked, “What’s your name?”
“What kind of greaseball Italian name is that?” I asked pulling up to my apartment building.
Farrah looked at me in astonishment as we exited the jeep. She exclaimed, “You’ve got to be kidding me. Your middle name is Vito. It doesn’t get any more greaseball than that.”
“What the hell kind of last name is that, Piazzo? It sounds like carny food,” I returned.
Farrah exclaimed, “Oh my God! Your last name is Triola. That sounds like a part of a person’s genitals.”
She continued in a deep voice, “He scratched his scrotum and pulled at his Triola in excitement.”
“Whatever…just give me the cotton candy and some Piazzo,” I returned.
As we entered my apartment, I paged my roommate who informed me that he was on a job in NY. I told Farrah that we would have a reprieve from him and that she could sleep in his room if she wanted. Farrah opened the door to his room, stepped in and quickly dashed out crying, “Oh my God! It smells like death in there. What’s that smell?”
I stuck my head in his room and reeled in disgust closing the door, “Damn, that is nasty. It’s like a combination of old socks and jockstraps. Well, you can have my bed and I’ll take the couch.”
Farrah made herself at home. She told me she was taking a shower to get the smell of the bar off her. While she showered, I made her a grilled cheese.
When she was done showering, she rummaged through my clothes, finding a pair of shorts and a sweatshirt. She pulled back her hair as she exited the bedroom. She laughed sitting on the sofa, “Fine dining.” She took one bite as I was about to turn on the TV when the power went out.
We laughed as I fumbled to find the candles in the kitchen. As I lit the candles and placed them on the coffee table, I caught her glance. She smiled sipping her beer and taking bites of her grilled cheese. I don’t know how I knew, but in that moment, I knew that she and I were going to be together. Some relationships start as friendships and other relationships occur by familiarity. But there are those rare relationships that are thrust upon us by the powers that be, or when the stars align, or when we happen to step on the spinning earth a certain way at a certain time. I think Farrah knew it also when she laughed, “I guess someone wants us to just hang out. Got any games?”
I learned everything about her that night. She told me how she was going to school to be a radiology technician and worked at the bar at night. She told me how her dad passed away when she was eleven and how she and her mom were close. Her mom lived in Southern Maryland but she lived in Essex to be closer to school. She spoke about how she was poor but determined to get through school. She told me repeatedly that I sucked at Monopoly while we played and conversed.
She learnt that I hated my family and that I worked at a moving company. I told her I made very little money and I wanted to switch to a lower paying job as a writer. I accused her of cheating when I returned from fetching beer and she magically acquired an extra $1000 and another hotel on Park Place.
Sometime after midnight we looked outside. The snow was falling steadily and had accumulated almost up to the tops of many of the cars. We were going to be trapped the next day too. The apartment was becoming uncomfortably cold and I led her to the bedroom. I dug some extra blankets out of the closet and placed them on the bed for her. She helped me open the blankets stretching them across the bed. I was about to exit the room when she grabbed my hand. I pulled her close and kissed her. She pulled me to the bed and said, “We’re not having sex.”
“Ok,” I agreed.
We slept together as though we had done so for a long time. I awoke in the early morning holding her. I awoke for the first time in my life not second guessing if the person lying next to me was satisfied, happy, or wanted to be there. I awoke, somehow knowing that everything was exactly as it was supposed to be.
Vincent V. Triola 2019