Hope in a Versatile Package

I’m waiting for the big football game, trying not to snack on the chips my husband poured into a bowl on the center island. Thanks for the temptation, George. Thank God they’re not BBQ, I’d be lost.

So a supposedly fun writing exercise is to pick a letter and then four random words beginning with that letter and then write a story using them. I put the big dictionary—yes, we will still have one, on the table while my son ate his breakfast and gave him the task of picking the words.

He chose the letter G and the words:  Godlike, goldenrod, gossip, and goodness. Frankly, I was stunned he hadn’t chosen Godzilla since that creature is his life. Nevertheless, Mama’s got a goal and a worthy distraction.

Here we go. First off, I need to find the definition for goldenrod. I’m thinking it’s a flower. Bingo! I got it right. A plant with yellow flower heads….also a color. Now to the story:

I glared at my companion on the next barstool and pointed to the empty bowl in front of us. “You ate all the chips!”

Jane shrugged and sipped her drink, her head dipping past me as she no doubt looked at some guy down the bar. I frowned and followed her gaze. Yup. A cute guy.

She slapped me on the arm. “Don’t be so obvious. We gotta be more smooth with the Godlike ones.”

I rolled my eyes at my gorgeous friend who was currently searching for Mr. Right now. “He’s watching the game. It’s the playoffs, Jane. He ain’t got time for you until either halftime or after the show.”

Jane put her head down and leaned close to my ear, “I’ll bet I could get him away from his friends and the game. How much you wanna wager?”

I side of mouth turned up at its own volition. It wasn’t exactly what we had planned, but it sounded entertaining. “Okay. But what exactly qualifies as getting him away from his friends?”

She got all starry-eyed. I could almost see the amusement twinkling behind her eyes that she’d been challenged to wield her God-given talents for a purpose. “How about a kiss?”

“Oh for goodness sakes,” I pulled back. “I’m not shelling out bucks for that. All you gotta do is go over there and ask him and he’ll do it.”

Jane batted her lashes and signaled the bartender, pointing to our drinks for another refill. The guy smiled back at Jane like his moment serving her couldn’t come too soon. I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with my beautiful friend. There was always fun to be had when we were together.

The bartender came over. “Ladies?”

Jane glanced at me; and pointed at my drink. I nodded, indicating another round would be good. She gave the barkeep a million-watt smile. “Another round and could we please have another basket of those hot, yummy BBQ chips. This time with the sour cream?”

“You got it,” the guy said, wandering off.

Jane looked at me. “So what’s the wager?”

I glanced down the bar again, assessing the Godlike guy and the situation. He was maybe a few years younger than Jane, but equally cute. He had on a Vikings hat and shirt, fully immersed, watching the big screen with a pack of about five guys. It was the end of the season and the Vikes had finally made the playoffs. Not something to either take lightly or be easily distracted from.

I smiled back at Jane. “Okay. The tabs on me if you can get some type of sentimental or romantic response from him.”

Jane squished up her face. “Like what?”

I donned an innocent expression. “I will leave that to your imagination.”

Jane considered this as the bartender returned with our drinks. He put down a couple of fresh napkins and then two shots of something pinky red. “What’s that?” Jane asked him.

The bartender didn’t seem as jazzed as he had been only a few moments before. “Guys over there sent these over.”

Jane and I perked up and glanced at Godlike guy. The bartender head gestured in the other direction. “No. From that table of guys by the dartboard.”

We turned to look at our sweet benefactors. There were three of them, older than us, and definitely red-faced from either a long day outside in the cold weather, or from alcohol. Either way, they looked a bit road hard.

Jane and I waved and smiled our thanks. The bartender put his head down, busying himself with something under the bar. “I hate to gossip,” he said, “but all of them are married. None of my business. Just thought you’d want to know.”

He left us.

“Good intel,” I said. “I gotta remember that come tip time. So the wager’s up. What are you waiting for?”

Jane leaned close to me. “Check my teeth.” She pulled back and gave me a beautiful smile.

“You’re good,” I said.

My friend fluffed her hair and hopped off the stool.

“Hang on, there’s a time limit on this thing,” I said. “You got five minutes.”

Her eyes got big. “Five minutes?”

“Yup. I’m not sitting here alone with an empty stool and some eager beavers ready to replace you. I don’t want to haggle with them. Things might get physical if I have to call them out for being married.”

Jane shook her head. “Well, don’t start anything. Okay. Five minutes. You gotta watch. Right?”

I put up my hands. “I’m watchin. I’m watchin.”

She walked off, down toward cute guy, and I glanced at my phone for the time. Five minutes on the clock. The players have taken the field.

With perfect timing, the bartender brought our drinks and the bowl of hot chips with a cup of sour cream. It was the house specialty, and I was in heaven as I dove the first chip in and took a sweet, salty, and, savory bite. I watched Jane in action. She had the guy’s attention. They were talking. That part hadn’t been difficult at all. She was smiling, flipping her hair just a little. My God, she’s good, I thought. But is she good enough? What’s she going to do?

With two minutes left on the clock, I saw cute guy walk away from Jane and his group of guys and over to a table away from the bar. People were dining and the guy talked to them for a minute before pointing at the small centerpiece of flowers on their table. A woman smiled and removed a sprig of goldenrod and handed it to him.

He did a slight bow and then returned to Jane. I watched his face light up with something akin to joy as he said something and presented the flower to her. Then he leaned in for a quick kiss and pulled back, searching her eyes. Damn, if he didn’t look incredibly dashing, too.

I almost felt the chemistry from a distance. It was a simple, very romantic gesture, and Jane had pulled it off. She turned around and looked at me; her face glowing as she held the pretty flower next to her own golden hair and gave me a theatrical swoony face.

Jane turned back to the handsome, interested boy, and I realized that even though she’d done it, in my zeal, I had forgotten the power of Jane. I may have lost a bigger battle, because now, I might just have forfeited her for the night. I couldn’t pull her away from the guy. I mean, what if, right?

Alas. All was not lost. The night was still young. Cute guy may have a friend. The Vikings just might win. And the bar would keep me in the chips. Hope was a pleasant companion, too.