A minute later Sarah burst in. “Oh my God, I’m sorry to crash your party but arrrghhhhhhhh!” She made a long, low scream of frustration. “I had to get away from my mother.”
Jordan shooed her toward the table, where there were more chairs than people, while he went to get another wine glass. “I thought there was some chance you might show up.”
“Sarah’s mum is a bit of a stage mum, is she?” Magenta murmured to me and Ziggy.
“You could say that,” Ziggy said. “You’re going to love her. Sarah, I mean.” He waved her into the empty chair next to him and she threw her angular body into it with a huff.
Now there were even more flamboyant personalities in the room than before. Sarah’s entrance was like hitting a reset button. If the meal had been winding down before, it was renewed. Although we didn’t need more food, we started a new round of after dinner drinks. I don’t really remember what was said, and not because I was drinking. I just let myself be carried along by the general banter and talk and good times, and listening to other people talk about their terrible families for a change.
A bit later we’d moved away from the table into the living room/listening room area while Jordan put on some of his proprietary mixes.
Sarah and I sat on the low couch–that couch. “Where’s your mom now?” I asked.
“She had better be at her hotel and not at my apartment,” she said with a sigh. “I thought with the move from Digger to Barrett she’d calm down, you know? I guess she did for a little while, but she just can’t ever leave anything alone. I mean, on the one hand I appreciate that she wants to fight tooth and nail for me, but on the other hand I can speak for myself, you know? I’m tired of her acting like I’m ten years old and need my shoes tied before I can leave the house. I can’t blame her after our experience with Digger for not trusting Barrett blindly, but she doesn’t have to make his life a living hell. Or mine by extension.”
“I’m sorry. I know about moms who can make life hell.”
“Did I ever tell you about how I tried to run away when I was fifteen?”
“If you did, I don’t remember.” I looked up as Ziggy came and squished himself in next to me.
“I’ve heard this story, but I’ll hear it again,” he said.
“There’s not a lot to tell. I convinced a band passing through town to give me a ride to their next stop.”
Ziggy snickered. “You’d also convinced them you were eighteen, as I recall?”
“Yeah, that, too. And I was trying to convince them they needed me as part-time roadie, assistant manager, and backup singer. Which wasn’t that hard to do, because the lead singer and their manager both had the hots for me. So the whole game was could I string them along long enough to not get myself into a compromising position before they decided they needed to hire me for real… but meanwhile at least I was getting out of town.”
I tried to picture a teenage Sarah, in a ratty denim jacket, hitchhiking. “How far did you get?”
“Two more gigs. Unfortunately for me, but fortunately for them, we didn’t make it across the state line, or they might’ve done jail time. Mom had every cop in the county looking for me, I think.” She sighed again. “What was funny was I thought I was going to be grounded forever when I got back. But that was when she started taking my aspirations toward fame seriously.”
“Yeah. Before that it had all been about me taking singing lessons or dance or acting or whatever so that everyone in town would tell her all the time what a talented daughter she had. It was all about how it reflected on her. She didn’t really think I was going to actually do anything with all that talent. Except maybe attract a husband.”
Ziggy snickered again.
“Yeah, I know. Speaking of which, when are we going on a double-date?” She made a circle with her finger indicating she meant all three of us.
“As soon as you find a partner,” he said, giving her a raised eyebrow.
“Oh, right. I suppose that is the missing link in the plan.” She sighed again.
“Wait,” I said. “You mean like so it’ll look like boy-girl boy-girl?”
“Mm-hmm. Up the stakes from when you and I used to go out.” She rested a hand on my shoulder familiarly.
“That wasn’t that long ago…” I said, even as I thought wow, that feels like it happened a long time ago. “When you say it like that it sounds like we were dating.”
“D, technically speaking, those were dates. It’s called ‘going out’ for a reason.” She seemed amused and so did Ziggy.
“Huh, so when People magazine runs a thing about how you and I used to date, it’s actually true.” Why this hadn’t occurred to me before, I don’t know. “So if four of us went out on a double-date it would still technically be true.”
“Exactly.” She and Ziggy exchanged a look.
I thought about the idea. It made sense but it also probably meant that when or if any of us were outed, all four of us were. Right? Maybe that’s what she meant by raising the stakes. I wasn’t sure I was comfortable with that, but I was also nowhere near as averse to the idea as I might’ve been. I considered it.
“I think Ziggy should fix me up with someone,” she said. “Because then it’ll be someone he won’t mind being connected to in the rumor mill.”
“Oh, now it’s my job to play matchmaker? Hmmm, I’ll have to give this some thought.”
“Jordan’s the matchmaker,” I said. “He’s the expert.”
“So he is,” Sarah said with a nod. And then she was off in Jordan’s direction across the loft, presumably to ask him about just that thing.
I put my arm around Ziggy. “I don’t know if I’m ready for you to carry on another ‘for show’ relationship.”
He buried his nose in my neck, making an inquisitive noise as he did.
I answered his implied question. “Because your fake relationships all too often end up becoming real relationships.”
He made a murmur of assent.
“And I want to take this monogamy thing seriously.”
He lifted his head. “So do I. Obviously I should find Sarah a Kinsey 6 who won’t have any interest in me at all, and we should make it clear when we do go out we’re not going to playact being cross-partners. I’m kind of amazed you’re considering it at all, though.”
“Just the whole being seen in public thing. Doesn’t seem your usual style, dear one.”
“Maybe I’ve been feeling a little cooped up by ourselves in Boston.”
He gave me a tiny smile. “Maybe we could start getting out more. Just a little.”
“Maybe,” I agreed.
(Another Top 40 hit from 1991. From a very different Ziggy. -d)