June 19th, Continued
“So, tell me more about Ireland,” the blonde said, lighting up another Marlboro 100 and absently flicking her foot over a crossed leg. “Do you have family there?”
“Kind of,” I replied. “Hey. I just realized I don’t even know your name yet. I’m Dan.” I extended my hand.
“Tina,” she replied, taking my hand in hers. It was warm and soft and something else.
For some reason, I got a bit of a tingly rush from the contact, but I dismissed it as quickly as our hands separated. She was just a random smoking buddy at a bar that I’d never see again. I wasn’t even from around Farmington, after all.
I told her the tale of Fungie the lone dolphin that likes to race tourist boats in Dingle Harbor on an eastern peninsula of the Irish Republic. Apparently, he doesn’t get along with other dolphins, but he loves humans and likes to show off his swimming skills when the engines challenge him.
I showed her video of Fungie keeping pace with the high-powered boat we were riding to the Great Blasket Island and talked a bit about the history I’d learned there.
She seemed enthralled when I told her my fear that Fungie wouldn’t be around much longer, but he had become a big tourist attraction for the little cliff town of Dingle. “They’ve got a whole cottage industry built around this dolphin.”
“How long to Dolphins live?” she asked.
“About 50 years,” I said. “And Fungie is estimated to be about 30. I guess he used to be a lot more playful, leaping out of the water and stuff, but he still likes to race and he can keep up with the big boats.”
I couldn’t honestly say how long we conversed. It might have been 20 minutes or couple hours. Time was losing meaning. We talked about music, books and life in general. Our conversation was growing intimate. I felt like I’d known Tina a long time. We were old friends, already.
I thought she spoke like a writer. “You’re a very literary person, aren’t you? I like the way your mind works,” I said.
We got on to enthusiastically talking about our mutual hobby of reading.
“Are you from around here?” Tina asked, snuffing out her cigarette in the ashtray on the black mesh table.
“Not really. I live in Minneapolis. I just came to town to visit my friend over there.” I inclined my head towards Donovan who was presently engaged in conversation with Linda, the out and about cancer patient.
“Yeah. I saw you guys a few times tonight. I like his shirt,” Tina told me.
“It’s noticeable, isn’t it?”
“See that guy over there?” She made a subtle gesture to the hapless dick in the dark, still trying hopelessly to strike pay dirt.
“He grabbed my ass earlier – both cheeks! I would have elbowed him in the face, but I thought it was just one of my girlfriends fooling around,” she told me. “That’s kinda why I wanted to sit by you guys. You look like decent men and I can’t be intimidated by a Dragonball Z shirt.”
His ears must have been burning, because the hapless and ineffective “flirt” approached our table. “Hey. One of you guys have a light?” He swayed a bit as he spoke. Rocking back and forth, right to left.
I offered up my recently obtained Guinness Zippo, but kept a grip on it and lit his cigarette for him.
“I’m Andy,” he said, more to Tina than the man who offered him fire.
“Tina, and this is Dan,” she replied for us.
He tried in vain to engage us in conversation, but we were quickly bored with Andy and fell back into our own talks.
“So, Minneapolis, huh? I’ve heard that’s kinda scary.”
“What?!” I was floored. Farmington is only about 35 miles from my home city, so I couldn’t imagine that perception. “No. That’s silly.”
“Lots of gang violence, shootings…” She suggested.
“No. No. No. It’s not like that. It’s really nice,” I said. “Sure, there are places, people and circumstances to avoid, but if you know where to go, it’s no problem and it’s really great. All the best stuff is in Minneapolis.”
It was silent for a few beats, then she fixed her eyes on mine and asked, “So are you offering to show me around?”
I had to reevaluate everything at that moment. I’d considered her no further than a random smoking conversation as will happen at bars. I looked her up and down (subtly). I reflected on my time in Wales when my friend Thea was almost beating too-young Welsh girls away from me with a shoe – apparently the American accent is quite an aphrodisiac for young Welsh women.
She was simply dressed. Jeans and a well-fitted camo shirt. Long, wavy brownish-blondish hair cascaded over her shoulders. She was by no means fat, but not a twig, either. She was pretty, but simple. Next to no makeup. She wasn’t trying to look like anything other than she was.
I thought back on Thea’s strong disapproval of my occasional flirtations with younger women while we were in Ireland and Wales. “How old are you?” I asked. Even in party-mode, I could see that she was younger than me, but I figured her around 30, not so much for her looks, but her intellect.
Now, to be honest, I was a bit tipsy myself by this point and math was becoming a challenge.
She gave me a number.
That’s close to thirty, my slightly submerged brain assured me. Thea would approve.
I honestly don’t know why that was important, but Thea had taken to watching me like a hawk whilst we were overseas together.
“OK. Sure. Why not?” My final answer.
“Cool. Should we exchange numbers?”
“Are you on facebook?” I asked, pulling out my phone.
“No. I don’t use that,” she said, pulling out her rather antiquated ‘dumb’ phone.
I flipped through the screens and got to my contacts app. “Here. Put your name and number in here. I’ll call you.”
Tina took my phone, scrunched her brow and began typing on my touch screen. She handed the phone back to me. “How’s that?”
I glanced at the contact profile she’d created – first and last name, phone number, saved.
“Perfect,” I proclaimed. I noticed her last name was distinctly Polish. “Ah. A Pollock, huh? My Grandma was Polish.”
“I’ve never done that before.”
“Never done what?”
“Well, I’m not used to smart phones and I’ve never just given my number to a guy at a bar before,” she replied. “I’m surprised I was able to do it.”
I smiled at her. “I’ll call you tomorrow and set something up.”
“I prefer texts.”
“OK. I can do that.”
Sensing that things were winding down, and number in pocket, I turned my attention back to Donovan and Tina rejoined her party.
Donovan was about ready to walk Linda home and they’d been chatting it up as long as Tina and I had been. I didn’t quite know what I was jumping into when I sat at their table. I learned more than I wanted to know about cancer treatments, but we all hit it off.
When Linda was ready to go, Donovan insisted on walking her back home.
Donovan walked Linda back to her apartment and once they were inside, I sat on the grass, leaned back on a handy fence and waited.
He was out shortly, told me he was aware I was following and was ready to head home.
Back at Donovan’s, we had a couple more beers and discussed the night. I crashed on his couch in the wee hours.
The next morning, I was still feeling the effect of the prior night’s revelry, but the blonde I’d met at Pizza Man was my first thought upon waking.
“What was that girl’s name I was talking with last night, again?” I asked Donovan.
“Tina,” he said.
“Of course it is,” I said, scanning through the contacts in my phone. Tina Szxxxxxski. The smart, cute polish girl who liked to read…