It is the beginning of another month and thus time for another installment of the Ohmygod saga (to catch up on the previous installments click on the Ohmygod menu up top). As you will recall, I used to be a cycling tour guide in Europe for several years. Through that job (yes, it is a bit difficult to call it a “job”) I met countless interesting people and have a few compelling stories to tell, but most of them pale to the story of Ohmygod, one of the clients that I had for three weeks. Some may wonder about the moniker, but the name chose itself really; it is what I uttered repeatedly during just about every interaction with him.
In the previous installment (Part Forty-Nine), I learned that Angelina had both no real desire to participate in the “bike” portion of the “bike trip” she was currently on and Brad was delusional—there was no way on earth that he would ever “get together” with Angelina, but he still held out hope. Wow. And then there was Ohmygod who, after a brief period of “normalcy” (whatever that means) he again returned to his habit of eating with his hands—this time eel in squid ink—which he washed down by drinking directly from the mussel buckets.
After Ohmygod finished dousing himself with another of the mussels marmites, it was clear that no one was in the mood for dessert. I really wanted to go out for a beer or seven to try to forget what I just witnessed, but there was no way to even suggest such a move given Ohmygod’s canine-like detection ability whenever the word “beer” is uttered.
So I sat there nearly equal parts disgusted and depressed since there was no way to actually slay the elephant there on the veranda. For several moments I pondered the efficacy of developing an intricate signaling system, akin to those in baseball, that would be virtually undetectable by my nemesis, but would convey my furtive plans to the rest of the group without fear of detection. That would take considerable calculated contrivance on my part as well as the acknowledged acquiescence of the rest of the group, neither of which were possible in the next seven minutes.
So I took a decided risk, even though it went against just about every fiber in my being.
I grabbed Anita’s knee.
Not only did I see her as completely a-sexual, just the mere thought of … well, never mind.
But I was desperate.
There were two results: one I had hoped for, the other I had feared. The desired outcome was that she turned to me, immediately realizing that it had been I who had groped her joint. The second was her look—she gazed at me with a look that made me feel as though she might break out into a version of Etta James’ classic, At Last.
I feared that this might have been one of the worst “moves” of my life, but desperate for the prospect of unfettered adult interaction, I felt that I really had no choice. As she glared up to me with her hazel eyes, I gave her the ever-so-subtle flick of my head to indicate “Get up from the table and meet me over there.” Surprisingly (or perhaps not), she needed no further provocation and immediately rose, heading off to some rendezvous that I had not thoroughly thought out.
I knew that one accomplice would not be enough. I also realized that, based on her rapid response, a one-on-one, tête-à-tête with Anita would potentially make a disastrous night worse, if that were even possible.
So I needed reinforcements.
To my immediate left was Adonis. I knew without a doubt that he would be on board, and would need little to no inducement to partake in my exclusionary plan—all I would need to provide is the suggestion that there would be at least mildly attractive females waiting at our clandestine meeting place to get him to come along, but he was busy chatting with one of the waitresses, so….
Right across from Adonis was Maggie, and I decided to make another risky maneuver: I extended my left leg underneath the table and gently moved my foot up her calf. Well, clearly I did not think this move out either as an immediate smile enveloped her face and she gazed amorously… at Adonis.
He was oblivious, still talking to the waitress, who was now giggling, no doubt succumbing to our own little Don Juan.
I applied a little more force to Maggie’s lower leg at the same time emitting a throat clearing cough to alert her to the real perpetrator. She got the hint and the smile briefly left her face as she turned toward me. Once I caught her attention, the smile reappeared (although not as powerful as the first) with a bit of a twinkle as if to say “Well, this is unexpected.”
Great. Just great.
I grabbed the napkin off my knee and simultaneously rose and wiped my mouth. I then gave Maggie the same head flick I had given Anita, and then traversed the dining room to where Anita had stationed herself. As I hoped, Maggie rose as well, and followed me over.
As I was about to reach Anita, her face lit up but it quickly extinguished when she saw Maggie right behind me. Maggie’s expression went through a similar transformation when I stopped beside Anita. Instead of addressing any of the tension, I got right to the point, and told them that I wanted to go to another bar after dinner, and before I was able to add “without Ohmygod” Maggie blurted out: “Is he going?”
Given her various entanglements over the last week, I was not entirely sure whom she meant, but when I asked, she simply held her hands about a foot apart and then raised them toward her face, pantomiming Ohmygod’s most recent transgression.
I assured her that I had no intention of inviting him, which was why I called the two of them over. I added that they needed to help me alert the others discreetly about the surreptitious plan. They both readily agreed and we decided to return to the table one by one as to not appear suspicious.
Yes. I felt like I was back in middle school.
After returning to the table, and settling the check, we all got up to leave, with Ohmygod still trolling the last of the mussel buckets. I saw that Anita and Maggie were flittering about, passing on the plan to the others in the group: we were going to meet at the base of the Belfort and then I would lead them over to one of my favorite bars in town, the Staminee de Garre, an institution in Bruges. It is also one of the hardest bars in the world to find since de Garre “street” is barely wide enough to walk down single file.
The plan went off seamlessly and within minutes (after missing the “street” on the first pass) I was sitting in the cozy bar with my favorite Belgian beer before me.
All of the clients were there (except Ohmygod, of course) and all seemed to be getting along swimmingly. Even Angelina, who, for the first time, was engaged in what appeared to be a genuine conversation with another human being (although it was not her “roommate” but rather Anita). Adonis had positioned himself with a clear view of the door no doubt so that he could quickly assess any incoming female’s relative desirability and then pounce (upon entering the bar, he had quickly scanned the room and determined that there were no real viable options). Paul and Maggie were having their own semi-private party, and both seemed to be enjoying themselves, which was fine with me.
That left me with Brad, who actually is a really nice guy—perhaps not the brightest bulb on the tree, but genuine and soft-spoken. He had been divorced, twice (so perhaps not that nice), most recently just a year prior, and this was his first “real” attempt to date again.
We had been in the bar for about fifteen minutes when a group of five women entered, and Adonis hopped to his feet almost immediately, since one (or more) of the quintet apparently met his standards. Out of equal parts curiosity and envy, I watched him as he quickly ingratiated himself with the women, and grabbed a chair to join them. The whole process took maybe 37 seconds.
As I was about to order another beer, the door swung open again.
I did not know if I was stunned, angry, or embarrassed. I was stunned because, while I did love the bar, the main reason I chose it was because it is nearly impossible to find—you really have to be searching for it (and even then…). I was angry since I thought I finally could have a social evening without the constant fear of a fire, police activity, or an international crisis. Last, I was embarrassed because I put into motion a plan to actively shun another member of the group and I was sure I would now rot in hell.
Ohmygod strolled right past our table, without so much as a glance. Either he had no idea we were there, or he had one of the best poker faces I have ever seen. He did not stop until he arrived at the long wooden bar on the opposite end of the room, where he grabbed a stool and started chatting with the bartender, who was in the middle of taking an order from the couple who were already stationed at the bar.
No one else in the group apparently noticed his entrance, as their conversations continued unabated. Thus, I decided I would do the same—just roll with it. I doubt that Ohmygod would ever broach the subject (if he had indeed noticed all of us there), so I needed to drop the feelings of guilt.
If it were only that easy.
Moments later, Adonis came scurrying back to our table, came up behind me, and started rubbing my shoulders.
This can’t be good.
He quietly, so that only I could hear, urged me to come join him at the other table. I turned somewhat incredulous and motioned to my current table, as if to say, well, I am kind of working here. He simply waved that off with a single hand gesture and a soft “bah.” Instead, he stated that the women at the other table were great fun, and he was only interested in three of them, so the other two were “up for grabs.” In an apparent attempt to sweeten the pot, he added “and they’re French!”
“One more thing” he continued.
“Yeah?” I reluctantly replied.
“Their English is not so great. Could you come over and translate for me?”
He must have noticed the look on my face, which I had hoped would convey “Are you completely insane or just stupid?” Since he had a quick response: “Come on, it will be fun! And the rest of your drinks are on me.”
I am not proud that I got up and started to walk over to the other table, but the only aspect of my personality that is lower than my self-esteem is my bank account, so I assented.
As I made my way to the other table, wondering what I just agreed to, I was able to hear an eerily familiar sound emanating from across the room. I turned toward the bar and there he was, belching out the alphabet for the bartender.