Carved Ivory Fan

Image by cliff1066™ via Flickr

A woman seated in the corner, away from the sunlit window, was waving her arm in my direction, beckoning me forward. She looked to be about 45 in the face but her form-fitting head-to-toe navy pantsuit said thirty while the cherry-blonde highlights in her tousled coif read twenty five.

You know that feeling you sometimes get at the back of your neck when you meet someone – that arcing sssst that makes you scuff your wrist along your hairline almost before the scald registers in your brain? Well, that’s what I felt when I first walked up to Tyna Beeton  in that trendy restaurant where we were meeting for lunch. She was my sister’s newest BFF (best friend forever) and I was supposed to like her on sight. Let’s just say that I didn’t

“HiAlisonI’mTynasogladtomeetyouatlastMirhastalkedsomuchaboutyou,” spilled out from between her half-open lips. Botoxed upper lip; plumped bottom lip. Hmm.

“Where’s Miriam?”

Tyna, pronounced Tie-na, not Tea-na, fluttered her right hand in the direction of the washrooms. “Mir’s gone for a tinkle.”

She opened her mouth wider and laughed prettily, tugging at my fingers so that I had to sit down of else fall over the empty chair. Miriam had always had a weak bladder and I swear, she knew the location of every free toilet in town. I couldn’t remember anyone calling her ‘Mir’ since we were in high school. I knew that my sister had met her at Weight Watchers eighteen months before when, having slid into the pit of low self-esteem after an untidy divorce, she’d decided to lose the extra 60 pounds she’d hefted around since she’d had her second child at thirty. I also knew that Tyna was a part time actress, an obsessive gym-rat and a supply teacher, of all things. She’d been a great fat-loss buddy. I mean, Miriam still talked more about her than her recently-acquired firefighter boyfriend, Blake. My spidey-senses were clanging at full volume.

Tyna shelved her freckly breasts between the side plate and the empty wine glass, reaching across to clasp my hand between her manicured paws. Why were her fingers so calloused? Sis had been skimpy with details about her new friend’s background, which should have tipped me off. Miriam has better investigative skills than a lot of TV detectives.

A good-looking waiter wearing a pale pink shirt and black pants arrived, standing close as he placed three glasses of water and a basket of bread onto our table, telling us that his name was Chad and he’d be right back to take our orders. He smelled of Ivory soap.

She smacked both her palms on the table, hard. He and I both jumped. “Take that thing away from here,” she snarled. I lay my hand over the basket and said to the waiter that it was okay, I’d eat the rolls myself. He pulled a couple of menus from under his arm, gave me an eye-roll and backed away. I selected a warm ciabatta bun and slathered it with pesto butter.

Tyna was shedding weird karma like a flophouse dog with fleas and she was working hard at suppressing a sneer. Lips pursed, she lifted the table cloth and leaned far to the left, assessing my ass. She straightened and pointed her index finger in the direction of my waistline. “Do you really think you should?” She snapped open her dinner napkin. “I mean, what’s your BMI – 24 or 25?”

I was in the process of uncoiling and giving Tyne what-for when Miriam returned. She smelled of strawberries and was pushing back her cuticles with a hand towel she carries around so she won’t have to use restroom accoutrements to dry off. She gave me a quick hug before she slipped into her seat beside Tyna. 

“So, my two favourite people finally meet!” Her voice gets low and breathy when she’s excited and tonight she sounded like Tallulah Bankhead. When we were teenagers I used to tease and say that if she ever lost her job as a sign-language interpreter she could find work at a 1-900 chat line.

Miriam was looking down as she unfolded her napkin so she didn’t see how Tyna squinched up her nose and re-arranged her lips into a benign smile. This was one hinky chick. Was I going to be the good “let the crazy slut be” sister or the mean “this trollop won’t get away playin’ this game” sister?  Whoa-boy, but this was going to be an interesting lunch.