Omitted from the story “Sheer Musical Joy for the Ages”:
Tom and Rachel had their first official date two nights later, Saturday night, at Bamboo Circle, a tropical-Asian fusion restaurant in downtown Garnetville, a few blocks up from the arts center. The restaurant—owned and operated by a white preppie prick Tom had known in college—was surprisingly popular considering Garnetville’s whiter-shade-of-pale quality, or maybe not so surprisingly, considering the restaurant’s toned-down exoticism, though a few cute young Asian waitresses did work there. Large, swirly, earth-toned, five-foot-tall plastic vases of plastic bamboo decorated the restaurant, sitting on the floor near the circular black-velvet paintings that hung on the walls, expressionistic paintings of palm trees, grass huts, rosy-cheeked monkeys, and natives canoeing in silhouette past neon sunsets. Tom had eaten there a lot and thought the food was all right, but he really liked what he considered the unapologetic Caucasian cluelessness, the Disneyfied multiculturalism.
Rachel had eaten there a lot, too, but she liked the food more than he did, and she really liked the décor in a sincere way. She liked all restaurants from fast-food to family-style casual dining, always enjoying the adventure of experiencing new culinary worlds while never failing to appreciate the effort other people had put into creating those worlds. She was an adventuresome woman, scaling the rock-climbing wall at the exercise center with her eyes closed; knowing several non-Christians on a friendly basis; and in particular having dinner with Tom, a stranger she had just met a few days ago.
Tom wore what he called his dinners-and-depositions suit: a dark-blue, three-button model with a white shirt and a grayish tie. (He’d never given any depositions.) Rachel wore a short-sleeved, low-cut, above-the-knees black dress, though she had marred her majestic breasts by wearing her version of a KEEP OFF sign over them, namely a gold chain necklace sporting a three-inch ceramic crucifix that looked like two rainbows intersecting.
“That’s a nice necklace,” Tom managed to say about that kitschy eyesore after they’d sat down at their table and placed their orders.
“Thank you,” Rachel said. “I made it myself in a jewelry class a few years ago.”
“You make jewelry?”
“Only now and then, when the spirit moves me. And the spirit had moved me to create a necklace that symbolized my—well, you could call it my fusion-minded philosophy. I like when people and cultures combine to form something unique, something individualistic based upon many individualities. After all, God didn’t make the rainbow monochromatic. The beauty of the rainbow is the variety of the colors.”
“And all those colors mix together like a real rainbow connection, huh, Kermit?” Tom asked facetiously.
“Yes, like a rainbow connection! I remember that song! I used to watch The Muppet Movie on TV all the time as a child.”
“Really? Me too.”
“Such a great movie. I nearly levitated off the floor and through the roof when I saw Kermit—the entire Kermit, legs and all—ride that bicycle. I thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever seen in my life.”
“Me too. I must have been six or seven when I saw that for the first time, and I wondered how they’d pulled it off. Did they use strings? A robot? A guy in a Kermit costume?”
“You had an interest in movie-making even then.” Rachel picked up her glass of imported Italian raspberry-flavored carbonated artesian well water and took a sip.
“I guess I did.” Tom picked up his glass of the raspberry-flavored artesian well water and took a larger sip. Not bad. He’d ordered the water at her suggestion. “Today they’d use a computer-animated Kermit, but that would rob the scene of its charm. I don’t mind computer animation, but too much of it looks too perfect. This may be just nostalgia talking, considering I haven’t seen them in years, but the old Muppets had a, shall we say, low-tech appeal. Even as a kid, I could see the sticks or poles that the Muppeteers moved the Muppets’ arms with. It took me years to realize those sticks looked like crutches. Oh, those poor Muppets—they couldn’t walk at all.”
“They didn’t need to. They could hitch rides on the arms of human beings.”
Tom laughed. Rachel had a surreal sense of humor sometimes, he noticed for the first time.
“So anyway, did you watch the Muppet Babies show, too?” she asked.
“Not really. I’d heard of it, but I’d outgrown the Muppets by then.”
“Well, I watched that show every Saturday morning. You know how they always portrayed their human nanny from the shins down? Well, I’d wonder why she couldn’t wear better shoes. Maybe she couldn’t afford them. The Muppet parents should have paid her better.”
“Yeah, the nanny in orange, Day-Glo platform shoes.”
“Or five-inch black stiletto heels.”
“Or Air Jordans.”
“Or, uh, purple golfing shoes, the ones with the cleats.”
Copyright © 2012 by David V. Matthews