by H.St Vincent Beechey
It was the champagne, it must have been. Bonnie and I were in Switzerland, or some place with a pointy skyline, (I leave such things to her as my personal assistant/travel organiser). We were in a hotel at this winter sports resort, all very respectable, separate rooms of course as it had been throughout our world trip. But this night was different. Usually, my routine was well established: Bonnie would drag me from place to place: a most unwilling tourist. She would book us into a suitable hotel, as befits a modest millionaire and his entourage (her) and would spend a futile few days in attempting to interest me in the local places of interest. I, with great consideration, would suggest she got lost. ‘Go out and enjoy it for me. Spare no expense’ I would add magnanimously. ‘I will stay in my room and read my book. Don’t worry about me. If I want anything I’ll call room service. If there is one thing about this trip I like, it’s room service.’ For me, it was a quite satisfactory arrangement. But not, it seems, for Bonnie.
Ever since Venice, Bonnie seemed different, disheartened somehow; God knows why. Hadn’t I allowed myself to be uprooted from my bachelor den, where everything had its place, even if it was an unconventional place like the bedroom floor or on top of the toilet cistern. When Bonnie had had her first look at my home, she had commented that every level surface was covered by books. She expressed surprise.
‘If God had not intended every surface to be covered by books, he’d have made them sloping.’ I refuted her implied criticism. As I said, I had gone along with all her kooky ideas of travel, only grumbling enough to retain a semblance of independence and here she was going broody on me just as I was beginning to enjoy the foolish expedition. Women!
Ah, the champagne; I was getting to that. Odd as it seems, I was beginning to feel a certain responsibility towards the stupid woman. I was willing to concede that she was doing her best, and when it came to arranging comfortable quarters, it was a very good best indeed. Feeling magnanimous, I told her I was taking her to a dance.
‘Just the thing to put colour back into your cheeks,’ I said jovially.
Before the dance, we dined, and more significantly, wined. I am not used to champagne, I’m more of a Reds man myself, and, it seems, neither was Bonnie. I blame myself for what happened.
Bonnie was looking good in a sort of silver thing which went well with her blonde colouring. She had done something with her hair; gone was the businesslike bun that customarily scrunched it up at the back of her head. Her harsh red lipstick looked different under artificial light and whatever she had done to her eyes made them look bigger and bluer. She smelt good too; some stuff she had bought on the Duty-Free scheme. She smelt of toffee.
Have you ever noticed a strange thing about women’s perfume; there are three basic odours: Flowers, Cedar wood pencil shavings, and Toffee (the caramel kind).
Bonnie’s perfume was the Toffee sort, with maybe just a touch of that woody smell, Sandalwood? Anyway, she looked good and smelt good. I was complimentary: ‘You scrub up well!’ I exclaimed ‘And you smell as good as a hot dinner on a cold day. You’re a sight for sore eyes!’
The dance was good too; I believe I had Fun. I had heard of fun, of course, but I had never been sure whether I was having it or not. Usually, the detached observer who lives in the back of my head is at a loss to describe any of my activities as being Fun. But, dancing with Bonnie, and drinking champagne, I forgot to observe whether I was having fun or not. The music seemed to take charge of my feet, Bonnie was beautiful, floating in my arms for all the world as though I were a good dancer. I didn’t tread on her once. A feeling of unbelievable happiness suffused me, and there, on the dance floor, I kissed Bonnie.
I apologised immediately and took her back to our table to avoid her further embarrassment. She seemed very thoughtful and our conversation became a little stilted. I ordered more champagne, but somehow my pre-kiss feeling of exuberance had evaporated and I felt awkward and somehow guilty. She agreed with me that it was getting rather late.
‘It’s time we went to bed,’ I said. Bonnie looked startled, a flush rising like a tide from the bodice of her silver dress to her cheeks. I saw at once the double entendre, ‘I mean You and I’ I said, making things worse. ‘I mean We, Individually, To Each his, or her, Own, to our own beds, separately…’ I babbled on.
Bonnie’s reaction was strange. ‘Oh, you Men!’ She rose to her feet, grabbed her little silver evening bag, and dashed off before I could do the gentlemanly thing, and offer to escort her to her room.
She had seemed more annoyed at my remark than she had been at the kiss. In fact, thinking back on that strange exalting moment, I had the distinct impression that she had kissed me back.
Surely she didn’t… Surely she isn’t… I gave up in confusion. The champagne must be going to my head.
But supposing she is… Supposing she expected me to …
© Copyright H.St V.Beechey 1996
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