*Several offensive typos fixed. Offensive typos happen because Nina is writing from her hotel room right before checkout. She is not to be rushed. (Apparently). *
I write this morning from the fourteenth floor of a hotel in downtown Raleigh. I arrived here last night after a good day's work at Sweet Little College, where I attended a certification meeting (don't ask) and "oriented" about thirty of my eighty students (ie, the ones who felt it important enough to show up).
Following the meeting, I took my state employee ID card and checked into a very nice downtown hotel for the very low price of $53.44. Then I took a shower, put on my favorite (non-corduroy) pants, applied a sweater to the upper regions of myself, and turned my attention to my head.
Did it need a hair dryer and good combing? Yes? I accomplished it.
Did the eyes need some smoky liner and perhaps inky black mascara? Yes? Done!
And lipgloss? Eh. Chapstick and a good pinch will do.
I applied shoes to my feet, tucked my wallet and my ID into my back pocket, and ascended to the twenty-second floor to find Roman, my (fake travel boyfriend and) favorite bartender ever, awaiting me.
Roman is thirty six years old, about six feet tall and upwards of three and fifty pounds. He is blond and blue-eyed and has a booming, melodious, cheerful voice. He has two master's degrees, one in philosophy and the other in literature. He has a cardboard box of excellent bar-reading materials available for anyone who has left her copy of Pride & Prejudice at the airport. He makes Nina's martinis very sweet because he knows she doesn't really like them as much as she thinks she does. He brings her peanut butter sandwiches if she is hungry and doesn't want to eat a big fancy thing on the big fancy menu. He keeps her water glass full and he prevents the Powerful Business Men from trying to talk to her by placing his substantial person directly in their path and glaring derisively at their puny, pale, scuzzy, married selves as if to say "Thou shalt not molesteth my Nina! She is reading."
Of course, if Nina does not feel like reading, Roman is happy to talk about books, movies, music, sports, sixteenth century French philosophy, or whatever Emily Dickinson might have meant by calling a "daisy" a "marauder". He is also good at politics, religion, science, crafts, and interior design. While he is entertaining her, he will serve drinks and food to the Powerful Business Men, but he will also wordlessly communicate to Nina, by a subtle play of words and looks and gestures, that he worships and adores her and would do absolutely anything to merit even the appearance of a real date. He knows he cannot have one because Nina live hundreds of miles away. He also wonders, she is sure, whether his substantialness has anything to do with her refusal, but he does not bring it up, and of course, neither does she. *
Does this make her a bad person? Basking in the affection of one lonely Roman bartender who is content to fix her weak drinks and peanut butter sandwiches and defend her from marauding, married, sleezers so she can read her books in peace?
*I, who have spent many a day with a tape measure in one hand and a Twinkie in the other, have NO right to say one single word in judgment of anyone who has food issues. So I don't. (He makes excellent sandwiches).