Chicago stood up and stepped away from her bar stool, tugging and straightening her skirt. “Come here,” she said, beckoning me with a finger, the twinkle in her eye aflame. I stood and approached her. “Closer,” she demanded. I inched closer until our bodies were almost touching. I could feel her heat and smell her shampoo. I imagined I could feel the blood racing through her veins. And then I could.
Chicago reached out and drew me into an embrace. Her arms wrapped around my waist, she rested her head against my chest. I placed my hands on her hips and felt her body against mine. We each breathed a breath or two and she pulled her head away. “Kiss me.” I accommodated her request. “No, not like that,” she insisted, “like this.” Chicago leaned into me again, molding her body to mine and we kissed, our tongues dancing together, our bodies growing hotter. The sounds of the bar disappeared. I brought a hand to the back of her head, entwining my hand in her hair and held her there until we both needed another breath.
“Whew,” she whispered as she rested her head against my chest again and I dropped my hands back to her hips. “Okay. That’s the third thing. You fit me perfectly. No change that. We fit perfectly.”
Who was I to disagree?
We stayed like that for a moment before Chicago pulled away. “It’s my turn,” she said. “Three things.”
We sat back down, but this time I nudged my stool closer to hers so we could remain in contact.
“I have three degrees. Pyschology, Criminology, and French.” She giggled and looked sideways at me. “I’m thinking of a fourth.”
“Okay,” I replied, interrupting her before she could move onto her next tidbit about herself. “That tells me you are really smart, or,” I held up my hand to stop her from responding, “you can’t commit.” I tried to laugh it off because it was an odd challenge to make to a girl I was about to marry. If she couldn’t pick a major and a career, what did it say about the chances of her sticking with me once it got boringly normal?
“Maybe it’s both,” she winked at me. “But don’t you worry about us. I was with Jake for a loooong time.” She shuddered then. I felt it against me and I wrapped my arm around her shoulder, drawing her closer to me. “So, the second thing about me that you should know is . . .,” Chicago began to drum her fingers on the bar, “. . . that I really like cats.”
I almost shouted it, “Bingo,’ and kissed her on the cheek. “Me, too.”
* * * * *
So, we got married. Yes, we did. Chicago never told me the third thing.
The rabbi was there from the first pitch, watching the game from a corner of the box. He had a couple of brats, loaded down with sauerkraut, and a pair of beers. “Don’t tell my wife,” he requested. He wiped a smear of mustard from his cheek and took another bite. “Or my congregation. Oy vey, the kibitzers would have a field day with this.” I half expected him to cross himself the way a priest might after nipping from the holy wine, but instead Rabbi Saltzman stuffed the final bit of his polish into his mouth and turned his attention to the game.
She was wearing a Cubs jersey with Sandberg on the back. I vaguely remembered the name, but couldn’t place him. I chose a Mariners jersey to represent home. Griffey was on the back. Chicago, of course, knew the man. Both the father and the son. She giggled at my surprise, “My daddy was a baseball fan. We went to a lot of games when I was a kid.” She pointed at the glove on the ground by her feet. “It’s why I brought that. I wouldn’t be able to look him in the face if I came to a game without my glove.”
That her parents had decided to bail on the wedding when they found out Chicago’s fiancé of two years made other plans and their only daughter had decided to go forward by marrying a complete stranger, well, it might have suggested her daddy wouldn’t really care one way or the other. But that’s only a thought that came later. Instead, I was still smitten. While she spoke, she watched the game, and swiped her hair behind her ear, leaving her neck bare. Just there for the nuzzling, but that probably wasn’t the right thing to do just before our vows. Right?
Or was it okay? I mean, we were breaking with all sorts of traditions anyway. Nothing borrowed. Nothing blue. Except for the Cubs jersey. We were spending the whole day together instead of not seeing each other until the ceremony started. So, why not? Rabbi Saltzman was there kind of ruining the mood, slurping at his $10 beer, belching up the remnants of his brats, and mumbling about getting some garlic fries.
“You’ll protect me if a ball comes up here, right?”
“Of course.” She turned towards me and held her arms up in a body builder pose. “You have nothing to fear as long as I am here.” She giggled and fell into me and I felt her warmth. We were waiting until the 7th inning stretch. Chicago thought it would be a nice touch – vowing our love for each other with the Wrigley throngs belting out the stretch’s traditional song. What doesn’t say wedded bliss like peanuts, and popcorn and Cracker Jacks.
I didn’t want to wait. I was sold on the idea, but I knew it was her show. I was an extra just happy to be within the edges of the spot light shone on her. Two innings to go. I had great hopes for the benefits I would receive on the fringes of Chicago’s star. I certainly hoped we’d win one for the home team.
With two outs in the top of the 7th, the Rabbi rose from his chair. “You two ready.” Before we could respond, he held one hand up and balled the other into a fist and placed it on his chest. “Oy, maybe I shouldn’ta had the extra brat. Oy, I’m going to pay for this tonight. What’ll I tell Mona.”
I looked at Chicago and made sure she was looking at me. I gulped, bobbing my Adam’s apple up and down. Pretended to wipe sweat from my brow and smiled weakly at her. “My dear.” I held my arm out for her to slide her hand inside my elbow. “Shall we?”
Out on the field, the light-hitting shortstop for the Padres was behind 0-2.
“We shall.” Chicago ignored my elbow and slid her hand into mine. I was happy to feel the nervousness on her skin. She rose to me and kissed me on the cheek. “Don’t be nervous.”
The shortstop, a 165 pound slender reed from a Caribbean island, slapped a seeing eye ground ball between first and second base.