A (Kind-Of) Indecent Proposal
Jenny is a story magnet. Impossible situations find her. Constantly. A blond with a pixie cut and a dancer’s body, she’s not the loudest one at the party, but she’s enjoying herself on a level beyond your average human. She’s always been someone who’s done her own thing, regardless of anyone’s opinion. She doesn’t ‘dance like no one is watching,’ she dances when no one else is dancing. A free spirit with a smart head who’s very good at following her heart, this story starts when she was single over the New Year and booked a last-minute solo trip to Paris. The vast majority of Jenny’s friends vocally and conclusively believed that flying to the most romantic city in the world by herself was not the coolest move but Jessy didn’t care. She packed a small carry-on for a week in Europe and headed off to the airport with sneakers on her feet and Madonna in her ears. Ten hours later she found herself standing in front of the Eiffel Tower buying a Nutella crepe. Her French was eh and a man waiting behind her in line stepped in to translate for the crepe seller. It was unnecessary in the world's most famous tourist trap but oh so cinematic. His name was Simoné and he would spend the next year of his life being Jenny’s new boyfriend. Jenny and Simoné spent a fabulous week in Paris, attached at the hip (and other body parts.) They packed their days with museums and baguettes and their nights at a fleabag hotel on the Rive Gauche. Simoné was born in Italy but had grown up in Australia where he’d competed on his country’s version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. His financial decisions have not been disclosed to me, personally, but by the lack of stars next to the name of their hotel, one could assume there were some ill-advised investments after the show. He and Jenny tearfully parted ways at Charles De Gaulle, Jenny making her way back to Brooklyn (so quickly and efficiently with her carry-on) and Simoné taking his overstuffed backpack to the next country on his itinerary. But they did not forget each other or the fun days or nights that they had packed into that unexpectedly romantic week. They stayed in touch via email and real, tangible, stamped-envelope love letters written by lonely hearts late in the night. On a Tuesday evening, Jenny ripped open an envelope in her building’s mail room on her way back from rehearsal and almost screamed out loud. Simoné was flying to New York as the next stop on his trip. The visit began as they all do; lovers’ eyes seeing the world through technicolor lenses where everyday moments they once took for granted now seemed magical. Then, slowly, the reality of that person being an actual human and having morning breath and weird tv-watching habits seeped in. But, it was still good. Simoné was working on a business plan that never seemed particularly clear to Jenny but she was happy to be supportive. When he suggested that he ‘officially’ move in, Jenny said yes because she thought he’d already done that a month and a half earlier. Then, back in the mail room, reality struck the lovebirds with a blow: Simoné’s visa was expiring and he was going to have to get back to Australia ASAP. There was another tearful goodbye at another busy, international airport. Jenny wept the entire subway ride back to her apartment, sobbed through the lobby, into the elevator, and up to her apartment where she collapsed onto the old, wood floor. The next day at rehearsal, her limbs felt cumbersome. Going to the market took all of her strength. That night, the weird vegan food that usually brought her so much joy tasted bland and uninspiring. She was angry at herself. She never took anything in life laying down, why did she have to accept this situation as her reality?
She wiped her nose, made a coffee and took a shower. She was going to take the reins. She reached out to Simoné and told him they needed to make a date to talk. He didn't respond. She reminded herself that he was traveling the world without an international phone plan. She told herself she had this situation under control. Finally, two days later, she received an email. Simoné was back in Australia. Would she be able to Skype at 5 am her time? Sure, thought Jenny, who wouldn’t, for love? It was 9 pm Sydney time when Simoné called Jenny on her cell phone. He was picking up some takeout at a local Greek place. Jenny strained to hear him amidst the ruckus of the restaurant. “I FISHMU.” “What?” Jenny tried turning the volume up on her phone. “FISHMU.” “Is that a Greek food?” Jenny had been a vegan/ vegetarian for most of her life and sometimes felt carnivores were speaking another language. As she loved to travel and be sensitive to cultural differences, she tried her best not to judge.” “NO. I. FISH. YOU.” She paused, hoping she heard what she thought she heard. “Oh,” Jenny tried her best not to giggle” “I miss you too.” “SALUTÉ” “Oh!” Jenny blushed to herself, “sauté to you too.” “No!” Simoné garbled into the phone, the restaurant seemed to get noisier, “I (something something) BAR.” “Do you want to call me when you’re out of the restaurant?” It was now 5:04 on a Sunday morning and Jenny had gotten up early to wash her face and brush her hair for this video call. “NO I (something something) right there.” The dissipating noise and voices and the crinkling sound of a plastic bag told Jenny that Simoné was finishing up at the restaurant and a few minutes later, he was sitting in his tiny kitchen, his tanned face beaming at her sixteen hours into the future. They chatted a bit more, every syllable of his sweet voice finding its way right into a soft spot in Jenny’s stomach. “I, I want to ask you something,” Jenny could now hear her heart beating in her ears. She could quite literally not believe what she was about to say. “You want to be here, right?” “Of course,” was Simoné’s earnest answer. "With me?" Jenny felt her heartbeat quicken. "Of course," he said in between bites of kabob. “And I want you here, too.” Jenny willed all the courage in her strong bones, “so, well, I was thinking….” “Yes?” She now had Simonés full attention. He put down the kabob. “Would you like to marry me?” Simone’s eyes went wide. He said nothing. Jenny said nothing too because words were now beyond her scope of capability. Then something unexpected happened... Simoné fell out of the screen frame with an echoing THUD. This was not the reaction that Jenny was expecting. “SIMONÉ!” Nothing. The screen showed nothing but a takeout container and an empty chair. Jenny tried clapping loudly into the speakers. She yelled his name a few more times. She wondered what the number was for 911 in Australia. “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God,” Jenny slammed her hands down on the laptop, desperate for something to make enough noise to wake him up, also cognizant about not waking up her next-door neighbors, two of whom were unquestionably involved in organized crime. "SIMONÉ." She grabbed her water glass from her night stand and tried banging on it with a pen. It made no noise and no difference. Jenny shook the laptop in frustration, beginning to sweat. "HELLO? SIMONÉ? ARE YOU THERE?" Her cries for help were met with only silence. Jenny was just about to hang up to try calling him again when, out of seemingly nowhere, Simoné popped up his head. “Bella, I am so sorry,” he rubbed his head as if he had just woken up in another century, “I had some grappa with the bartender, waiting for my food. My stomach is empty and it must have just hit me.” Jenny took a moment and her mind rewinded to the fleabag hotel, the questionable career path, the call from the impossibly loud restaurant, his loud chewing, and silently rescinded her marriage proposal.
“What were you saying?” Jenny knew what she was saying. But since she was Jenny, she didn't care if she had changed her mind in the last eighty-seven seconds. She looked up to the ceiling of her Brooklyn apartment and the universe winked back. Jenny also had a knack at knowing when to let go. ‘It was great seeing you,” she said before the conversation could go anywhere else. “I’ll call you tomorrow.” But, she never did. And a quick internet search just revealed that he did not win the show.