Ranch on the Side

      I was outside talking with some buddies during the coffee break at my Sunday night, Ohio Street, AA meeting, and this chick Kelly, who I’ve been dating for about a month,  comes up to me and pulls me a way for a second and asks me if we can have coffee after the meeting. 

     Sure I say, trying to act cool, like whatever, like I’m just so hip and could care less, when really what was inside of me was a scared little boy.  A gavel banged inside the meeting room and the break ended.  There I was sitting back in my seat with the voices in my head turned up to about 11. 

     The main speaker was introduced and I was just sitting there in my head not hearing a word from the lectern, just totally thinking, I don’t need her.  I was in my head thinking, man, my life is just coming together, I got my little sobriety Volkswagen, I got my little bachelor pad in Venice, I’m making a little money, I don’t need her.  I was in my head thinking, I got just a little over a year clean and the sky is the limit, I don’t her.  Coffee after the meeting, give me a break.

     So the meeting ended and Kelly was waiting outside talking while I did my clean-up commitment.  I was inside mopping the floor thinking, coffee, please.  And by the way, if you ever drive by a building at night and see a bunch of people outside on the sidewalk talking and smoking, chances are those are AA’s.  So I finished up, and she asked if I want to drive with her and I said: “no I’ll follow.”  I figured I’m not getting dumped and then being held hostage driving back to my car.  So I follow her over to the Bob’s Junior on Pico near Sawtell.  

     We both parked together and walked in just like a regular couple.  The hostess seated us face to face and Kelly just comes right out with:

     “I’m pregnant, and I’m having the baby.  I’m really sorry, it’s my fault, (meaning faulty birth control I guess, cause I was there after all), and I really could use some financial assistance.”

     We were surrounded by Naugahyde and Sunday night loneliness.  The table top had that mealy, don’t put your bare skin down feeling, that coffee shop sticky film that no industrial cleaner is ever gonna remove, I mean frigging NASA couldn’t invent a solvent to take away the yucky residue.

     All I could think was stop the fricking presses, how’d this happen, we’ve only slept together like a few times, everyone’s gonna know this is my kid, if I don’t step up and do the right thing, I’m gonna look like a real shmo.  In the bat of a couple eyelashes, I crunch the whata my gonna look like numbers. 

     All that was between us was a salt shaker, some Heinz 57, and a little tray of Smucker’s individually packaged jellies. 

     The words just jumped out of my mouth: “Okay, let’s get married, do you have insurance, and are you still gonna work”?  

     Across the table Kelly was looking at me with these incredible blue eyes, and an ear to ear grin.  But not like a chick flick, dreamy, oh I love you, were gonna live happily ever after expression, but more like a lioness mother in survival mode, licking her chops after daddy lion drags home some antelope flesh. 

    A waitress sauntered over and asked: “Whataya having hon?”

     Kelly answered: “I’ll have a cheese burger with Swiss, ranch on the side, crispy fries, diet coke, and a chocolate shake.”

     I looked up and said: “She’s ordering for two.”