“Hi,” he said cheerfully. “Welcome to Paradise.”
“Where is it?”
“Where is what?” he asked.
“Paradise,” she said, looking around. “All I see is a seedy bar and a tiny dance floor.
“That’s all there is.”
“So there IS no paradise?”
“I guess it depends on what your definition of paradise is,” he said,
“It’s not this. It would be more of a beach, ocean, palm trees, which are on your sign, by the way. More like a true warm, sunny, blue sky sandy place, where I could sit and sip cold drinks until there was a spectacular sunset, after which the sky would fill with billions of stars.”
“We don’t have that here.”
“Then it’s false advertising.”
“Maybe someone else’s definition of paradise is different than yours. Maybe another person would say that their idea of paradise is a smallish room filled with tiny tables and stools, a small dance floor, dim lights, and a little stage for live music on weekends.”
“If that’s a person’s description of paradise, they don’t need much to be happy.:
“Is that aa bad thing? he asked.
“Not necessarily. Could just be that all that person’s dreams have been destroyed by life and that’s all he or she is left with.”
“So is your sign. You promise something you can’t deliver. At least not for me.”
“I can make you a drink and put a palm tree swizzle stick in it.”
She looked at him for a moment and nodded. “Okay.”
“We’re like the government. All fake, lies, smoke and mirrors.”
She choked on her drink, and nodded.
She wheezed and squeaked out a small breathless, “Yes.”
“You’re really pretty.”
“Do you think beauty is skin deep?”
“So do I.”
“The other kind of beauty people talk about should be called something else.”
“The concept of beauty changes constantly,” she said. “The other stuff, kindness, helpfulness, and things, are static in a way. Those things aren’t on the magazine covers or on the big screen. Kindness isn’t really beautiful, it’s kindness.”
“I see what you mean.”
“A nice personality is just that. A beautiful face, or body is just that. It has to do with looks. It’s a visual thing you can see without knowing a person, or what they’re like, or knowing anything about whatever you think is beautiful. People can do beautiful things. Set the perfect beautiful table, dress beautifully, and any of those things have nothing to do with inner things. Beauty is an outer thing. One person can think their partner is beautiful, when no one else does. Eye of the beholder and all that. Why are we talking about this.”
“It’s actually a distraction from the fact that this bar isn’t really Paradise.”
“Did it work?”
“Yes. At least for awhile.”
“Do you want to get married?”
“What’s your name?”
“Thanks Eddie, but I’m not the marrying type.”
“Just thought I’d ask.”
He nodded. “What type are you?”
“I don’t have an answer for that. Still working it out.”
“Do you want to go to see the new exhibit at the Art Institute?”
“Yes. I’ll meet you there. Front steps, what time?”
“I’m off that day. How about noon and we’ll figure out what to do from there.”
She stood up, grabbed the swizzle stick and said, “I’m keeping this.”
He handed her more. “Take all you want.”
“You didn’t tell me your name.”
“It’s Page. My mother loved books, so it’s spelled like the page of a book.”
“See you Friday,” she said.
“Can’t wait,” he whispered, watching her walk out the door.
Photo: Logan Weaver?@LGNWVA