Bernice and Garry: Prelude to a Kiss

Oh! How my love song gently cries
For the tenderness within your eyes
My love is a prelude that never dies
A Prelude to a kiss
Duke Ellington

In a single run I could play out the entire Bernice and Garry story and have time left over for speculation on exciting scenes to come, such as our first kiss. Sweetness and Light 

It happened the first time Bernice had me over for dinner. She was serving liver & onions. To this day I don’t know where she got the chutzpah for that. I thought I had made it perfectly clear that if I never ate liver again in my life it would be too soon.

“Didn’t your mom make liver and onions?”
“She also ate calf brains for breakfast. What’s your point?”
“My point is you haven’t had my liver and onions.” 
She had me there. Besides I was tickled to be invited. 

It was like dessert come early watching Bernice hustling around the kitchen in tight-fitting blue jeans, bending and wiggling through her preparations. It reminded me of the time my buddy asked me, “What’s so hot about this new girlfriend of yours?”
Without missing a beat I replied, “You mean besides her hot body, pretty face and steel trap mind? I’d have to say it’s the way she sits a chair.”

He laughed but I wasn’t kidding.

I first noticed this fetching phenomenon in the GED classroom we sometimes shared. Bernice was thin, almost angular and if it weren’t for a certain nonchalance in her gait and a shy sway of the hip…let’s just say sometimes I wondered about her true proportions. 

I got my answer one evening after Rose (my aide) had cleared the students out. Necessary because the library was adamant about closing at precisely at 8 pm. I’m sitting at a table finishing my attendance reports when Bernice sidles up and puts her hands on the back of a chair.

“Mind if I join you?”
“Mind if I watch you like a hawk,” I thought to myself

She took my smile for invitation, pulled the chair around in front of me and began her sit. My pixel calibration had her moving in super slo-mo as I shamelessly objectified her body from the waist down. A nano second after her knees bent, her hips began their drop. And as she lowered to a point infitesimally close to the seat my predatory gaze caught a glimpse of the heretofore hidden amplitude of her derriere momentarily displayed in all its innocent glory. Underneath it all, this was a woman of substance.

Back in Bernice’s kitchen the moment of truth has arrived. I’ve already settled on my strategy. Suck it up and eat the damned liver & onions. Be positive yet economical in your praise when asked how you liked it. Once you get to know each other better, you can ask that L&O not be a part of your meal rotations. 
 
As we look at each other across the table I’m reminded of the time Bernice returned from her Phoenix vacation… looking vibrant, tanned,bright eyed, and more that a little mischievous. Like maybe we were sharing asecret or maybe she knew I was dying to be let in on her secret.

I have knife and fork in hand, a look of relish pasted on my face, ready for one more deep breath before I dig in. Then I notice Bernice is sitting there, hands resting on the table, the mischievous look still on her face.

“What” I remark, genuinely confused.

“No what,” she replies. “It’s our custom to let the guest go first.”
“Right. Well you know, my family we just dig in.” I start to do just that but the look stops
me mid-dig.
It’s Bernice’s turn to say, “What”.
“You have a look on your face.”
“It’s just my natural look.”
“Right,” I say to myself. “Natural like a fox.”

 To my delight, her liver & onions are delicious, totally devoid of the sharp smell, strange texture, and spoiled meet taste I normally associate with the dish. What a relief, and what a joy to see the smile on Bernice’s face every time I compliment her cooking.

Bernice signalled the end of dinner by folding her napkin neatly and placing her hands palm down on the tablecloth. “I think we should have a glass of wine and watch the sunset.”
“I’m down for the wine, but you don’t have a western exposure.”
“No, but I have some floor to ceiling dinning room windows. Don’t worry, you won’t be disappointed.”
“What’s that supposed to mean,” I wondered.

We stood and sipped our wine and watched the play of a diminishing sun on the grassy commons before us. It was Friday and we talked about the week we’d had. As we talked our free hands found each other. Then we fell into a reverie of sorts, connected yet wandering in our own thoughts. 

It was Bernice who broke the spell by letting go my hand.

“How long has it been since you were with someone, like a serious relationship?’
“It’s been awhile.”
“I divorced my last husband.”
“How long ago.”
“Divorce is divorce. You know, final. I want to know about you.”
“Like if I’m on the rebound or something”

“Yes.”

“No. The only thing I’m rebounding from is going broke with my TV show.”

That made her smile.

“Are you finished with your wine?”
I nodded. She took the empty glass from my hand, turned and walked the glasses over to the dining room table. When she came back to me she still had that “I know you’re dying to know my secret” look. But the look had softened. She stopped just short of me. Then with a shy, self-deprecating smile, she beaconed me to her.  

With one seamless motion she pulled my body into hers, looked into my face and gently kissed me on the lips. Her secret, both our secrets really, had at last been told. In that tender moment we consummated our love and made a sea change in our lives.  

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