The French Quarter
New Orleans, Louisiana
Larry and Rachel Rachmaninov were sitting in the rotating bar at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans one Saturday night. The Regular Guys had a week off from their gig at The Golden Nugget and Lenny, Larry and their ladies, Ann Shelton and Rachel Rachmaninov, had gathered in New Orleans for a few days of R and R.
Lenny and Ann were upstairs in their suite enjoying carnal knowledge of each other and would join them when they entered the bar, preferably before their dinner reservations at 9 pm.
Rachel looked stunning. Her shoulder-length black hair had been curled or frizzled or something like that – Larry had no idea what they called it – and she was wearing a knee-length black dress that – when seated on a bar stool with legs crossed, like she was now – showed calf and thigh and just enough cleavage to drive Larry completely wild. Larry thought, not for the first time, that she resembled Suzanne Pleshette in The Bob Newhart Show, who had always been his benchmark for female beauty.
The occasion was Rachel Rachmaninov’s 54th birthday.
This was their second day in town and the trip so far had been good but not great, and Larry had gotten the impression that he and Rachel were about to have A Talk. Not The Talk, that wouldn’t be appropriate for the rotating bar at the Hotel Monteleone on the occasion of Rachel Rachmaninov’s 54th birthday, but it was going to be an Official Talk nonetheless, one that could be referred to at need later in the relationship.
The subject, of course, would be their relationship. Larry had always been happy with occasional get-togethers. Rachel was on record as favoring something more permanent.
Larry, who as a lifelong Lutheran preferred Tacit Agreement to Official Talks, was, however, willing to go along with a Talk. He liked Rachel, a lot, and enjoyed their time together. He liked funny, attractive, older women; he just didn’t want to be around them all the time. Larry had spent a good portion of his life alone, and he rather liked it. But if Rachel were desirous of a Talk, he would indulge her.
Rachel, however, didn’t gather Larry for a Talk; rather, she had Big News.
“You’re pregnant!” Larry said after Rachel had informed him that she had Big News.
Rachel laughed and shook her head.
“I’m pregnant!” Larry said.
Rachel, who had just taken a sip of her champagne cocktail, spit up her drink.
“No, silly,” she said, looking down at her glass and tracing its edge with an index finger. “I’ve received a marriage proposal.”
Larry’s stomach froze. He tried to raise a single eyebrow like Lenny could do, but instead ended up looking like he had gas.
There was, of course, a lot implicit in that statement. It meant Rachel had been seeing other men, and pretty seriously, too, if a marriage proposal had been forthcoming. Larry didn’t particularly mind that; he had seen another woman or two or three as well.
And Larry knew Rachel wouldn’t play games; if she said she had a marriage proposal, then she had a marriage proposal, it was that simple. This was not a charade designed to get a commitment out of Larry.
“That certainly isn’t too surprising,” Larry said. “You are a wonderful woman. Who is it?”
“Well, I don’t want to divulge his name until I say yes – if I say yes. But like you, he is in the public eye; you would know the name instantly.”
Larry mentally sighed. Rachel marrying would mean the end of Larry and Rachel having mind-blowing, teeth-rattling sex. Larry personally had no moral qualms about sleeping with married women, however, as a signatory to The Guy Code, Larry believed you did not sleep with the wives of men you knew. Any fleeting hopes he might have had about continuing to see a married Rachel Rachmaninov were dashed.
“It’s not Toby Flotsam is it?”
Rachel laughed, smiled warmly, and shook her head. Part of her had hoped Larry would begin weeping at the prospect of losing her, get down on his knees and produce a ring, but she knew Larry well enough to know he would take this as he took everything in life – including his success with The Regular Guys – graciously and good-naturedly. Whatever feelings this would inspire, and she knew there would be some, he would keep to himself.
“I am mentioning this solely for informational purposes, Larry,” she said waving a hand dismissively. “I do not expect you to drop everything and do anything right now. I still love you, and I am all yours for the next few days. After that though…” Rachel again looked at her champagne glass and let the sentence trail.
Larry looked at her and smiled, and reached for her hand. He thought about the first time they had met, backstage at The Sahara. Some may have thought it odd a woman would bring something like this up now, but Larry knew it was her way of saying this may well be our last time together, so let’s enjoy it.
Larry loved Rachel, dearly. He did not, however, at this stage of his life, want to get married. He resigned himself to losing Rachel and to making the most of their last few days together.
The French Quarter
New Orleans, Louisiana
A couple of days later Larry and Ann found themselves walking around Jackson Square together. This was by design. Larry and Ann were very fond of each other but found that between Lenny’s completely insatiable appetite in the sack and his own time spent with Rachel, these two people who were very fond of each other had found they simply were not spending enough time together.
Larry and Ann were too fond of each other to let that happen.
They had gotten up early, too early for Lenny and Rachel, and went to the Café du Monde for morning coffee and beignets, and, later, shopping around the French Quarter.
In deference to the warm temperatures and the five thousand percent humidity attendant to New Orleans, Larry was dressed in a pair of hiking shorts though he never hiked, and a loose dri-fit shirt.
Ann, as usual, was the perfect balance of athleticism and beauty. Her short blonde hair was shorter than it had been a while and was curled behind her ears, and she was wearing a tasteful short skirt and a sleeveless white blouse.
Larry regarded Ann: For someone who had grown up watching Dragnet and Adam-12 reruns on cable TV and who only really wanted to be a cop all her life, Ann had constructed a wonderful life for herself. And she was now actually Lieutenant Shelton who supervised the Patrol Department at the police department she worked at. She no longer wrote traffic tickets to reprobate comedians like Lenny, but supervised the sergeants who supervised the officers who did.
And, like Rachel Rachmaninov, she too had not been dating her Regular Guy exclusively, and she had received a marriage proposal or two, however she had no desire to be a wife, and, besides, the only man she really loved was a man she had once pulled over to give a traffic ticket to, and he was off running around becoming what he was meant to become. When that happened, and when she had become what she had meant to become, perhaps their paths would intersect, instead of running parallel to each other. Until then, both were content with how their relationship had constructed itself.
Early in the afternoon, the pair found themselves at the entrance to Jackson Square. They walked in and after a bit sat down on a bench.
“Something’s up between you and Rachel, isn’t it?” Ann asked.
“Oh yeah,” Larry said, looking at her while nodding his head slowly. “You could tell?”
“She’s giving it away. Women can always tell when something is up.”
“Do you want to know what it is?” Larry asked tantalizingly.
“That depends. Do you want to tell me? Actually, it probably isn’t any of my business; I’m just a groupie after all.”
“Rachel reported she has a marriage proposal.”
“Ooooh. I’m sorry to hear that, Larry. I take it said proposal isn’t from you?”
Larry shook his head. Larry looked kind of sad, so Ann gave him a hug.
“What are you going to do about it?”
“I could kill the guy if I knew who he was.”
“You can’t kill him; I’d have to arrest you.”
“Oh,” Larry said as if he had been seriously considering that. “Well, it certainly presents a conundrum. On the one hand, Rachel and I fit together really well. Better than I’ve ever fit with anyone.”
Ann nodded. That was fairly obvious seeing them together.
“On the other hand, I’ve never minded being alone.”
“Well, you are good company. I can see you liking yourself.”
“We’ve never really done any day in, day out dating. We’ve almost always been on vacation, weekends here, a couple of weeks there. It is possible, even probable, that I would get on her nerves constantly if we lived together.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because after a week or two I start looking forward to getting back to being by myself.”
“I kid you not.”
“What do your instincts tell you?”
“The jury may still be out on that since I’m still seeing her naked every night, but offhand I would probably let her go.”
Ann nodded. Since neither had anything to say, they said nothing and sat quietly for a few minutes.
“You don’t think she’s bluffing?”
“I would be surprised if she were. She has very little guile.”
“She didn’t say who it was?”
Larry shook his head. “She did say I would recognize the name immediately, however. She did, though, deny it was Toby Flotsam.”
“That narrows it down,” Ann said. “I gotta be honest, and this in no way passes judgment on Rachel, whom I love dearly, but I don’t think you’ll regret not getting married. I can see you happily married, but not now. You haven’t completed your circle yet. You can’t interlock with another circle until you’ve completed your own.”
Ann didn’t say it, but she was basing this on her own personal experience. Twice she had told suitors no, and she had yet to tell herself she wished she had done differently.
Larry looked at her. “You may be right. I don’t know. She didn’t give me a deadline, but I gather I don’t have to make a decision right now.”
Right then Larry’s mobile rang. He fished it out of a pocket; it was Lenny calling.
“What do you want?” he asked Lenny.
“I’ve risen. I want my woman; where is she?”
Larry glanced towards Ann.
“The beast has risen,” he said.
“Uh-oh,” Ann said. “I don’t have to put out again, do I?”
“You don’t need to be serviced right now, do you?” Larry asked Lenny. “She wants to know.”
Ann proceeded to hit Larry on the arm.
“Hold on,” Lenny said. “Your woman wants to talk to you.”
“Where are you two?” Rachel asked.
“We are sitting in Jackson Square, enjoying a morning’s conversation. Where are you two?”
“We’re up here carrying on,” Rachel said.
Larry started laughing uproariously.
“Why are you laughing like that? What’s so funny?”
“Oh, Lenny does not think of women older than him in those terms, dear.”
“You’re kidding. I thought every man did!”
“Only the most discriminating.”
The Golden Nugget Hotel And Casino
Las Vegas, Nevada
Lenny and Larry were talking about Rachel after their first show back from their week in New Orleans. They were in Lenny’s suite enjoying a post-show brandy.
“She actually has a marriage proposal?” Lenny asked.
“Well, she didn’t show me an offer sheet or anything, but yeah, I think it’s pretty legit.”
“She could’ve been bluffing, just to get you to the altar,” Lenny said. “No, wait. If she were bluffing she probably would’ve told you she was pregnant. Of course, she’s 95 and years past childbearing age, so that wouldn’t fly.”
Lenny got up and refilled their snifters. He gave Larry his and sat back down, took a drink and considered the matter.
“Speaking just in terms of womanhood, you’d be hard-pressed to do better,” Lenny said.
“And you could tag along on her Medicare benefits in a couple of years. We could save some dough on our health insurance premiums.”
Larry started laughing again.
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to wave my magic wand of course and make things the way they used to be. I really liked the way they used to be. We’d go to nice places and do fun things and laugh a lot.”
“Some women need more than that,” Lenny said. “Or so I’ve heard; I don’t actually know any of them.”
“I think that may be all I can offer right now, though, my friend.”
A couple of months later, news of Rachel Rachmaninov’s engagement became public. Normally, the engagement of the entertainment director at The Sahara Hotel and Casino, while certainly newsworthy, would only merit space in Ray Evans’ gossip column at the Las Vegas Herald; it would not, however, warrant mention on the evening news and in newspapers throughout the country.
However, when that engagement is to the vice president of the United States, it tends to make news.