My new husband (at the time) and I were required to go to dinner at my parent’s, longtime friend’s house. I’d known Roberta most of my life; knew her ups and downs and drunken stupors, too. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to extreme intoxication even before dinner. But, I was too young to just say no and Roberta was having a few people over to celebrate my marriage. We were spending our honeymoon in Santa Fe.
We arrived right at the cocktail hour, dressed up fancy. It was a very nice group of people, all tall and thin and dressed in Santa Fe black. We were all twenty-something except for Roberta who was my grandmother’s age. We lounged around and drank and chatted for an hour or two before dinner. It was enough time for everyone to get snockered. I drank more than usual, too, though neither my husband nor I were really drinkers and we preferred beer, not hard liquor.
Roberta was wearing a wig. Her hairline looked peculiar to begin with. I hoped I wouldn’t stare. But as the evening wore on, that hairline got lower and lower on her forehead, at one point almost covering the high arch of her eyebrow, on one side. I tried not to look. I don’t think anyone else noticed, they were so drunk when that happened. At one point one side of her wig was 3 inches longer than the other side, making the whole lop-sided thing, well, VERY lopsided! She also started smacking her lips and slurring. It was time to eat! Please god!
When at last dinner was ready, we were ushered to a large glass table with dainty plates and napkins and lots of silverware. It had turquoise wrought iron legs. Roberta had the best taste. Her eclectic adobe home gave evidence of that. Everything was visually very stimulating, at least.
Every one at the table of nine was male except for Roberta and me. And, other than my husband, they were all gay. I knew they liked my spouse. We’d had this experience before. We used to occasionally go to gay bars in Dallas. My husband danced the night away with everyone but me. He was the best dancer (I couldn’t dance at all) and everyone wanted to dance with him. He was handsome, too, just over six feet tall and lean.
The minute we sat down, Roberta let her two toy poodles inside. They raced around the table, round and round. They yapped and did that heel-biting thing that little dogs do until I thought I’d scream. Roberta was oblivious to them. Eventually, finally, they settled down for the most part.....for a few minutes.
After our salads and before our beef stroganoff, the male toy poodle began sniffing my husband’s shin. I could see him down below, right between my plate and the knife and spoon. I focused on the dog for a minute and then got into some conversation for a few minutes with someone across the table. When I looked back, I noticed my hubby twitching and looking down. He was wearing such a pained expression. I looked through the table again. I could see the dog was no longer sniffing my husband’s leg but was now beginning to hump his leg. My husband was shaking the dog off, violently. That did not dissuade the poodle, at all. He came back each time, running/humping for that leg!
My husband was polite for about 10 minutes but then he began to jerk harder. The men began to notice through their gin-soaked martini glasses. Everyone was moving their plates to one side to get a better look. The dog would NOT stop. I told Roberta, but she lunged across the table for the salt-shaker almost knocking one guest off his chair. She replied, “Oh yeah, hic, that’s Murphy, he gets like that” and her voice trailed off.
Meanwhile, my husband’s leg was getting aggressively raped. Everybody saw through the glass table and EVERYONE was watching (except Roberta who was extolling about how long Murphy had been in her life, through the last two of her husbands and “still he was so frisky”). No one else was talking, at all.
It wasn’t until dessert was finished that Roberta took notice that everyone was looking down. She moved her plate aside and saw that her dog was being kicked off and kicked under and around the glass table, still humping like there was no tomorrow.
Roberta laughed that whiskey kind of laugh and yelled, “Oh don’t let him bother you! Just step on his back toes when he does that and he’ll stop”.
And then she got up from the table to pour everyone a cognac, lurched across the chaise lounge halfway across the room and passed out cold.
Murphy, exhausted, curled up beside her and we all left.