That’s not what caught the attention of Maeve and Roxanne. The big smile spreading sporadically across his face caught their eye. The dimple in a narrow chin covered with blonde stubble made them both do a double take. The way he held his thick chest out and shoulders square as he hurried to his gate across the glistening mosaic floor attracted everyone’s attention. The friendly greetings of “Buck!” he got from the other soldiers dressed in their desert khakis convinced everyone in the terminal to think of Buck in friendly terms. He had a baby face, but the graying short cut hair showed his true age. (Maeve thought maybe he should grow it a little longer so his ears didn’t stick out so much.) He joined some buddies at table in the lounge just next to their gate. Maeve watched when he got up and went to the bar.
“Dearie! What a lovely blouse.”
Maeve’s dark eyes turned to the passing short-haired, well-endowed brunette her sister addressed. The woman wore a beautiful red blouse of heavy cotton decorated a flattering angular ruffle. The woman gushed her thanks, admitted she made it herself from a pattern and apologized, but must meet some friends. She was a good looking woman. But, the raising of two (now grown) kids and the passing of her husband wore on her. She gained a few of the pounds that age inevitably brings. Her name was Linda. She seemed disappointed not to see her friends anywhere & went to stand in line at the bar behind the soldier. She ordered a virgin peach daiquiri. The soldier made a comment about a cherry daiquiri and they both laughed.
Even against the glare from the big windows overlooking the tarmac, Roxanne knew a “spark” when she saw it. She grinned at the unmitigated flattery the hero of the scene showered on the heroine. Roxanne nudged her sister Maeve, sitting beside her, also watching the middle aged strangers standing at the bar in front of them.
Maeve pushed back her hair in imitation of the Linda. She exchanged a grin and knowing look with Roxanne.
“You know dearie, when we were all younger, your husband use to wear a special tee-shirt at keggers.” Roxanne waited to make sure she got her sister’s attention. “It was a bunch of cartoons characters in an orgy. He’d work the room, asking guests which character they wanted to me. If he found two people who chose adjoining characters he’d introduce them.”
“Did that work?”
“Twice, I think. It was his effort at playing cupid.”
“Maybe we should mind our own business.” Maeve suggested weakly.
They exchanged a glance and burst into laughter, delighting those around them.
“Maeve, it is our Christian duty to set them up; Genesis 2:13 “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone;” I’m guessing that applies to women too!
“Well, then we need to find someone to play Cupid to those two.” Maeve whispered with an arch of her painted eyebrow.
Roxanne was still grinning at the love-struck couple. She started nodding her head, but stopped and her green eyes took a double take of her black eyed sister. “Dearie, we are talking about the winged cherub on Valentine’s Day? Right?”
“Well, you know me the one that “tames lions and tigers, breaks the thunderbolts of Zeus, deprives Heracles of his arms and carries on his sport with the monsters of the sea.” is more to my taste, but “the fairest of the deathless gods” will do.
Roxanne was grinning again. “Okay, how we going to do this?”
“Well, my husband says, “There’s always stick when you need one.”
“Pardon?” the red head asked, her ruddy features twisting in confusion.
“It’s what my husband says about stray dogs. If you see some strange dogs headed your way, you pick up a stick. Good dogs sit back on their haunches and wag their tails in hopes you will toss the stick for them. If they are bad dogs, they put their tails between their legs and skulk away. In which case you don’t throw the stick, because you’ll need it later when they sneak up on you.
“Oh.” says Roxanne, gazing into the Heavens. “Sort of like Cadmus tossing the bones of the Earth among the Sown-Men? What about “There’s always a stick when you need one?”
“Oh it’s a magic thing; there’s always a stick if you need it and not if you don’t. Now who we going to get to be Cupid?”
“Surely, he’s with some of the other soldiers. Maybe one of them. ” Roxanne said casting her admiring glance about the crowded terminal. “You know those new desert camouflage pants, the way they are cut sure does a good job of making the boy’s-”
“Well, you know I’m a sucker for a man in uniform.” Roxanne was about to point out that when she first met her current husband he was wearing a uniform, but she thought better of it because Maeve would point out that in fact he was naked at the time!
“Well until we find our cupid, I know something you and I can do.”
“What’s that dearie?” Roxanne asked as Maeve took her by the hand and led her towards the bar.
“We’re loaded, why shouldn’t everyone else be?
Roxanne laughed her loud joyous laugh, hooked Maeve through the elbow, and now led the way herself.
“Excuse us...“ Roxanne said to the well dressed woman they’d been admiring, effectively shoving her into Buck‘s strong arms.
“Well…” Linda began harshly in response to being shoved, but then thought better of it when her gaze rose to Buck’s sparkling brown eyes, “ ...excuse me!” she finished with a laugh.
“…but, we’d like to order…“ Roxanne continued loudly. She winked at Maeve with whom she now held hands and led the way as they said in unison “…a round for the house!”
The crowd erupted around them, particularly the soldiers sitting at a table in the corner. She waved to the boys and gave a wink to the Linda and Buck beside them, while Maeve dug around in her purse. Maeve pulled out a handful of cash and laid it on the bar.
“Buy a round with these?”
“Dearie!” Roxanne burst out. “You can’t buy anything with those. They’re Francs!”
“Oh?” laughed Maeve, “I guess I haven’t used this purse in a while.”
“Maeve’s what you call ‘old money’.” Roxanne observed to the crowd as she pulled a handful of American bills from her purse.
Maeve slipped away when she saw the pilot and his “stick-buddy” approach the gate. She quickly spoke with the attendant, found the correct currency and returned to Roxanne’s side, empty handed. Roxanne handed her a glass of champagne. The soldiers and other gathered around, thanking the pair and shouting their orders to the bar maid. In effect pushing Linda more fully into Buck’s arms.
As the hubbub calmed a little, Roxanne turned to the Buck; “One of your friends looks so familiar to us.” She began glancing at the soldiers in the corner table. Is any of them named Rod?” Her index finger and thumb of each bejeweled hand encircled the imaginary rod , the length of which she indiciated by the spread of her hands.
“Lance?” Maeve suggested
“Dick?” Linda interjected with a laugh.
Buck with his arm around Linda’s waist guffawed.
Maeve and Roxanne didn’t get it until later so they continued with “Cain?” “Castor?” “Juan?”
Maeve was going to ask if any of them was a “Pole”, but gave up and turned instead to raising her glass in honor of “such a good looking couple”. Linda and Buck blushed and gushed and denied it, but their attraction was unavoidable and obvious to all. The flight attendant at the gate announced boarding for their flight. Maeve and Roxanne, being in first class, bid everyone adieu before Linda and Buck made their awkward goodbyes. Roxanne and Maeve handed their tickets to the attendant at the gate. They burst out laughing. When the coach class boarded, Buck and Linda entered together looking somewhat stupefied; first class tickets in hand.
“Oh dearies! Did that nice flight attendant, Mister Stickman upgrade you two?”