Saturday, October 4, 2008

When Love Comes A-Calling ( III )

March 2001

SHE replaced the phone in dismay. The invitation to lunch had put her in a quandary. While she still had reservations about meeting fellow chatters in person, declining it proved tiresome because they flatly refused to take no for an answer.

Alcan, TigerWoods, Maxine, MarineSWS, Trixi, Bruno, PrivateEye, Natasha, Beatrice, Jolene, MadFarmer, JustMe, Hansolo, HotSucculentLips, ImprovedFiddle, Babelicious, Chinapek, Snowy, Miki, RetiredGigolo, KenSlowhand, Tee-Moon, Drakkar Dynamic, Ghost, WolfgangAmadeusMozart a.k.a.WAM - to name but a few - their fanciful nicks rolled off her tongue with ease.

The sense of camaraderie was palpable and she felt it. What they had in that room was exceptional; sparkling wit and innuendos, witty repartees and lively bantering, delicious one-liners and droll put-downs. She was amongst strangers, yet felt so belonged.

In the end, she decided to throw caution to the winds. What the heck, she could cope with losing the GildedCage mystique. If they had no qualms about revealing their true identity, then she would have no reason to worry about making known hers.

The lunch at Madam Kwan's in KLCC was a real eye opener for her. She suddenly realised she had been trading off-colour jokes and friendly insults with a motley band of men and women who, in their everyday skin, were as different from their chatroom persona as chalk and cheese.

Dour-looking managing directors and straight-faced CEOs, voluble lawyers and teachers, doctors, engineers, architects, business owners, a landscape designer, a Ministry's departmental head, a florist, a freight forwarder, a couple of titled personalities, an assortment of personnel in differing industries - these were the people she had been having so much fun with in the room.

Some of them were at the lunch. They chatted, in person this time, amiably over noodles and coffee. The atmosphere was relaxing. But where was Ashburn?

The lawyer nicknamed Natasha (Nat) suddenly sidled up to her, mobile phone in hand. "Here, Cage. Someone's on the line for you and he's pretty pissed too, ha ha ha ...."

It was Ashburn and he was enroute to Johore Bahru. "These people are too much, " he whined. "They purposely didn't tell me they had organised a luncheon to meet up with you, or else I would have rescheduled my meeting."

They exchanged pleasantries and he extracted a promise from her to meet some time in the coming weeks. She was surprised at the relative ease of their conversation; it was as though they were old friends who had known each other for years and had met a hundred times since.

April 2001

It was the chatroom's first ever dinner and dance, a black tie affair that had her stomach in knots for days prior to the event.

She had never been one for socialising and didn't like going out at night. In fact, she always tried to wriggle herself free from having to attend functions and events unless they were client-related.

But this was different. She was finally going to meet Ashburn face to face and she didn't have a clue of what to expect. One thing for sure; she would not recognise him from Adam. All of a sudden she felt very apprehensive.

She did the usual pre-'special evening' routine (not that there were many) - shopping for a new dress and a new pair of shoes. She even got herself a new hairdo. At times she felt like a blathering idiot. The kids weren't helping, of course. They were full of mirth at their mother's unusual predicament.

She tried to calm herself down by imagining him having his own litany of woes. He must be worried about the odd uban (grey hair) or two, she thought (surely he must have some, at 49!) The guy was no spring chicken himself, after all.

She got to the hotel ballroom on time and settled herself in, making light conversation with fellow chatters she already knew from the luncheon the month before. Chatter Nat came around to inform Ashburn had yet to arrive.

"Cage, that guy is perpetually late. He is never punctual for any of our gatherings. He takes his own sweet time. I'll let you know when he saunters in." Oh, So he was one tardy fellow. This didn't look good. She was a stickler for punctuality.

Soon enough, the big man arrived and was warmly greeted by fellow chatters. Nat came around once again and whispered: "There, that's your muse, Ashburn."

She stole a quick look from her corner at the new arrival. Hmm, he didn't look too bad. He stood there, right at the back of the hall with his back against the wall, scanning the ballroom for an unfamiliar face - hers.

She knew he didn't have a clue of what he was looking for. They had never met and he didn't know her from the proverbial Eve. He spent a good 10 minutes observing before finally taking his seat.

Nat once again sidled up to her side. "Oi Cage, take that fellow out of his misery lah. He was trying to figure out which one is you. He won't be able to, for sure. So be a darling and go introduce yourself."

Sighing, she stood up and took measured steps to the far end of the hall for her moment of truth. Upon reaching the back of his chair, she held out her hand and said: "Hi, I am GildedCage and you must be Ashburn. Nice to meet you."

He turned around, startled, and immediately stood up. They were of the same height and she was staring into his face. He gave her a once-over, his smile breaking into a wide grin. Then he cheekily drawled: "Hello there! Hmmmmm.... I like what I see!" They both burst out laughing.....


Kak Teh said...

Aaaah, love in the autumn years! itsnt it sweet? my setting was the cluttered newsroom of Jalan Riong, or between the bookshelves of MPH! so tak romantic!

puteri kama at-tarawis said...

It all seem so funny, kak teh, when we think about it years later..

Anonymous said...

Alah alah..beshnya..terdiri diri reroma yang dah lama tidur..besh besh..and if you want to know..i have been browsing this blog about 10 times yesterday..thank you...

slow slow tau ...kasik suspense..sikit..

Anonymous said...

ahhhh....chatroom affairs...this is one of the rarest yet blessed ones.

may this be the-happily-ever-after, my wish for you and ash.

Anonymous said...

Komen Pak Malim, kucing ray yang alim.

Saya fikir, kata Pak Malim sambil berzikir, kalau tidak bersemuka dengan orang yg kita kenal melalui internet, saya boleh komen apa2 tanpa rasa segan, kata Pak Malim sambil memegang machine gun. Then I can be really playful, kata kucing ray yang bloody fool.

puteri kama at-tarawis said...

Anon 9.46 - tu pun dah selow selow tulis, trying to recollect the events..nak tergelak ada la bila pikir2 balik..

Anon 11.27 - tq tq, my hope too, that this time it lasts, till death do us part..

Pak malim, kucing ray yang alim

ray boleh komen apa saja
kata kama yang tersepak bucu meja
tak perlu segan dan malu
kata kama sambil tumpang lalu
sebab ray memang pandai brgurau
kata kama dengan suara yang garau :)

elviza said...

Sheesh! You can't do this to me...

It's Raya leave and I have no lappie and hence breaking my fingers typing this comment on the handheld.

This series fast turning into a modern-day Samson & Delilah.

Faster lah Kak, can or not? Am a sucker for love story.

Pls stop torturing me in for the IV posting.

*signing off now, fingers broken already*