“So, tell me, Marina…” Jackie began as she put her work away for the day. “What big plans do you have for Valentine’s Day?”
Marina shook her head and sighed. “I no have a the big plans. Is a very sad day for me. Very sad.”
“I’m so sorry,” Jackie replied. “Did you have a boyfriend back in Greece, and you miss him?”
“Well…yes and no.” Marina furrowed her brow. “Is complicate to exclaim a you.”
“You mean, explain.” Jackie wiggled into her coat on and tossed Marina hers. “Whaddaya say we blow this joint and have a few drinks at Bubbaloo’s?”
Marina shrugged. “Explain, exclaim…”
“My treat?” Jackie was on a mission to cheer-up her office mate. “C’mon, it’ll be fun!”
“‘Blow the zhoint?’ Zhackie, I no smoke a the Mary-wanna…”
Jackie giggled. “No, no! ‘Blow this joint’ is an expression. It means let’s go; let’s get out of here.”
“Oh.” Marina managed a weak grin. “You no have a the big plans too?”
“Hardly,” Jackie raised an eyebrow. “Look at me, for cripes sake. Who wants a 30-something, zit-faced, chubby-chub Valentine?”
“Chubby-chub? Zhackie, what this means?”
“It means…nothing. C’mon. You ready to toss back a few brewskis?”
Marina was not quite sure what ‘tossing back brewskis’ was all about, but she figured it beat sitting alone in her apartment. “Okay, I gonna blow a the zhoint, with a you, to the Bubbaloo’s.”
And off they went!
“Geez, Marina.” Jackie marveled. “You really know how to put away the Ouzo!”
“Opa!” Marina flung yet another appetizer plate to the floor with gusto. “I learn it, from a my papa.”
Fortunately for our heroes, Bubbaloo’s was the kind of place where damn near anything went.
“You right, a Zhackie.” Marina took her seat. “Is a time for me to settle it down.” She slammed the remainder of her drink, wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, and signaled the bartender for another round. “Like I tell a you. Is a hard day for me.”
“Wanna talk about it?” Jackie slugged back her Bud Lite and stifled a belch.
The bartender brought their drinks and Marina asked him for another plate of nachos. She pondered for a moment before beginning her story.
“There was a this guy. His name a Nikos. I love my Nikos with all a my heart and a soul.” Marina’s eyes welled up and her voice began to crack.
“Go slow,” Jackie soothed. “Take your time…”
Marina shook her head. “I gonna be okay.” Marina blew her nose into a cocktail napkin, and continued. “The Nikos, he decide he gonna be in a love with a my mama. My mama!”
The bartender brought their nachos, and seeing the women were in deep conversation, decided against cracking a joke about the broken plates.
“Oh, yes way! She leave a my papa and run away with a my Nikos…on a the Day, Valentine…to the island Crete.”
“Oh, Marina!” Jackie selected a limp nacho and shoved it in her mouth; a string of cheese dangled from her chin.
“Zhackie, he crash a my heart! My mama, she crash a my heart, too.” And then, came a the tears. “The whole world, it crash a my heart!”
“Wow…” Jackie’s mouth hung open in disbelief. She didn’t bother to correct her friend’s English, but handed her a napkin instead. “Your poor papa! And poor you! Holy…”
“But! You know a what I gonna do?”
“Break more plates?”
“Maybe later, but no a right now.” Marina reached across the table and with her thumb, wiped away the errant cheese from Jackie’s chin. “Zhackie, I gonna forget about a the men, and from now on, I gonna be in the love…with…a…you!
“With me?” Jackie swallowed hard and blinked. “But, I never…I mean…I don’t know…”
“I never, too.” Marina shrugged and sipped her Ouzo. “So, we figure out together.”
Jackie considered this through a fog of too many Bud Lites and soggy nachos. Why not give it a try? she thought. Nothing else seems to work… no guts, no glory, as they say…
She stood up, grabbed the greasy nacho plate and flung it to the floor. “Opie!” She beamed at her friend. “Marina, you’ve got yourself a girlfriend.”
Marina laughed, “Is Opa, my Zhackie. Opa.”