An old friend got married this weekend and I for my toast I would have loved to have told an old story about how his new married status should be the cure for his habit of loving the wrong way. But on second glance the story seemed too crazy for wedding banter; no need to scare his new bride. I'm really happy he's hitched now, cause I thought I'd wind up turning him into the authority's sooner or later.
A couple of friends and I were out in Manhattan having dinner and dancing the night before my good friend Elle was coming to visit. After a couple of shots of Jack I found myself on the bad end of a allergic reaction. The itching started on my face, I tried splashing water on it, but in less than five mins it was out of control. I felt like peeling my skin back and just raking it. It was like a forest fire - it quickly spread from my face to my toes. I was a frenzy of scratching and clawing as we piled into the car, debating whether or not to go to the emergency room. I was starting to lose my cool cause the itching was turning into a painful burning sensation and I could feel my face starting to swell up. No one would let me look at myself in the mirror and I could hear panicked whispers from the back seat. Next thing I knew, I couldn't see and my face felt like it weighed a ton. Thank god for that 24 pharmacy. Whatever the pharmacist gave my friends knocked me out in nano seconds.
All I remember after that was waking up in bed twice during the night as one of my girlfriends continued to give me the medicine the pharmacist said would control the reaction and get rid of the hives.
I looked like Frankenstein after a bad night on the town, the pharmacist had said it'd probably take a day or so for all the swelling to go down. Under a haze of drugs I vaguely remember Fran offering to pick up my friend Elle from the airport the next day - which was cool with me, I had no desire to go out scaring the townsfolk. One of my girlfriends drove me home to Philly where I immediately got right back into bed.
All Fran was supposed to do was entertain Elle in New York for a day or two until I recovered. A day later I phone him up to tell him I was better and that he could bring her to Philly. He tells me that she's enjoying her visit so much that she's decided to stay an extra day. No biggie I thought, she was going to be staying with me for almost a month, she might as well enjoy herself.
The next day came and went, so I called to see how she was...
"Can I speak to Elle, Francois?"
"Sorry, she's out shopping."
Two more days past, so I called again.
"Fran, it's almost been a week now. Did she change her mind about coming to Philly? Has she said anything to you? Can I speak with her?"
"I'd really hate to wake her up. She's sleeping, she's exhausted, we've been out sightseeing all day. I'll tell her you called when she gets up."
An entire week passes and now I'm concerned. The phone call starts to go the same way the rest did until I hear his bedroom door opening and then her voice in the background.
"Fran, is that her? Are you talking to her Francois? Let me have the phone!"
There's what sounds like a struggle for the receiver and then, after an entire week of hunting her down she's on the phone with me - and she's angry.
"I can't believe you, if you didn't want me to visit you should have just said something. I came all the way from London to hang out and you stick me here!"
"What are you talking about Elle," I say. "I've been waiting for you all week, I thought you wanted to stay in New York awhile longer.
"Who told you that?"
"Fran, did you tell her that I didn't want to come to Philly. Fran?! Well did you? Get your coat on Fran, we're leaving for Philly right now. Aren't we Fran, leaving for Philly?!"
I could tell from the way she said it that she wasn't asking. And when she arrived on my doorstep with a devastated and embarrassed looking Francois I got the most incredible story.
I lie to you not, Fran had been holding her hostage.
Let me explain.
Her flight arrived on Monday. Fran picked her up from the airport and immediately took her back to the apartment. He told her about my being in bed for a couple of days. Elle had been concerned and wanted to call me right away but Fran had told her this wasn't a good idea and that I'd surely call her as soon as I felt better.
Apparently, she hadn't done any of this so called sightseeing that he'd mentioned. Instead Fran had gotten up for work early and left her sleeping. It wasn't until she decided to go out for some fresh air that she discovered he'd locked her in the apartment. When confronted, he swore it was a mistake.
Meanwhile whenever I'd call he'd tell me that Elle was too busy having fun to come to Philly and then turn around an tell Elle that I was still sick and couldn't entertain company.
To make up for 'accidentally' locking her in he took her out to see some sights, only she had to see it out of the car window - no getting out. "There's a shortage of parking in NY, best to do it this way." At one point she needed to get some money exchanged so Fran stopped her by an American Express. Well, Fran has sleep apnea so when she got back to the car he was out cold. "I swear, she said, I screamed freedom and started running around looking for a payphone so I could call you. He'd been watching me like a hawk since Monday - it was getting creepy." But alas Elle has never really gotten the hang of using American pay phones. When she realized she couldn't understand how to dial out, tears ensued and feeling defeated she walked back to the car.
When I called, Fran said they wouldn't be coming to Philly because he'd arranged wine tastings at some Long Island Vineyards. "You know how long a drive that is," he'd said. "By the time we're done I'll be to tired to drive her to your house." Seems like only Fran thinks they had a good time. According to Elle there was no winetasting, instead he took her to his job for lunch and introduced her to his staff. They sat in the cafeteria as he tried to insinuate with odd body language that she was his girlfriend. Later that evening he did take her out to Long Island for dinner where she proceeded to cry and ask repeatedly what was going on, wanting to know why I hadn't called her. Fran told her he didn't know why I wasn't calling but that he was determined to make her visit a good one, because it was becoming obvious that I wasn't committed to that purpose.
Well Friday was Fran's day of reckoning....Elle had started to suspect that something was wrong. Fran's house phone had been restricted from making long distance calls and when she tried to sneak and use his cell she found it locked. "Can't I just take a train to Philadelphia? she asked. He told her I'd asked that he not let her come to Philly just yet. "Couldn't we leave the apartment for a while and hang with some of your friends? she asked. "I don't have friends." he replied. And that's when I called. Elle was listening at his bedroom door and could hear my loud voice on the other line.
Next thing I know it's early Saturday - two in the morning and Elle walks through my door and collapses in my arms crying...he freaking made her cry. At the time I was still confused and didn't understand what was going on. All I know is Fran didn't even stick around, he came in, used the bathroom and hit the road. Needless, to say I was horrified when she told me what happened. She'd genuinely started to believe that I'd invited her to come all the way from England only to change my mind about letting her stay with me.
That morning we called British Airways and cancelled the reservations Elle had managed to make to return home that Sunday. She figured she was going to wait for him to go to sleep - grab her bags and make a run for it.
Yup, that's what happened. Only thing Fran ever said about the incident was that he just wanted her to like him, and he'd thought getting her to spend some time with him would help accomplish that. I always wondered if I'm really allergic to Jack or did I have an allergic reaction because Fran gave me the Jack . Needless to say I never taken a chance on either after that.