Denise LeBlanc wondered if she was being unduly disingenuous. She was using a ploy once again which she had perfected in her effort to meet men. It was such a thrill to be flirted with, romanced, and just treated normally by men who typically would not even think of trying to pick up a disabled woman. Oh, Denise always insisted on paying for her own drinks and meals here at the Garden Patch Restaurant; she would not disappoint anyone AND make them buy! But, thrills and excitement aside, Denise somehow felt less and less comfortable doing what she was up to again tonight. But…just once more, she decided…strictly for fun.
The bar area in the Garden Patch was not too crowded yet. Friday traffic would pick up shortly. Denise was situated in her favorite spot, in a corner booth close to the bar. Floor-length white linen covered the tables and Denise knew that, in the eye of a casual visitor, she looked like a very pretty unaccompanied blonde. She winked at Betty, her accomplice, behind the bar. Betty thought the whole scheme was hilarious because she was gay and pretty much hated men all around. Betty was a good ally who made strong drinks and kept Denise’s crutches out of sight by the ice machine.
Denise fiddled with her Palm Pilot while she waited for the waitress to bring her first vodka soda. She had several appointments with sales people the following week and she had not prepared for any of them yet. Oh well…another early Monday morning on the horizon! Several of the salesmen who called on Denise were single and attractive, but her status as head of merchandising for a large furniture chain and her crutches had dissuaded all of them from asking her out. The Garden Patch was not frequented by anyone Denise worked with and she hoped it stayed that way.
Denise’s mind kept wandering back to Bart. Bart: the postman, and Denise’s sometimes-lover in the afternoon at her apartment. Bart, who was the first “devotee” Denise had ever bedded, and who was really quite a good lover. But Denise knew that Bart made love to her so passionately largely because she was disabled, and he was pretty shallow as well. He filled a need, though, and Denise distinctly enjoyed his attentions.
Just as she let her mind begin to be swept away by Bart’s lovemaking Denise was shocked back to reality by the entrance of a very unusual couple. A man around 50 or so walked into the bar accompanied by a sensational-looking redhead. The woman was at least 10 years his junior and wore a low-cut black cocktail dress. On her right leg was a full-length metal brace. Not a sports medicine-type brace, Denise noted. This was a steel-and-leather othotic brace with white leather and with inserts fitted into the heel of an old-fashioned-looking orthopedic shoe. Yes, Denise thought, this brace was a throwback to the polio era.
Denise watched the couple as they surveyed the room and then made their düzce escort way to a table several feet away. The woman with the brace walked awkwardly, taking small steps and leaning slightly left with each step to move her right leg forward. Denise looked closely at the woman’s braced leg. The calf muscle was well-developed and firm and her ankle was well-defined and pretty. The realization hit Denise quickly: this woman was a pretender! From her investigation of “devotee” sites on the internet Denise knew that there were people who pretended to be disabled, either to please their lovers or because they were, themselves, “wannabes.” Wannabes were people who had a compelling desire to actually be handicapped, and used disability paraphernalia and appliances to accomplish their fantasies.
Denise’s first reaction was revulsion. Who was this broad to pretend to be the disabled woman that Denise actually was? Did she not understand the life-long difficulty of not being able to walk? Of being stared at or pitied? How did she dare impersonate a handicapped woman?
The redhead unlocked her brace and sat down. Denise noted that she was easily able to raise her braced leg on its own power to get into the booth—another giveaway! Just then Sandi, the waitress brought Denise’s drink. Denise looked at Betty behind the bar, who had a quizzical look on her face, nodding to the man and the redhead now comfortably in their booth. Denise rolled her eyes and subtly shook her head. Betty didn’t understand this, but was quickly distracted by another server who needed drinks for the restaurant. She turned to the task at hand.
It was obvious to Denise that the man was infatuated with his pretender. His attentiveness and her response were reminiscent of teenagers on a first date. Her emotions upon seeing the leg brace were still swirling. Denise thought about Bart again. Maybe she should take him more seriously. Maybe a man who appreciated a great crippled leg was not such a problem after all.
Thinking of Bart again, Denise was distracted by a tall, athletic-looking man who entered the bar. He had graying temples and languid green eyes, and Denise caught her breath. She waited for the beautiful woman she knew must be just behind him, but that woman did not appear. Instead, the man proceeded to the bar and took a seat on one of the empty stools. Betty came over to her new patron and took his order. She glanced at Denise, who was riveted by this unaccompanied hunk as she fixed and served what appeared to be a scotch rocks to the man.
As Denise watched, the man at the bar began to survey the room. She was to his right, within easy view, and soon enough he turned to her. There was not a doubt that his eyes registered interest when he saw Denise. She made eye contact with him just briefly, then went back to surveying her Palm Pilot as nonchalantly as possible. It didn’t düzce escort bayan take long; within five minutes the man slid off the barstool and made his way to Denise’s table.
“Hi,” said the green-eyed man with the scotch in his hand.
“Hi, yourself,” returned Denise.
“Are you waiting for someone?”
“No…would you like to join me?” Denise tried to be matter-of-fact, but she knew her voice betrayed her excitement.
The man moved into the booth across from Denise and placed his glass on the table. “So, why are you here by yourself?” he asked.
“I was supposed to meet a girlfriend, but she just called and said she can’t make it,” Denise lied smoothly. “I was just about to leave.”
“Don’t do that,” the man said, with a victorious tone. “My name’s Dan. Dan Farber.”
“Denise LeBlanc,” returned Denise.
The two made small talk for several minutes, exchanging information on jobs, and leisure activities. Dan was 32, a year younger than Denise, and worked in computer software. He feigned interest in her furniture career, but it was obvious to Denise that he was impatient to move in for the kill. Just at that moment the restaurant hostess came to the table of the man and the pretender. The hostess had menus, said a few words to the couple, and they began to exit the booth. Dan and Denise watched as the couple arose. The redhead made a show of locking her brace and shuffling out of the room.
“Oh, look at that,” said Dan. “What a shame.”
“What do you mean?” asked Denise, sounding as emotionless as possible.
“Just that she’s a nice-looking lady and she’s crippled,” Dan answered.
“Do you think the fact she’s disabled detracts from her beauty?” probed Denise. “How do you see her…as an attractive woman, or as a handicapped woman?”
Dan was becoming uncomfortable with this line of conversation. “Why, are you like, an activist or something?” he gulped. “Why do you want to know what I think about another woman at all? I think our conversation should be about you and me.”
“OK, I agree,” said Denise. “Would you like to go someplace else to get a bite…I’m really not in the mood for Garden Patch food tonight.”
“Sure,” said Dan, taking this as a pick up line.
“Why don’t you go give your parking ticket to the valet. I’ll go to the lady’s room and meet you outside.”
“Deal,” said Dan, who eagerly got up and proceeded to the front door.
“Perfect,” thought Denise. She motioned to Betty, who picked up Denise’s slate-gray forearm crutches and gave them to Sandi, who delivered them in turn to Denise. Denise left $10 on the table…a generous tip for Sandi…and scooted herself out of the booth. Tonight Denise was wearing her “business shoes,” with a gray low-heeled pump on her left foot. Denise’s right foot was in a massively built-up version of the business pump, escort düzce with six extra inches of cork and leather on the sole and with a thick eight-inch-high heel. Denise reached behind her right knee and lifted her congenitally short leg onto the floor of the bar, then stood on her good leg and accepted her crutches from Sandi.
“Good luck,” said Sandi, smiling knowingly at Denise.
“It’s always interesting,” returned Denise, grinning. With that she began a vigorous exit from the bar, using all her energy to lift her hips and swing through her crutches so her right shoe didn’t drag the floor. It was important to Denise to appear to crutch herself along as smoothly as possible, although it was not always easy to keep the massive shoe from dragging a little since she could only use her abdomen muscles to propel herself.
Denise entered the restaurant on her way to the front door and noted the man with the faux-crippled redhead at a table just ahead. The man’s head snapped around as he heard the clicking of Denise’s crutches. He was clearly mesmerized by her gait. Denise couldn’t resist…she stopped in front of the couple momentarily and said to the mortified woman, “I wish I could walk like you. You make it look so easy!” Without waiting for a response Denise swung herself off to the front door just as Dan Farber walked back in. His face fell instantly.
“Now I understand why you wanted to know about my thoughts on that other woman,” said Dan.
“Disappointed?” queried Denise nervously.
Dan began to fumble for words. “Uh, oh no…of course not!” he blustered awkwardly. “I guess I’m just surprised. Well…I was coming back to find the men’s room. I’ll be right back.”
Denise waited for less than a minute before Dan came back, clutching his cell phone to his ear and making a show of his “conversation.” “Uh huh, right…OK. I understand. I’ll get there as quick as I can.” He flipped the phone closed and walked quickly toward Denise with a tense look on his face.
“I’m so sorry. I just got a call from my sister. Her husband is out of town and she just went into labor. I’ve got to take her to the hospital. I enjoyed meeting you…hope to see you again!” With that, Dan was out the door…almost running away. Denise chuckled at his creativity.
“Shit,” she muttered quietly as she crutched out the door to have her prized BMW Z-4 retrieved by the valet. Dan was long gone as Fred, the valet, pulled up and hopped out of the baby blue sports car. Denise handed Fred a couple of singles as he held the door for her. Denise methodically put her crutches in the well of the passenger compartment and pivoted on her good leg to sit facing outward on the driver’s side. She then turned, picked her short right leg up behind the knee and plopped it unceremoniously into the little car. Her left leg followed and Fred closed the door.
“It’s good to see you again, ma’am. But I still can’t get used to that accelerator pedal on the left,” said Fred with a smile.
“Easy for me,” returned Denise quietly. “It’s the only way I’ve ever driven.” She waved to Fred and drove off, tears streaming down her face.
To be continued…