The Trade Show

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Did you ever wonder what it is that makes you do something that you otherwise would never have done? Is it something that you ate or drank that gives you the idea? Is it the time of day, or the weather conditions, or the way you’re dressed that inspires you to get up off your duff and do something? Or is it some sort of sixth sense that prompts you to go ahead and take a chance? Maybe it was all of the above that spurred me to get cleaned up and slip down to the lounge on that cool wet night in Cleveland. It came during a trade show a couple of years back when my partner and I had returned to our rooms following a reception at another hotel hosted by an industry association.

The evening had begun after we had walked over to have a couple of free drinks and wolf down some rubbery hors d’oeurves and perhaps schmooze with a few potential customers. After we shook off the rain and checked our coats, I was delighted to find that the hotel was gorgeous, the drink wonderfully strong, and the food simply outstanding. The hosts had hired a string quartet to serenade the crowd. Everyone we had thought of talking to was there along with some we hadn’t thought of. As we worked our way through the room I could the excited look on Derek’s face and knew I must look much the same. We literally bumped into Brian Hightower, an old customer, who introduced us to the distinguished looking gentlemen he was chatting with. Once he found out about our products and services, we exchanged business cards and promises to get in touch once we returned home.

“Jack and Derek have designed some of the best test equipment in the business,” Brian went on. “And their service is outstanding. Just last week we had some problems running a test and they sent their technician right over. Turned out that it wasn’t even their equipment, but they helped us get our tests done and saved our asses big time!”

“That’s great to hear!” said Jim Hutton, whose company we had been trying to get into for a couple of years. He had that look of well-seasoned wealth, but not too overdone, with graying hair and a nice tan. “I’ll give you a call sometime next week and we can set up an appointment as see what you can do.”

“I appreciate that,” I said excitedly. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed an animated group of ladies standing together. From my vantage point, it appeared to be a group of wives in the forty and up club, fashionably and expensively dressed, sipping their wine, and chatting about grandchildren or perhaps timeshares in Barbados. One of the ladies was rather large and had a loud but delightful laugh. After what must have been a terribly funny comment, she leaned her head back to laugh and took a step backward.

As she did so, the narrator of the comment came into view and I was screwed to the floor. She was a beautiful brunet, barely over five feet tall with a lovely tan and dark eyes that sparkled brightly. She was certainly younger than the rest, perhaps only twenty-five. Her golden ribbed top clung to her petite figure showing off the wonderful curves of her breasts; her short black skirt showed off her shapely legs encased in sheer dark stockings. Her pretty face shone brightly as she added another comment, which the others found tremendously funny as they rolled with laughter. For a moment I thought that she had noticed me because she seemed to nod in my direction and smile right at me. I returned the nod and smile. Then her head tilted to the side and she reached up to brush at the bangs of her shoulder length hair with her left hand. The sparkle from her diamond ring was astounding. I nodded again and took a sip of my bourbon before glancing back to the group I was standing with, trying to catch up with the flow of conversation.

One of Brian’s associates was making some sort of comment about a recent business success. The others were sipping their drinks and looking about for relief when another roar of laughter arose from the nearby ladies.

“Sounds like the broads are having more fun than we are!” shouted Jim.

“Maybe we should join them,” suggested Brian.

The little brunet and one of the other ladies made the move first, breaking off from the other group and slipping over to wedge themselves in between Brian and Jim. The older lady was obviously Brian’s wife and the brunet must have been with Jim. He slipped his arm around her waist and pulled her to him. She put her arm up to his shoulder and pressed in at his side.

“Have you fellows met my wife, Chrissy?” Jim asked.

“Pleasure to meet you,” said Derek reaching his hand out to her.

She nodded to him politely and then looked directly at me. I slowly extended my hand to take hers. It was warm and light and delicate, with long slim fingers and well manicured nails. I looked into her lively dark eyes and couldn’t help but notice that she seemed to be looking back. Even if she was his trophy wife, I couldn’t help but gaze longingly into her eyes. I knew at that moment that she could easily have had me with only a wave of her finger. And I also knew that she güvenilir canlı bahis siteleri must know it as well.

“How are you?” I said not wanting to let go of this captivating young woman.

“I’m doing great!” she said flashing a fabulous smile and her hand still resting lightly in mine.

There a brief silent moment that everyone spent thinking of something to say. For that moment, Chrissy looked up into my eyes and as our gaze intermingled, I felt her drawing me toward her, not only physically, but mentally as well. Feeling the pull, I leaned slightly in her direction.

“Hey, there’s Frank Likens and his guys,” Jim said suddenly. “Let’s go over and say hello. Excuse us fellows. Nice to meet you both. I’ll be in touch next week.”

With a quick shake of the hands, Jim, Brian and their wives and associates stepped over to greet their other friends. Before moving off with Jim, Chrissy nodded again in my direction and mouthed a silent, “Nice to meet you.” Derek and I looked at each other and shrugged. Although I shook my head, I couldn’t take my eyes away from the sight of her curvy backside as she slipped into the other group.

“Hey! Earth to Jack. Come in Jack,” said Derek.

“Hey, sorry,” I mumbled. “You know how I am around beautiful women.”

“I would have thought that hanging around with me all these years would have rubbed off on you,” Derek said, punching me lightly in the arm.

“Yeah, I should know better.”

“You gotta be light on your feet, and quick with the chatter, boy,” he went on for the umpteenth time. But all you do is …”

“Stand there and stare,” I interrupted. “Yeah, I know it only too well, man.”

“Oh, well, that leaves more babes for me,” Derek cracked. Then pointing to the other side of the room he said, “Hey, I think I see Polack Joe from Federal over there. Let’s go say hello.”

I nodded and followed him off through the crowd. Joe and his crew were holding sway just a few steps from one of the bars. I freshened up my drink and joined in. Although the talk was more of golf and sports than business, I had a hard time shaking the vision of lovely young Chrissy from my head. For the better part of the next hour we moved about greeting friends and trying to make friends with those we didn’t yet know.

When I stepped into line at one of the bars, I glanced over and saw Brian and Jim and their wives talking with the president of the association as they worked their way through the buffet line. As soon as my gaze fell on Chrissy, she glanced at me from the corner of her eye. She nodded at the rest in her group but glanced again in my direction. Every time I convince myself that women like that don’t go for guys like me, I meet someone like her and my head goes into some kind of whirl. Who am I kidding my self, I thought, as she shifted her stance, jutting her slender hip out to the side. Babes like that don’t go for guys like me. Then she glanced back to me, in a sexy sort of over-the-shoulder way, her little pink tongue licking her lips. Christ, she knew how to turn on a man.

“Sir! Sir!” called the bartender to me. “Sir, can I help you?”

I turned back to the bar, stepped up and ordered another bourbon on the rocks. When I grabbed my drink and looked back, they had moved away. Derek grabbed me by the arm and pulled me over into a cluster of guys.

“Okay, Mr. Technical. I need you to tell these guys about the Omni project,” he said excitedly.

I was glad for the interruption, suddenly being forced to shake free of this vision and focus on something that I knew well and could easily handle. After describing our analysis approach and the hardware and software we applied, I soon found myself forgetting about her and concentrating on the actual reason for which we were attending the reception. As we completed our business talk and moved on to other pleasures, there was a lot in common with these prospects. We talked about chainsaws, families, and golf games. The guys ended up inviting us to participate in their upcoming golf event and we made tentative plans to do so.

Since it was getting close to the end of the reception, Derek started edging toward the door.

“Don’t want to be the last one, you know,” he said with a chuckle.

“You just want to head back and call it a night?” I asked.

“I was thinking so,” he said with a fake little yawn. “It’s been a long day driving here, setting up and all.”

Just as the kid at the coat check handed my jacket to me, I felt a rush of air brush up against me and the sound of some familiar voices. I looked over to see Chrissy and Jim and the rest of their group strolling up behind us.

“So where are you young fellas off to?” Jim asked.

“We were heading back to our hotel,” Derek. “The exhibit opens early tomorrow morning.”

“We’re heading over in the company van to Johnny Q’s for a drink. Would you like to join us?”

“Sounds great,” I replied. “But we were on the road all day and it’s already getting kind of late.”

“Well, since it’s still raining out, at least let us drop you güvenilir illegal bahis siteleri off at your hotel.”

“Well, that’s nice of you to offer,” Derek said. “Thanks.” He looked at me with a pleading gaze that told me he was rethinking his desire to head back to his room. “What do you say, partner? You want to stay up and have one with the grownups?”

“I’m pretty bushed,” I said. “Go on if you want.”

“Okay with you?” Derek asked.

I nodded.

“Why not?” he said.

“Are you sure you don’t want to join us?” Chrissy said slipping her arm through mine. “Everybody’s going.”

“Well, seeing that I did all the work today while Derek was schmoozing,” I remarked with a wink in his direction. “I think I’d better pack it in early tonight. Thanks anyway.”

“Aw, party pooper,” she said with a playful frown on her face. “Isn’t there some way I can convince you to come?”

I took a quick look around and saw that no one else was really paying attention. As she sidled up to me, I felt like a teenager, awkward and nervous.

“I, uh, really should be turning in early,” I stammered. “How about a rain check?”

“I’ll be leaving tomorrow night,” she whispered, leaning up to speak softly into my ear. “It’s now or never, Darling.”

Suddenly the group was moving out from the banquet room and we were swept up and out into the hall. Their company van was a full dress party bus, decorated like a stretch limo but built on a full size van chassis. As we stepped up inside, Jim and Brian and their wives sat in the back with the rest of us taking seats along either side. As the conversation chattered along, I noticed Chrissy kept giving me these warm looks that kept me at the melting point. When shifting her legs from one side to the other, she took her time and let a glimmer of light fall up the shapely gap between her legs just enough to let me know those weren’t pantyhose that she had on. From time to time she would look back to her husband when he said something, but then would turn back and give me this inviting look sweet smile. I was just about ready to change my mind when the van came to a halt.

“Here’s your hotel,” announced Brian.

“Have fun you guys,” I said as I climbed out. “Thanks for the ride.”

The last thing I saw before the door slid shut was Chrissy, her big dark eyes twinkling, her pert rosebud mouth open just enough to show her perfect white teeth, her pink tongue flicking out to lick her lips, her gold top and short black skirt clinging to her tight little body. Damn! I thought to myself as I pushed through the revolving doors of my hotel. Broads like that always know how to get to me. And the worst part is that they never really come through for me; they tease my imagination and get my pulse jumping, but never come across with the goods.

I went up to my room to change, but ended up turning on the TV and settling into the armchair to watch the basketball playoffs. Although I’m not a hard-core fan of the game, tonight somehow I found the game interesting enough to take my mind off the little brunet tease. The game was played closely and went down to the wire. When the game was over I started to get ready for bed, but didn’t really feel all that tired. I leaned on the bathroom sink and looked in the mirror. The guy staring back didn’t look all that tired either. I filled a glass with water and moved back out into the room and over to the window. The lights of the downtown skyline were twinkling through the raindrops. Maybe a nightcap would help me slip off to sleep. I thought about it for a second or two and decided what the hell, why not. A drink could certainly help me forget about Chrissy the Tease and slip off more easily into dreamland.

Going down to the bar late at night is not really like me. Derek perhaps, but not good old Jack, the square shooter. I chuckled to myself as the elevator doors opened. Just what was it that made me do something that otherwise would never have occurred to me? Was it something that I ate or drank that gives me the idea? Was it the time of night or the weather conditions that got me off my duff? Was it the haunting image of the beautiful little brunet that I couldn’t escape? Or was it just some sort of sixth sense that prompted me to get up and move? Maybe it was all of the above that spurred me to get cleaned up and slip down to the lounge on this cool wet night in Cleveland. Whatever, I was on my way and the thought of a tall glass of strong liquor was very much on my mind.

The lounge was one of those recently re-decorated hotel bars that were trying very hard to look like an old time men’s club. The paneling was dark and rich looking, the bar long and outfitted with burnished brass fixtures. Tasteful and politically correct prints of English hunts graced the walls. I stepped up to the bar and ordered bourbon on the rocks from the young bartender. As he poured I took a quick glance around. There were a few small groups at the bar and seated at tables here and there. None looked familiar. I picked up my bourbon and turned toward the back wall güvenilir bahis şirketleri that was lined by some dimly lit semi-circular booths, the perfect place to just disappear in my melancholy.

As I slipped around to sit behind the table at one of them, a flash of gold caught my eye. Paying no attention, I settled in and took a long slow sip of the amber liquor. It warmed me up on the way down, helping to chase the cold damp night away. As I looked into the glass of bourbon, maybe for answers to the questions that had been following me around all night, a sweet fragrant ambrosial scent filled my senses. Old Granddad had never smelled like this before. I took a swig and looked up to see a vision step up to my table.

“Somehow, I knew I would find you here,” said the vision.

The lights from the bar backlit the short slim figure that stood before me, but there was no mistaking the supple curves, the long legged hip-jutting stance. I knew that I must have been dreaming now, the delirium of travel and rich food and strong drink.

“Are you just going to stare or are you going to ask me to join you?” said Chrissy.

“What’s wrong with my manners?” I blurted out. “I’m sorry. Please have a seat.”

I gestured with my hand to the empty end of the booth and watched as she slipped her tight little ass in and scooted up beside me.

“I thought you all were heading over to Johnny Q’s,” I said full of this and so many other questions.

“We did, but it was too crowded and smoky,” she said, easing closer to me. “The guys were getting loud and drunk and Laura and I were ready to go. But when I got back to my hotel, I kept thinking about you over here all by yourself. I was going to call your room but chickened out.”

A waitress wandered up and asked if we needed another drink.

“What can I get you?” I asked Chrissy.

“Grand Marnier. Up please,” she replied to the waitress, who moved off to fill the order.

“Why?” I asked turning back to the delightful, provocative woman at my side.

“Why what?” she replied.

“A dozen whys. Why me? Why tonight? Why here and now?”

“That’s too philosophical for me,” she said with a laugh. “I don’t worry much about the whys and wherefores of life. I just try to make the best of what comes along.”

“Well, I try,” I said slowly before taking another long slow sip of bourbon. “But not very well. Certainly not like my partner, Derek.”

“And what is his deal anyway?” she asked. “He’s a sharp looking guy but just doesn’t know when to quit.”

“He believes he has the gift of gab and tries to ply it anywhere, anytime.”

“Well, I found it pretty irritating.”

“Maybe that’s why we’re such good business partners. He’s really out there and I’m in the background doing the thinking.”

“Don’t think too much, Jack,” she replied looking up at me with those great sparkling eyes of hers.

“Yeah, I know,” I said with another sigh. “It’s just that I wonder about all kinds of stuff. Business, politics, social issues, and why pretty ladies such as yourself never seem to go for nice guys like me.”

“Well, maybe this is your lucky day,” she said, taking a sip of the liquor the waitress had just slipped in front of her. “You see, I just so happen to specialize in nice guys. I’m what some people might call a ‘bad girl’. And I have this weakness for nice guys.”

“I don’t get it.”

“It’s a long story. I found out pretty early that men liked the way I looked. I was an early bloomer, if you know what I mean. Most of the time, they’d come knocking. And I discovered that there wasn’t a man I couldn’t have if I tried hard enough: the good looking ones, the big time jocks, the smart ones, the geeks, you name it, I had them all, and most times it wasn’t all that hard. I found out that the hardest to get were the nice guys, but I also found out along the way that most men are jerks. They might tell you all sorts of things, how much they love you, how they want to spend the rest of their lives with you, but once they’ve had you, they couldn’t care less.”

“I have a lot of friends like that,” I said. “They’d meet a great looking girl and get in real tight. Then, all of a sudden toss her away. Never could understand why they’d treat a nice girl like shit. But then if I tried to pick up the pieces, I’d get this ‘you’re such a nice guy, Jack, but’ line and the next thing I know, the chick is back chasing him. After a while, I just figured it’s not for me. The old nice girl-bad boy thing, like they would prove their worth by doing the impossible by making a bad boy go good.”

“That’s where I come in for you, Jack,” she said, easing up so close now that I could feel the warmth of her hip against mine. “Remember, I’m not a good girl. I’m bad.”

“Beg your pardon?” I said, feeling unsure of just what she was getting at.

“I’m a bad girl, Jack,” she said.

“You look pretty sweet to me,” I remarked.

“Any girl can look sweet and appealing if she tries hard enough,” she said, looking back toward the bar. “Doesn’t matter what she starts with. Look at that woman there with the three guys by the end of the bar. On the large side, full-figured, but look at the way she’s done her hair, the cut of her clothes, the way she crosses her legs. She’s taken what she’s got and made the most of it, and the two guys right next to her each think they’ve got the inside track.”

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