Beauty only goes so far

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for us that night. It was already going on 10 o’clock. The bottom half of the hour loomed with the next hour’s top representing the end of our collective evening together. Closing time has a way of, well, closing things down.

Three men sat at tables just beyond the bar, one direct center and the other two flanking each side. In front of me sat a wobbly old-timer prone to giving unsolicited advice bookended by two groups of two on either side. All men, I might add. What’s it they say? Oh yes, a sausage fest. Not necessarily the dynamic one shoots for when one opens a bar. But in bars, much like in life, you rarely get to call your pitch.

A silence hung over those patrons, a silence borne out by having said all that was necessary. Men are notoriously bad conversationalists, just ask any woman. The only sound came from the baseball game on the TV hanging overhead. Unfortunately it was the area’s other team, the newcomers, the interlopers, the upstarts. Four World Series titles, including one against the other local team, made no difference to anyone watching. Nor did an overall first place ranking, but then sports fans are a notoriously fickle bunch.

Then, a woman entered the room. Kasie, as she was known, was no ordinary woman. In years gone by she turned more heads than any chiropractor ever has. At one point I remember two men fighting ferociously over the privilege of buying her a new car, odd in part because she had never dated either of them. I don’t know which one she chose, but her beautiful new Audi sat front and center at the valet stand. Wherever Kasie went, she was always front and center.

There is a sentiment among some women that a woman can be too attractive, that her attractiveness makes her intimidating, and that men won’t approach her because of this. Hogwash, I say. I have seen the most unattractive man in the room — I mean George Costanza unattractive; unwashed, unemployed and just plain ugly — hit on the most beautiful woman in the room and when rejected refer to her as a lesbian. The thought of her being out of his league never occurs to him. And trust me, it never occurs to any other man in the room either.

“Some guy wants to buy Kasie a cosmopolitan,” said the cocktail waitress coming close.

“Give her a lemon drop,” said the old-timer.

I shook my head. Kasie never drank lemon drops.

“Not my style, honey,” Kasie said to the cocktail waitress, the inkling of a sneer marring her pretty face.

Kasie didn’t sit; she stood, giving us men the full benefit of her presence. She surveyed the room. The man at the table on the left shifted uneasily under her gaze, and one of the two men to my right coughed.

Still, silence hung in the room.

Kasie brushed back her long dark locks with one hand, and applied some rouge to those slightly sneering lips.

The cocktail waitress came by yet again.

“Now table 54 wants to get Kasie a lemon drop,” she said.

The old-timer smiled a knowing smile.

Kasie raised her hands and shook her head no. Doffing her jacket she slid up a sleeve, her sneer replaced by a look of quiet determination. The only sound was the jing-jingling of her silver bracelets as she peered intently over the bar. The old-timer watched. The men at the tables watched. The two twosomes watched.

Kasie opened her mouth.

A man at the bar fidgeted. The old-timer sat up straight. The cocktail waitress paused. I stood taller.

“I’ll have a glass of champagne,” Kasie said.

I set the glass down and waited. And then waited some more.

“That will be $19,” I said finally.

Kasie looked around the room puzzled. Finally, slowly, she produced a $20 bill. She looked around again before walking away, minus the swagger in her arrival. And this time not every head turned.

Leaving me with these thoughts:

• If there is no joy in Marin today, it might be because the mighty Kasie has finally struck out, a reminder that arrogance so often leaves one empty handed.

• If you base your entire personality on being the prettiest girl (or boy) in the room, rest assured, one day you won’t be.

• See you all at the ballgame, which one depends on you.