We are so happy to excerpt “Drama Queen” from author and HO friend Gail Priest.
From Eastern Shore Shorts
by Gail Priest
Book Description: Whether you’re in the heart of the Eastern Shore or the Eastern Shore is in your heart… Characters visit familiar local restaurants, inns, shops, parks, and museums as they cross paths through the charming towns and waterways of the Eastern Shore. From the female barber who runs into an old flame to a man who¿s held out for love too long, and from a cranky dog trainer to a meddling mother-of-the-bride, these folks will make you laugh, cry, and cheer as they follow their hearts and dreams.
I’ve always liked women, but not for the usual reasons men like them. The girls didn’t want to beat me up when I was a kid; they wanted to dress me up in their clothes and put lipstick on me. The boys, however, did want to beat me up and did so every chance they could. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that my best friend is a woman.
When I should have gotten off the Eastern Shore for college, I instead went to Washington College here in Chestertown, where again, I pretty much stood out as weird. Although I was able to stand up for myself by then, it was comforting when Kate accepted me. We became best friends the first week of freshman year and remained so all through college and into adulthood. It’s hard to believe we graduated nearly forty years ago; I haven’t aged at all. I can’t wait for that reunion. It will take a dancing bear carrying a blow torch to get Kate off her couch to go to the reunion with me, but first things first.
Kate’s been hibernating ever since Brad the Bastard left her for a younger woman a few months ago. Talk about stereotypes. Anyway, I’ve gotten Kate to agree to meet me for lunch today at The Kitchen at the Imperial Hotel. I’ll ply her with expensive wine before springing my plan for her relaunching. She’s going to fight me. I’d be worried if she didn’t. Her resistance will prove to me that she really hasn’t given up. I’m ready. I’ve moved mountains before with her; I can do it again.
When Kate arrives, I ask the hostess to seat us someplace quiet and private. She leads us down the hall, past the crowded dining rooms and out to the garden seating.
“It’s too hot out here,” Kate complains.
That’s just the point. It won’t get crowded. But I say, “You need some sun. You’re too pale from hiding inside your house.”
“I haven’t been hiding. I’ve gone to work every day.”
“Inside. You need some air. Get some color back into those lifeless cheeks.” I pinch her face.
“Okay.” She slaps my hands away and takes a seat. “I didn’t come here to argue.”
The hostess leaves us with menus. I think she’s glad to get away.
“Don’t let me order dessert.” Kate pats her tummy.
“Get whatever you want.”
“No, I’ve been eating too much. I need to cut back.”
“I hope you’ll drink some wine.”
“Are you kidding? Wine doesn’t count; everyone knows that.”
“Good.” I pick up the wine list to make a selection. Something dry and refreshing.
Kate shuts her menu. “I’m going to order a salad, so I can have dessert.”
I look over the menu. “I’m going to order an oyster po’ boy so I can have potato salad.”
Kate looks me over. “You never gain weight.”
“High metabolism, I guess.”
“I hate you.” She smirks and reopens her menu. “But yum, that does sound good.”
I keep my mouth shut. Kate always looks lovely. Brad the Bastard is an idiot.
She snaps the menu shut. “Nope. I’m sticking with a salad because the chocolate bread pudding is calling my name.”
“Whatever makes you happy.”
The waitress arrives, takes our orders, and returns with the wine. Once Kate has a few sips, she begins to relax.
“Thanks for getting me out of the house, Phillip. I feel better.”
“Tell me how plans are coming for your niece’s wedding.”
“Chelsea has approved my design and the fabric for her bridal gown. My sister and her pushy friend, who is also the mother of the groom, tried to influence Chelsea’s decisions, but I kept her on the right track. It’s going to be stunning.”
“How exciting for her to have an uncle who is an award-winning Broadway costume designer. I hope she realizes how lucky she is that you’re doing her gown.”
“I love all my nieces to pieces, and my retirement from full-time work in New York has given me the time to make Chelsea’s wedding gown. I’m delighted.” This is the perfect segue into my plan of action for Kate. “I plan to keep busy. I’ll be designing the costumes for Sweeney Todd at the Garfield Center. They’re holding auditions soon.”
“I love Stephen Sondheim musicals.”
Our food arrives, and I pause from my strategy to try my oyster sandwich. “Oh my God, you have to have a bite of this.”
“No, thanks.” Kate stabs at her salad. “Brad and I saw the production of an Edward Albee play that the Garfield did a couple of years ago. It was depressing but well done.”
“Albee plays are always depressing. They ought to put a suicide hotline number in the program.”
“What was the name of that play? Not Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Talk about torture. People yelling at each other for over two hours. If I wanted that, I could have just stayed home with Brad for the evening.” She takes a swallow of wine. “But I like most of Albee’s other plays.”
“I hate to admit it, but I do, too. It must say something about our need for psychological torment.”
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