Leela was my favorite bartender at my favorite beach bar on my favorite island. I lied. They are ALL my favorite islands. This evening she was busy listening to a distinguished looking man sitting a few seats down from me sipping his coffee and looking frustrated. My ears perked up when I heard him say “ Do you know any good cooks looking for a job?” I looked over just in time to hear Leela say “ Why, yes I do. As a matter of fact….” And turned to smile at me. She motioned for me to join them and soon I was speaking with the captain of a steamer that arrived last night. Their cook had fallen on the dock and broke both his arm and ankle. He was on a flight home as we spoke and the Captain was in dire need of a replacement. He had known Leela for quite some time and accepted her word that I was good. A handshake later I was packing for a trip to Noumea and then circle back through the islands. A good month’s work that I was grateful to get.
The Island Spirit was not exactly what one thinks of when they hear Tramp Steamer. She was a sleek, modern inter island freighter that carried about 4 passengers. Her next port of call would be Noumea on New Caledonia. I found the galley and set myself up for preparing the next meal.
By the time I went back out on deck we were well underway and the island was disappearing to our stern. I stood at the bow as we came into the harbor at Noumea. I had never been there and was looking forward to a quick two day visit while the ship underwent some minor repairs. As payment for her efforts in getting me this job I had promised to bring Leela back a bottle of a special honey made by a friend of hers here and some of the crew were helping me figure directions from the dock. As soon as Liberty call came over the speakers, armed with a name and address, I was on the road. The shop wasn’t difficult to find and feeling pretty good about my navigational skills I eagerly opened the shop door.
I looked down as I entered the shop and noticed the floor was bright gold. As I looked up the morning sun came streaming in from behind shelves of honey bathing the entire room in a bright heavenly golden glow. Standing at the center of this picture was Miel, her golden blonde hair laid gently on her bare shoulders before diving down to sparkle against her white blouse. Her honey colored skin and radiant smile finished the image. She was the perfection of mature womanhood. The soft curves of her body teased innocently from behind her apron. I SWEAR I heard angels singing.
I had always laughed at guys who were totally stricken by a beautiful woman, yet here I stood with my mind blown, nearly drooling on my shoes, unable to speak, and wearing what must have been complete, nearly religious amazement on my face.
The thought occurred to me that THIS is what drugs were supposed to do but rarely did.
She said something in French that probably was “May I help you?” but that was a guess. All the blood had left my head already and hearing was intermittent. Being able to converse relying solely on my high school French truly stretched the boundaries of imagination. But wait! I had documentation.
I produced a letter Leela had asked me to deliver and holding it up managed to say “ Miel?” She laughed and as she reached for the letter said “ You are the one she calls R.B., no? The one with the rum, yes? I know some about you already. I am happy to meet you. Please, I am just about to have coffee. Join me?” Like I was going to say no to an actual living breathing angel with a French accent???
I can’t say I finally “came to my senses” because this woman quite simply blew me away. The more we talked the deeper I fell. I was utterly high, completely at sea and totally at ease, clearly focused at the same time. Talking was so easy we chatted the day away. I had a blast clowning for customers and helped sell a ton of honey. Before we knew it we knew all about each other and closing time was upon us. I was desperate to not let this day end so I went into high gear selling her on the idea of allowing me to cook for her. To my utter amazement she accepted and even asked that, as a test of my professed skills, I prepare her favorite dish; pork chops. With every bit of confidence and Rat Pack type sophistication I could muster I snapped my fingers and said “ Absolument!”
I intently watched her face. It was important to me that she enjoyed this. I am more than sure actual centuries passed as she chewed and savored the first bite. She gave me one of those polite smiles women get when they are still deciding and you’re pressing for an answer. Then the tastes hit. Her eyes were the give away. They lit up, almost rolling to the back off her head with enjoyment.
“Oh, mon Dieu” was her only comment. I am positive that at that moment she invented the Foodgasm.
The magical day, the wonderful meal, the rum, and the emotion blended completely as we danced slowly to an old Peggy Lee song. Feeling her press against me as we moved made it impossible to resist making love with her. My hand melted down her back and just as it settled on the soft roundness below that a loud banging shook us both. I nearly jumped out of my skin and my first thought was that Miel had some sort of anti-groping alarm installed, but when it happened again we realized it was the front door. I asked permission to answer and was greeted by Kai, one of the crew from the Island Spirit. The repairs were finished much faster than anticipated and the captain was in a big rush to sail with the tide. That meant leaving around, oh say…. NOW. Miel was as shocked and disappointed as I was but being an angel she understood and accepted my apologies for a hasty departure. The way she handled the whole thing made my heart ( and other parts ) ache even more for her.
The cab got us back to the dock in record time and as I got out it dawned on me I had forgotten Leela’s honey. I spotted a payphone and called Miel in case she found it, but mainly just to reconnect even for a minute. Amid the goodbyes and giggles I told her about forgetting Leela’s gift and asked that she set it aside for me. With a slight plea to her voice she asked if I was going to return soon. Somewhere in my head I could hear an old song playing and all I could say was “ I’ll be back for the honey….and you.”