With Thanksgiving approaching, I can’t help thinking about “Fast Eddie.”
Eddie and his wife Pearl we’re regulars of mine at the Diner. They had just moved to Lake County from California. A glitz and glamour kind of couple, they reminded me of Barbie and Ken as seniors. The first time I met them, my coworker Carol Ann and I watched as they pulled into the parking lot. Driving a brand new 2006 special edition, custom “brandy wine” convertible Corvette – with the top down and all the glimmer and shine a car could reflect.
Carol Ann, a car junky from New Jersey and a diehard IndyCar race fan, started calling off all the vehicle’s upgrades and the price tags they carried. I’m not into cars at all, but I can tell you I would have looked fabulous driving around in that bad boy. Not that I could ever afford it.
Turns out, this couple, both in their 90s and married over 70- years, had just moved to the Sunshine State after being lifetime residents of the “Golden State.”
Eddie liked to talk about how he was a well-known builder who knew everyone who was anyone back in the day. I never got the full story on what he really did for a living. You could tell by his perfectly manicured, barely aged hands, he never worked a manual labor job in his life. So when he talked about being in construction, I knew he didn’t mean he actually wore a hardhat or broke a sweat.
Nonetheless, he had so many crazy, fantastic stories to tell and a lot of really expensive toys to show off. Pearl was the perfect picture of a porcelain doll grown old, graceful yet beautifully weathered. The two together reminded me of a wedding cake topper. You could feel their love when they entered the room. She quietly walks by his side while he constantly pushes to be the center of attention. Flashy to a fault, with everything over the top and overly expensive, he was the kind of guy that needed everyone to know he was “the cat’s meow.”
A few months after we met, the holidays were approaching. We talked every other day at the Diner, and I knew they had nowhere to go for a homemade turkey dinner. Even the Diner would be closed. Impulsively I couldn’t help but invite them to my home. I knew I’d have more than enough food. I was known for cooking for an army and feeding the neighborhood. What would two more people who eat like birds make a difference? I thought they’d make an excellent addition to my guest list. Considering I cooked for my family every day and fed my mother and sisters at least once a week. Now I had a reason, for a change, to up my game and show off.
On Thanksgiving day, Eddie and Pearl pulled into my driveway looking like royalty. Just like a picture out of an old glamour magazine. He exited another costly vehicle, this time an antique fire red convertible Cadillac worth more than I care to repeat. Then he quickly looked at his reflection in the window, pulled out a comb from his pocket, and fixed his wind-blown hair before walking around to open the passenger door. You could feel his swagger even at almost a hundred years old.
They came bearing gifts too. An extravagant bakery bought chocolate layer cake and a bottle of Pinot Noir from his personal stock. As they walked up to my front door, even Pearl had a present in her hand. It was the most beautiful arrangement of fresh-cut Fall flowers filled with sunflowers – my favorite.
We all enjoyed our meal that day, and we all felt a little more thankful for our new friends. I truly believed I had just met my new besties. The best part was that they lived in my mother’s retirement community. This made it even more special because now Pearl and my mother could also enjoy each other’s company around the neighborhood.
After that, we all became close friends. Even Joe and Eddie love to talk about fast cars and football. Then Christmas came, and although they could not attend my holiday feast, I did lavish them with leftovers before my family even sat down to eat. Conveniently when we went to pick up my mother for dinner, we all stopped by their home to deliver a basket of my best. “Seven Fishes DeMarco-style.” I had prepared everything from soup to nuts and packaged and arranged it festively for their “Christmas Dinner for Two.”
It gave me warm fuzzies watching the couple who had everything enjoy my heartfelt offerings.
So, one day Eddie called me and asked if I could keep an eye on Pearl for a couple of hours while he went to the dentist. Although he had never asked me to babysit his wife before, I was aware of her mental state of mind. I was honored to know he trusted me enough to watch her and that she was comfortable enough to stay alone with me. Of course, I agreed.
The appointment was right in town at noon. We arranged that I would come to his home around 11:30 a.m. He said the procedure was going to take a couple of hours. He kept kidding around with me, “Are you sure you have enough time to schedule me in?”
He knew how hectic my life was. But I kept reassuring him it would be fine and how I had plenty of time to spare.
That day when I arrived, Eddie was waiting for me at the front door. Eager to give me the grand tour of his brand new deluxe, customized manufactured home that had just been delivered to his extra-wide lakefront lot in the community. It was nothing like any mobile home I had ever seen. Definitely not like my mom’s double-wide built in the 1970s. As always, I was totally impressed.
A few minutes into my tour and almost out of rooms to be shown, I noticed Pearl was nowhere to be seen. I questioned, “Is Pearl still getting ready somewhere in this portable palace?”
Eddie quickly replied with a grin, “No silly, she went to the dentist.”.
“Excuse me?” I said, puzzled.
“Yeah, her nurse came and got her about 20 minutes ago,” he said as he walked toward a built-in bar on the lanai. “Would you like something,” he asked as he poured some Jack Daniels over ice. “I told you she’d be gone a couple of hours.”
Then, he walked back through the living room and towards a set of elegant, white french doors. He pushed them open as though revealing some fantastic prize I had just won. Then he started bragging about all the features his “California King Infinity Elite Adjustable Bed” had. Boasting like a salesman how the bed had multiple positions. It also came with heating, cooling, and a full-body massage mattress.
Astonished by what I now perceived as his actual plan for the day, I again asked calmly, “Where is Pearl?”
“She’s at the dentist getting her bridge fixed.”
“And I am here, why?!” I quietly questioned.
“Come on, we’re both adults here,” He said with a wink.
“WOW,” I sighed. “Did you really think I came here to play with you?! I asked rhetorically.
“Didn’t you?” he asked.
Without speaking a word, I haphazardly gathered up my belongings and stomped my way out his front door. I huffed right past both of his fancy cars and his over-the-top golf cart, and I kicked my feet the whole way back to my car, stomping my feet across his new, just laid top-of-the-market sod. It was there I locked myself in and finally screamed at the top of my lungs, “Are you out of your freaking mind?!”
Then I raced over to my mother’s house to share my disgusting tale of terror. Turns out, word of mouth around the development was that “Fast Eddie was a player.”
My mom said Eddie was the type of man that was used to getting whatever he wanted and truly believed everything had a price. Luckily, my husband found the whole story to be utterly ridiculous. So he chose not to confront the man who was old enough to be his grandfather for trying to make a move on his wife.
Needless to say, Eddie and Pearl were no longer on my holiday mailing list, but his memory will stay with me until the grave.
Laugh on. Peace out!
Columnist Lisa DeMarco is a contributor to Villages-News.com