SUE ANN: Don’t you love these anecdotes of Lou?
Sue Ann nodded toward Rhoda who was exercising her stomach muscles. She’d read about it in Cosmo. Do not waste any free moment. And so she exercised anytime she was sitting down and had nothing else to do. On the bus. Eating dinner. Watching television. And now here in this bar. Rhoda listened to Spanish lessons while she slept.
RHODA: They’re so revealing.
Lou looked around the table before he returned to Mary.
LOU: So why have you brought us here, Miss Richards?
Everyone at the table was smiling as broadly as Lou, waiting for Mary to respond. What silly idea had the young Miss Richards come up with this time? She was always so enthusiastic. Her ideas were like little balloons and everyone waiting for Lou to burst this one. Mary blushed, looking around the table at each face.
MARY: I don’t know what you can possibly be getting at Mr. Grant.
Lou Grant took out a cigar, than ransacked his pocket for a moment before finding his lighter. It was an odd sensation, watching yourself. Or some facsimile. I didn’t realize how clumsy I was. And, its difficult to admit, unattractive.
Sue Ann turned to Ted Baxter.
SUE ANN: Did you see that?
Ted smiled at Sue Ann. Ted was a poster of what God would look like if he had a better tailor. Ted had no idea what Sue Ann was talking about.
Sue Ann placed her hand on Ted’s sleeve. Ted’s heart rate climbed.
SUE ANN: Mary had that dear waiter eating out of her hand. She has such a spell over men, don’t you think, Ted? In a little girl sort of way. Appealing to the pedophile in every male. I’ve never seen anything like it.
TED: See what, Sue Ann?
SUE ANN: The waiter. You must have seen the way the waiter behaved. He was staring at Mary. You’d have thought that he had seen a vision.
TED: Some of us do have that effect on others.
Rhoda howled with laughter. Sue Ann looked at Rhoda with some concern. Then turned to Lou who was enjoying his cigar. A cloud of smoke lay siege on Sue Ann’s hair.
SUE ANN: Lou!
SUE ANN: Do you have to smoke that awful… thing? I wouldn’t allow my Frank to smoke those vile things in the house. The butts look like little puppy dodoes. Frank was always cooperative, always departed for the balcony when he felt the urge.
TED: The urge for anything in particular? Or just urges in general?
SUE ANN: In all the years we were married, Frank never once smoked in the apartment. Consideration! That’s what characterized Frank’s behavior, bless his heart. Gentlemanship begins with consideration for others.
Rhoda howled with laughter, her chest shaking. Surreptitiously Ted glanced at her heaving mammaries.
I almost broke out laughing myself. But turned away and ordered another drink from Frank. Frank nodded toward the table in a gesture that meant he had made his own judgment on the sanity of his patrons.
RHODA: Sue Ann, Frank dropped dead in a funeral parlor.
SUE ANN: That’s how considerate he was.
Rhoda’s drink dribbled down her chin and onto her dress.
Sue Ann looked at Rhoda’s dress.
SUE ANN: That will come out with salt, dear. And you must try and control your braying. It attracts the wrong sort. But I’m sure you’ve been through that before.
Rhoda dropped her eyes.
Sue Ann padded Rhoda on the hand gently then turned back to Lou.
SUE ANN: Must you smoke, Lou? It’s not good for your health, or ours. Second hand smoke is responsible for twenty five point six percent of all lung cancer related deaths. And it is illegal to smoke in public accommodations. How can you expect our children to respect authority when you flaunt the very spirit of our legal system?
Lou shook in his chair with laughter. I shook with laughter at the bar.
LOU: Stupid law. Second hand smoke! Everything in life is second hand. Why should smoke be any different? Pretty soon they’ll pass a by-law against passing wind. Ted could end up doing hard time.
TED: I read that the pigment of the old masters is being affected by the passage of gas in museums.
SUE ANN: I didn’t know you frequented museums?
RHODA: I didn’t know he could read!
Lou grunted then took another puff of his cigar.
LOU: I like cigars, Sue Ann. I like them a great deal.
Lou exhaled a cloud of white smoke that drifted over Sue Ann’s head.
RHODA: They’ve elected a new pope.
Lou took his cigar out of his lips and looked at it lovingly.
LOU: Did you know that these cigars were rolled in the salty thighs of young virginal Cuban girls? Just the thought of it brings a smile to this old man’s lips.
Sue Ann’s face squirmed as she turned toward Rhoda.
SUE ANN: Don’t be so witty, dear. It isn’t feminine. Frank never liked witty women. Women should be sweet. Blossoms in a spring rain.
TED: You should eat more fruit, Sue Ann. Something has gotten stuck… up there.
Mary took a package of cigarettes out of her purse and lit one up. Lou grabbed the cigarette out of her hand.
LOU: You’ll ruin your voice!
MARY: But Mr. Grant, you’re smoking!
LOU: If I lose my voice, everyone in the office will be happier. I won’t be screaming at them.
RHODA: You’re acting like her father! Lou, you’re not Mary’s father.
LOU: I’m more important than her father! I’m her boss!