Thinking about this sequence this week I realized a few things. Rick and Jen bounce off one another really well but I really didn’t want to do a month of Rick and Jen bantering in the restaurant.

But I had this long script, and a lot of good stuff in the script, and I wanted to show that the date was going well, and why it was going well….

Finally I reached a solution. I’d cut down the number of strips to a more manageable level but upload the conversation as a blog.


A Conversation (part 1 of 4)

Rick – How long do we gotta wait for some service?

Jen – Oh? Not enjoying the whole five minutes alone with me so far?

Rick – Mostly not you. The cafe is just too frou frou for my taste. I grew up in an apartment over my dad’s nightclub and survived on a diet of nachos, chicken wings, and burgers.

Jen – I’m amazed you didn’t have a heart attack before you turned seven. And wait; your mom didn’t try to make you eat healthier?

Rick – Ma’s idea of dessert was a handful of quarters and a vending machine.

Jen – Oh, yeah. Right. I’ve met your mother. What was I thinking?

Rick – Still, it was good enough. The cooks would let me deep fry all the bacon cheeseburgers I could eat.

Jen – You’re kidding right?

Rick – Little bit. But it was better than letting Ma do the cooking. Her idea of grilled cheese was a slice of cheese between two pieces of bread that she stuffed into the toaster. Almost burned the club down a couple of times before dad banned her from cooking.

Jen – Ellie’s not that stupid, I’m sure she was doing it on purpose.

Rick – Yes and no, she didn’t grow up to cook, doesn’t know how. But I’m sure she knew better than that, nah, she was probably setting some ground rules for me and dad right up front. She did the money; the rest was up to us.

Jen – No cooking? No cleaning?

Rick – No, but dad was better at cleaning anyway and the club had food so there was never any real problems. And without Ma’s way with money we’d have gone broke a couple of dozen times instead of just the three.

Jen – Three times? I thought Ellie was good-

Rick – With money? No. Ma is GREAT with money. My dad on the other hand wasn’t.

Jen – Yeah, my mom is like that a bit. Just doesn’t have a head for numbers.

Rick – (snort) My dad had a head for numbers. He got his PHD in astrophysics when he was seventeen. He just didn’t care about money.

Jen – Oh, wow, well that explains Zach’s intelligence. Guess it skipped a generation.
Rick – Yeah, thanks for that. But no, I had the head for that stuff, the potential but no desire. Numbers don’t… excite me. But I understand them. I had passion for music, for the guitar.

Jen – And yet you don’t do any music anymore. Just complain about other people’s music.

Rick – Got my reasons. Don’t wanna talk about them.

Jen – Ah. A sore spot. Let’s go back, how’d your dad and mom meet.

Rick – That’s not a… hah. It wasn’t a good… um. He was her tutor. Supposed to get her grades up so she could get into a good school but it didn’t… um. How do I put this? Dad was a nineteen year old physics nerd and he was tutoring this beautiful sixteen year old high school girl. And I was born when she was seventeen.

Jen – Ohhh. So he put the moves on-

Rick – No. Ma put the moves on him but he probably should have said no, he was the adult. Sort of. From what I could piece together he’d been in classrooms mostly full of other boys like him since he was twelve and I don’t think he was the most mature of dudes. Not a good situation. But at least some good came out of it-

Jen – You’re about to say you, aren’t you.

Rick – Y’know, anticipating other people’s jokes isn’t very nice.

Jen – Joke? You bragging doesn’t equate to a joke.

Rick – I’m not bragging, I’m exaggerating my egotism to ridiculous levels with a nod and a wink.

Jen – I’m sure you’ve said that a lot. Has anybody bought it?

Rick – Not yet, but I’ll keep trying until somebody does. What about your parents? You mentioned your mother but not your-

Jen – I don’t have a father.

Rick – Um, a sore spot?

Jen – Not really, it’s just he accused my mom of cheating on him when I was a baby and he left. Sent some money every now and then but I haven’t seen him in forever. My mom never really got over it. A bunch of boyfriends but never got married again. And stopped dating when I turned fourteen and started… growing. In certain places. Her boyfriend started staring at me, and then started being too nice and she saw. Kicked him in the nads and tossed him out on his ass.
Rick – Good mother.

Jen – Yeah, I love my mama. But it was tough, she was depressed and had trouble holding down a job, on and off welfare, the whole bit. Then I got lucky and won a talent competition and started getting paid gigs.

Rick – And your mom became your manager?

Jen – No, more of a personal assistant. She wasn’t good at the business side, neither was I really. But I kept getting gigs and started getting noticed by record companies.

Rick – Money comes in and-

Jen – Not at first, there was a whole bunch of meetings and stuff. You know how you always leer at me and make rude comments?

Rick – What? You take that seriously? I’m sorry, I thought you knew I was kidding about that stuff -

Jen – I’m not stupid, I know you’re just making mock, but some of the record execs… well they weren’t kidding around.

Rick – You were fourteen -

Jen – Fifteen by that time -

Rick – Oh, that makes it alllll better then.

Jen – Hey now, remember your own parents?

Rick – He didn’t pressure her, he didn’t proposition her, he wasn’t offering her a record company and millions of dollars to-

Jen – Rick! Calm down, it was years ago and I turned that jackass down hard. But there were a lot of jackasses. Until I met Murray. He’s a terrible manager but he was honest and decent and that’s what I needed right then. And for a while it was good, the contract was crap but I sold so many records and so many concert tickets that I was still okay for money-

Rick – Making really crappy music.

Jen – You’re going to give a woman on a date your honest opinion on her music? Really?

Rick – Respect. I respect you enough to tell you the truth. And your music was and still is crap. And the worst part was you were capable of so much more. Your voice is unreal. Ethereal. It has power, depth and range. And it was used to sell pap to teenagers. My opinion isn’t offensive, THAT’S offensive.

Jen – That has to be the nicest insult anyone has ever given me. Listen, let’s not talk music, I don’t think we’re as far apart as you might think but this is a date and music is both of our work, in different ways. So you grew up over a nightclub? Run by your dad?

Rick – By my mom. Owned by dad, and he’d book the musicians, order the booze but she ran the joint. Heluvadodge. Best blues club in Dallas by a mile or two.

Jen – So, how’d a poor physics tutor manage to score enough cash to open a nightclub? Especially after being such a bad influence on a poor high school student-

Rick – What? Dad wasn’t a bad influence on Ma, it was the other way round. She was wild back in the day. And she wasn’t poor either. You wanna know how he got the money? He thought learning magic would get him chicks. That didn’t work out too well, but he did develop his manual dexterity. He wasn’t enough of a showman to go on stage, but his tricks worked really well on doors. To jewellery shops. Banks. Numbers and deft hands. See, that’s how he got Ma a ring-

Jen – He STOLE her engagement ring?

Rick – He was in love and didn’t understand morals as anything more than part of an antiquated social structure. And I gotta say I think the reason she said yes was because he stole it.

Jen – You’re saying if he had just bought it she’d have said no?

Rick – Probably. Like I said she was wild as all get out and liked the bad boys. More surprising that she seduced him in the first place considering his geekiness.

Jen – No, that makes sense. He was out of bounds, right? Probably pissed her folks off something fierce.

Rick – Hah! You’ve gotten to know Ma a little too well I think.

Jen – But how’d he steal enough to buy a club? That’s a couple million at least. How many banks could he have robbed?

Rick – Just two. And after laundering the money with a fence he was only up ten thou. But he was good with numbers and Ma introduced him around to some people. That’s when he found poker. Numbers and risk. He loved risk. Danger. Had a taste for it and poker satisfied those needs. For a while.

Jen – For a while?

Rick – Yeah, he got real good. Like good, good. Too good. The risk went away and the money kept piling up. So he heard that nightclubs were a risky investment, and a blues club was even worse…

Jen – He didn’t like the blues? The club was bought in hopes of failure?

Rick – No, he wanted to succeed but he wanted it to be a risk and he didn’t know a thing about the blues so he figured he’d double down on the gamble. Unfortunately turned out he had an ear for music. That he could hear what people liked and wouldn’t like.

Jen – Unfortunately? Your dad was messed up.

Rick – Yup. Within a year, and with Ma’s newfound business savvy, Heluvadodge was making money hand over fist and we were set for life.

Jen – But you said you went broke three times.

Rick – He liked risk. He liked numbers. He read up on chaos theory and thought he could come up with a systemic solution to explain and codify randomness.

Jen – Roulette. Slots. Craps. Keno. Lottery.

Rick – Anything random. He’d gamble it away and ma would build it back up again.

Jen – And you?

(end part one)