I first saw her in Dallas. I was thirty years old. It was The Parts Convention in ’72. There was a mixer for exhibitors that promised free food and booze, so naturally I went. An efficient Midwestern lady, middle aged and sporting a bouffant hair-do, signed me in at the door. She wrote my name in a feminine hand on a sticker, peeled off the backing and fixed it to my chest.
Hello, My name is Tim and a heart shape dotted the i.
“Thank y’all fer comin’,” she sang the way those Texas ladies do. “It’ll be raht through there. The open bar’s at the back ‘a the room an ahm shore y’all will see the buffet.”
I went ‘through there’ and took stock of the situation. There were tables ‘in there’ with crisp white cotton tablecloths stretched neatly over each one; lots of tables. People were seated at some of them but the crowd was sparse. I spotted the buffet line and, more importantly, I spotted the bar and headed that direction to grab a Lone Star.
She slipped into line behind me. She might have been 30 but I was guessing mid 20’s. She smelled faintly like tangerines and clove. Her hair was almost stark white and cropped close to her head. She wore one of those “little black dresses”. It looked good and was perfect for any occasion. I read her name tag and smiled.
“Is your name really Christmas?” I asked.
“I’m afraid so. Have you been a good boy this year?” She obviously had to deal with jerks like me a lot.
“Hey, I’m sorry,” I said, “But I’ve never met anyone named Christmas before. You gotta admit it’s a conversation starter.”
Her face softened a bit, “yeah, it is. That’s why I usually go by Chris but that lady out front insisted that it should be spelled out in its entirety.” She pointed at my name tag, “Is your name Tim or Timothy?”
“Actually, it’s Tim. My mother liked the name. My last name is Roberts by the way. I work for Ace Services. I’m an account manager there.”
“You’re lucky Tim. My mother liked Christmas and I probably shouldn’t be seen talking to you. I work for Dunbarton. I’m outta the Omaha sales office. I’m Chris Walker and we’re competitors.”
We kinda clicked, me and Chris. By the time the convention was over we were knee deep in a torrid love affair and on that final night we were supposed to go to Andover Steaks for dinner, but she came by our booth early and begged off.
Emergency at the office. Early flight. Had a wonderful time. Call me.
I figured it was over and that I was just a casual fling. A diversion in Texas. I tried to call her several times but always wound up in voice mail. I left messages that were never returned, so I did the only thing I could do. I let her fade from my psyche and soon Christmas Walker was nothing more than a fond memory of Dallas.
The parts show came around again in exactly a year’s time. I went to Dallas again and was helping set up the exhibits when I caught a whiff of her perfume, tangerines and clove, I spun my head around and there stood Christmas Walker. God, she was beautiful.
“Hi Tim, did you miss me?”
I was a little steamed but I forgot all about being mad as I looked at her and listened to the sound of her voice. All I could say was, “Yeah, I did.”
“Can you break away from this?” she asked.
Feeling a little spiteful I said, “I need to help these guys here. We should be done in an hour and a half. Maybe two.”
“Come pick me up at my hotel when you get done. We’ll have dinner.” She handed me a room key from the Flamingo.
I tried not to go. I didn’t want to get hurt again but I couldn’t stay away. When she left I told the guys that I had to go. I went back to my hotel for a shower and a shave and then jumped in a taxi for the Flamingo.
It was an interesting evening.
It started with a confession, “Tim, I’m married. I was married when I met you but I liked you, then… I don’t know, in almost no time I began to love you. I can never leave my husband, but I don’t want to give you up.”
It was followed by a series of questions, “Can you understand this? Would you be willing to share me? Could you love me on a non-exclusive basis?”
I turned and looked out the window of her hotel room and she moved to me, put her arms around me. Then came the proposition, the proposal, the strings that are invariably attached.
“Just with my husband, ” she said, “it would only be you and Scott; and you would only have me during this show. So one week a year.”
I could tell she was holding her breath. Waiting for my reply.