Part Four
Standard Disclaimers Apply

I arrive at the restaurant at one. Karen Cahill, I'm
told by the maitre d, hasn't arrived yet. I'm seated
at a table that, I'm told by same maitre d, is Karen
Cahill's favorite. Is that really supposed to be
interesting to me? I suppose so, since the maitre d
looks highly proud of himself.

A waiter arrives. "Would you like to order now, or
would you rather wait for your guest?"

See? She's my guest. I'm ruling this meeting. "I'll
wait for my guest," I reply.

And I continue to wait for my guest.

For ten minutes.

Then twenty minutes.

Then thirty minutes.

This is really starting to get irritating. God, why is
everyone so afraid of a woman who can't even follow
her schedule?

"Mr. Lyman?"

I look up to see her. Karen Cahill. She's in her
mid-forties, well dressed, pretty nice looking. She
looks too sweet and willowy to strike fear into the
hearts of men.

She's thirty-five minutes late, by the way.

"Ms. Cahill," I say as I rise from my seat. I glance
down at her shoes. I can see why Leo would make fun of
them. But I, wisely, keep my mouth shut.

"Have you been waiting long?" Karen asks me.

I'm going to be amiable. I'm not going to screw this
up. "No, not long," I reply.


We order our food; we exchange some superfluous
pre-meal pleasantries. Now, we can get down to

"I wanted to meet with you to discuss what happened
the other night at the South Street Exhibit."

"I thought so. A lot of third parties have been
explaining others' behavior to me lately," she says
with a smile.

"Well, Donna thought when she dropped her underwear,
you may have thought she was making a pass at you."

She raises an eyebrow. "She did?"

"Yes. She's quirky." I offer a fake and good-natured
chuckle. The desire to resort to sarcasm has been
almost overwhelming at times.

"Why? *Was* she making a pass at me?"

"No. It was just a strange mishap. She feels very

"Tell her not to worry about it. She's a nice girl,"
Karen says.

"Yes she is." I pause. "I also wanted to discuss
something else with you. You sent the underwear to me
- um, my office - instead of addressing it to Donna.
And that note - why would I be interested in Donna's
underwear? Why?" The level of my voice has increased
during his monologue. I sound too outraged. I was
going for conversational. To counter this, I laugh
awkwardly. "Why would you say that?"

Karen Cahill is staring at me. I'm not sure if she's
frightened, surprised by my odd behavior, or concerned
for me. Maybe she just hates me.

"Well, I think it's pretty obvious," she replies.

Obvious? What the--? Okay, I'm not going to yell at
this woman. I'm the one who's going to have *normal*
interaction with Karen Cahill. "Obvious, really?" I
laugh a little.

Her mood seems to lighten. She doesn't look creeped
out by me at least. "Yes, it is obvious. You haven't
noticed how you stare at her?"

"I don't stare at her," I reply indignantly. Okay,
maybe I look at her sometimes. She's not a bad looking
woman. Okay, she's a very good-looking woman. But I
don't stare.

"Yes, you do."

"How do you know? Are you staring at me?" I say with a
smirk. "I guess that means you're interested."

"Well, if you dropped your underwear in front of me, I
wouldn't protest," she declares before taking a long
sip of her drink.

Karen Cahill is screwing with me. She has this
peculiar glint in her eye. A glint that says, plainly,
"I'm screwing with you."

Is that what this whole incident has been? The
package, the note, and the acceptance of a lunch
meeting - all of this has been part a plan to screw
with me.

Two can play at this game. "Well, I can't slip mine
off without drawing some attention."

"Well, I thought you'd be salivating at the chance to
bring attention to yourself." Smirk.

This is ridiculous. I'm supposed to be the smirker.

"I'm really not interested in Donna *that* way. I
don't think it was appropriate for you to send me

"Still singing that song? I think you protest too
much," she says pointedly.

"I protest just enough," I reply. "And I hate that
crap. If you say you're not something, or you don't
want to do something, you're 'protesting too much' and
thus, you are that thing." I'm rambling. Donna's
rubbing off on me too much. "If you were to ask me if
I were gay, for example, I would say 'no.' That
doesn't mean I'm covering up my feelings and am
secretly having an affair with Sam."

"You're having an affair with Sam?" she says with
another smirk.

"No! That's my point!" I say weakly.

"So you're having an affair with Donna then?"

"No!" I hate Karen Cahill. I really hate her.

"So you've just slept with her once?"

I guess you could say I've slept with her. Not in the
way you're thinking. It was Christmas Eve, when she
forced me to go to the hospital to have my hand looked
at. She drove me back home and stayed at my apartment
that night.

She listened to me talk. She held my hand when I
didn't want to talk. She held me when I felt like I
was going to cry.

We ended up falling asleep in my bed with all of our
clothes on. It wasn't sexual. It was about her caring
for me while I was falling apart. Although, there was
a warmth to the way she held me. I wouldn't have
minded her holding me forever.

Okay, I'll admit to being mildly interested in Donna.
But that's still none of Karen freakin' Cahill's

"Not in the way one would think," is all I can manage
to say.

"Ahh," she says in a satisfied manner.

So very proud of herself. Karen Cahill can bite me. So
I tell her, "Bite me, you insufferable snob. You have
no business talking to me like you know me. You can
shove it right up your--"

Karen stands up. "I was doing you a favor by coming
here, Mr. Lyman," she says, acid in her voice. "You
want to act like an imbecile, I don't really care. I'm
leaving," she declares self-righteously.

She stalks out of the restaurant.

A moment later, our food comes. I'm going to have to
pay for this anyway, so I begin eating my meal.

"Could you wrap Miss Cahill's food?" I ask the waiter.

Okay, I'll admit to messing this up a little bit. But
Karen Cahill asked for it.

She did.


Josh left almost three hours ago. Where is he? Does it
really take this long to tell Karen Cahill I don't
want to sleep with her?

Josh does get long winded sometimes.

Suddenly he breezes in with a Styrofoam container. He
looks content. This is a good sign.

"Hey, Donna. I got you something from the restaurant.
You always say you want to have a nice lunch."

"I've always said I want to *go out* for a nice lunch.
That's different from bringing me something *from* a

"Really? I don't think so."

I open the container. The food does look and smell
good, so I say, "Thanks, Josh."

"You're welcome, Donna."

"So, you didn't screw up, right?"

"No, I didn't. The cycle is over. Karen Cahill doesn't
think you want to have sex with her. And I'm not
ashamed of anything I did there."

See? My faith in Josh is not unfounded. Before I
think, I jump up and kiss him on the cheek. "Thank
you," I say.

He looks uncomfortable for a second. But he quickly
returns to normal. "No thanks necessary. For I do my
good deeds for society, not for personal gain."

"Shut up, Josh," I say with a smile.

"Okay." He goes into his office, still looking
sufficiently proud of himself.


Donna just kissed me. It was only a peck on the cheek
but, I have to admit, it was nice.

Really nice. So, I am somewhat interested.

So, I didn't tell the entire truth about what happened
at lunch. I told Donna that Karen Cahill doesn't think
she was making a pass at her.

This is the truth.

I didn't tell her that Karen Cahill thinks *I* want to
make a pass at Donna.

I told her I wasn't ashamed of what I did there.

This is the truth.

I didn't tell her that I'm not ashamed of telling
Karen Cahill to bite me.

So, I didn't tell Donna the whole truth about what
happened with Karen Cahill. It really has nothing to
do with her.

I could care less what Karen Cahill thinks of me. If
she ends up writing a nasty column involving me, so be
it. Donna won't be affected by any of this.

I'm mildly interested in Donna. I can admit that now.

And, partly, I have Karen Cahill to thank for this
revelation. If I haven't been obsessing about this for
the last couple of days, I never would have realized I
do find Donna *interesting.* Not that I can do
anything about it now. But it's good to know for the
future. Like after the administration is over.

And Donna never would've kissed me. She'd never be
*grateful* with me right now.

Something good came out of the Karen Cahill mess, I


Helping Hands - 5




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