“Well,” said Maury, “it was all a bit sketchy.”
“Seedy, you mean? Unpleasant?” I said. Maury was telling me about his blind date of the night before.
“No, it’s just that we hadn’t made very detailed plans. I suppose I was a touch skittish. So we had no clear picture of where to go.”
“Where did you meet up with her?”
“At a coffee shop in the west end. I wasn’t sure what to expect – the description of her was rather sketchy.”
“I’m going to assume you don’t mean disreputable.”
“Correct. Our mutual friend said she looked vaguely like Christina Ricci. But she had said she would have a Gucci bag and a crutch, so she was easy to spot.”
“She said she’s a soccer coach, and caught a kick in the shin. But this also meant we chose somewhere not too far to walk. Neither of us had been to the place, but it looked fetching, in a sketchy way.”
“I don’t usually eat at sketchy places…”
“No,” Maury said, “I meant the décor. It was a touch kitschy, but the walls were covered in sketches and etchings of bocce players.”
“Italian food, then?”
“That’s what the menu said. Well, the details were sketchy, but, then, so, as it turned out, was the food.”
“Your food was lacking in definition?”
“No, it was dodgy. Wretched, in fact. They called it chicken cacciatore, but what came out of their kitchen was scorched and botched and drenched with ketchup.”
“She found a good excuse for ditching the joint. She said her leg under the cast was getting itchy and she wanted to go home and do some tai chi to make it feel better. I was invited to join her, or anyway to sip a Scotch and watch.”
“Um,” I said. “That almost sounds sketchy.”
“It was an acceptable proposition in a clutch. I was a bit surprised that she lived nearby.”
“Well, the neighbourhood is rather sketchy in my mind.”
“Huh. Usually you look things up and get to know the details…”
“No,” Maury said, “I mean that to my knowledge it’s a seedy area. At every corner there was a clutch of sketchy characters. But her place was nonetheless quite nice, not dicey at all.”
“So how did it go from there?”
“She marched me into her kitchen and poured me a Scotch, then dropped the crutch. As I reached for it, she made a switcheroo.”
“No – with a quick rip, she undid the stretchy velcro on the cast and fetched me a swift kick in the tush. Not brutish, just a little wicked. And shouted ‘Gotcha!’”
“It turns out she’s a bit of a joker – a kittenish character. And she uses the cast on blind dates to have some control over the situation. If it gets touchy, she can just back out. Or if she wants it to get touchy, she can do what in fact she did.”
“So how was the rest?”
“Sketchy, I’m afraid.”
“No, sorry, I just mean that I had too much Scotch and I can’t put together a complete picture. I believe I had fun. There was some opera involved. A CD of Gianni Schicchi, if my recollection is accurate. Rather catchy, as a matter of fact.” He sang a snatch of a well-known aria: “O mio babbino caro…” He coughed.
“You were singing along? Your voice sounds a little scratchy.”
“It has been scotched.”
“You are looking a little under the weather, actually. Just a bit, ah…”
Maury nodded and rubbed his head. “…Sketchy, yes.”
For those who don’t know Italian: Schicchi is pronounced /skikki/.
Whenever I see a “-2” in the URL for a post, I suspect that you’ve re-tasted a word. I hope it tasted as good the second time.
I liked the hint (more than a hint) of Abbott and Costello that this evoked.
Quite right. I had the thought to taste this word, and then I looked to see if I had done it before. I had, but the previous one was rather brief – sketchy, as it were – so I decided to go ahead with this one anyway, especially since this one is a story and the other is not.
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