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Rosie Delarue

I had been out of the country on my overseas assignment (in the boonies) for the past several years. The Glass and Metal Newspaper for whom I worked, breaks in new reporters in this way. So not surprisingly I am not very up to date on the local scene in this local time.
After a brief holiday to catch my breath, my editor gave me a chance at my first Canadian story. He was sending me, he said, to interview an unusual woman, known simply and universally as “Rosie.” My editor elaborated, “I’m not going to tell you anything about her. I don’t want you to do any research before hand. I want your story to come from a fresh mind. Just be at her door Friday at 10:00 AM. Here’s the address. It’s all arranged. I’ll leave the rest up to you.” It all sounded pretty mysterious.
Now I hadn’t got many citified clothes, so I chose carefully from my limited wardrobe: my orange shirt, the nearly new blue jeans, almost white sneakers, and of course, my good-luck NYY ball cap. It was too warm for a jacket. I drove to her place for the appointment. It was a pleasant but modest house in an upscale neighbourhood.
I really didn’t know what to expect, so rather ill-briefed, I rang the bell and waited. Wow! I must say I was impressed from the moment she opened the door. Medium height with flaming red hair à bouffant; blond complexion as you would expect with red hair; a truly radiant open smile, cradled in a very attractive face; a beautiful but understated dark green suit with stylish green shoes. I stood tongue-tied in admiration. If I had had another fifteen or twenty years on me I would have put this woman at the top of my list—on first site. I introduced myself. She beckoned me and I walked in behind her. In her living room, she ushered me to a seat and sat down near me. In deference to being in a stranger’s house, I doffed my cap and put it on the floor beside me. I assumed my mission had already been explained to her, so we shortened the small talk, and soon got down to business.
“Do you mind if I tape this interview?” I asked.
“Be my guest,” she said graciously. I pushed the record button and set the little machine on a table near us. I started off by asking her to tell me her personal history.
“My name is Rosie Delarue… I know what you are thinking but I am NOT a prostitute.” This unexpected disclaimer, shocked me to attention. An unusual woman indeed. “I want you to know I have NEVER taken money for sex. I don’t have men lined up at my door. I take my men in sequence—one at a time.
“You may think that sounds promiscuous but it really isn’t. It’s just the way my particular calling works. I’m just 40, single, and as YOU just demonstrated,” she smiled, “reasonably attractive in both face and figure. I dress well but not provocatively. I need to make a good first impression in my line of work. I also am a woman of means. Fortune has left me with more of a fortune than I could ever spend. My needs, even my wants are modest. All this has allowed me, over those 40 years, to hone some very interesting and unique skills. I am a lady of the world. I know what’s going on. I know how to get in with people that count. I know right from wrong, right from left, and up from down—all useful areas of knowledge. These are my strengths. So if the world is going to be a tiny bit better because of my passing through then it is because of these attributes.” I nodded as if I understood but really was completely mystified.
“I come from a bilingual family—a factor that makes me very conscious of my last name. I know how it can be construed—in French. But would you believe it? it was my father’s surname and he was Irish. It was my mother who was French. So I guess it must be alright in English—my last name that is.”
I chuckled, more to put myself at ease than her. “I confess I was a bit hung up by your name. Thanks for the clarification. But let me take you back to those strengths that you mentioned. What do you do? How do you employ them? For what purpose?”
“You are wondering how I can use such amorphous strengths to better the world? Let me tell you. There are a lot of young people these days who have not evolved to greatness but have had greatness thrust upon them—suddenly. Some of them are of the ‘.com’ generation, who rode a winner and became billionaires. Some others are students who magnanimously allowed their names to stand upon a ballot, and who unexpectedly are now representing their ridings in the House of Commons. Then there are men in business on the fast track. People like that who are suddenly out of their depth. They need help. That’s my mission.”
“You’ve narrowed your parameters but that’s still a big target for one woman,” I observed.
“Yes, it’s large. I realize that these groups include both males and females. However, I have decided to concentrate on the males and as a further division, young males say under 30. I think I am most suited to deal with them. Besides I like men more than women. Also they need my help more than the females. And I’m not trying to serve a whole field. If I can work a small miracle with ONE person, I have done something important. Simple as that. That cuts the field way down.”
“How do you isolate the one right individual?” I asked, still totally at a loss.
“Now I don’t advertise my services. I get more leads than I need just through reading, watching the news, talking to friends. When I have picked out a promising potential we do our research. First school records, like year books or class news papers. It’s more difficult to get confidential information like marks and standings, but sometimes we are lucky even there. Then job performance which we may get by media stories or even connections that I might have. We learn everything we can and we’re very experienced in sources of information. Eventually we set out a tentative programme…”
“You said ‘we’. Have you got a staff?”
She seemed a little annoyed by my interruption. “I use a couple of students—but that’s a digression. The programme addresses such questions as: what does this subject need in the way of Education, Polish and Exposure, in order to become the success that he is capable of? Maybe exposure to the arts—you know visits to art gallery, attending performances (symphony, ballet, opera, theatre, stage, etc.), lectures on world events, lessons on human behaviour, conversations with knowledgeable older people who don’t mind sharing their extensive experiences, even some coaching on social and table manners, things like that.”
I interrupted her. She needed a rest—or maybe I did. “I’m getting a picture but it is still quite foggy. So how do you make a deal with your chosen subject, as you call him.”
“Oh there is no contract. We never discuss that aspect. In short, I make some arrangement to meet him, maybe we have drink or even dinner, we talk, he questions me, I respond but leave him guessing, he gets interested in me personally. When I know I have captured his curiosity, we exchange business cards and then he departs. I leave the next move up to him. I don’t want to appear too aggressive. But I’m almost positive he’ll phone. Very few have let me down on that.
“So he phones or emails me or something. Sometimes he says that he would like to pursue our former conversation. Often he asks me out for a date. I don’t think that at this stage he ever thinks of an Education, Polish and Exposure programme for him. He just thinks I am interesting and he enjoys our conversations…”
“And then?” I prod.
“And then?… There is no set agenda. we just continue meeting. I get to know the needs of this young man better than he himself. I adjust our programme accordingly. Somewhere along the line I have a deep discussion with him about his own future—perhaps forcing him to think of things he has never considered before. I can’t do this until he has learned to have complete confidence in me.”
“And what do you hope is the eventual outcome of this, er, this…programme?”
“I sincerely hope that he will be better able to cope with and contribute significantly to the community of which he is a part.”
I considered the picture she was painting. It seemed too idealistic to be practical. “And you don’t charge for this service?”
“Good heavens, no. Neither he nor I consider it a ‘service’ as you put it. It’s just an unusual friendship—unusual and hopefully helpful. Sort of social mentoring only not as formal.”
“So to put it crassly, what’s in it for you? No money, you say?”
“No money. Perhaps he pays for the odd dinner or something but I take care of most of that.”
“Sex? Or is that too personal a question?”
“I’ve got no secrets. Frankly I’m not big on the sex angle. It seems to me such a waste of time, when we’re trying to develop his Education, Polish and Exposure. In any case, not to excess.”
“What would you consider ‘excess?’”
“Well I don’t want him to fall in love with me. I think that would defeat the purpose. I’m not going to be the one who stands beside him when he runs for Prime Minister. I want to prepare him for a younger, loving, supporting wife. So I like to keep our relationship an arm’s length transaction; it’s just that sometimes those arms get quite short. After all we are both human beings and we are not always successful.”
Eventually I concluded the interview rather than she. She gave me her business card: LIFE LINE; Rosie Delarue, plus her phone number and email. I had an awful lot to digest before I could hone this into an 2,000 word article. I just had to get away to think and organize. I couldn’t do that in a prolonged interview, she was just too overwhelming. I picked up my ball cap and left.
I spent the next week going over the tape time and time again and making notes, trying to get a better feel of this unique but strangely attractive woman who must be nearly twice my age. Was she simply as she proclaimed, an angel anxious to help, or was she the spider in the middle of her web, just waiting for the next victim? I really didn’t know but I found myself developing a fatal attraction to her.
I asked my editor for more time and he was surprisingly sympathetic. (Editor’s are noted for exhuming and water-boarding young reporters who miss deadlines and who claim death as an excuse.) I should have been suspicious, but his latitude gave me another few days to mull over my assignment. Still it just wouldn’t work. It wouldn’t jell. I couldn’t make her seem like a real person. I just needed more information and more inspiration. Frankly I needed to see her again. I phoned her up.
She answered in her mellow but cheerful voice. “Hello.”
My heart skipped a beat. “Rosie! It’s me. Lincoln McCluster. You know the cub reporter you granted an interview to a week or so ago?”
“Of course, Linc!” My heart jumped again when she used my favourite nickname.
I continued. “I’m working on this article and I’m having the devil of a time. You’re much too complex to capture in 2,000 words. Could we have another go at it? I’d know a quiet little dining spot. I’d love to take you to dinner. Could you possibly make this Friday?”
“I’d be delighted. What time?”
“Supposing I pick you up at seven?”
“It’s a date… And Linc?”
“Yes.”
“As I told you, I knew you would phone.”
A sledge hammer hit me on the head! The cogs in my brain meshed together. “You mean?…”
She laughed. “Yes, Linc. You’re IT! Welcome to the club. Number 16.”
I made a few inarticulate noises.
“And Linc,” she continued, “when you pick me up for dinner, bring your Yankee ball cap.”
I was flattered that she liked what I had been wearing. “You liked that cap?”
She paused… “We need to burn it!”

8 Responses to “Rosie Delarue”

  1. Jack Long says:

    Thanks for another delightful story.
    Are they getting better and better or am I just getting more appreciative.

  2. Lawrie Pollard says:

    I definitely do not posess your skill with words, so I must say I am impressed with your superb articulation. In my opinion,which might not count for much, you have a great skill in telling an entertaining and fascinating story in a very few words. Keep it up! Many thanks from an old, but just slightly younger friend than you. May God bless you.

  3. Rose says:

    Hi Lyman,

    I can’t help but imagine you as you come up with these great story lines. I see that smile that is loaded and you always make me smile. Another very entertaining story that makes your reader want more. Is this the last post for the summer? Wishing you a wonderful sun filled summer with family and those you love. Looking forward to September’s story.

    Keep well, healthy and happy and please keep writing.

    All the best,

    Rose

  4. Silvana Ness says:

    Dear Lyman,

    What an intriguing web you weave!

    It surely requires a follow-up.

    Pity we’ll have to wait until September, but here’s wishing you to recharge your batteries and have a great time throughout the Summer.

    God bless.

    Silvana

  5. David Giles says:

    Lyman, Great story. That last line. “We need to burn it”. So appropriate, tied the whole piece together and made me laugh out loud.

  6. Lyman…I must ask: “Where do you get your background for all these fascinating characters?” I can only say:”Hmmm !” Fun read, as always. (Is ‘Rosie’ basd on someone we ALL know ?” I wonder. ) Charles

  7. Victoria Henderson says:

    Well, definitely there’s a slice of Rosie that’s based on Mum, and Linc would be Lyman. But fiction exaggerates reality; even in your callow youth, Dad, I don’t think you EVER wore a ball cap.

  8. John Crossley says:

    That’s a beauty. Definitely requires part two. I can just visulize her as the door opens. Keep it up.

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