*Sandra Lee

Years ago, I met a young lady on an Amtrak train while on my way from Portland to Seattle. At the time I lived in the Lower Queen Anne area of Seattle, managing an apartment building, but I worked in Portland. My week consisted of three days in Seattle managing apartments and four days in Portland working odd jobs, including bartending, being host of a burlesque show, and two nights sleeping in my 64 VW van as a guard for The Portland Saturday Market ( yup! I was usually stoned ).

Over a nine month period I commuted twice a week and became a well-known traveler on the train; the employees knew me by name. ( Yup! We got stoned in the back ). I always had one or more tickets on me, but most of the time they never got collected. One memorable trip was the day Mt. Saint Helen’s blew its top. People were leaving Portland by any means they could. ( It was a little ‘dusty’ in town .) On the train I would consistently by-pass the regular seating and go straight to the bar car. Playing cards for a buck and power drinking was the norm.  Somewhere around Chehalis, Washington, I looked across the car and there was Sandra, wiggling in her seat.  The folks she was sitting with were a ‘bit stiff’, and I could tell she wanted to sit at ‘the fun table’. I motioned to her to join us, and she immediately jumped up from her inside window seat, scurried across the top of her table, finally plopping down in my lap.  ( Hey! I guess she liked me ).

One thing you need to understand about Sandra is that she is not shy. We spent the remainder of the trip up to Seattle playing cards four handed. ( Imagine someone sitting in your lap and…well…you get the rest ). She was a very friendly girl. Time passed quickly, and Bam! we arrived at the Seattle station. There was never a question of what was going to happen next. A short cab ride to Queen Anne to pick up my motorcycle, and we sped off to her place on Capitol Hill ( no helmet law back then ).

We spent the next couple of days feeding ducks in the park and wandering around the city like star-crossed teenage lovers. We would spend most nights together at her apartment, but when I went back to mine I made sure to get up early enough to ride my bike beside her on the I-5 freeway southbound, as she drove to work at Boeing Field. The kisses we shared in the parking lot, before she showed the guard her pass and went inside the fence, were the best. Romance was all we thought about and people around us noticed.

On the top of Queen Anne Hill was a bar called Fort Courage. It was home to our favorite rock-n-roll band, called Jr. Cadillac. We would pop in from time to time, just to find out where ‘the boys’ were playing. One evening, as I was parking the car, Sandra ran ahead and jumped on the back of a ‘chopper’ that some dude had just started up. She slapped him on the head and said, “Hit it!” ( Remember the no helmet thing ). I arrived just in time to smile and wave as they roared off into the night. I went inside to order a small pitcher of beer thinking, “Does she know the guy? Is she coming back?  Hey, more beer for me.”  So I plugged the jukebox and had a smoke. I figured I was ahead of the game because I had her car keys. Lose a girlfriend, gain a VW Bug. Sweet!

After about 20 minutes Sandra did, of course, return. We found out the band was playing in the University District, at a bar called The Rainbow. So we fired up the ‘Bug’ and off we went. It seemed that everywhere we went it was like we were making a movie. We always made a statement with the way we danced. For example, after a particular ‘sexy’ slow dance, the band announced it needed a smoke break to collect themselves (think about it). Sandra was so naturally sexual that one night out, after making a trip to the men’s room, I return to find two guys sitting with her at the table. I told one of them he would have to leave, as he was sitting in front of my beer. The other dude didn’t bother me because he was across the table. Sandra found this all very amusing. ( Me: not so much! )

Sandra had lots of friends, and some of them were gay men. She called me up one time and said there was to be a ‘rockin’ Halloween party, and to meet her there. I show up to a room full of men, all dressed up for the occasion. The host walks up to welcome me, totally naked, except for a frying pan tied around his waist in the front. “Hi”, he says, “I’m Peter Pan.” I nodded, and began to feel quite uncomfortable, as Sandra wasn’t there at the time.  I’m sure she did this on purpose, judging by the grin on her face when she finally arrived, fashionably late.

Sandra didn’t have the looks of a super-model or someone who could stop traffic, but she did have a sensuality that was always turned up to ten. It could have been the short, flimsy dresses she wore, the lack of any underwear ( that’s top or bottom ), or the ability to touch her eyebrows with her tongue, who really knows. She received lots of attention everywhere we went, and she played it up big. Another big plus was that she had only two rules in the living-together department. Rule 1: Don’t ever use my bath-towel, and Rule 2: No matter how bad you have to ‘go’, never use the kitchen sink. Now, tinkling in the sink, or any other non-traditional place, had never occurred to me before. But I have to admit, I have been to a few parties since where it has crossed my mind. I mean really!  What have those four people been doing in ‘the can’ for the last 20 minutes?  Luckily, she didn’t have a rule about ‘pissing off the porch’. I know this for sure, because she was always telling me to go and do just that.

I eventually decided to stop commuting to Portland every week and just move there. Sandra had just been laid-off at Boeing, so she decided to come with me. I had talked her into buying a VW van, so we packed up and split. We rented a nice two bedroom duplex on the SE side and settled in. She went to work for an agency that was an advocate for Native Americans, and I started tending bar full-time. The combination of her day schedule and my night schedule was fatal. We rarely saw each other or did anything together. We drifted apart and finally split up. It became final when I came home early one evening to find a friend of mine in bed with her.  Oops!

I have only seen Sandra once since the split, and that was at my kid sister’s wedding. Also there in attendance was my current girlfriend and another ex-girlfriend. How do you spell awkward?  I spent most of my time running around outside playing tag with the kids. Oh! And getting really drunk. By the end of the reception I was down on all fours, giving ‘pony rides’ in my rented tux. ( Hey! My sister paid for it ). I found out later that all three of my girlfriends sat together and had quite the ‘chat’. I’ve been doomed ever since.

“Whoever warned us of the evils of demon rum, never mentioned the perils of champagne,” by a reformed champagne drinker.


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