Irene Varga had a nice house — one can say a small mansion. Her antichambre was almost as big as some Manhattan apartments. She had a Great Dane that roamed around the house freely. Irene had been a widow for almost 2 years and her life of unwavering redundancy had turned into one of semi-retirement. She still had her charities, but her husband, Horacio Pimentel, had made things easier when he was alive. She sold most of the estate and kept mostly to herself, but always making sure she had extravagant soirées, usually by the pool.
“I’ll need 10 cup holders.”
“From where? What’s wrong with the ones you have?”
Irene smiled. “You don’t know what a cup holder is, do you? It’s the latest craze among us older pool party gals. You see, we try and get the cutest cup holders. The cutest little girls, and sometimes boys, to hold our cups and glasses for us. ”
She had her personal cup holder. Her name was Anna. Irene told me she was 20. My mind went to child slavery laws. Irene summoned Anna to come and introduced her to me. Anna had been swimming and tanning in the deep part of the pool directly across from us. She was a somewhat meek girl, looking pleased for no reason and easy to satisfy. She stood facing us with her palms out. “That’s from her being a ball girl at the tennis tournament last year. It’s how they signal when they’re waiting for a request from the tennis player.” Irene gave her the glass she was drinking from and they walked to the kitchen. I was left to do my planning but noticed that Anna was only handing the glass to Irene when she wanted to sip from it. Irene would then hand it back. The one time Irene used the washroom, Anna stood still at the spot Irene had handed the glass to her. It was creepy. But the girl seemed untouched as much as she seemed unamused, like someone who did what she had to.
“Certainly this is a luxury,” Irene admitted.
“Apparently, there’s a cup holder registry. ”
“Well, I guess Donna was actually being entrepreneurial for once,” she responded, smiling.
“Why 10? Who gets them?”
“I thought I’d introduce them and then auction them for the night with the proceeds going to prostate cancer research. Horacio would like that. He would..” Irene’s chin started trembling, but she managed to compose herself. She sent Anna away and the latter was back at the deep side of the pool.
Irene got the courage to show me her new coffee table, a replica of the picture above. “The idea is the beauty of it, “she explained, “we don’t care about gender. Just about the beauty of it. The beauty of the art of being able to own yet not owning.I’d feel bad owning Anna. But I feel great paying her for it. And all I want in return is nothing. ”
“What do I ask of you Anna?”
“To hold your cup, Miss Irene,” she responded calmly, disappointing me with a Wisconsin accent. I’d been aiming for St. Petersburg.