Disclaimer: Remember WENN and its characters are copyright Rupert Holmes, Howard Meltzer, and AMC. No copyright infringement is intended
Maple LaMarsh walked into radio station WENN with a sigh. Itís just another day, just another normal day, she thought.
It wasnít, and she knew it, but didnít want to think about it. Today was her birthday, and this would be the fourth time that she would be turning 29.
"Good Morning, Maple," said Gertie. "Here are your scripts."
Gertie looked the younger woman over. At first appearance, Maple might seemlike a woman that shouldnít receive any respect, but the people who knew her knew that Maple was really a kind, sweet girl that didnít always have it easy in life. Gertie was secretly very proud of what Maple had accomplished, from being a dancer at the Crimson Follies, to a respected radio actress by her listeners. Gertie began to worry that something was terribly wrong, because she didnít seem to be her happy self this morning.
"Is something wrong, Maple?" asked Gertie.
Maple pasted on a smile, knowing that Gertie might say something to Betty or Scott. She knew that Scott might try to find out if something was wrong, since they had been best friends for a long time.
"Nah," Maple said, as brightly as she could. "Just a late night and an early morning."
Gertie smiled as she left to go do Bedside Manner, but was not thoroughly convinced that Maple was her usual cheery self yet.
Maple walked into the studio, relieved that no one was in there yet. The smile left her face, and she looked down at the floor.
"Oh, why does my birthday have to come?" she asked out loud, not realizing that there indeed was someone in the room.
"Today is your birthday?" asked a manís voice.
Maple jumped when she heard the voice and looked to see C.J. a few feet away from her.
"I didnít mean to startle you," he said. "Happy Birthday."
"Oh, thanks," she said with a small smile, looking down at the floor.
"You donít look very happy about it though," C.J. remarked.
"Who? Me?" she said, with a laugh that was as fake as Clark Gableís faithfulness to his wife. "Of course Iím glad! Iím thrilled. I'm..."
She couldnít lie to him. He was too nice a Joe to be lied to.
"...Lying," she finished with a downcast look.
"Whatís wrong with having a birthday?" C.J. asked. Then something dawned on him. "Do you not want the staff to make a big deal about it because you know that they would probably want to give you a party?"
"No, itís nothing like that. Besides, even if it was, do you actually think I would want to take away any attention from Miss Booth? She already thinks Iím after Jeff, and I donít feel like going eighteen rounds with her today," Maple said.
C.J. laughed at this. "So, then, what is it?"
Maple looked up at him. "C.J, when a girl has a birthday and ainít married yet, well, we stop counting up and just stay where were at until we do get hitched."
C.J. wasnít quite sure what she was saying, but had a vague idea. "That may be true, but where I come from birthdays are celebrated with family and friends."
"You know me, C.J. Iím sure I can find some guy tonight that wants to wish me a Happy Birthday," she said, patting her hair.
C.J. couldnít deny that to be true. Maple finding a date was as easy as Cary Grant finding a date. Still, he didnít want Maple to spend her birthday alone if she couldnít find a date.
"Listen, Maple," he said uncomfortably. When it came to women, he was all nerves. "I know that Iím not the best looking guy around, but I was wondering if maybe youíd let me take you out tonight," he finished rather slowly as he looked up at her.
"Ah, C.J., you donít gotta do that," Maple said.
"But Iíd really like to. I know this great place that serves the best spaghetti this side of Italy," he said, hopefulness creeping into his eyes.
Maple opened her mouth to turn him down, but couldnít. He looked like he really wanted to take her out, not just because it was her birthday, or because he thought that she was Ďthat kind of girl,í but sincerely wanted her company.
"All right," she said with a smile. She was actually looking forward to this.
C.J.ís face lit up like the Fourth of July, but his expression was mixed with shock.
"You...you will?" Still not quite believing this.
"Great! Eight oí clock OK? You are done with your shows, and Iím sure that I could persuade Betty to take over the control board."
She nodded as the cast of Bedside Manner filed in.
"Well, I see that Mable is going to be very agreeable in all decisions that she will make today," said Hilary.
"Iím sure Jeff wouldnít mind you being more agreeable towards him once in a while, Hildy."
Hilary gave her a look that would send fear into King Kong. Jeff hid a small smile. He thought he should say something before Maple was killed.
"Trust me, Maple," said Jeff as he stood behind Hilary and put his arms around her. "Hilary can be very agreeable when she is in a good mood."
"And that would be..." Maple said with a shrug of her shoulders.
"Five seconds," announced Mackie as Eugenia started playing the showís theme song, glad that the show would start before Hilary could hurt Maple.
C.J. was right. This was the best spaghetti that she had ever tasted. The atmosphere was very nice too. Their were candles on the table that made the place seem romantic, but still gave the feeling that two friends could sit and have a nice conversation without the feeling they had to be romantic. There was a band in the corner that played mostly big band and jazz numbers. Maple was really enjoying herself and was glad that C.J. had asked her. Maple watched the people dance. C.J. saw her looking at the dance floor, got up, and extended his hand.
"Shall we dance?" he asked. "Iím not the best at this, but Iíd be willing to learn."
"I would be honored," she said with a big smile.
They walked out onto the dance floor. He was happy that the band started playing 'Night and Day,' a slow number. This, he could do. He was glad that his younger sister dragged him to her dance lesson at the Fred Astaire dance school the day that they were learning how to dance with partners to slower songs. It must have showed on his face that he was grateful, because Maple started to laugh.
"What?" he asked.
"You seem relieved that the music changed to slow," she said.
"I can do a better waltz then Charleston," he said with a smile.
"I can see that," she said, surprised that he did turn out to be such a good dancer. Some people had actually stopped to watch them dance.
"Exactly how many times have you seen 'The Gay Divorceeí?" asked Maple as he whirled her around the dance floor.
"Are you comparing me to Fred Astaire, Ginger?" he said with a teasing smile. "Only six times, to answer your question."
She laughed as the song ended and C.J. put her into a dramatic dip. The people that were watching clapped, and they took a bow.
"This has been the best evening I ever had. Thanks, C.J," she said.
"Why, if it ainít Maple LaMarsh," a new voice chimed in. Maple turned to see who it was and was horrified who she saw.
"Andy Wilson," she whispered.
He was a regular at the Crimson Follies when she had worked there. He had been through every girl there except for her. He wasnít too happy that he couldnít claim her as one of his prize trophies.
"Can I help you with something?" asked C.J. Andy was twice his size, and C.J.wasnít a person that could ever be known for winning a fight.
"I was just wondering what a dame like Maple was doing in a classy joint like this. Oh, thatís right! Youíre too good for the Follies now. You work at that two-bit radio station, and date guys that donít even know how to make a move on a broad," said Andy, looking C.J. up and down. C.J. still had his arm around Mapleís waist, and pulled her a little closer to him.
"I can see that you can still dance, though,Ē Andy said grabbing onto Mapleís arm and pulling her to the floor.
"Leave her alone," said C.J. quietly, but with anger in his voice as he took her other hand.
"I just want to dance with the LADY, as you people like to believe she is," Andy said, pushing Maple aside. Maple couldnít help but feel worried. She had seen Andy fight before and knew what he could do to C.J.
"She is a lady, with class, and is to good for a guy like you," C.J. said.
"Ooohhh, defending the lady. Well, listen here, I know this lady, and I know that she is really just a two-cent tramp that only knows how to show men a good time," said Andy. As he closed his statement he punched C.J. in the jaw. Maple was about to go over to him when a fire lit inside of him, and he hit Andy first in the stomach. As he bent over, C.J. was able to hit him square in the eye. Andy fell to the ground, and was out cold.
"Donít you ever say that about Maple, or come near her again!" said C.J, anger in his eyes.
"C.J.!" said Maple. "Are you all right?"
"Iíll be fine," said C.J. quietly. As he sat down, shaking his hand, the waiter brought over some ice. C.J. hated fighting, especially in front of women.
"You have a bad cut on your lip. Let me clean it up."
Maple worked on C.J.ís lip as he rested his hand in the ice. He didnít know what to say to her, and she didnít know what to say to him. Andy was coming to, and the waiterís picked him up and helped him to the exit. When C.J.ís lip stopped bleeding, he paid the bill and walked Maple back to her place. He offered his arm when they left the restaurant, and were both silent during the entire walk.
"C.J," asked Maple when they finally reached her place. "Did you mean what you said about me being a lady and everything?"
He nodded his head. "Maple, you may appear to be brash, and not everyoneís definition of what a real lady is, but underneath you have a good, kind heart, and care a lot about your friends. That is what a real lady is, a woman that cares and is always their when someone needs her. I never believed that you were one of Ďthose type of girlsí, and so what if you used to be? I know the Maple of right now, and she is as real of a lady as Eleanor Roosevelt."
Maple smiled, and couldnít help but feel a little choked up. A tear ran down her cheek. C.J. wiped it away and smiled at her.
"Thatís the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. Mobody as ever called me a lady before. Thank you for tonight. Iíll never forget it," Maple choked out, afraid that more tears may come.
"Maybe we could do it again sometime," C.J. said. "I promise, no fighting," he added quickly.
Maple laughed. "That would be great." Suddenly, a worry hit her. "Are you going to be all right? You took a pretty hard hit. Would you like to come in for more ice?"
Thank you. It's fine, and I have some ointment that I can put on it when I get home," he said.
"Well, if you need anything, just let me know, and Iíll be there faster than you can say WENN."
He nodded with a smile. "Believe me, if I need anything, you will be the first to know."
"Thank you again, C.J." She kissed him on the cheek and ran up the steps ofher apartment building.
"Anytime, Maple, anytime," he said as he watched go into the building.
He walked down the street, whistling the tune of 'Night and Day' all the way home.
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