Friday, October 10, 2014

She is so easy

“She is so easy,” she says to her girlfriends. “I could ruin her in ten seconds.” They laugh, the redhead shaking her curls as she says again, “Seriously, I could ruin her with one comment.” Her plump lips accentuate each word, her tongue flicks against her teeth. I imagine spit flying at her friends who lean in close across their coffee cups.

Easy. Easy to ruin? 

The redhead talks faster and louder. The brunettes and blonde try squeezing in-between her waterfall of words. They sound like a DJ scratching, all stops and starts, their chins jerk forward and back, as if vinyl beneath fingertips. I try to use my magical powers to freeze them but I can’t concentrate, their babble bumbles my focus. I can't even slow down time at their table, my magic fizzles and burns out. 

I can see more than a hint of the redhead’s red bra from the deep dip in her black sweater, the V plunging to perfect plump cleavage. The bra clashes with her hair, I think. And not in a Molly Ringwald ‘Pretty in Pink’ interesting way but a trashy-clashy way. Yeah, she looks trashy. But not because of the cleavage, because of the clash. And because she is insanely loud. And her friends are eager and slobbering. And she wants to ruin someone.

As I'm leaving, I pull out my cell phone and pretend to call Cora. When I reach their table I say directly, “Yeah, she’s loud and bitchy and her idiot friends…”

The table goes silent as I pass, and then I’m out the door. 
But instead of triumph, I am stunned. 
My magic is back, my blackest of all.





Thursday, June 05, 2014

in the dentist's chair

...some days you find yourself in the dentist's chair weeping. because obviously, you've only been flossing sporadically and the kind but stern hygienist kindly/sternly looks at your chart and says, how has it been _______ since your last cleaning, how is that possible? she is displaying x-rays of your devastating oral history, ticking off concerns, foremost the condition of your gums. it may be painful, we may need topical anesthesia, she says. and by we, she means you, you who sit shameful as a child who put a bean up her nose. on purpose.

as the hygienist assembles her tray of pointy tools you ask, is it still okay to wear headphones? i brought headphones, do people still get to wear headphones?? oh yes, she says, people do anything to block out the sound of the scraping.

so you hastily plug in, fearing she will change her mind and punish you, saying, no, not you, you get to listen to what you've done, maybe then you won't be so willy-nilly with the teeth god gave you.

you hit shuffle and crank up the volume as the chair reclines, you lay back and open your mouth obediently. her rubber gloved fingers pull at your lips and the metal instruments clack against your teeth until the nauseating scraping begins. you crank it higher.

then the next song starts and it's that eric clapton song, the one your brother played that christmas the whole family was home for the first time in forever, and you remember why it's been_______ since your last cleaning. you remember when everything usual, including bills and laundry and leaving the house and your very own teeth, got lost between the chore of waking up and getting to sleep.

you wince at the memory and the hygienist notices. she says, oh sweetie, i know it hurts, and you think she is offering a half smile, behind her purple paper mask, which just makes you nod and nod, unable to answer, while her fingers and tools are still working away. you cry as easily as your gums bleed...





Tuesday, April 01, 2014

almond roca

...you think you know someone, you think after nearly twenty-three years together not much can surprise you, you think, if you went on the newlywed game there's nothing that would stump you (of course you're not newlyweds but still), if there was a quiz on the major issues, minor preferences, fabulous strengths (like knowing the proper names of all the types of trees and birds and weird berries you're not supposed to eat in the wilderness), the annoying idiosyncrasies (like eating a meal in parts, all the salad, then all the pasta, then all the green beans, rarely letting the food groups touch) and the wacky tidbits of sharing five different homes in three different states, through sickness and health and every car crash, prize won, bug smashed, bill paid, you'd come up aces and win the new kitchenette, but then you're standing in line at gelson's buying the usual stuff and you pick up a three pack of Almond Roca and he says he's never heard of it, let alone tasted it, and your mind is blown, your reality cracked right down the middle (a la The Truman Show or Total Recall), so you immediately buy that pink package of Almond Roca, all the while saying, remember it came in a canister? remember the foil wrapper? remember it's rolled in nuts with a toffee middle? and he doesn't and you think, who is this guy? you've barely paid for the candy and you're ripping into the foil as you exit through the sliding doors, you're shoving it in his mouth before reaching the car, and he says, absolutely i've never had this before, but it's good, to which you say, like or love? and he pauses and replies, love, to which you say, are you lying, to which he says, Scout's Honor, and makes the sign, three fingers pointing an oath toward the heavens, and that reminds you who this guy really is, so you don't make him eat another piece just to prove he loves it, because then there'll still be two left for you...






Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Inside out

A man sits biting his nails, his thin linen shirt pulled on inside out, tags showing. His heavy white tube socks are stuffed into worn beige loafers, loafers with tassels. He is probably late thirties. A gold chain rests against dark chest hair and it seems he has put some thought into his attire.

I should tell him that his shirt is on inside out. I would want to know, if I were him. But I would want to know from someone else, not a stranger at the coffee shop, not some girl. I’d want to know when I get to the office, from Buffy or Kelly or Alex. My office, my regulars, the handful of people I call by any number of nick-names, who remember my birthday and know my moods.

Does this guy have that kind of office? Do people know him by his first name? Or will he see, when he gets home that he has gone through the entire day inside out.

He has a gold ring on his wedding finger and I imagine him, after a long hard day at the office (possibly after butting heads with the boss) feeling proud that he stood his ground (in his tasseled beige loafers). I see him walk through his front door. Maybe his wife is already home from her job and has changed into jeans and, hearing the front door, comes to greet him and sees what I see. Will she tell him? Or will she wonder why none of the guys at the office pointed it out saying, “Hey buddy, what's up?” in that joking way, or teasingly prod him about being hung over or getting a lil some before work. Or does she already know the guys at the office don't ask him out for a beer (or ask him anything at all for that matter)? Does she already know that he forgets things, a lot of things, like the kids’ school meetings and his medications, that he can hardly get out of bed some mornings because of…

Will she shower him with kisses, caress him to distraction, and pull that thin linen shirt up and over his head, tossing it aside to be thrown in the wash later? Or will she criticize him for being clueless, again, such a fool, always. Or will she notice him at all?

I step across the aisle and touch his arm. I try to whisper and still be heard. He turns red, first on the bridge of his nose, then down the sides of his neck. He smiles weakly, averts his eyes and scoots away from me so his tag is concealed. His mind is backtracking furiously, he’s asking “How did I do this?” I say (too loudly), “That's totally something I’d do!” and I say, “Ha ha ha!” and I say, “It's so early!” and stand there smiling, nodding my head.

He wants me to go away, desperately. So I do. But on his way out, he leans over swiftly and says, “Thanks, I might not have noticed for a while.”  And I say (again, too loudly), “Oh, that's totally me. I’d get home and say, 'Why didn't anyone tell me?!’ I’d say,'Ha ha ha!'"


He leaves and I return to my page and write about him. I write until I need to leave for work, until I gather my purse, my laptop, my charger, my bottle of water, and slide out of my seat. Someone’s holding the door so I hurry. But then I drop my water and it rolls. I scramble to retrieve it but my bags swing and my feet tangle and I lose my balance. People watch but no one moves. The bottle keeps rolling and the door swings shut. I slump down, right there on the coffee shop floor, and think to myself, “How did I do this?”