A stoop is a stoop to rest your new chunky heels, even when no one cares to notice them. Even when the restaurant it belonged to (where you both enjoyed lambics and lobster once) is papered in the windows. Even when its cement is pockmarked and narrow and familiar, but you’re sans a warm Hurricane on a warmer summer night. Even when you tip your feet to the crescent moon like a bored child, not because they hurt (for the first time) but because you wish to slouch, to recoil yourself invisible in the black and amber lamplight from the group of gentrifiers sashaying the crosswalk in clean clothes cut from caddyshack daddies and Main Line mommies.
A backseat is a backseat to rest your new beaded necklace and beaded back sweat, even when you know the Uber driver won’t abduct you and your textured forehead, even though you’re now skinny, just in time for the end of hot girl summer. Even when no pleasantries (the ones you used to hate) are exchanged, and you take it personally. Even when he pulls over too early, and you object, and he reminds you, “The street is closed.” Even when the corner of 15th and Sansom is stagnant sewer steam and sad sidewalk day drunks turned to night drunks.
A bar stool is a bar stool to rest your new corduroy skirt, even when it reeks of urine. Even though they replaced the women’s toilet with something tacky and pearly and plasticky, but your thighs were anticipating “the usual” stained, but sturdy ceramic. Even when you forget “the usual” drink order (yours, or his.) Even when you order one more of this new usual, and you know the guy next to you won’t drop something in your drink, but you and your aging hand cover it anyway. Even when your friend doesn’t show and you have work in the morning – work you’re not prepared for – and you forget how to commute, which buses to which subway cars to which new overpriced lunchfare, now that “the usual” is gone.
A front porch is a front porch, even when a cat chose to lay down and die on it this afternoon, its mouth agape, teeth gnarled, tabby fur flattened, fooling the family into thinking it was the family cat. Even when after the panic, it was a false alarm: “It’s just the stray, everyone!” Even though it did look eerily similar, but different, an unshakable alternate reality where it just wanted to rest its newly old head somewhere it could call home.
They weren’t the first words I spoke to Stephen, but they were the first marinated in mustering up the courage to ask him out and bump uglies already. We were seated in the back of Mr. Duffy’s classroom, me having just royally failed my senior AP History midterm, due largely in part to already being accepted into art school and also because I was distracted by my first real, bawling-in-my-car-outside-Kenny’s-house teenage breakup. I had turned 180 in my seat to face him and breathily proposition an afternoon date: You. Me. Voracious ripping of meat from bone. Red hot smacking of lips. Guys like girls who can eat, I read in a Cosmopolitan once and had inferred from those “didn’t age well” mid-2000’s burger & beer commercials starring chesty bottle blondes and a firehose, inexplicably.
“That was the fun of the unknown, after all, the anticipatory ‘What if?'”
The name of the store was “Possibilities,” which I frequented with my friend at the time, Kara, the only Pisces in my life I’ve ever befriended. It sat next to a therapist’s office right off Pittston Avenue in Scranton, a therapist I visited only once at my mother’s urging after my parents divorced, but that’s not what this is about (although the timing of traumatic childhood event and thinking I was a witch pairs nicely, like spicy red wine and a good cut of meat.)
A True Story of Culture Shock, False Promises and That Time I (Almost) had a Sugar Daddy
“You have a nice figure, Gringa. But you could still get a little more meat on your bones.”
That’s what Jim matter-of-factly suggested to me, right after gesturing his big, expensive gold watch in front of my face towards the passenger seat where I clutched my cell phone with a sweaty palm and frowned down at said bones, the knobby knees and bony thighs I had since childhood. He was shaking his head, craning to leer at the petite females we could see through my window, blonde ponytails swinging as they jogged Kelly Drive, headphones in, oblivious to his judging stares. “Why do white girls like to work out so much? You see so many of these pretty little things running and it’s like girl, you don’t even have an ass, why you tryin’ to get rid of the fat you don’t even have? I don’t like that. I like girls with curves.” Then that chuckle of his – that infantile giggle like he just got away with doing something he shouldn’t have – followed by an emission of cigar breath. I didn’t agree nor refute. I sat there silent and dumb, as I always did and always would in his presence, only this time I had the unwelcome thought that I really should have learned how to jump out of a moving vehicle if it ever came to that. It didn’t, but the reminder tingled at the base of my skull as I checked my phone for the tenth time that minute.