fredag, august 18, 2006

A Little Black Dress

If you are having drunk reading this, you might be trouble.

Last week at the Sportman’s Pub, just prior to witnessing my first karaoke performances, I sat writing at the bar. A group moved to my end of the bar, god knows why, for now they had fewer seats to divide among them. They were loud, some of them quite drunk. Yet, they’d just arrived and, almost immediately, they went outside to smoke.

Only one member of their party remained: a young woman in a tight-fitting little black dress. It seemed like an awkward get up for her, like maybe she’d be happier in a t-shirt like everyone else she’d arrived with.

Her hair had been drawn back in something of a bun but by this point a number of wisps and strands had defected for freedom. She blinked lazily when she talked. It seemed she was trying to stay awake. The effort made her sigh.

I could feel that she was watching me write.

“It’s pretty,” she said. She added quickly, “I can’t read it, don’t worry.”

“No worries,” I said. She kept staring. I said, “I think it’s nearly illegible anyway, even to me.”

She took a confessional sip of her drink. “I don’t read cursive too well,” she said. “But it’s pretty, your writing. It has nice angles.”

“Thank you,” I said.

“I swear I’m not reading it.”

“It’s all right,” I told her. “I didn’t think you were.”

“I’m just waiting for my friends.”

I should analyze this exchange a bit more one day because it strikes me that this point is just about the exact point at which I decide to seek a larger conversation, just to see where it’s going to go, or totally shut the door. Often the eyes of a stranger clue you in to the choice you should make (though I suspect I nearly always choose the opposite answer, again just to see where it will take things—which has not always been a safe choice).

In this instance, though her eyes were swimming with drink that had rendered them as sweet and motive-less as a baby’s, I decided to follow, if only a bit longer.

“They’re out smoking?” I asked.

“I can’t breathe that anymore,” she said. She made one of those crinkled faces only drunks can make, as if a certain portion of our epidermis and musculature is activated only through the introduction of alcohol.

(Indeed, some of you are thinking: DUH, the hips.)

I smiled. I went back to writing.

“I wish I wrote better,” she said.

“Often I wish I did,” I said.

“But it’s pretty.”
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