By Rebecca L. Morrison
This time, I've got a dark-skinned cabbie whose tangy inflections roll like the steel drums I heard in the Caribbean fourteen years ago. His cracked and callused hands beat the steering wheel as though he fancies himself the renowned conductor of an orchestra that creates crackling urban radio waves. Within, I call him Bob Marley, and he called me "pretty young mamasita" as I slid across the back seat.
My gaze does not restrict itself to the rising fare. I am free to roam the hell out of this golden pasture.
I was pampered with feminine finery last time in what he insultingly dubbed my "Pretty Woman moment" (I am no goddamned hooker), and tonight I am decked to the nines with my tits pushed high, guns blazing and feet smarting from a pair of thousand dollar pumps that apparently run a half-size small. I sat on the floor of my sweaty studio apartment and painted these features with nonchalance. I stagnate between a trampoline and a concrete ceiling, and only through desperation do I remain deflated.
I slip him two twenties; he can keep the change. My friends have noticed that I'm tipping like an aristocrat this week, and I have absolutely arrived, all two decades of me. I am floating in-between yesterday's midterm and tomorrow's early class; I suspend my realities with the grandiose.
"Maybe I'll brim my bathtub with diamonds tomorrow. Maybe I'll wake up, and everything I touch will mythically turn to gold." Help! I'm wallowing in optimism again. Even when positioned on the pedestal he reserves for perfection, he's still got a foot of height on me.
I'm entering the Taj Mahal of out-of-the-way chain hotels. You couldn't pay him to stay in the city. You see, here he can strap a kayak to his truck overnight, and in the morning he's only lost a modicum of decency. The door to suite 505 swings open; my feet part with the lowly carpeting, and I am Cleopatra. I am a koala. I have strawberry-kiwi kisses for sale. I smell of "flowers and citrus, with a hint of the ocean", he says, and my back brushes a high Egyptian thread count.
It is the loneliest of blisses, you know, to be young and female, naive and dynamic, to have those moonlit baby blues and Marilyn's proportionate curvature. As those nights without Jack wore on, she'd invent a new man, one whose chest warmed the contours of her back in slumber, a man who gave her lazy Sundays and breakfasts in bed.
I am a material asset, comparable to thousands of acres of farmland or a vintage Rolex. I am the painted china doll his mother kept well-preserved in a glass collector's case. He is ardent and keen, but he is cautious; he is in fact a paranoid schizophrenic. The maid knows his secret, and he folds me away in the corner when she knocks with his spare bath towels. The concierge, he is eager to blow his cover with a well-placed phone call, and "Jack" is double-oh-seven as he whisks me through an alternate exit.
The still and dew of the April night have dusted his truck, and it is as yellow as my cotton sundress. And, with a kiss and a sealed envelope, I traipse the stairs to my filthy little flat, where the toilet overflows daily and my showers last 8 minutes when the world is kind. He tells me he'll house me somewhere nicer come August, a place with a garbage disposal, thicker walls, WiFi and a closet. I am charity without the tax deduction.
To the wives who married for money only to let themselves go, daytime television warned you about me. I look better in your diamonds.