I have short hair and under my strong brows, two honest Indian-bead eyes. My face is subtle, fretful, and quick. But my flesh is weak and my spirit uncertain and by now the legend written across my smile must evidently be “Tread on me.” The awful part of it is, I noticed even before he asked me how to get to thirty-fourth street that he was definitely not a type you go out with. He had the face of a star. Long pink lips with an extra bend or two. And a chin like the pry end of a hammer. “One gets so turned about in your subways,” he creaked melodiously. And milky eyes. An oven door opened, hot air gusted. Vogue began to blow, perfect hungry women were running across my lap and leaping the stile of my knees. I’d lost my place. He crooned with queer accent something: “Are you native here in New York?” Or it might have been: “Do you hate it here in New York?” The lights went out. God, what did one say? “You’re visiting the United States?” I am terribly high pitched, and witless in the dark. The lights went on. I was staring at his eyebrows. In them, sweat like misplaced tears.
I feast on Sunday, fast on Monday, perspire on Tuesday, desire all Wednesday, despair by Thursday, and prepare each Friday (hidden in the agency library where I consume iced coffee all day long) miracles of medical advertising copy— “pre-TENSE eliminates the past TENSE in TENSion. And leaves attention unimpaired.” Layout—photo cut of bewildered young woman; suggest ink drawing of ganglion across her face.
So I gave him my phone number. I am low-bred, open-hearted, and partial to foreigners.