There is something particularly sad about being in one’s twenties and not being a hedonist. She was surrounded by a mass of young, attractive humanity; the clubs page covered two sheets of the free paper, and the events pages two more. The clicking of spike heels and the smoothing on of heavy eyeliner and scented pomade, lipstick drawn like a curse, seemed everywhere. She had been to none of these places.
She was acting like her mother, only thirty years too soon: a life described by a lazy, comfortable ambit between work and kitchen and comfy chair next to bookcase, where she would curl up and read and read. A variation sent her into anxiety, a kind of controlled agoraphobia. She thought of herself as being completely normal, but what sort of normal person would ignore what the city had to offer?
She’d seen them, anyway: the crowds milling outside the theaters and dancehalls, the dealers of every drug imaginable on the corner, the sex clubs that catered to all persuasions. She imagined going to such a club, horny and nervous. What would the conversations be like? Would she be hit on, or just ignored? What would she say? Perhaps it would start normally:
“Hey, mind if I sit here?”
(her) “oh, go ahead.”
“You look pretty good, babe.”
“Just here to watch?”
In her mind’s eye she never got beyond that last part. She also wouldn’t know what to wear. She was no good at dressing up; where does one go to look fabulous? What does one wear to look conservatively sexy? Would it be acceptable to lie about herself with clothes?
The truth was she was more comfortable staying home than trying to answer these questions. She had been one of the beautiful people, once, but never among strangers.
But the whole routine was making her tired, was aging her. She wished desperately she could start over in life, only this time with a good makeup coach and a streak of exhibitionism. But where does one start to start over? She’d only be here once, but time seemed elusive and weekend after weekend passed by, a sorrow drowned with microwave popcorn and a growing stack of classics.
That changed one ordinary, cloudy Saturday, when she stumbled on the sidewalk and was caught in the rough hands of a passer-by.
* Also fiction.