Sunday, November 13, 2016
Electile Dysfunction (Based on Actual Events)
"Is this seat taken?" he asked, beer in one hand, styrofoam dish in the other.
"It's yours if you want it," she replied.
Thirty years or so his junior, she sat at the counter overlooking the tarmac in the Denver airport. A beer stood half full in front of her. She was dressed in a tight, deep diving camisole, a man-sized T-shirt with cut off collar and sleeves draped rakishly off to one side. She slid her stool over to make room.
The airport bar was a din of sports casters calling football games, actors looking sincere and sappy while pitching financial instruments, and drug companies idealizing male sexual performance. Rolling suitcases hugged bar stools and jet-weary travelers studied their smart phones. The three of us sat at a counter against the window, on the edge of the chaos.
He threw himself into talking about himself, where he was going, where he had been, conquests, bankrolls, and bombast.
"Of course, my son doesn't talk to me," he confessed after his initial pitch for admiration.
"Tell me about you," he said, between mouthfuls and long pulls on his ultra-large beer.
"Well, I'm married, have three kids..."
"I'll bet your husband has fun with you," he interjected.
"I don't see why he would let you go traveling by yourself... for how long?"
"I spent three days with a friend up in Portland. I need a break once in a while."
"Yeah, I bet you like to have fun while you're away."
"Hmmm. I'm on my way home now though."
"But you're not there yet," he said, a goat's leer beneath his comb-over. "And I bet you'd like some company while you're in between places, maybe some fun, if you know what I mean."
He put his hand on her thigh and shot her a look as he sipped his drink.
"Women are so... high and mighty these days, not like you. I mean you're the kind of woman a man wants to spend time with." He dangled a French fry in his lips, like a cigarette, still gazing at her.
She swung her leg away from his.
"What's the matter?" he asked. "Not strong enough for you? Tell you what, I heard a joke. Wanna hear it?"
"Not if it's demeaning to women."
"Uh, yeah. Well, here it is: Why do deaf and dumb guys make the best gynecologists?"
"I want to read," she said, pulling out a copy of the New York Times.
"Ewe... New YORK Times... Now there's something I wouldn't read. How can you stand that elitist shit?"
"I want to read my paper, please. I'm done talking to you."
"OK. Well, it's because they read lips. Read lips. Get it? That's the world we live in girl. Get used to it."
She shuddered and turned away from him.
"So you're a chilly bitch now. Well good luck with your break from your little cage of a life."
Pause. Slow drag on dregs of tall beer. Set glass on counter. Gaze out the window at planes being loaded with bags, fuel, food.
"It's my world now, sweet heart. My world. And you keep this seat warm, because I'm over there when you want to talk some more. My rules. You gotta pay to play."
He stood with his now empty glass and greasy fingers. He looked down the bar to where I sat, looking straight at him. She looked too.
I'm here my look said. He caught the drift, lowered his eyes, then looked back in defiance, postponement. He was taking measure.
"I'll see you," he said. "It's my time now."