|Posted on 2005-01-24 11:12:24 by Denver|
"One sugar." he shouted to the man at the front.
He stood at the back counter of Punjabi and considered his menu options- lentils that looked brown and moist, a glistening buttery looking
concoction that seemed to be cauliflower, an orange potato mash, and a white yogurty syrupy looking thing. He chose the small plate with lentils and rice topped with a samosa and a dollop of yogurt. A young bearded indie rocker squeezed in front of him followed by his intellectual looking girlfriend. They eyed the pans on display and he could see the top edge of a scorpion tattoo over the neck of the man's jacket. She put her hand on the counter and felt the coldness of the glass.
"It gets heated up." the rocker said to her.
An Indian singer named Alaap sang a Bhangra pop song on the stereo and this caused him to smile absurdly and think of the huge geysers of water shooting through the floor in the broadway stage musical Bombay Dreams. He imagined a team of tiaara wearing Indian beauties in spangled saris whirling through the cab stand, gesturing provocatively. The man warming his tea at the hissing machine next to the cash register had a kind smile - a grey pointed beard and a bright red head wrap that gave him a magisterial air. Southeast asian taxi cab drivers stood behind him along the wall arguing over the recent lottery winner. He wended his way through these gentlemen to the front of the store and picked up his tea and a fragile, crumbling biscotti-like Indian biscuit.
"Two seventy five." the man in the scarlet headwrap said.
He paid and took his food to the back. Perched on a stool, his plate balanced precariously on the narrow wooden counter beside the large igloo water cooler, he thought about her toenails - he had never seen or felt them - and he wondered if she painted them or ever had pedicures done. He doubted it. She didn't have much time for personal vanities- her hair was "very low maintenance" and her couture and makeup were not fussy. He cut into the warm filling of the potato and pea and lifted the fork to his mouth, inhaling the sweetness of the lentil's curry sauce on the flaky dough of the pastry and thinking of the london stall where he'd first tasted real indian food - on a christmas vacation during college. he could taste lloyd webber with the curry and the thick irish wool sweaters he had worn in those days. He looked at his current ensemble- if he wore this brown vneck sweater again tomorrow he would have to swap out the grey slacks for the black khakis. he wondered how many days in a row he might wear the brown vneck before anyone on the citigroup international floor noticed or made a comment.
It had been on his back most of the past two weeks.
Standing in the lobby of the Landmark Sunshine Cineplex on Houston Street in downtown Manhattan she dialed Michael. Cecile was wearing a black leather motorcycle jacket and tight blue jeans pulled into a pair of black leather boots with heels. In a flattened Jamaican accent she began -
"Right, listen. I think we need to discuss this. This is about the life of a six year old child."
Standing next to her in the lobby was a dirty blonde, eighteen year old deaf girl wearing a chartreuse scarf and a brown courdory Levis jacket. The girl was flicking her fingers downward as if performing rain in a shadow play. She patted the air, sighed, and drew an imaginary circle with one finger, then screwed up her face in a grimace and spoked her fingers into a three pointed wheel. Peering closely at her lover, a teenage boy in a cowboy hat, who was standing in line to purchase tickets for "Kinsey", she watched very carefully as he replied to her with tapping, neck scratching, and adjustments to his eye brows and lips. He used his fingers on the air as if he was strumming a guitar. As he strummed she looked over at the Jamaican woman who was still talking loudly on her cell phone.
"Well God, you gotta get your fix on...and I just want you to make sure you know what you're getting yourself into."
The deaf cowboy breathed into his mitts and flicked something from his eye, touched his index fingers and blew a up a volcano. Her response to his this - a roiling of the seven seas and its utter collapse on top of the ocean's crust.
A jowly young man in a Red Sox cap slumped against a wall next to the deaf girl, waiting for his girlfriend who was also in line to purchase their tickets to Kinsey. He was not thrilled at her selection for this friday evening's movie date. Ipod buds in his ears, radiohead's 'kid a' veered through his thoughts framing the action of the deaf couple into quadrants of alien movements. The baseball hat made a brassiere shaped shadow over his face as he studied the deaf couple.
"What kind of man I am looking for?...you have to be able to complain to make it work. This is about partnership for life...Same thing. If I have to come and visit then you have to come and get me. And vice versa. My vacation might be up in the air at the end of March. I'm supposed to come to Kingston for my parent's anniversary anyway."
The deaf girl took a drink of water from an imaginary spring and gazed at her lover on a distant volcanic peak.
"Just the way you met me that night." Cecile continued, "That's the way I want you always to remember me. That's the way I like it. Not all women take the time to take care of themselves...what it takes..oh I see, I didn't hear that part. You should have seen me last night though Michael, it was unbelievable. I was dressed in a long gold gown...You can drop me a letter. Drop me a card. I'm not big for sending letters but I'd love to get one from you. To get you back into the whole hopeless romantic writing. I see...right...yeah, yeah...How long has it been? You know why?"
The deaf cowboy reached for a pebble and wrapped a tiny note around it. he dropped the pebble into a deep lake.
"I'm going to the movies...Kinsey...Kinsey...it's about sex or something. No, it's just a guy. No, its a long story but its not anything. I'll tell you about it later. No, I'm going home and then I'm going to go boil my spinach, my potatoes, and my kalaloo. It's going to be kind of a West Indian thing. Yeah. I'm going to eat healthy. No fried chicken. None of that. I gotta keep it together now."
The man in the red sox hat thought about the last film his girlfriend had made them see. The johnny depp one about the man who wrote peter pan. that was not the kind of film he would pick for a weekend date. But they weren't really dating anymore, were they? A year of moviegoing with someone was more like going to poker night every week. just a ritual. it didn't really matter what was playing. if he wanted to see an action flick he could see that with his buddies another night. He might fall asleep during this movie. She wouldn't care.
"When you get a woman in bed then you know you guys are not interested anymore." Cecile smiled and listened and then replied, "I see..I see...not again..oh my god...You're killing me. You should stay away from her Michael. She has a six year old child. Listen, I gotta go. I gotta see where this guy is. He's late. Okay. Okay. Bye."
He was finishing the lentils and yogurt mixture at the bottom of the styrofoam bowl when she called.
"Where are you?"
"I'm three minutes away."
He wasn't sure why he had picked this film for them to see. He had read about it and it looked like a bio-pic straining to make its central character's life significant. He didn't usually see this kind of film. But, it was about sex researcher Alfred Kinsey and his efforts to demystify the sexual experience for the American public in the nineteen fifties. He felt as if he was stuck in a sexual relationship that was trapped in the same era. Perhaps the film would have the same effect as Kinsey's lectures did on pimpley faced college students at the University of Indiana. At the very least, he hoped, it might stimulate some kind of thinking in that direction.
At the theater she greeted him by politely allowing him to kiss her cheek. Inside the the theater they found seats near the front. The deaf couple sat in front of them. The cowboy took his hat off and placed it on his knees. His girlfriend grasped his hand and plunged their fingers deep within his lap. The theater darkened. Near the back of the auditorium the man in the red sox cap pulled his brim lower and slouched low in his seat as John Lithgow appeared on screen with a stern visage to lecture the young Kinsey on antiquated moral strictures. the chords of 'idioteque' burbled through his thoughts as he imagined a man laughing until his head came off. He wondered if his girlfriend would be turned on by this movie - would want to have sex afterwards in their cramped Ludlow street studio. He hoped not.
Later, Liam Neeson (as the adult Kinsey) and Laura Linney (playing his wife) performed a painful looking copulation scene. The cowboy blonde put her hand to her nose and stirred her finger in a foul smelling broth. The deaf boy put his hand over her eyes. Behind them he and Cecile sat rigidly in their seats as a group of desperate students asked Kinsey a series of uninformed questions in a montage: "Can too much sex cause cancer? Does suppressing sex lead to stuttering?" and finally - "Does oral sex cause pregnancy?" He remembered their one ill fated attempt at oral sex and he turned to Cecile and smiled. She was asleep.
Later, at Moby's Tea Shop a few blocks away, they drank dark blue tea out of clay pots and discussed the film, the parts they could remember seeing.
"I think my ex-boyfriend was interested in that guy."
"Really, the German lawyer? He was interested in Kinsey?"
"Yeah, he used to go to the library to rent his videos."
"Maybe he was into vintage pornography."
"Listen," she said, "we...are headed in different directions here."
"What do you mean?"
Morricone's "Fistful of Dollars Theme" played quietly over the speakers.
"We're going down different roads. We're motivated by different things."
"You and I? How can you say that?"
"Because it's true."
And he realized it was true. That they were on their last date. He couldn't release the string that held her. She was cutting the line. And he should have been grateful but he was angry. He had made an investment of time and money and thought. A philosophical inquiry. An attempt to cross an ocean of difference. She was pulling the plug on their ocean. Just in time for the holidays.
"Let's get out of here." she said. As they walked along the Bowery toward the F train she saw a friend of hers and the friend pulled them into the club. They shed their coats and danced together and he placed his hands on her hips for the last time. He ran his hands over the curve of her ass. Kissed the sour moisture on her neck. It might as well have been a mannequin from Macy's. They had been dancing this way for months. Prince and Michael Jackson and Sean Paul weren't going to solve the problem. They made it worse. How had he imagined any other outcome? They walked to the train station on Houston hand in hand and passed three black men who growled something at them that he couldn't decipher.
"Haters." she said.
They kissed on the steps of Broadway and Lafayette station until she heard the squeal of the brakes from the uptown F. This was the longest relationship he'd been in for years. On the downtown platform a black man in a George Clinton spaceman outfit played an old soul song on a casio keyboard. He couldn't remember the title but he had listened to the song a hundred times in his apartment at drama school.
Take to the sky on a natural high
lovin' you more til the day I die
He flicked a quarter into the man's case and tasted the remains of the curry dinner on the edge of his lips. He listened as the downtown train pulled into the station to deliver him into the womb of a dark Brooklyn night.
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