Since we have a perfect society, I must practice my imperfect habit outside. This affords me a lot of opportunity to interact with other imperfects; like homeless people. Something about my cigarettes draws them to me. I haven’t fully worked it out yet, but it seems that they have taken pity on my tobacco burden, and seek to relieve me of it. The miff-ery when I say “No” suggests that they perceive my strength as the weakness it really is.
Or they’re opportunists. One never knows about these things.
Today I was approached by another imperfect. I dragged on my Pall Mall as her cab rolled up in front of the sign that demarked my proper shameful pose: “Smoking in This Area ONLY!” She opened the door, and then fumbled around with a small coin purse to pay the cabbie. After managing that tremulous event, she stepped out onto the sidewalk. Her open purse was in one hand, and her bills of change in the other. A thin stack of papers was being shuffled back and forth between them, as she worked out the frustration of being short one hand. I’ve been there myself. With a cigarette and phone in one hand, coffee in the other; contemplating whether Steve Jobs had predicted the nose swipe, or if it was an organic good.
She was old; sixty-five at least. Her hair was naturally grey and white, but long for an old woman. Most white women have long chopped their hair off–by forty at the latest. The problem posed by less hair is solved with more color. They dip the remainder to match their old, natural colors; fire-engine red, cake yellow, and pitch black. A few choose to age gracefully, with au naturale purple.
She walked up to me smiling, clutching those papers and money in her gnarled left hand; her little blue coin purse in her right. All of them in front of her sagging breasts that finally sloped up when the laws of physics demanded they give way to her swollen middle; pregnant with death.
“You look like you might know something.”
I raised my eyebrows in alarm, as I inhaled.
“Do you know where I can find WXZY conference?”
I exhaled a deadpan, “You have arrived.”
“You’re looking for WXZY, right?”
“Yes, I am.” She beamed while whisps of iron waved over her wrinkled face. It lacked any paint at all, so I could see every age spot, and some spidering rosacea, but she had no caking in the crinkles.
I smirked. “Then you have arrived.”
“Oh, thank you! Now, since you know, let me ask you: Do you know where the volunteers meet? I’m supposed to see Patty with Volunteers Are Us.”
“I don’t. However; if you go up two sets of escalators, then look to your right. On the carpet, you’ll see a desk with some people gathered behind it. They know where to go.”
“So, go up an escalator…” she trailed off.
“Yes, two escalators..” I repeated my directions; motioning up the escalators twice, and then swooping my hand right, fingers extended.
“Thank you so much.” By this time, she had managed to wrangle her bills back into the little coin purse. “You know”, she said, as she swatted her folded papers at the air; an imitation of patting my arm, “I was destined to meet you.”
“Perhaps so. Good day.”
It’s almost always a pleasure to talk to old women. They’re so much prettier than the young ones.
(Edit: I changed “pregnant with age”, to “pregnant with death”; which is what I had in mind. I originally had “time”, but I think death is best.)