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A Series of One-Liners

My life seems to be a series of one-liners that I am working to string together to form some kind of meaning. Thoughts come to me while night driving along the 101, music cranked, my short dress hiked up above my thighs in a gesture of encounter with the senses. I’m feeling that old inner twist that wants to look the world directly in the eye without averting my eyes first. A spiritual stare-down.

Cool air and music slide along my thighs. I think of writing a poem that starts with this line. It’s only later that I think I could have used my phone’s voice recorder to capture the poem of skin, music, bay air and this old familiar feeling. Will it be important to note that I was an admissions rep at a college fair for the second night in a row? Will it be important to note that the first night I dressed business casual, taupe pin-stripped pants, blazer and 4-inch wine red heals and on the second night went with a short hippy dress with a plunging neck line and knee high boots? Will I want to mention the woman with the red hair tied in a bun that seemed to be continually and purposefully walking across the gym floor as if she were on an important mission away from her designated table?

By the end of the night her hair comes down. She is striking in a way. I wonder if her hair color is natural. She carries herself with a confident self-consciousness, her attention torn between what she is doing and her slightly bulging belly. On this night, she talked to the good looking man in the gray suit from Massachusetts School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. It was a blond woman I saw him talking to the first night. He was hard not to notice. He too had a confident command of the rep scene. His self-consciousness was imperceptible, despite his scalp showing through thinning hair. The red head stood tall and erect, poised and professional. The only thing that gave her away was the way she laughed and gestured excessively. Overconfidence faintly masking nervousness and insecurity. She had some heels, open toed black and beige, at least 4 inches, and while they were clearly difficult to walk in, she pulled it off successfully. Her calf muscles were well sculpted and the heels accentuated her legs. No hose and the short black skirt helped. On her way back to her table she stopped to have a laugh and an inside joke with the blond woman in the neck high green sweater from Lewis and Clark College, something she was going to “fill her in on later.” Her smile said something of conquest. I assumed it had something to do with the good-looking, gray suit, thinning hair man, especially when I saw her exchanging business cards with him a few minutes later. Turns out they weren’t old rep friends as the friendly engagement and big gestures falsely suggested because they shook hands and I heard him say, “Nice to meet you.” She walked off with speed and confidence as if she had just made a sale. He momentarily stared at her card with a smile before putting it in his breast pocket, but he didn’t look up to watch her walk away even though every muscle in her back was pleading for him to do so.

On the way out of the gym I ended up right behind him. He paused while someone held the door for him and then for me. He slowed to walk next to me as I knew he would and said, “So you all the way in from Colorado?” I didn’t think he had noticed me. I had never caught him looking my way. Smooth.

“No,” I said. “I live here. I worked for my university for 10 years. Now they just use me for recruitment.” He smiled and said something about me knowing well enough to not chose a career on the road, headed the other direction with a, “Have a good night.” My competitive urge receded in victory as I thought of her.

He pulled out of the parking lot at the same time as I did. I passed him and glanced over my shoulder with a smile at the red light. I drove slow as I merged on to 101 thinking he was still behind me, hoping to have one last look. The car behind me passed. It wasn’t him. I took a deep breath, laughed out loud, hiked up my dress, and let the fingering guitar tones of Dire Straits, “Water of Love,” slip along my thigh. I remembered that on the drive up to the fair, I had decided to scope out women instead of men.

I remembered that I thought up a poem and never wrote it.


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Written on Your Soul, 5-day residential writing retreat happening October 8–13th in New Mexico.

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