“Do you think we’ll get there by eleven?” I asked.
“Yeah, if there’s no traffic,” he said hopefully.
I liked him. Livery drivers mostly arrive in a Lincoln Town Car. Usually, it’sa glossy black. Sometimes, it’s white (I think those are ugly). But today, I was riding in a nice SUV. They normally cost more money, if you request one specifically. I could tell that this driver took pride in his work. The interior was clean and neat. He had rubber mats on the floor of the car. The gray leather upholstery was well maintained, with no signs of wear and tear. And he was nice enough to keep the air conditioner real high. That would earn him a nice tip – I’m always looking for excuses to give people big tips – but only if I got there in time.
In time, we got onto the Queensboro bridge. It was starting to become quite a familiar sight. The past few days had been rather hot, and being one who can’t stand not to wear at the bare minimum my waistcoat, I decided that I would not brave the New York City subways in 95 degree weather. The heat was taking quite a toll on my wallet, but I always did believe in paying for the little comforts in life. I mean, what was the point of sweating buckets in my well-tailored shirt and stylishly versatile waistcoat if I could spend some money to get to and fro in comfort?The factory, the one with those smoke stacks as seen in the movie Conspiracy Theory (starring Mel Gibson), came into sight. I started thinking about Geronimo. Jerry Fletcher was a crazy fool, but he was right about love. It gives you wings. It does all sorts of good things. And even though he didn’t stand a chance in hell of being with Alice Sutton, at least he had someone to love. I started thinking about how I used to have someone to love. Someone to care about. That. That was what I wanted. To care about someone, to care so deeply that I’d do anything for them. Oh, and it’d be nice if they loved me back too. But you know, it’s mostly about loving. Then again, you’re nobody until somebody loves you.That’s what Dean Martin was saying through my little white earbuds. I usually would be using my more expensive headphones, but they’re unwieldy and too long when I put my phone in the waist pocket of my waistcoat. But anyway, he was right. Well, the song writers were right, anyhow. I started thinking about how nobody really loved me. Not my family, not really. Not my friends, at least not the ones I had anyway. Not a girl, that was for sure. I started thinking that maybe I could fall asleep at night if I could just get myself to develop a crush on some celebrity, and that maybe if I could put on that movie at night, that I could go to sleep with it playing. Then maybe I could get a decent night’s sleep. But then I realized that I don’t develop crushes, not really. And especially not on celebrities.
A friend once asked me if I was attracted to Salma Hayek. I told her no. She told me I was full of shit. At one point, I thought I was repressed, but I wasn’t, not really. I mean, sure, she’s good to look at, but I wouldn’t give any woman more than a passing glance, no matter how “beautiful” she was.
Then I started thinking maybe that’s my problem. Maybe I should really just start getting interested in girls. Maybe I could notice how nice a girl’s chest is. Maybe I could become an ass man.
Some security guy once asked me whether I was an ass man or a tits man. It sounded like a pretty stupid question. I told him I was a face man. He looked at me funny for a second, then he told me I was full of shit. With a laugh of course, not all belligerent like. I could’ve gotten offended. Maybe I should’ve. I mean, I was just minding my own business, leaving this building after an interview. And then he interrupts my day with a crazy question like that. Well, I guess it wasn’t so crazy, not really. He was talking with his friend.
We got stuck in traffic. Me and the livery driver, I mean. It wasn’t for long. We just got onto the island of Manhattan. There was this apartment, it was a red brick apartment. I was looking at the back of the building. I wondered what it’d be like to live there. I imagined it wasn’t a very attractive place. It was, after all, right next to a highway exit. And there was all this construction around. But still, I wondered what it would be like to slum it. Then again, it probably wouldn’t be slumming it, not really. I’m sure rent’s high in Manhattan pretty much everywhere you go. I started thinking how it might be fun to play starving artist, just for a while. But then it just didn’t seem so appealing to me after a bit. I mean, starving artists don’t get to wear bespoke clothing and ride livery cars twice a day at thirty bucks a pop.
All of a sudden, I got very cheerful. I started tapping my foot to the beat of some Italian music. Lou Monte, I think. And that’s when I started thinking, maybe I shouldlearnItalian. Then I realized that every summer, I made a bullshit commitment to learn a language. I never did. That reminded me of the only time I tried to learn a language. It was for a girl. No surprise there. Kocham cie. I never got to tell her that, not really.
We passed by Turnbull & Asser. I started thinking that my socks were too thick. They were these stupid J. Crew ones. I thought I liked my wool socks from Turnbull & Asser, but I remembered that long socks that go up over the calf weren’t good for me. They clung to my pants too much. I started thinking about getting bespoke socks, but then I figured that it’d be sorta ridiculous. I just needed to find the right length of sock.
That’s when I was reminded of my bespoke suit and how much I loved it. I loved it so much, even a year after I first got it. I loved it to death, and I couldn’t ever stop talking about it, even after a year. I was absolutely in love with it. That’s when I started thinking that I hope that I can some day find a girl who’s just like my suit: it makes me look and feel good, I loved it when I first got it, I loved it a year after I got it, and I love it now, and I’ll love it forever. My mother jokes that it’s too bad there aren’t bespoke wives. I didn’t tell her that there were those crazy Japanese sex dolls that you can configure to your liking. Not that I’d ever get one. Besides, you can’t really buy a wife.
That’s when I started thinking about Russian mail order brides. I knew I liked Eastern European women. Slavic women, Russian women, Polish women. I started thinking that maybe if I was alone at the age of fifty-nine, I’d just get me one of those. Not that I think of women as objects. But you know, I just want someone to love.
My driver stopped and I asked him how much I owed him. He didn’t try to rip me off, so I tipped him well and thanked him for keeping the car nice and cool. I got out of the SUV and a bunch of folks looked at me, probably wondering who I was that I could be taking a livery car to a city college. I walked up the stairs and was grateful that I didn’t have to sweat a single drop of sweat.
Inside the classroom, there were lots of pretty young girls. Too young though. I started thinking that maybe I could just give it a shot, that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to try to ask one of these girls out. Maybe it’d be fun. Then I realized that it wouldn’t be, not really. Because these girls are still young, they’re still learning. And some fool like me will yell, ‘Geronimo!’ and I’ll be left hurtling through the air towards a certain death.
The professor walked in and I thought he was a handsome man. That’s when I started thinking that maybe I was gay. I remember meeting some men whose eyes I thought were so damn sensitive and soulful. Then I started thinking about kissing them. That’s when I realized I wasn’t gay, not really. I didn’t think I could ever kiss a man.
A girl sat down next to me. She looked disappointed that I took up the left-handed desk. I could’ve talked to her. I started thinking that I should start a conversation with her within three seconds of her sitting down. And then I started thinking that she looked kind of cute. She was small, but not skinny. Just my type. But then I realized that she was too young. She wasn’t my type, not really.
A different girl came into the classroom late. She was what most men would consider to be quite the trophy. Tall, curvy, with a big chest. She looked at me, but I ignored her. I ignored her again when she looked at me again on the way out when the class ended. I started thinking that if I were so inclined, I’d strike up a conversation with her. Maybe I’d ask her why she liked wearing shorts that were so short. Then maybe I’d segue into telling her that I’d bet that she gave out a lot of fake phone numbers, that she probably got her way most of the time. Maybe she’d tell me that it was true, and then maybe I’d wonder aloud whether she would be offended if I told her that I thought pretty girls weren’t ever as interesting as less pretty girls. Then maybe she’d take the bait, and then I’d tell her to tell me something interesting. Then maybe I would tell her that she was lucky that she was too tall for me, otherwise I’d probably ask her out to lunch. If I were so inclined, that is. But then I realized that I wasn’t so inclined, not really.
It was probably 98 degrees by the time it was for me to go home. I had arranged for a livery car to pick me up in front of the building. That way I wouldn’t have to feel the heat for more than a few moments. I got into the Lincoln Town Car. “How long do you think it’ll take?” I ask the driver. “If there’s not traffic, maybe half an hour?” he replied.