I’m Much Prettier — in LA

Let me paint you a picture, my comrades:

Still jet-lagged since my departure from LA-LA Land half a week ago, every ungodly hour of the morning, I’ve been treading my home ground of Man’s-Hattan on foot:  either in running shoes or 6-inch heels.  Whenever reuniting with my people here, I observed their beloved faces, blotchy-red and frozen, emerge from the ice-covered cabs or appear from behind the swamp-green gates of the Subway.  They defrosted their bodies in my embraces; their darling hands—on cups of hot water and coffee or while groping tea lights at perpetually packed bars; and injected their blood with red wine:  anything to escape the cold.

“What do you mean:  You’re walking?” they lisped when saying their goodbyes outside, droplets of their breath freezing on every syllable and hitting the pavement between us like hail.  Then, they ran for cover while I watched the City eat up their bodies.  Oh how many of my loves this Island has swallowed!  Despite the MAN in its name, this City must be a woman—a woman of exceptional beauty, with a boudoir full of addicting potions and perfumes and custom-made, designer frocks.  It took the Bitch less than 48 hours to enter my system, and before I had the chance to miss the vast real estate of the West Coast—She was in my blood stream.  So, how can I possibly blame my beloveds for committing to Her for life? 

But this morning, the temperatures dropped even more:

“How do you like me now?” the indifferent Bitch arched her eyebrow at me. 

Oh, but I do!  I do. 

This morning, while my host was still stretching her model-esque Mediterranean body in bed next to me, I took off—in my pink-and-silver running shoes and my Little-Red-Riding-Hood hat.  (In my defense, the rest of me was still clad in black!)  Past the pale and ghostly faces of the natives I jetted, still immune to the cold treatment by the Bitch.  An occasional dog-owner trotted past me, dragging his or her animal’s frozen corpse through the snow.  No other jogger was anywhere to be found.  My toes tapped along the Island’s brown skin—”I-do, I-do, I-do”—never slipping on any traps of black ice or dog shit.  I flew, utterly in love with my old flame.  Accidental pedestrians looked at me askance:  “She must insane.”  But they’re used to oddities around here, and I am finally grown-up enough to not mind being one. 

My breakfast?  A shot of nuclear, jet black espresso and a granola bar laced with dark chocolate—the pleasure of the minimum.  As I strutted down 7th Ave., I chomped down my breakfast of champions with utter satisfaction and stubborn joy.  A brown man at a bus stop faced North, and, after noticing my inconvenient intrusion on his privacy, mumbled to himself.  Oh you, another sufferer, an incident away from loosing your shit—never mind me!  I took the last mighty bite out of my bar (or rather shoved one-third of it into my mouth, smearing its chocolate on my lips and chin).      

“You’re very beautiful, ma’am,” the stranger suddenly spoke up, traces of old-fashioned grace and Southern accent reigning over his vocabulary.  This entire time, he must’ve been mumbling to me!

Startled, I covered my mouth with my mitten, and struggled to relieve my tongue from the grainy texture.  “Shank you,” I manage to say. 

The brown stranger nodded, in seemingly sincere awe, and when I passed him, said:  “Oh my god:  Beauty.”

This—was the first flirtation I’ve encountered here.  So bogged down by hard life, poor diet, lack of time and space the men of the Island appear, none have made a pass at me so far.  There’ve been a few arousing and mysterious glances from the tall, dark strangers in bars; but no phone number requests—or offers.  Even to catch a cab, my unbuttoned coat and exposed leg no longer did the trick:  I’ve had to leap under its wheels, Anna Karenina style, in order to hail one. 

(Just the other day, I’m on Lex and 45th, when the Bitch decided to jumpstart a snow flurry.

“Need a ride?” a sickly looking driver of a yellow cab asked through the rolled-down window.  I considered for a moment and nodded.  Fuck it:  Let’s party it up, even if I am only four blocks away.

“Where to?” he asked me once I situated my floor-length black coat on his back seat. 

“Broadway.  Thanks.”

His eyes, under an awning of a uni-brow, examined me in the rear-view mirror for a moment, and then he said:  “No.”

“‘Cuse me?”  I couldn’t believe the fucker!  He picked me up!

After another moment of silence and another glare, he negotiated:  “Twenty dollars then.”

Half-a-blink of an eye—and V’s new-agey, Californian pleasantries evaporated:  “Fuck you:  I’ll walk!”)

But the brown stranger this morning made me fantasize about the possibility of dating in New York again.  I’ve thought about it, and to quote the uni-browed taxi driver, I must say:  “No.”  Even though back in LA-LA, I’ve often been guilty of being that ass-hole New Yorker reminiscing about the City she left behind, I would not want to be single in Manhattan.  Besides the lack of personal space, overcrowded commute, miniscule apartments and lack of sanitary bathrooms in which to fix one’s make-up, I would not be able to put up with the competition.  By that, I don’t even mean competition with other women.  I mean:  Competition with the Island—the Bitch of my own bitter-sweet addiction.  Surviving Her is difficult enough, for either gender.  But if I had to figure out how to notice a Nice Guy in a unanimously black-clad crowd, or in an overstuffed restaurant; or how to read him past the stress lines and the furrowed brows; or how to decipher a flirtation in an innocent greeting or a rare compliment—I would most likely lose my mind.  But then, again:  I don’t mind being odd.

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