Mrs. Robinson’s ego needs a little love from time to time
I had just come from Madalena’s and was driving to meet my husband for a late afternoon drink when I got picked up. Never mind that I had worked out that morning and was still in my gym clothes, marinating in my own grit and stink and general grossness derived from being packaged in Lycra for 8-plus hours. It wasn’t pretty. I was disgusting enough that I apologized repeatedly to Madelena as I lifted my arms so she could pin and stuff padding into my favorite strapless dress, but not so disgusting that I decided to postpone my alterations for another, more shower-filled day. Poor Madelena. Suffering the slings and arrows of dried gym sweat, all because I’m derelict when it comes to time management.
However evident my yuckness was to anyone within arms-length, the state of my filth was apparently well shielded by a) my car, b) my tinted windows, c) my over-sized sunglasses and d) my lip gloss. (Lip gloss has magic powers. Praise the lip gloss!) All I know is that I slowed, smiled and waved into my lane a car full of wild-haired, teen-ish boys at a two-way stop on Adams Avenue and suddenly, I was Eva Mendes.
On my best day I should hope to look so gross.
And so I found myself crawling along in single-lane traffic, behind a white Honda Civic filled with lanky kids of the male persuasion who probably weren’t old enough to vote in 2008. The driver, wearing Ray-Bans circa Risky Business—a movie he’s probably never heard of—kept checking on me in his side mirror. The two boys in back turned to face me, as excited to watch me follow as my friends’ small daughters, who make funny faces out the rear window of their father’s car whenever our families take our Minis for an afternoon drive. And the guy in the passenger seat poked first his head, then his arm, out his window, waving a cell phone, signaling me to call him. Which required a number, so he set the phone down and began slowly and methodically flashing a series of numbers with his long fingers. It was like the mating dance of some rare, exotic bird that was vaguely familiar and yet incredibly foreign. It didn’t matter that he was of a different species; I understood the language. He was thoughtful and precise, leaving enough time between digits for me to write them all down. Too bad I was DRIVING! Further evidence of an evolutionary gap.
My hands were on the wheel and I was smiling wide at this point. Chuckling, even, as the passenger twisted to flash an eight, a six, a nine. Oh, if they knew, I thought. If they only saw me close up. I imagined the surprise that would register in their eyes if we were to stand face-to-face, realizing their mistake and figuring out how best to get out of this uncomfortable situation. I contemplated what their conversation under such circumstances might be—surely involving several “DUUUde!”s— when I noticed the driver eyeballing me again in his mirror. I held his eye contact and pointed to myself slowly and methodically, making sure the line of communication was open. He adjusted his glasses, rested his elbow casually across the door and nodded at me. He was ready to receive.
I lifted my right hand off the steering wheel and pointed at myself one more time. He nodded: Got it, got it. He was sort of adorable, this man-child. The whole group of them was. But I had to have my say. I crossed my thumb over my open palm and held my arm straight out toward my windshield. I held it there until the boy in the mirror nodded again. Then, with my fingers touching my thumb, I made a perfect O.
The boy didn’t move. I laughed and repeated my message knowing I’d undercut myself; flashing my real age would have required both hands on my part and maybe a little too much work on his. He was using a mirror, after all. Plus there was that other hurdle of DRIVING A CAR with which we were both grappling. I conceded the six months because a one-handed “four” and “zero” were the safest route to the same destination. And anyway, at their age, what the hell’s the difference?
4-0 babe, I smiled. His eyebrows went up and that’s all I saw because I’d arrived at the bar where I’d be meeting my husband. I performed my award-worthy parallel park job, and looked up in time to see the boys disappear into the rain, their four mussed heads a silhouette against the gray day. It had been good while it lasted. It was silly but exciting, I admit this. And I was slightly more dirty when it was over.