Paint green the aphrodisiacs
By Ali Sadri
September 12, 2003
I drink coffee on a small strip a few hundred yards
from the Pacific Ocean called the Belmont Shore. There along
the narrow, one-way streets lay quaint sandcastle houses tightly
joined. From the houses, now and then, emerge groomed poodles,
sun-baked bodies in two-piece bikinis, and overweight, balding
men. Up and down the main strip, myriad of pedestrians walk along
the boutiques, restaurants, and coffee shops. I am one of those
One early morning, the sidewalks had been just
washed clean filling the air with a pleasant scent. I had parked
myself at an outdoor
café reaching for that writer's inertia when I saw
her approach. A figure, as though chiseled out of marble walked
fluidly by. A cool breeze wafted perfume into my nostrils. With
pencil in hand, I quickly began to sketch in my notebook. She had
on see-through Gucci sunglasses, Parada top, high-heeled shoes,
and bag. And her long, shapely legs, forced inside a pair of close-fitting
Armani genes, floated past as I drew her.
I should have nudged her
to join me, yet I sketched her clandestinely like a thief. The
thought of throwing myself
at a stranger brings
me chills. I am not a coward but perhaps lack physical
courage. Should this stroke of genius had come upon me only
a minute sooner, I would've made a gesture either by a quick
of the eyes or a subtle nod of the head. Although this method
not been affective, I commenced to try it again, and again.
The next day, I sat at my usual table for hours on end doodling
in my notebook. As usual words refused to come and I commenced
to sketch instead. I drew Arezou again. (Imaginary names come so
quickly into my head.) Why did I call her Arezou? Well, I don't
know, but it seemed fitting at the time. She did look Persian to
me; her auburn hair full, her eyebrows (from behind the Gucci glasses)
thick and arched, her skin olive color. I drew several renditions
of her. Page by page Arezou began to transform. Her lips became
fuller, her eyebrows more extended to the point of meeting in the
middle, her cheeks rosier, her thighs fleshier. I even gave her
a different outfit: a traditional, folkloric garment I once saw
hanging on some museum wall. Well, she now looked completely Iranian.
For six weeks I daydreamed, and only from memory
did I sketch hundreds of drawings of Arezou, each perfecting
the one before it. I presented
them to my friends. At first they looked surprised, but then they
nearly chocked with laughter. How little they became when we rendezvoused
on the 40th day. This time, though mentally prepared, I realized
I was hardly physically prepared when I glanced down at my clothes
with horror. I was dressed like a commoner, an invalid, the village
fool. In the eyes of high society, one struggles making an impression,
let alone being placed on an equal footing. So there I sat like
a statue, Starbucks cup in hand, clenching my teeth as she walked
past like a jet airplane.
The next day I made up my mind to visit boutiques
on Belmont Shore. I entered one. A mystical half rap, half middle-eastern
overhead. It made me feel strange and cool, as though I belonged
there, and as if I had worn these clothes before, perhaps in some
"How much is this shirt?" I inquired, feeling a retro-polyester shirt
with my fingers.
"89.95," said the young, hip,
Price was steep, but the shirt seemed excellent,
fitted in a
European fashion for slimmer torsos with rabbit-ear collars
and tiny brown,
flowery stripes. It was much more in mode than, say, the cobalt
blue one with short sleeves and straight collar, which would've
made me look like a dental assistant.
"Can I try that one?" I put on shirt, force-tucking
it in into my genes.
"That's not the way you wear it," she said irritably,
pulling the shirt immediately out. "You wear it on the outside,
"Oh," I said, dumbly. "I feel I've worn this shirt
in some past life."
"Oh," she replied uninterested and more irritable
After much serious consideration I said: "I'll
take it," and stepped into the sun with shopping bag in hand,
feeling ecstasy as though I were now well equipped
my encounter with Arezou.
No farther than three steps had
I traveled when a major logistical problem surfaced: I only
had one shirt, and
possibly hang about in the same clothes day after day.
I would have
to alternate shirts, playing my odds against the
encounter, or (another
idea) I'd keep the shirt but alternate cafes instead.
Or, integrate the two alternating between shirts and
cafes, but that would've made things more complex than necessary."Lets
see," I commenced to multiply all possible permutations
in my head.
I was merely strolling down the street, arms swinging,
bag in hand, calculating permutations, reaching
into that chalkboard
sky to borrow ten, when I noticed Arezou passing
me from the right. I don't believe she recognized me for she
kept her head
straight, and without so much as a glance she trotted
by with hips swinging ever so slightly. This was in fact satisfactory
wasn't yet well dressed, and had only minutes ago
acquired the retro-polyester shirt. Well then, I thought: "fate
works in mysterious ways."
But everything seemed to be in order and I gradually
began to prepare myself for action. I made a
audacious as it may
have seemed, I decided to bump into her next
time I saw her. If I collided with her, not too hard
that she'd drop her bag, I would then bend immediately
down and gentlemanly pick it up, apologizing
a: "What a lovely bag," then introduce myself,
and invite her to a cup of House Roast coffee.
the eve of that day I went to bed pondering my plan, eyes wide
open, turning and tossing
horizon. I came out of the house, new shirt
on, notebook in hand, ocean breeze against my face.
Then, a pair
of wings crept
my peripheral vision. I lowered my chin and
saw the rabbit-ear lapels airborne and flapping,
about to take
me away like the flying nun. I reached with
index finger and
and held them down for sometime but soon got
tired and they became immediately afloat again.
by them, feeling
cool and nostalgic in my retro-polyester get-up
when I heard a man's voice shouting from across
the street: "I
you." A car came to a halt, made a u turn
and came back around screeching. A head stuck
passenger's side window
repeating from the top of his lung: "I
love you," and whizzed by with a roar.
This flattered me. Even though
I am not homosexual, I was nevertheless flattered. And I was
impressed by the
boisterous and the
blunt manner of which a stranger can exclaim
his true emotions
without as much as a hint of reservation.
When I saw Arezou again, it was six months later.
and how ironic was the manner of which
we met. I had made a final decision
to abandon my plan and was ready to altogether
dismiss it when I saw her at my table.
As I arrived at the
there she sat sucking Frappuccino through
a straw. I stood there for
an entire minute pondering and commenced
to sit beside her, (it being after all my table)
my mind, mid-flight,
propping myself down at the next table,
scraping the plastic chair hard
against the pavement. How I thank God,
even to this day, I
sit by her.
"I haven't seen you here before, are you from
around here?" I said almost shouting.
"Pardon?" She said without
I cleared my throat. "I said where are you
"Ok," she said, an
answer I did not expect.
"It's hot isn't it?" I said, trying
"Totally," she said. Then turned slightly around
showing her right ear from which hung an earpiece presumably
to a cell phone that
wasn't readily visible.
"What do you do?" She said, gazing not
quite directly at me, but more to the right, about six feet
"Me?" I asked finally, thumb pointing to my chest.
"I'm a writer," came a ready answer.
That had always been a touchy question.
"I get by," I said
after some hesitation. Then, without warning, she jounced off
walking, took the earpiece from her ear
and shoved it into her bag. A convertible stopped at the
curb and she immediately
hissed into traffic, turned at the next one-way street
the ocean, and disappeared into the sandcastle neighborhood.
notebook, and began to sketch the girl across the street >>> Arts & Literature
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