Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Love at the ATM

i fell in love today at the ATM. inside the bank, i was loading up an ATM depository envelope with sundry major medical reimbursements (which sounds far more ominous than it is), birthday checks, and the like, and i could see the ATM was free. i had just concluded a delightful lunch with my friend and former colleague, and then a young woman and her small brown child entered the ATM vestibule a heartbeat before i could get there to do my business.

despondent, i wandered over, now for obvious reasons in no rush, to find in the vestibule a small child of indeterminate gender with back turned to me, bundled in colorful coat and hood and black leggings (okay, then, a girl), absorbing silently a plaintive patter of lilting but vaguely impatient francophone instruction delivered in a voice that could melt ice caps. the speaker, a blonde woman no taller than 5' 5", also with her back to me as she reasoned the labyrinth of the ATM's menu, had a phenomenal derrier, and fantastic taste in jeans. i was overtaken with the urge to see her vis, to nuzzle her decolletage, and i chided myself the frivolity of it all. then she turned, stooping either to adjust the young girl's hood -- yes, brown, i confirmed, as the hooded young girl turned a bit to receive the gesture -- or to chuck her under the chin. as she bent, she looked over at me, round-cheeked, fair-skinned, blue-eyed object of my desire, meeting my improvised smile with an impassive expressionlessness.

i grew up in north jersey, in a town where au pere were de rigeur. while some friends had european nannies living in their houses -- one of my best friends in high school had an impossibly hot and saucy irish woman, jackie, who stood 6-foot in flats, wore snug jeans that seemed to reach her waist somewhere at my eye level, and quite simply brooked no guff from any of us -- the standard arrangement seemed to be a middle-aged woman from the caribbean, with skin dark as night, an orotund face, and unadorned lips camouflaged against her dark jowls, a thick accent and a tendency to spend half her unnecessary paycheck (most of her compensation, of course, inhering in room and board) on lottery tickets, arriving dutifully each night at the overpriced neighborhood pharmacy at which i found high school employment with a tattered piece of paper with dozens of divined three- and four-digit permutations, each night's selections slightly, but not wholly, different than those played the night before. i'd see them ambling about the neighborhood, their heads wrapped in plain white kerchiefs, wheeling ornate, hooded prams containing the shining hope of the richworkaholics who'd spawned them.

this inversion of the norm, this odd mix of white over brown, perplexed me; even my libido couldn't overwhelm my conjectural exercise: was she an au pere? an adoptive mother? a babysitter? family friend of any of the above? and o how i despised my monolingualism at that moment; whatever it was the lovely woman was imparting, notwithstanding its maternal impassivity, seemed terribly important; in her blithe, continental way, the young woman was at once stern, and indifferent, and aloof, and i could have taken her right there, in the ATM vestibule, with the little brown child looking on and the machine spitting out money.

"comrende? oui? non?" and with that, they left.

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