I made long eyes with a handsome man at the intersection of Ponce de Leon and Miracle Mile. He looked into my Tucson, into my eyes—I looked back. The Dream Thieves was playing quite loud because I can’t concentrate on audiobooks in the car unless they are screaming. We held each other’s gaze, broke off, resumed gazing. It was incredibly sexy. He smiled and I smiled, and the light turned green. The fibers of our beards seemed to intertwine. He was probably in his forties and wearing basically my outfit—slim slacks, pointy shoes, simple button-up, only turned out for several hundred dollars more—and that fresh haircut. Less hungry dilettantes would slam the brakes and say, “Get in!” after he’d turned around again and begun to walk backwards, but I really wanted pizza. I had a fantasy of crossing paths with him later in the evening, and his buying me pizza. I texted Nico, who’s in New York City for the weekend, “At a stoplight i made the most sumptuous eye contact with older dashing otter.” He texted back, “Ee.”
I parked outside the ring of pay-to-park in the centre of Coral Gables, beside a Catholic elementary school, on a crooked lane under a banyan tree. The roots of the tree have buckled the sidewalk and the road, and even at night I feel my car is safe under it—shades of Fern Gulley. I walked to Books and Books. Much to my chagrin, a colleague I actively avoid was giving a reading this evening. I hid in the paperbacks—hid—trying to read a Simon Leys essays on Waugh, and listened to my colleague order an espresso. “I need a jolt before I give my reading,” he said, and the staff said, “Aww!” and gave it to him for free—which is as it should be. I was capitulating on my glamourous plan of Wednesday night to purchase another Janet Malcolm book, but the colleague was reading his poetry in Books and Books. A big to-do. Sebastian Junger, B.J. Novak, Hilary Rodham Clinton—all have read at Books and Books, or a so-sponsored venue. In January, Allan Greenberg lectured over his CV in the paperbacks room, showing slide after slide of classical projects, while Nico espied from the corner of a glass cabinet and the crook of some woman’s arm and I sat, in the far arts room, petulantly reading a tiny New Directions Yoko Tawada. But tonight apparently other faculty would be present.
As an adjunct, I’m not even sure these folks are my “colleagues”—some do talk to me, however. One professor has a semester-long project of getting his students to submit canned goods with their assignments. If they turn in a paper and canned goods, he does some kind of grade bump. He collects non-perishables because, he says, students on our campus are going hungry, and he wants his office to function as a food pantry for the hungry. He ran out of office space, so now puts his food donations in our adjunct office; our shelves are deep with green beans and corn, with peaches in syrup and small water-logged sausages, and he has invited me to take home some food. I did not take this as a joke; I don’t think he meant it as one. He asked if I minded his using our office as an extension of his folly; I said, “Free food!” and we laughed. Then two weeks ago I nabbed a package of Top Ramen (Chili flavored—probably not vegetarian).
This professor was not in attendance at the poetry reading. Or I did not see him, anyway. I did run into the department secretary. She said, “Oh! Are you here for ——’s reading?” and I said, “I was! But, oh, I’ve been called away.” And she said, “Mm, that’s too bad,” and I pointed in the direction of the reading’s room and then hightailed it to Barnes and Nobles, some two blocks down, electrified by my insousiance. Later, when I realized I had no one to celebrate my freedom with, I wanted to return to the reading—but there was no way to lie suavely twice, and I am not a suave liar to begin with, and I didn’t want to sit reverently, I wanted to uncrinkle the gold foil from a Leffe and read on my own outside in the cool Miami night.
The Barnes and Nobles didn’t have any Janet Malcolm, either, despite holding Iphigenia in Forest Hills three weeks ago. Bookstores do not stock Janet Malcolm. And the rich gentleman of my fantasies never did reappear to buy me pizza, despite my obscene stroll in front of the glass of the four or so blocks of high-end restaurants. And on the drive back I realized I still hadn’t bought toilet paper and would be using, for a second day, a diminished stack of Chipotle napkins. So then much later I witnessed a beautiful Publix cashier get in a fight with a dashing Metro security officer, refusing to speak Spanish with him. She called him a rent-a-cop and he protested, saying he carried a gun and had a badge. When she did speak Spanish to him—she was vociferous in saying, “I WAS RAISED,” etc.—it was to tell him it was the language she reserved for love. There was an awkward pause. Then she told him his card was declined! It was just a joke—”You thought you’d lost it all!” she said—and he left the supermarket blushing and inspired for pass three or seven, or wherever they’re at on the attempts toward a common tongue.
After class this evening I pulled off US1 in South Miami onto Ponce de Leon Blvd, near the Maserati dealership, and drove through the crushing neon and chromium and finning palm shadows to Coral Gables’ Miracle Mile. I turned right. I drove very slowly in front of Barnes and Nobles, where I know they have a copy of Iphigenia in Forest Hills. I got nervous about the parking situation so then I cruised on by. But for about ten minutes I had a very glamorous plan, and for nine of those minutes I stuck to it.
Merlot // David Stone Winery, Modesto, CA // FREE (leftover from Katie and Todd’s going-away party) but available at Walgreens for under $7, often on sale for $5.50 // No vintage // Drank with diced red peppers and Funyuns as Todd prepared Buitoni Three Cheese Tortellini in a tomato sauce, after my long run around the Loxahatchee equestrian country, and while Katie watched the season in Grey’s Anatomy that begins with people dying in the plane crash. Todd added onions, the peppers and green beans to the pasta dish which was a textural oversight that in the end made sense, because there really isn’t any other way to get me to eat actual off-the-cutting-board veggies w/o first smothering in cheese sauce or red sauce. Instead of coral rocks, our backyard has grass and pinecones, so that was also pressing on my sensorium—greenness and pitch. // TASTES: Sour Patch Kids from the bottom of the bag (the ones really coated in sugar crystals), vanilla, Cran-Grape, alcohol. COLOR: Really a ruby red, a gem in the goblet. MOUTHFEEL: Thin but grainy. DECISION: Two glasses and an hour later I did not have a hangover; I salute this fine, cheap, candy wine.