Minggu, 01 April 2012

Women First

For the most of the weekend my telephone runs on the silent mode. I'm a forgotten man in New York. Many of my friends think that I am living in Luxembourg or even Thailand, so I was surprised this afternoon by my cellphone vibrating on my desk. Caller ID identified the area code as originating in DC. The White House call center is 202-456-1414. This was a different number and I picked up the phone expecting to hear from a debt collector working the Sunday shift ."Hallo, who this?" I warped my voice into Pidgin English. Cold callers are caught off-guard by a foreign accent. Hindi was my favorite."Is this you?" a female voice asked from the other end."Dove?" I hadn't heard from my longtime in over three years. She had retired to Palm Beach after her senator retired from the Hill. "Where are you?""In Fort Greene. I ran into your cousin Sherri and she gave me your number. What are your doing?""Drinking beer." A 24 ounce can of Modelo was a bargain at $3 a can. The sky glowed grey over the rooftops of South Portland Street. The radio was playing Blue Cheer's FOOL. The second beer was going down faster than the sun."You want to meet for a drink? I'm sitting in Frank's Lounge. Your cousin said it was your local, but the Chinese bartender says she doesn't know you.""I have her well-trained." Rosa had been born in Mexico. The Chinese girl had black boyfriends. She knew better than to tell strangers about her friends. "Drinks are on me.""I'll be there in ten minutes." I was short money. My kids were going to the dentist."Don't leave me here." Dove was accustomed to five-star cafes and deluxe hotels."Five minutes." The men at Franks were gentlemen, but Dove had the power to drive any man crazy. She was one of a kind. I hurriedly dressed in dark jeans, a black tee-shirt, and black leather jacket. A few months shy of sixty I wasn't worried about my looks. andDove was an old friend. Her aging vector had to parallel mine. We shared the same birth year.As usual Dove proved me wrong.She sat at the bar surrounded by a coterie of admirers. No one turned their head at my entrance and Rosa stood behind the bar in a trance of devoted admiration.Dove's platinum hair shone with the brightness of a halo. Her wrinkle-free skin was an anomaly and I suspected that her rich benefactor had paid for a full body Swiss Botox dunk. Dove existed beyond the border of beauty and her smile gleamed with vanilla white teeth. "Here's my cousin." She winked at me. Saying that we were family saved our breath."He's your cousin?" Three of my friends asked with chorused disbelief. They had not divine the mystery of Dove. She hadn't been a man since 1976."Once removed. Can't you see the family resemblance?" I sat on a stool and leaned over to kiss her cheek. Her perfume was Chanel # 5. Something things never changed with the years.None of the regulars dared insult Dove. Her Chanel outfit bespoke wealth and style.Rosa squinted to examine our facial features. I failed her test, but she said nothing dipping her hand into the beer locker for a Stella Artois. Rosa was a good bartender and poured my beer into a glass."Give us a little time to catch up." Dove waved back the regulars with a regal waggle of her hand. "Thank you, boys.""You look great," I was in awe of her agelessness."You don't look so bad yourself." Dove was a diva with lies and must have seen my disbelief, for she said, "Really. You're almost 60 and you look 50.""Only three years ago people said I looked like I was in my 40s.""Time waits for no man and neither do I." Dove signaled for another drink. "What do you want? And don't tell me beer.""Gin-tonic." It gave me a kick.Dove and I bantered about Palm Beach in season, my kids in Thailand, her dog, my stay in Luxembourg, old friends living and left this world. I had been over a thousand days since we last spoke face to face. It seemed like yesterday. We were good friends and some people thought lovers. They were only a little right, but sex had nothing to do with our love."See how Canada legalized brothels?" I regarded this move as a step in the right direction for women's rights."Yes, but then those hockey pucks disqualify a transgender contestant from the Miss Universe Canada.""I saw that." Not in the newspaper, since I gleamed my news from the internet. "She was better looking than many of her rivals.""You always liked your girls skinny." Dove was as curvy as Marilyn Monroe. "But I was always a woman. Even when I was Dave.""I know." She had told me that many times and her pre-transgender photos back up her claim."She's a woman now and deserves to be in this contest. I asked my 'husband' to call up the Miss Universe organizers to complain.""And he did?" I had met her lover once. He wasn't the type to rock the boat."Yes, but he did so privately." She was disappointed in his not coming out about being with Dove."The man's old-fashioned." He was twenty years older than us."Same as everyone." She sneered at the men in the bar. "These guys only want me, because they think I'm a woman.""Well, you are." She had been a woman for almost forty years."I know, but even I forget sometimes." She had never undergone the knife."I never do." I hugged her and said, "But what can you expect from Miss Universe? Donald Trump runs it with NBC and that man is no good.""He's no man either. I don't know what he is, but he's not a man." Dove lifted her drink and I clinked her glass. It was time for refills and Rosa offered us a free rounds. Like Dove she was all-woman.

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