Thursday, June 21, 2007

caught out in it

Thank God for rich parents. That’s all I have to say. Thank God for their money, their lack of responsibility, and their sheer idiocy, or I might never have met her. She, so young, so busy, so damned grown up, living this crazy life in the backseats of taxicabs, hotel rooms, and out on the catwalks. No parents. No rules. No turning back.

“No chaperone?” I asked.

“Naw,” she said, sipping at weird orange drink. “My parents don’t worry about me.”

“But you’re so young,” I said. “So young and so far from home. And this business. I mean, you’re paid to be beautiful and to have all of these strange people look at you—”

“It’s nothing,” she said. “You hear the stories – the temptations, the predators, the ensuing downward spiral – but it’s all nothing.” She paused a moment to really study my face. She paused, weird orange drink hovering just below her lips, and looked me right in the eye. “You’re really concerned, aren’t you. Concerned about me, a stranger – that’s so sweet.”

I shrugged because I didn’t know what else to say.

“Well, you can rest assured that I’m not going to let anyone take advantage of me. We girls,” she said with a silly grin, “tend to fend off predators by becoming predators ourselves.”

I laughed.

She didn’t.

“Want to come back to my room?” she asked.

Thank God for poor parents. That’s all I have to say. A one-way ticket to Europe and a suggestion that I find myself. “Come back,” they said, “when you’ve figured out who you are. Come back when you’ve decided what you’re going to do with your life.” Thank God for their lack of money, their foresight, and their sheer brilliance, or I might never have met her.

“Are you going check out any of some of the sights while you’re here?” she asked, turning over in bed, twisting herself up in the sheets.

“Naw,” I said. “Probably just step out and grab a coffee. Maybe pick up a newspaper.”

“So much to see, though!”

“Ah,” I said dismissively, “it’s all pretty much the same. Once you’ve seen one city, you’ve seen them all.” Just into my twenties, and already so cynical. “Some gaudy tower,” I went on, “a dirty river, and a bunch of old buildings – Just not for me. Besides,” I added, “I’ve already found the prettiest thing in this country.”

She gave me a bit of a smile, and slid out of the bed on her way to the shower. Stopping by the window, she peeked outside, and let loose a heavy sigh.

“Rain today,” she breathed.

“See,” I said, “to me, travel is like the rain. Such a lovely idea when viewed through the gauzy veil of imagination – ugly if you’re caught out in it. I think we ought to just spend the day inside.”

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