Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Coney Island Menace

Pretty Lady is abashed to report that she has been Making Trouble. It was not intentional; it is merely that there is an ethical line between Being Friendly and Leading Fellows On, which is nebulous at best, and of which she is inordinately sensitive to having crossed.

Perhaps it would be best, upon her visits to Brighton and Coney Island beaches, if she simply pretended not to speak Spanish. This would not be difficult. Pretty Lady doesn't look like the sort of person who speaks Spanish. She looks like a clueless gringita. This may, perhaps, be the reason she so enjoys startling lonely South American men who come to the beach alone, after work, and try, brokenly, to strike up an English conversation.

On Monday it was Daniél, from Peru. Daniél has been in New York City now since 2002, but unfortunately has little English to show for it. This is undoubtedly due to his shyness and fondness for soccer; he confesses that, what with working all day, studying in the evenings, and playing soccer all weekend, he doesn't have time for a wife, let alone a date. Nevertheless, by the end of the evening he was promising up, down and sideways to drop everything and board the train bearing all necessary ingredients for homemade ceviche, the moment Pretty Lady cares to pick up the phone and summon him.

Images of Daniél waiting by the phone are troubling Pretty Lady's sleep at night. But not enough for her to call him. What Daniél wants, what Daniél needs, is a nice wife who is still young and willing enough to bear five children, and live in Queens, neither of which criteria applies to Pretty Lady.

On Wednesday it was Raúl, from Ecuador. Raúl's English was so competent that he managed to carry on desultory conversation for almost twenty minutes before lapsing into Spanish. He was also a more insightful and observant soul. When Park Security beckoned the bathers out of the sea at sunset, and Pretty Lady unwillingly complied, he knowingly waited until Park Security had vanished over the horizon and instructed, "You should go back in."

Something about waves crashing violently over her head as she dives under them, makes Pretty Lady feel that she is at one with the Universe, and that trivial things like $900 auto mechanic bills and crashed hard drives and postponed vacations do not matter at all. Somehow, Raúl from Ecuador intuitively understood this. So Pretty Lady allowed Raúl to buy her a couple of beers, and dinner, and collect her cell phone number. She took care to inform him that she was going away for a month; she figured that by the end of the month, he would have forgotten all about her.

She did not allow for the basic tenacity of character that allows a person to immigrate from Ecuador, speaking no English, and wind up commuting to Brooklyn from New Jersey to wait tables in a German restaurant, because the money is good. Her cell phone has been inundated with polite text messages, and discreet inquiries as to her availability in the coming weeks. Raúl will go far, she can see that. She still doesn't want to marry him, and she very much fears that this is what Raúl has in mind.

This, I suppose, is the basic difference between men and women. Any fellow who had managed to incidentally pick up two obviously smitten ladies in the course of three days would be feeling pretty cocky by now; he'd be thinking of himself as a sterling and irresistible character. Pretty Lady feels like a big jerk. She feels like warning all susceptible South American men away from tall blonde ladies in green-and-yellow swimsuits. She doesn't mean to trample the hearts of every Spanish-speaking gentleman she encounters; she just likes the beach at sunset.


Anonymous said...

I feel your pain. Sometimes, it's easy to understand why *most* very attractive people are also big ol' asshats, at least until you get to know them. It's armor of a different kind.
Even those of us who are just *moderately* attractive, but have amazing smiles, are prone to giving strays the wrong impression. Of course, it's also not very hard to break the sleeve-linty heart of someone who falls more than half in love with another person just because they've been smiled at and spoken kindly to.

Pretty Lady said...

That's it, Mitzibell, that's EXACTLY it! All Pretty Lady really does is smile at them, and be polite. Then suddenly she's staggering under the weight of some random person's soul-dreams for the future.

Perhaps this is the underlying reason she is so adamant about promoting courtesy in the world in general. If the vast majority of people were polite, she would not acquire such an unbalanced 'advantage' by being so herself.