This man was tall, freakishly tall. His dark, curly hair and broad shoulders soared above the sea of men’s dress trousers. I was across the store in the lingerie department, tangled amongst discounted lace.
Mr. Handsome wore an olive green linen shirt with pockets and tortoise shell buttons that teased their way down his lanky torso. There were wrinkles at the waistline. Had someone’s arm been wrapped around him, gently pushing creases into his strong frame just moments before? He smelled of musk, I was sure of it. And sweat. Not too much that one would turn away, but just enough to announce: I am a man, take note. He stood there holding a pair of black slacks. The weathered jeans that hung on his lean waist were nicer. Someone is making him buy those slacks, I thought to myself. Some woman.
Maybe a voluptuous blonde lover awaits him back in the hotel, lying exhausted amongst crumpled sheets reminiscing the two, three, no, four moments of ecstasy he had brought her to earlier in the afternoon. She had insisted on the pants for their next role-playing adventure. Or a stern Slavic femme fatale, with ivory skin and legs that never end (especially in those Alexander McQueen crocodile boots) demanded a classier look and he, of course, complies. He likes to keep his woman happy.
I toss the bras into my basket and gravitate towards him. My eyes are locked on his jaw: it is a beautiful jaw, perfectly sculpted and covered in three-day stubble, a look I tend to find annoying on most men but alluring on him. I know this man was put in this store for me, to make up for the slimy, arrogant, pot-bellied men that have tried shamelessly to pick me up before, but I can’t quite gather the nerve to tell him this, so I hide behind Mabinty, the Jamaican sales clerk rearranging high/low tees. From the safe cloud of her ambrosial perfume, I stare and wait for him to fetch me.
Our eyes lock momentarily and there is a short-circuit spark of energy. His murky, laid-back hazels are caught off-guard by the intense purpose of my blues. There’s no bullshit in that transaction. No small talk. You’re mine. I’ll wait, I signal. He meets my challenge with a small, sideways smile. You’re on, beautiful. The blood pulses through me making me blush. And he hasn’t even touched me. But Mabinty did. I had apparently bumped into her exhibit of One Rad Girl longsleeves.
“Wha’appen’, ma’am? We got de nice tops today!” she sang while shoving a particularly potent turquoise number in my face. “Bit pricey but worth every penny, dear!”
“Nice…yes, lovely…” I fumbled.
“Take it, take it, it look lovely wit your eyes. Make Husband happy, ya?”
Oh, Husband… ya. Images of him flooded my mind. Come to think of it, Husband was tall. Not freakishly tall but just right. And that olive shirt, the one I’d been gazing at on this guy, why, that looked just like the shirt Husband wore the first time we met years ago on an arid farm in the Venezuelan plains. I remember because that color looked delectable against his butterscotch skin. There were buttons and pockets everywhere, too (it was the ’80s), but even such a Safari fashion statement couldn’t dampen the beauty of his broad shoulders. I had looked at them and allowed myself to dream: those shoulders will hold up my children, one day. And now, years later, they have.
The stranger waited for my next move. He turned around casually to glance at a turtleneck he had seemingly forgotten to admire. His ass was bony. A bit too bony. Damn, no one has an ass like my husband, I found myself recognizing. And was that a balding spot peering under this dude’s curls? No one has a full head of hair like my man either. Still jet black, too.
Mabinty was waiting for my next move as well. Would I go for the full-price or head over to the peruse the discount section, over there by Men’s? I grabbed the shirt from her two-inch-long fuchsia nails.
“You’re right. I will make Husband happy,” I announced, suddenly missing him terribly.
Mabinty smiled, her gold tooth sparkling under the fluorescent light. She gazed at the Men’s Department and nodded in agreement.
“Ya… it’s a little more but it’s worth it,” she said, her eyes glazing over and taking her far away. “Come wit me, I check you out over by lingerie, dear.”
She linked her arm in mine, as we turned our backs on the sulking stranger, leading my new turquoise T-shirt and I back on track.
— Alona Martinez
Alona Martinez has been writing life stories since she was a distracted fourth grade student in Mrs. Edinger’s class. Multiplication tables couldn’t hold a candle to what was going on in her head. Since then she’s published articles in numerous papers and writes about family and food on her blog, Culinary Compulsion. She is currently working on her first book. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.