She struggled with her romantic life almost as much as she struggled with her alarm clock come Monday morning.
Her alarm clock, though, did worked and thus, did not fail expectations.
Monday morning minutes were like dog years, each one equal to 7 more minutes of sleep. On Monday morning, 5 extra minutes to snooze meant just a little over 30 more minutes in bed. It wasn’t really her thing, Mondays.
And if an iPhone contact list was indicative of a track record, neither was romance her thing. In her mind, both were for the over-eager, the over-enthusiastic and the under-alcoholic.
It’s not like she hadn’t experienced what most romantics do; a quickened heartbeat, her stomach flipping and being swept off her feet, into a daze.
Romantics get that way after having been smitten. She got that way after being bitten.
By a tarantula.
But that’s a whole other story.
Fanning her garcon (cedilla on the ‘c’ omitted by her hairdresser as he proposed to her to try the avante garde do) fringe from her face, she threw up the duvet, slid sideways across the lower end of the bed and almost dropped to her wake, only to be saved by her feet landing in their slippers.
She so didn’t want to brush her teeth. But, unless she brushed her teeth, she couldn’t drink her coffee. If she didn’t drink her coffee, she couldn’t smoke her cigarillo. And if she didn’t smoke her cigarillo she couldn’t… do anything.
The internal ‘to brush or not brush’ dialogue was commonplace every Monday morning. You’d think she’d have ceased such a debate, learning at least 1020 Mondays ago that she always loses and that her anal self always wins. But no. She would forever be a goldfish circling fishbowl arguments in her head.
Which included arguments on romance. ‘To fall or not to fall in love’. The irony being of course, she was tackling a matter of the heart through the density of her mind. She may have taken her father too literally when he said everything was ‘mind over matter’, which she also applied to all things romantic. Little did she know that today, on this very Monday, not only would she lose the ‘to brush or not to brush’ argument, but that she’d also lose the ‘to fall or not fall in love’ one too. Except this time, it wasn’t her anal self who would win.
And a tomato, a left boot and a street vendor named Yacoub would bring about his victory.
Brushing her teeth with her left hand, she used her right hand to jack the rusty faucet open, eject the kettle lid ajar, and fill it with hot water. Her mother told her she should always fill it with cold water, because ‘they’ say it is better.
(When she gets minimally rich, she intends to hire a private detective to find out who exactly ‘they’ is. Because it appears they know EVERYTHING).
Placing the kettle on its plastic base and switching it on, the water boiled within minutes and moments later she was asymmetrically sprawled over her Velcro couch, sipping her coffee.
Before you cringe at the thought of a Velcro couch, you need to know she was only a secret shopper. Commissioned on an assignment basis to go to various retail establishments, resort hotels, boutiques, restaurants and the likes to evaluate their level of service, she wasn’t earning very much. Yet, it did get her access to many nicer things not made of Velcro. Case in point- her Ed Hardy lighter.
It was anything but light though. It towered on her wood coffee table and every time she reached for it to light up her cigarillo, technically it counted as a tricep rep. By the end of a usual day, she’d have done at least 2 reps of 15.
Completing the day’s first rep, she swung the top of the Ed Hardy lighter back and ignite a large torch-like flame with a blooming blue base that had tie dye hues of orange and yellows at the tip.
Ah. That first puff. The Monday morning cigarillo was a nebulizer; inhaling, she felt it expand her lungs.
This would certainly keep her continuing to breathe until Friday… a feat her asthma inhaler could surely not accomplish.
(Leave it alone. The last thing you want is to swim in her fish bowl logic).
She only had one assignment today. It was to go to a local cafe that had a soft-launch a month ago. She’d never heard of it, but then again, she wasn’t hip enough to really be qualified to hear about it.
Since she had scheduled to go there at lunch time, she figured that gave her at least 3 hours to go exchange the pair of boots she had received for free with her last assignment. Calculating time for traffic on her way there and then back to the cafe, she figured she had enough time to exchange the boots as she’d only be 35 minutes late for her lunch reservation.
Time was a cheap currency in this part of the world. Cairo’s convenient like that.
Gelling her hair took all of 3 minutes, 2:55 of which was spent on one cowlick lock in the middle of crown. She slipped into her Levis, smirking; though her anal self won ‘to brush or not to brush’, this time she had won ‘to change or not to change underwear’.
(Her smirk didn’t really completely distract her from her anal self’s disapprovingly reprimands for her triumphant stale choice).
Within a quarter of an hour, her toe rings were on her toes, her finger ringers were on her fingers and her feet were slung into their Birkenstocks.
Stepping into the street, before she could even hail a cab, one stopped for her. No, she wasn’t THAT attractive. But THAT is how many cabs the city was flooded with.
Cairo’s convenient like that.
Doing the opposite of a Lady Di legs-together entrance into the cab, she swung her limbs inharmoniously to balance herself as the driver pulled off with her left leg still in contact with the street pavement.
And just when you’d think she’d be thankful that she had gotten her left leg inside the cab while still attached to the rest of her, she cursed in broken Arabic, switching to English curse words that weren’t very English in their ending with a preposition.
The cab wasn’t air-conditioned!
‘Are you SURE it isn’t working?’
‘Lady, if it was working, would I not work it?’
Now, that is a logical response, but given logic was suspect as it was not culturally common, she persisted in her interrogation.
‘Is it on?’
‘You want me to turn it on?’
‘No, let’s see if it works in off mode.’
That’s what she said in her head. What she really said was, ‘Yes.’
The air coming from the conditioner sure sounded as if it was napping. But, at least it was exhaling cool air.
‘I swear, Lady, it wasn’t working a half hour ago.’
Denial. Okay, back into business. Finally, something culturally common.
She settled in and pulled out her iPod, circularly moving her index finger left and right until she loaded the playlist that would carry her across town. Then, the cab driver ruined it.
She was and she wasn’t. But to avoid having to go deeper into that, she opted for the short version.
‘Do you mind if I stop to get gas? It will only take a minute.’
She could mind. But then she’d have to find another cab. Which meant another opposite-of-Lady-Di cab entrance.
So she didn’t mind.
Pulling into the gas station, the driver got out to fill up the tank. She rolled down the window and pulled out her pack of Cigarillos. Tapping the bottom of the pack, one cigarillo was pushed to protrude its filtered head. She grabbed it, and fished her big red bag for a lighter that wasn’t anything close to being an Ed Hardy.
‘You shouldn’t smoke inside a gas station.’
Looking through the window’s opened crack she saw a posh man standing next to a BMW.
‘Thanks for the health tip. You’re 10,000 packs too late. But I’ll keep that in mind.’ She tilted her head down and drew the lighter towards her cigarillo.
‘It’s not that. It’s just dangerous.’
‘Dangerous? If I need to hear about dangerous, I’ll listen to Michael Jackson.’ At this point the lighter had made contact with her cigarillo.
‘Are you always a bitch, or just in gas stations?’
Surely, by now, you must know that this is the ‘him’. After all, the audience is always the first to know. And though, she doesn’t know…
Her heart does.
That leaves us with the tomato, left boot and street vendor named Yacoub.
Meet me back here Monday. We’ll finish where we left off…