Downtown on a Saturday morning, watching sleepy-eyed co-eds and young twenty-somethings drift into the coffeeshop by the river. Bright and surprisingly hot so early--- a morning for iced coffee rather than anything hot. The girls I'm watching are on their way home, threading their way through older, empty streets and construction zones back to their own rented rooms or to the new condos in reno'd buildings along the river streets. I can sit at a corner table with my own iced coffee and a stack of books from the tiny downtown library branch and try to read faces. I suppose it would be a novelist's feast, watching the faces of Saturday morning Walk o' Shame girls--- so many stories in those expressions.
Twenty-odd years ago, there was a Zalman King "version"--- a very, very free "version" ---of "Delta of Venus". It actually wasn't so bad on its own terms, and it's worth watching. It just wasn't Anais Nin in any way--- take that judgment however you wish. There was a fun scene where the two leads walk through Paris streets in that odd Phony War autumn of 1939 and try to construct stories for passers-by. They sit in cafes and do the same--- watch the other tables and construct whole lives for the couples who flirt or bicker or sit silently. Well, I liked the girl who played the lead in the film; I'll admit that. I did like the idea of sitting with a lover and constructing stories. That's one of the things I've loved, and one that I wonder if ever I'll do again.
Walk o' Shame stories for sleepy-eyed co-eds--- always a lovely chance to see what you can do with imagination and deduction. I won't refer here to all those moments in Sherlock Holmes stories where Holmes deduces a whole life from details. I hated those moments, really. Far too arrogant, and I was never a Holmes fan. I'll always admit to using imagination more than deduction. I'm turning the girls at the coffeeshop tables into characters in a story, not assessing them as potential clients or criminal suspects.
Sleepy-eyed, I always say. If they've been with lovers, they should be sleepy--- they should've been having sex 'til not long before dawn. Hungover a bit, too. What's sex without vodka shots or bourbon on the rocks? Pensive, sometimes--- you can see the girls thinking about whether last night was a mistake or a disappointment, thinking as well about whether last night was a one-off or whether there's an affair beginning. Sometimes you can see them wondering about how to explain to roommates that they slept in a new bed last night. Once in a while you do see smiles--- they liked the guy, liked what they did, enjoyed the sex. Sometimes you see them looking at cars parked on the street, or at couples, and wondering why they're walking home alone, without their new young gentleman escorting them. That expression leads to all kinds of interesting speculations about social rules here in the new age, right?
It's all different if you're male, I suppose. The walk home is less thoughtful, less a contemplative time. More triumph, less analysis---- unless that's an image that we've decided to reject here in the new age of equality and diversity. My own experience has been that the walk home is a victory march--- proof of my own value, proof that for one night I've won a battle against time and decay and my own body and past.
But it's still a fact, I think. Male stories on mornings-after are much, much less interesting, and they're so much less complex.
Well, a morning that's all summer sunlight. You can sit and sip vanilla iced coffee and watch girls with stories in their eyes and try to imagine what their lives are like. Surely there was a third Holmes brother who was a novelist---- surely.