I met her while walking around the busy tourist ladened sidewalks of Waikiki. She, in a floppy over-sized sunhat and large Breakfast-At-Tiffany’s sunglasses that covered her eyes like some sort of rhinestone encrusted insect. Strappy stiletto heels; pink and white sundress; shopping bags in one hand; gelato in the other. Everything about her screamed Korean tourist, but when she opened her mouth, the most beautiful sound came out:
No, she wasn’t singing, but she had the same voice of an angel. I learned over the course of the evening they’re called “Kowis”, (Korean + Kiwi = Kowi) ethnic Koreans raised in New Zealand and there is a sizable population of them– and they like coming to Hawaii. She pulled down her glasses to give me a quick once-over with piercing brown eyes.
I know what I look like in my tattered boots, bluejeans, skulls, bracers, and V-neck in the 90* weather– I am clearly not a tourist. We stood there, polar opposites from worlds away. Like those American tourists who go to another country and all they eat is McDonalds, I was something familiar and digestible in a foreign place, but different enough to still be exotic.
I ask her some innocuous question. She replies, and I realize I want to hear her voice as much as I can, for hours on end. We’re standing there in the sun and the heat, talking about shopping and gelato and the beach and people are just walking past us, and it isn’t until her bags are at her feet and her gelato is all melted that I realize we’ve been one of those asshole couples that just stands in a major thoroughfare and holds a conversation oblivious to everyone around them. She’s not making any excuses to walk away, no artificial deadline or destination. No, she’s genuinely interested in the words coming out of my mouth for some reason.
“I want to eat that.” I point to her empty gelato cup. “Where did you get that?”
Her second scoop of gelato becomes walking around taking in the sights, becomes drinks, becomes dinner at the cusp of the beach with the sunset glowing over the sun-baked sand ocean lapping it’s gentle waves upon the shore. She’s a lawyers, successful and ambitious, with a musical laugh and a wit as sharp as a tack, and I am all the more, enamored and enthralled. We spend the evening celebrating and exploring our differences.
“Why do you call them capsicum?” I point to her salad garnished with onions and red peppers. She ordered a salad because she’s watching her figure, but still manages to keep pace with me at three beers with dinner. The perfect paradox.
“What do you call them here?”
“Haha it’s a Pulp Fiction reference. We call them peppers.”
“Peppers?” She tries it out, unfamiliar in her mouth. “Then what do you call that?” She points to the black pepper shaker on the table.
“Isn’t that confusing?”
“Capsicum sounds better.” she concludes.
“Only when you say it.”
– – – –
We stumble into her hotel room, my hands caressing the supple curves of her body, hot steam radiating off our meshing flesh like… well like a radiator I suppose. She peels my shirt off and flings it into a corner of the room. We stumble out of shoes and heels, tripping over them our faces and hands unable to separate or even look down for the briefest of moments. I fling her onto the bed. She fumbles at the skull-and-crossbones of my belt buckle.
My thumb and forefinger find the zipper to the back of her pink and white sundress dress. I give it a tug; The zipper sings as it rides down the small of her back, each unfettered tooth widening the maw of fabric, and bringing me one step closer to that beautiful moment where our genitals will high-five. I run my fingernails playfully over her bare skin from her slender shoulders down to her well toned buttocks.
“Do you have a girlfriend?” She asks me between hot mouthy kisses.
“Of course not.” I reply, gasping for air. My hands working their way up the sides of her ribs, opening up the back of her dress ready to pull it off, her soft flesh dancing under my fingertips.
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
– – – –
Doctors call them “door knob questions“. The patient goes in, has a routine checkup and says everything is fine. The moment the doctor is about to leave the examining room, with his hand (or her hand I suppose, because women can be doctors too) on the door knob the patient spits it out– the real reason for their visit.
“I’ve got this growth on my testicle and I think it might be cancer… and I’ve been coughing up blood all morning…”
(I originally got the concept from an episode of [H]ouse. But I tried googling “House door knob questions” and all I got are home remodeling videos. )
She had deftly avoided the question all evening, and now right when we were at the cusp of coitus, standing at the doorstep of my ding-dong’s-destiny, with her hands at my waist kissing me like she means it… There’s this awkward. Halting. Pause.
“…I have a boyfriend.”
I laugh, because I think she’s being cute. It sounded so good coming out of her mouth, it took a second to register in my brain.
“Wait, say that again?”
“He’s back in New Zealand. We’re on a break.”
“Does he know that?” She shrugs. That’s a ‘No’.
“I mean, I’m going to break up with him when I get home.”
The room gets very cold and quiet. Something in the light changes: Her pink dress shifts, to salmon, and then the slightest hues of Orange begin to creep up through the fabric. I pull my face away from hers, first by inches and then by miles. Something in me shifts. I no longer want to do this. I stand up.
– – – –
I gather up my clothes. They were flung so casually all over her hotel room in a passionate whirlwind… and now i’m participating in the world’s most depressing scavenger hunt, where the prize at the end for collecting it all is a night of self-loathing and solitary contemplation about my life’s choices.
Even once I Caught em’ All, my clothes instinctively fight me. It’s like being a toddler again; all motor-skills flying out the window in my fevered panic to escape. my head wants to go through the arm hole, both feet in one pant leg. I don’t even bother to try tying my laces; I just tuck them into the sides of my shoes. She’s just sitting there on her hotel room bed, her mouth slightly agape and her eyes narrowed into slits, just watching me stumble into my clothes. The back zipper of her dress is still splayed wide open, the material folded over her shoulders as if she were some life-sized-zip-up-costume just waiting for someone with character to step into her skin.
“Thank you for a wonderful night” I say to her as I exit her hotel room. I wish I had a hat. Like a bowler, or a fedora, or even a cowboy hat because at that exact moment I would’ve raised it an inch over my head and tipped it to her. I saunter off, my imaginary spurs jingling with each step.
Out in the long empty corridor, lined with perfectly cloned hotel doors end to end, I pause for a moment uncertain of what to do. “I’m doing the right thing.” I said it aloud to myself in the empty hallway. And then again. “I’m doing the right thing. I’m doing the right thing.” I repeat it over and over like a mantra I am Bart Simpson begrudgingly writing sentences on that chalkboard at the start of every episode:
For some reason, I start running. Running… from a mostly naked woman who wants me for purely superficial reasons, a goal I’ve spent most of my life running towards. Hotel California begins playing in my head as I barrel my way down the empty hallway and through the fire exit and down the stairwell making a mad dash in concentric circles as I descend further and further away from her hotel room to the ground floor. I imagine her giving one final piercing cackle before her hotel room bursts into unholy purple and green flames. Because in Disney Movies, the bad guys always have purple and green flames. I fling open the doors and spill out onto some discrete side exit flanked by concrete plant potters and shoulder high-hedges. I hear the door lock behind me with a resounding *thud*. It’s in that moment I allow myself to slow the perpetual motion of my fleeing body. I turn around and try the handle. Yep, no turning back now. I tie my shoelaces and walk the rest of the way to my car.
I did the right thing. God Damn. I hate the right thing.