18 August, 2009
Walking home from the only mildly overpriced grocery store a few blocks away, I was lost in the evening clouds’ brilliant pink, white and blue when a somewhat scraggly woman’s voice pulls me out of my day-dream.
“Excuse me honey!”
I turn around and see a Carroll Gardens staple – the faux-tanned, saggy, fried straight black haired middle-aged woman with a few blurred tattoos sticking out from various spots of ill-fitting clothing.
“Can I ask you a ridiculous question, a really retarded one?”
“Sure,” I reply, trying to hide my hesitance.
“I lost 149 pounds in four years,” she begins, and I think “Hurrah! It’s the guy-roh lady! (A few months ago, I awoke to this conversation taking place on the sidwalk outside of my apartment: “Have you ever heard of a gyro? A guy-roh? Oh my god, it’s like sex.” I immediately know its the same woman, who had proceeded to tout the 140 pounds she had lost in 4 years.)
Before I can get “Congratulations!” out of my mouth, she says “I’m 49. That’s not bad right? I’m seeing a guy tonight who I haven’t seen in four years. He’s so hot. So hot. Do I look fat or skinny in this outfit? Tell me the truth?” She’s talking a million miles a minute, her Brooklyn accent spilling out of her mouth.
“I think you look grea-” I begin.
“No, tell me serious. I’ve been fat all my life, look a’ this, I got shoulders now, see ’em? I was in the shower, after I lost all the weight, and I felt my shoulders and I was like, “What’s this?” I swear on my mother, honey, I’ve been fat all my life.”
“You look good,” I tell her. She doesn’t cut me off. “You look thin. Your pants -”
“He’s 34,” she tells me. “He’s in love with me.”
“The white pants work really well for you.”
“Yeah, 149 pounds in four years, Mami, I’m not lying.”
“Congratulations. You look great.”
“You’re an angel, Mami. What’s your name? I’m going now to the salon to get hair extensions. I’m crazy. It’s so hot, gimme a hug, it’s so hot.”
I hug her. Her musky perfume clings to me like a film. I shudder.
“What’s your name, Angel?”
I tell her as she shuffles in her too-high-heels to the street. She lifts her designer sunglasses and looks at me for the first time. She repeats my name, then asks how old I am. When I tell her, she says, “I’m 49. Not bad, right? You tell one woman she’s beautiful, someone will do the same to you, Mami.”
I wish her luck.