Sitting at a Starbucks in Las Vegas, I watch a tiny (tall but bent-over) old lady with red lips and rhinestone sunglasses enter the store and make her way to the counter. My mind began whirling "could she have been a show girl at one time." There was an attitude of "look at me" as if she were used to being looked at. But I sensed an air of insecurity. So I began to write - and this is the result.
Gina sat facing away from the glass doors of the bistro. Years of flash bulbs had taken their toll on her sight. The glare of the sun not only made it harder to see, it hurt.
Her once lovely blue eyes that sported false eyelashes and bright blue eye-shadow were sunken and hidden behind rhinestone sun glasses. She had been one of the original Blue Belle showgirls at the Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas. She still entered a room as if stepping onto a stage.
The state had authorized the use of a white cane, but she refused to use it.
She felt her way to the counter and asked the barista, "What time is it?"
"Oh, I thought it was later. Thank you.
Sitting alone, the time passed slowly; living alone the time passed quickly. Maybe it was all the sleep, a painless escape, with no side effects, other than life was rushing past her as if she was standing still.
She heard the sliding of flat-soled shoes and the click of high heels in succession. Her table was near the door and she knew to walk against the sound. She could recognize the outline of her table.
Stir, two, three-- clink once, twice on the saucer. Gina knew Hank was there.
"Good morning, Hank."
"And a good one to you, Gina."
"How’s the coffee today?"
"Hot and sweet, just like you, honey."
"Oh, Hank, you’re so cute. Thanks, though." I used to be hot, Gina thought remembering her showgirl days.
The barista drug her feet over to the window. Gina heard the nylon swoosh as the blinds were raised to let the sunshine in.
The door opened and a brief breeze rearranged the gray wisps of Gina’s hair. She heard the familiar click, slide slide, click.
"Hello, Bert. I got your coffee already.
"Thanks Gina girl. He hung his cane on the edge of the table and lowered his body onto the waiting chair. He blew a faint whistle across the top of the mug and slurped.
"Just how I like it, Gina girl. Hot and sweet."
Gina wanted to ask, "Like me, Bert?"
The highpoint of her day was the time at the coffee shop. Early in the morning she was grateful that her eyesight was bad. "Looking through wax paper, I don’t look so bad." She vascilated between – at least I’m alive, and what happened to me.
Hearing the gentle tussling of younger couples and whispering sweet somethings, Gina yearned for a moment in time…a moment when she turned heads, and life was full of sparkling martinis served by well-dressed penguins in tails. She wanted to relive her beautiful days, now that she was wiser and knew some things, and knew mistakes not to make. She wanted to feel light and lovely and desired.
As a Bluebelle she was always desired – at least for one night.
But, there was a moment. There was one fleeting moment: one out of 885,427,200 moments, when she felt loved and wanted for longer than half a bottle of wine and thirty minutes of an LP.
What is a fleeting moment? It’s not just a cliché. It is a moment that moves too fast. It’s the one you want to last forever. It’s the lovely diamond locked in the case that you only get to glimpse. And the smile of your heart will cause it to stop in its tracks and remain at least long enough to etch onto your soul so that it’s always available…a memory close to the surface. Because you know—you know that you will have to call that moment back up. You will have to have that memory just to sustain you.
And sometimes, when it’s very dark, and she’s had enough wine, she recalls the moment when he said, "you are so much woman."