Amanda and I are out and about, Sunday and sunny again following the stormy weather that swept through me earlier in the weekend. We are shopping, walking, talking, and at the moment sitting in the park at the edge of downtown.
We both have pulled books out of our purses, and Amanda has her reading glasses on. She scans the park lawn in front of us, surprisingly green during a hot summer.
She points to a guy sprawled on the grass on the other side of the path. “You would be good with him,” she says.
Here we go again.
“He’s a teenager,” I say.
“He’s older than that. Maybe mid-twenties. I think you’d be good with a younger man.”
“I’m better with older men —you told me yourself.”
“Yes, but it doesn’t mean there couldn’t be others.”
“Currently I am rather booked up, don’t you think?”
“You have a lot of hours in your day.”
I don’t know what that even is supposed to mean. “I’m telling you, he’s a teenager, maybe twenty at most.”
“He looks mature, though,” Amanda says.
She has no way of knowing this. “He’s young enough to be my son,” I say.
“You need practice with younger men.”
“I’m not suggesting that you marry him, Shae. I just think you would be good with him. Younger guys could be your new demographic.”
“I have demographics? Fifty-five year-olds and what, now twenty-year-olds?”
I know I shouldn’t ask, but I do anyway: “Okay, how exactly do you imagine me being good with him?”
“I think he looks like he needs a blow job,” she says.
“Amanda, all twenty-year-olds need a blow job.” I shake my head in exasperation. I say nothing, hoping to drop the subject.
The young man is reading a book. I like that. He has long black hair, pulled back and tied into a ponytail. He is slender, but has thick forearms. Appealing, I must admit.
I look away, but Amanda has been watching me watching. “Kind of cute, isn’t he.”
“Sure, maybe he’ll take me to the prom.”
Amanda laughs. “I’d like to see that. You walking into the gym on his arm.”
I say nothing. This has gotten squirrelly.
I sense she is thinking about it. I mean really doing it. Eventually I ask her, “So what are you proposing, that you go up to him and say, ‘My friend here wants to give you a blow job?’”
“Yes. That. Exactly that.”
I know very well she will do it too. She has no compunction about making such things happen. “Maybe he won’t want me,” I protest.
Amanda looks over, tilting her head down, glaring at me above her glass frames. “You are kidding, right?”
I ignore her and pretend to read. But something prompts me to call her bluff, which I regret as soon as I say it: “If you really thought of me as, say, servicing this demographic, as you put it, you would have long ago paired me with handyman Blake instead.” I cringe at myself even before I finish speaking. I want to take it back.
Amanda laughs. She is prepared, somehow, and jumps on my comment: “Well, (a) you say it as if it’s an either/or… Then (b) now that you mention it, Blake is an interesting possibility… And (c) sounds like you might like it with Blake, yes?…”
I say nothing. Not like she hadn’t thought of Blake before.
Amanda stands. I close my eyes. She is preparing to approach the young man in the grass. I brace myself. Here we go.
But just as she places her purse on the bench beside me for safe keeping, the young man stands. He walks away.
“A pity,” Amanda says, sitting back down.
It is one of those ‘road less traveled” or “sliding doors” moments prompting “what if” thoughts and imaginings of life that might have detoured, for a wrinkle in time, behind an oak tree. She would have, and he likely would have, and then I would have. But sometimes slave life is living in possibilities that never happen.
“You wanted to,” she says.
I say nothing.
Amanda picks up her book, but first scans the park once again. She’s looking for other candidates.
“I think you should just read your book now,” I say.