Close Cover Before

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Close Cover Before

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

It’s all in the smile. If they smile back, you got them hooked. They smile back, they’re already wondering what your tits look like under that dress, or whether you do anal.

You’re thinking “not all dudes.” But the “nots” don’t matter, you’re not there for the nots. You’re there for the ones who smile back as you stand outside the MixUp and ask them if they have a light. You’re there for the ones who reply and their gaze lingers, and then it’s pretty easy to get the conversation going, it’s pretty easy to get them to walk over to the coffee shop across the street for biscotti and a cappuccino.

They’re penning a letter to Penthouse in their heads. Dear reader, I met a random girl outside a record shop, then invited her home. And while they pen the imaginary letter and you lean forward to better show off your cleavage, you are weaving a tale. The vintage, pretty, little pastel-colored suitcase by your feet accompanies you because you were supposed to stay with a friend, but they’re fumigating her apartment and now you must find a hostel.

And the Penthouse letter is getting more detailed. They look at your flower dress, they look at the combat boots and the cherry-red lipstick, and they’re thinking “I’ve got you,” while you just told them seven lies they didn’t hear because they were too busy knowing they’re going to brag about this at work tomorrow.

They’re not the kind of guys who pick random girls who stand outside a record shop, but of course they are that kind of guy; you could spot them three miles away. From behind your heart-shaped sunglasses you can always tell.

Your outfit, it screams alternative, it screams free, it screams modern flower-power child with a tattoo on her back, and you don’t have any tattoos, but they don’t need to know. It’s just the armor you wear. If you look too casual they don’t pay attention and if you are too made-up they get intimidated, but this look has the right amount of sass and sexy, without risking being confused with a whore. Because if they think you’re a whore then they think you are worth only a few bills and they can do what they want and out you go, or they get shy, or they feel affronted. So you have to make it clear what kind of girl you are and the answer is you’re a wild-child, you’re the chick who dances in the moonlight without music, you’re the heroine Audrey Hepburn used to play on the tiny black and white TV set.

And that’s the girl they take home because she doesn’t have a place to stay, they don’t take the whore. That’s the girl who gets free room and board for minimum two weeks and maximum a couple of months, not because they wouldn’t let you stay longer – some might – but because two months is probably all the time you can stomach hanging out around the apartment of this loser-creep. Two months is plenty of time to figure out where a dude stashes his cash (they all have a stash, one way or another), what valuables he owns (sorry about your grandmother’s ring), his personal data (amazing the number of credit cards you can open with just a few details and a pen) and all the other things worth knowing.

By the time you leave he will have nothing. All the details you revealed were fake, after all, clubbed from novels and films (do you really think there are many girls in this city called Hedy?). He doesn’t have your photo because you didn’t like pictures. He doesn’t even have the name of your friend with the fumigated apartment, nor a phone number. And what is he going to say to the police? How is he going to explain it? As if the police are going to care if a girl you live with who is not your girlfriend but okay maybe she was – who you picked outside the MixUp, who did not do anal but instead stuck to handjobs – suddenly left and took the entire contents of your savings accounts. How pathetic is it going to sound that no, sir officer, I actually did not fuck her but twice or thrice she did pump my dick and I was absolutely convinced that I’d get to fuck her in the shower one day, like in the softcore pornos on Cinemax.

Like in that imaginary letter to Penthouse that is now cruelly erased.

I know what you are thinking, no guy lets a girl stay in his place for two months in exchange for a mere handjob. But the trick is to spin stories. Scheherazade knew this well. Keep them interested, keep them hanging around. Always leave ‘em wanting more, like PT Barnum said. When I’m good, I’m very good. When I’m bad, I’m better. And they lap it up, this vaudeville performance.

Hedy with the pink nails, chewing bubble gum on the couch, Hedy with the goal of hitchhiking all the way to Argentina next summer, Hedy who will go skinny dipping with you one night you’ll see, Hedy with the hair copied from an old, old issue of Modern Screen.

Men. They want Kathleen Hanna, but only if she has some Elizabeth Taylor and a side of 1950s housewife in her.

At any rate, so long, Hedy! It was good knowing you.

I know it sounds wild, doesn’t it? To live like this? To go through life dragging your little pastel suitcase and your packs of lies. To be Ava and Grace and Vivien. Surely it’s just a story I’m making up while you and I stand outside this coffee shop, an eccentric amusement for the both of us.

Hey, let me ask you, do you have a light?


Photo of matches: Flickr, Rob Howard.