Mona Lisa

Years ago (most of my stories are from then, as I lived a much smaller life then, and had more space to remember and more time to recover) I was waiting on a busy street corner, my nearby Ventura Boulevard on a Saturday morning. It was a sunny day, hot already by 10am in the valley, and I wore shorts and a loose white tshirt, with a long black canvas purse pulling my left shoulder down, my messy hair falling straight like sticks all around my face.

My friend was going to pick me up he said, and he’d be bringing a different car, and it was to be a surprise. We are just gearheads I suppose, and the acquisition of a new automobile is enough to keep us in suspense. I stood on the corner and waited, and since I was bored and wanting to know what car he was going to be driving, I placed myself at the edge of the curb, peering into windshields, looking for a handsome and familiar man.

I know there was a slight smile on my face, as I expected to see him any second, but it hadn’t bloomed fully, as I was also aware that I was looking into stranger’s vehicles. It must have been a Mona Lisa smile, which is historically and now, the epitome of femininity.

Minutes went by and my friend was uncharacteristically late, and since this was long ago, there were no cell phones to text each other, so back then, there was much more waiting on curbs and just plain not knowing. One car, a black Acura Vigor, which is a discontinued model I have always liked and considered buying one day, turned around the block once and then again. I noticed it only because I liked that car. The windows were heavily tinted and I couldn’t see inside. It didn’t come around a third time and so I forgot about it as easily as I had thought of it.

A man walked up the street and said hello and walked past me but with his head turned looking at me. He walked all the way around the corner and went around it. I watched him go but thought nothing of it. I kept looking for my friend in the car I wouldn’t recognize. The man came back around the corner and said, “Are you waiting, for, for – me?”

I was startled, and he wasn’t an ugly man, probably my age, maybe a little older. But he’d made an assumption that was fairly shocking, yet also not, as I was standing on a street corner in smallish clothing looking into windshields.

He knew he was wrong the moment our eyes met and he started to sputter in apology. He walked backwards as he said, “I’m sorry, you were. I thought. I didn’t. I was wrong. I just thought……”
I looked at him square and said brightly, a hard shine to it – “What did you think?”

He said, “Nothing.”

Just then my handsome friend pulled up, leaning over and opening the passenger side door of a smoky grey brand new Infinity, which at that early dawn of the 90s was an exotic thing.

I flipped my straight hair back over to the back of my shoulder and got in the car, looking back at the would be john with neither attitude or anger, merely grace, shadow of the Mona Lisa smile lingering in my eyes.

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