Volume 2, Number 5 -- May, 1997

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Pretty Girls are Best Left Alone

by Greg Tennant

 Extraordinary. A girl came to sit on the grassy hill in the park in the sunshine. Boy, was it a warm day. She looked for a place to sit, and I watched her. She took off her stretch shorts, then her tight green top, revealing a black bathing suit underneath. There was her rear end, not all of it under that suit. Not much of it under that black suit.
 She occasionally turned and rolled, directing her round white cheeks this way and that, undoubtedly aware of all the people looking at her. No one else had a swimsuit on, only shorts or their jeans rolled up or their t-shirt off. Warm sunny days like this don't happen often in this frigid city, and they usually catch us unprepared.
 Lots of men stole glances at her as they sat there, or as they passed by, or as they made excuses to get up from sitting there to pass by. I took my share of glances; such pretty sights are indeed pleasant, and we feel very much alive in their presence. In our own ways, each of us men on the hillside probably thanked her for coming to the park that day and taking in the sun the way she did.
 I turned around to keep my mind on my work for a while, betting myself that she would most likely be gone when I turned back around, which would be too bad. It would be best if I could see her leave and then I'd leave just a little bit behind her, and maybe see where she was going on my way home.
 By the time I turned around again, she was indeed gone. She had left before I could see which way she was headed. Too bad for me. I packed up my things in my shoulder bag and put my shirt back on. It was such a beautiful warm day. Which way did she come from? I hadn't seen her until she was already at the hill. I thought about where she could possibly live, according to which path she might have taken. I also hoped I'd see her up ahead, but she had already been gone from sight when I looked up, and I could see quite a ways.
 I contemplated going a few steps out of my way to glance down the main neighborhood street to see if I could see her down the road, but I'm sure I decided not to. I went my own way. But I did look back toward the crowd of people gathered where the street comes to an end at the park boundary, and I saw a group of hackey sackers, one of whom was doing an incredible job bouncing and jumping and kicking the bag. He kept it up for quite a while, too, longer than I had yet been able to.
 That's when, as I was turning away again, I caught a glimpse of a shoulder, a sleeve, a green one with a cut shaped just exactly like the one that girl on the hill had on. I did a double take. Where was she? It wasn't possible, I always think I see things when I catch little glimpses like that, because I to see them. But there she was, crossing the street in the crowd. How could she only have got this far? I went to the light, waited for the next green, keeping an eye on her as she walked down the sidewalk. Had she stopped to talk to someone? Does she hang out with these people? They're street people, hippies, Deadheads. Homeless wanderers. I mean, not that I have a problem with that, since I feel more comfortable here than anywhere else I've yet been, except back in the suburbs before I knew there were other places I could go to get away from people who didn't like me. But she didn't appear to be the type who'd stop and talk with longhairs or dropout bohos. She had short blond hair, and she was skinny, and she wore that sexy black bathing suit with the high-cut legs. Her visual style was completely different from those hackey sackers'.
 There went the light, and I walked on down the sidewalk about a block behind her, seeing where she went and enjoying the view. She went quite a few blocks, on the sunny side of the street. The air was warm and pleasant, a lot like a Southern California day. Lots of people were out and about, even though it was a Monday. Maybe it was about lunch time. Still, this neighborhood isn't much of a business district, nor a lunch hangout for working types. It's just where people live, most likely people with irregular job hours or class hours, or just plain irregular hours. I wondered if she was a student, and I also wondered if maybe someday fairly soon I ought not to become a student again myself, and get on with the program. As it was, I had plenty of time for irresponsible activities such as this. Still, I walked down that street with more purpose and concentration than at any other time in recent memory.
 Usually I go that way to go to the laundromat or the post office or the grocery store; sometimes it's to pick out a video to rent. Whenever I walk down this way with Julia, we stay one block over to avoid the hassles and crowds and requests from street people for spare change that always come with walking in our neighborhood. It also lets us feel more comfortable talking with each other; we don't have to feel conscious of strangers hearing snippets of our private conversations, and drawing conclusions about what kind of ordinary dull people we are, probably from the suburbs or something.
 Occasionally I would lose sight of the girl behind all the people. Was she walking with anyone? It was hard to judge depth from this distance, but eventually I decided there didn't seem to be anyone in her vicinity who stayed near her for any length of time. Where could she be going? Had she really come this far just to go to the park? I wondered if she was going to catch a bus. She looked out at the street sometimes, or across the street, which made me decide that crossing the street wouldn't be best; although I would have a better view of her and less chance of losing her in the crowd, she would more likely turn back and see me than if I stayed straight behind her. I made sure I kept her in sight so she wouldn't slip into a store and come out just as I passed by.
 Then she went to the corner. She was crossing. I slowed. Then she was turning back on the other side and heading back toward the park. Was she just shopping? Was she just taking a walk down our street, not being a regular in the neighborhood and wanting to check it out before heading off on a bus somewhere back home? Maybe she was going in the Victorian pub on the corner, going to meet someone. A delivery van was parked at the curb and I could see her feet going by underneath. No, not the pub.