WHEN I’M ON AIRPLANES, I can never sleep. This of course means anyone with whom I’ve ever traveled can crash before “fasten seatbelt” illuminates. So I’m left with in-flight magazines, books, and an iPod. If I’m flying Virgin or JetBlue, then fine, I can watch The TV Food Network. I used to knit back when needles were permitted on board, right, back when I was married.
Jaime was doing the almost snore, and I was out of yarn. I began to read an article written by a whore, okay, a Madam, and I’m sure it wasn’t in the in-flight reading materials. It must have been Vogue or Cosmo. Whatever. The article was about a married woman who wanted to learn how to better seduce her husband. So Wifey visits the Madam for some tips. Upon first meeting Wifey, Madam empties the contents of Wifey’s handbag onto the table. “Your handvag must be vepresentative of a lady. No vappers.” I image she said it with a Russian accent, so vappers meant wrappers… no gum wrappers, no slits of paper. Be clean, organized, and alluring. I leaned under my seat to open my handbag. It was indeed ladylike, filled only with essentials. A phone, business cards, an atomizer, mints, a lipstick with liner (despite the fact that liner makes everyone look older than she really is), and Laura Mercier’s Secret Camouflage… clearly not the handbag of a writer.
The things we carry say a lot about us. My handbag is a mess lately. Oh you want to hear the rest of what happened in that article? The only other good tip I got was to dab some vagina behind your ears to attract a man. Pheromones. Sex. Delicious. So now, the handbag is sans atomizer and full of random vappers.
As I type this even, I’m trying to read what I’d written on the back of a (now shredded) napkin: “Some people doodle; I write nonsense on napkins. In Manhattan, you’ve got smell ranges beyond urine and the strong body odor of the homeless, which is sometimes confused with alcohol—fat cats with cigars, emulsions of food, smells from Sunday night’s garbage, the pine at Rockefeller Center, roasted nuts, Gray’s Papaya dogs, and The Boat Basin, where I am. Oh, and the jumpy smell in some taxicabs. No matter how much I’ve eaten at The Boat Basin before I come here, I cannot leave without consuming a hamburger. It smells like a cookout and makes you crave pickles and soft serve ice cream more than a pregnant lady.
Smells are as good as photographs for evoking memory and transposing the mind: I’m at fat camp, crouching on the ground, hovering above my paper plate squeezing ketchup packets. Grass imprints on my thighs—I sat so long trying to savor every bite. I layered. Like the layering of clothing to keep you warm, I layered condiments with my bag of chips, parsing out the goods like a poker dealer. It was an art. You had to make the most of every calorie, but somehow no one ever paid attention to the ketchup (it’s all sugar). I’d use any condiment I could, then I’d mix, layer, and create.
The light is orange here. There’s a sweet smoky breeze, flags twist, and soon it will be perfect. Soon I’ll be on my walk home, smelling burger and ketchup on my fingers, and I’ll fall asleep full and happy… happy no one cares how much ketchup I’m having.
You don’t come to The Boat Basin for the wine, or the crap Strawberry daiquiri; you come for the view and relaxed flip-flop celebration of good weather. You do. I come for the vapors.”
I’d rather be the lady with the index cards, napkins, and anything else I need to shove in my bag these days to capture a moment. And fcuk the lipstick liner. What was I thinking?