Tall Girl: A Delayed Valentine

Tall Girl: A  Delayed Valentine
God, she’s beautiful, a stunning girl. Gay men and straight women would want her. She was born—no talent or accomplishment of hers—to be admired because she is so beautiful and projects a kind of sexiness that cannot be ginned up, faked, or airbrushed. No pouty lips, no ersatz orgasm face, no birthmark near the mouth, just herself. Probably five ten in her stocking feet—and I would love to be with her like that. She’s wearing heels, nothing extreme, but she stands six feet or close enough. In his shoes he’s at best five eight. She’s got her arm around his shoulder, and his is around her waist, really tight. This is real for them: they are together, have been together, will be together. They’re glued, at least for now, tonight, all that matters. The boys on the corner, not really punks or loubards, don’t say anything as the couple passes them, and the tall girl and her little lover probably wouldn’t have noticed, or cared, anyway. But after they are safely out of hearing, the boys do a little hooting. What a dweeb, quel falot, look at that runt, un foutu nain—even though they are no taller than he. They’re fifteen, sixteen, have a lot of growing left in their bones if all goes well. And what do I do? I go up, smiling, and say, “Well, yeah, but he’s going home with her when it gets dark and you, you, where are you going tonight?” No way to be popular: being right is sometimes dumb, and I’ve had too much practice in both. Keep your wisdom to yourself, I think, as they wander off. But I also think I’m jealous of them, these boys brave in a group if still alone in their frightened teenage frustration. They’d have a better chance with the tall girl than I could ever hope to. They’re only a few years younger than she is—and she might like to use her goddess powers to teach them about love or at least about getting laid, and get in return the energy, if not the finesse, of a boy entering his bull stage. I know enough about being envoyé en l’air without a tutorial, but I’m out of the running unless she has some sort of daddy-complex, and I’ve been there with no plans to return. The afternoon is getting late and cheerless. Maybe a cup of coffee will jolt a little brightness into me, and I walk into the first café I come to, three or four doors down the street. The room is very bright and at the far end I can see a couple just about to sit themselves down. They must have walked in a moment or two ahead of me, but I had distractions and didn’t notice. The man is elegant, lean, dressed in black, with an eye for textures: his shirt has a shimmer of silk, his jacket the dim gloss of cashmere, his pants matte, his leather shoes, with the dull polish that Frenchmen manage though I don’t know how, almost nubby. He is also three or four inches shorter than the woman. She is tall and big. I suppose there’s fat on her—and a fair amount—but she’s sleek, not bulgy. Fat is not the adjective that would come to anyone’s mind for her: big is almost right, big all over, large breasts, largely exposed, a broad face, a wide smile, and big red hair the way only the hair of parisiennes can be red. Anything or anyone can be big, but not everyone can be what she is—lush, generous… plantureuse. The French word suits her, filling my mouth and making me smile as I break it into its four zaftig syllables—plan-tu-reu-se. And him, her little man, I want to think he is gay—so elegant, so carefully put together with two pins, as the French say or at least used to. But they too were holding on to each other, and as she sits, she runs her hand up the inside of his thigh and he carefully smoothes her left breast, which takes a while. The tall girl I saw earlier was sublime. The redhead I’m looking at is not ridiculous, despite her proportions and the mix of bright blues, oranges, pinks, and yellows in her clothing. She’s like a ripe tropical fish or a bird in the canopy of a rain forest—utterly natural, native to herself, at home in her rainbow of abundance. I’m not the only one who has noticed the couple and with approval, not to mention envy. The redhead is not a goddess: there’s no distance, no sense of being beautiful beyond reason, nothing mighty about her except no doubt her thighs. You know by looking that she laughs when making love and heaves enough to launch the elegant little man up in the air when she comes and makes a wild racket that the neighbors can hear through the wall. I can’t imagine that he minds, nor can I imagine any man who would not like to take her to bed, at least once, to be enveloped by her, delve into her—and even taller men would prefer to be smaller than she, the better to get lost. You can picture falling asleep on top of her with a smile on your face. Having no chance of doing that—today or ever—I feel even glummer than when I arrived and I retreat. And so does the sun, making Paris impressionistically murky and me feel it’s reasonable to have a glass of wine, and so I do in a nondescript joint after walking with my head down for a good ten minutes. I perch at the bar and ask for a glass of Bordeaux without looking up or around. God knows what I’d see, and I don’t want to know. But I do after a while because the barman is putting on a show. He’s alone and keeping up with four…

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