(Excerpt from Raking the Dust.)
It was some time later, back at the drink rail, when I heard—Hey Spider-Man—and felt a hand press down on my shoulder.
I turned around and there was Jose, his eyes a couple of pinkish slits and the bat on his neck pulsating. He gave me a bump-hug. I introduced him to Julius and Lucien, Angel having left with his dance partner, and after getting a Crown and Coke Jose joined us.
He told me that Sammy had re-hired him to play The Hulk until the end of the summer. He was doing that and pizza delivery for Domino’s.
You need to come back as Spider-Man fool, Jose nudged my shoulder.
I told him my web-slinging days were over.
It ain’t easy being green homey, Jose reminded me, clinked the bottom of his glass against the neck of my bottle, then went on to tell me that he and Nicole had gotten back together a couple of months ago.
I fuck around, Jose said in a serious voice, but family’s family. I don’t wanna go through this life without Nicole and Jose, Jr., know what ahm sayin?
Jose and I bullshitted about this and that and were in the middle of reminiscing about killing zombies together, when Lucien emphatically announced—Eh look boys, the cheerleading team has arrived.
A wave of blondness drifted toward the bar.
Six girls in all, each one golden-haired and infomercial attractive.
Nah homey, Jose said to Lucien, that ain’t the cheerleading team, that’s the fucking Barbie convention.
Jose blew laughter through his nostrils and high-fived Lucien.
A potato-faced man sitting near us pitched in his two cents—No, no, it’s the Pussy Posse, ese.
After hearing that, my mind went cartoon. I saw six Power Puff cowgirls riding into a dusty town on hobbyhorses.
Jules invite them over, Lucien suggested.
You invite them over, Julius countered.
No they don’t want me to invite them over. They want you the black man.
Jose extended Lucien’s line of reasoning—It’s true homey. That’s a whole lotta sunshine over there. They need some dark to keep shit balanced, know what ahm sayin?
Julius laughed hysterically, slamming his hand on the drink rail. And remained seated.
Next, Lucien tried me—How about you Mr. Alex? Go over. Tell them I want to buy them a round of drinks.
I shook my head.
Come on, Lucien urged, you’re good with words.
I continued shaking my head—I’m not interested in champagne girls.
Champagne girls? What the fuck is that?
They’re champagne girls. I’m not into them. I have a thing for gravity girls.
Champagne and gravity, Jose clapped riotously. This fool’s gone astronautical on us.
Julius was intrigued. He leaned in—Champagne girls and gravity girls. I’d like to hear more about this.
The words rapidly tumbled out, as if ready made.
Gravity girls, I explained, are like a fine burgundy, velvety and complex and full of subtle undertones. A champagne girl. A champagne girl is not good or real champagne but cheap shit that’s too sweet and goes to your head like soap opera bubbles.
Soap opera bubbles WHAT THE FUCK, Jose cut in, his head bowed by laughter.
I stayed on track—A gravity girl would be like a Neruda poem or maybe. Maybe Ahkmatova.
Ahkma who, Jose said.
Ahkmatova. She’s this Russian gravity poet. And a champagne girl would be like a Hallmark greeting card, y’know?
Yes, Lucien reasoned, but you don’t stick your dick in a poem or a greeting card.
Maybe he does, Jose quipped, and gave me a we-cool-bro slap on the back.
Julius continued with his inquiry—And what tells you that those girls are champagne girls? Their blondeness?
No no it’s got nothing to do with hair color. It’s a matter of. It’s something else. Let’s just call it a hunch, even though I could be dead wrong.
So you wouldn’t fuck a champagne girl, Lucien pressed.
Of course I would. I have. What I’m saying, when it comes to connecting with a girl, really connecting and deep-down feeling her, I prefer gravity girls to champagne girls. Fuck soap opera bubbles.
Which instantly became our impromptu toast, as we raised our glasses and bottles and declaimed in unison—Fuck soap opera bubbles.