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January 31, 2010

'Pucho Something With Heat'

I deboard the plane at Lambert Field - St Louis International Airport. As I walk off the plane, I ask them..."what kind of plane is this?"

"It's an Embraer 145," she beams.

I only ask because the plane is too small. Too small for normal humans to fly on. After spending over an hour inside of the beast, I feel like a human accordion.

In the airport terminal, a girl stops and checks herself out. She puts her arms down at her side and checks her sleeves. Her shoes. Her general appearance. She does this without the aid of a mirror. She has a remarkable body. Thin with jeans that cling to her all the way down. Little leather boots. I couldn't say what all she had going on, but she had it going on and this was intuitively clear to the casual observer.

The flight attendants are wearing sweat pants, and this woman is dressed to kill.

As she walked through the airport, she passed by a little restaurant called "Beers Around the World", and was hailed by a fat guy at a table. There's these 3 guys sitting at the table, and I dunno what the fat guy said to her, but she stops and starts talking
to them. The other two at the table snap to attention. One of them is a computer geek with dark plastic rimmed glasses. The other guy is an oriental. Somehow, this fat guy has roped her in, and now the two wingsmen snap into action. Where is she going and why.

She's going to North Carolina. Traveling alone. Like this chick's going to be on my flight. Of course, I don't have the balls to say anything to her. I can't even look her in the eye.

I pause at Brioché Doree, but I just can't pay $8.50 for a sandwich. I just can't do it, so I turn back, resigning myself to a meal at the Sausage Kingdom.

I make it back to the Sausage Kingdom, but what they really sell is hot dogs, apparently.
And I just can't do it. I can't sit in an airport and eat a hot dog. At a ballpark, maybe. At a Home Depot, possibly. Possibly even in a Costco. But not in an airport.

So I double back to the Starbucks and Queenie is sitting there on her cell phone. Chatting away to lord knows who.

I pick out a six dollar sandwich and choose a chair where I can watch her from safely outside of her field of vision.

I put my stuff down. I'm really carrying way too much crap. A laptop, 3 digital cameras, 3 lenses, Bose headphones, cell phone, GPS, a digital picture frame. Throw in the chargers and USB cables and I'm carrying about 40 pounds of electronics and it's hard to make it look light. I can hardly stand up with the new camera bag over my shoulder. I need to get to the gym.

Queenie's shirt isn't tucked in. When did women quit tucking in their shirts? Was there ever a time they tucked them in?

She's flipping her hair back and forth like a horse shooing flies with his tail.

I'm working on my sandwich and gradually, I begin to realize there are other patrons of this restaurant besides Queenie.

There's a computer geek sitting behind her, alone. Everyone here seems to be alone together. I don't know who travels on a Tuesday, honestly I don't. I guess some business people fly on Tuesday to Friday, but I think it's an odd schedule. For these people to be here now...it's hard to come up with a good reason.

I suppose one could ask them, but this is far outside the real of possibility for me. At this point, anyway.

So I'm looking at this computer geek and I'm thinking how pathetic he is. Short sleeved shirt. Pocket protector. Pens in the pocket protector. Pale white skin. Almost to the point of blue, the way those glaciers look up in the Canadian rockies.

His hair is too long and poorly trimmed. He has nose hairs sticking out. His wallet lies before him, prostrate on the table. It's an old one. It must have been a fine dark leather wallet at one point, but that would have been eons ago. Over the years,
It's become frayed and tattered. It's worn smooth over the years. All of the pores in the leather wallet are finely honed.

It's clear that he's alone in this world. Like a lighthouse in the night. Like the foghorn on the golden gate bridge.

Everything that a woman could do for this man has been left undone. Hair. Wallet. Nose hairs. He's unkempt, struggling through life without the aid of anything but his own wits. No one approaches him. He is an island.

As I watch him, he's rummaging through his pockets, and then his backpack, and then back to his pockets. Then, he gives up the hunt and focuses on his food for a bit. He eats like a possum eating yellowjackets. I've lost all interest in Queenie now. She's still
there. Still on the phone. Still tossing her mane around, trying to draw in something, like a firefly in heat.

Now, he's putting on chapstick. He's finished his meal and he's putting on chapstick and the hands are moving furiously.
Deliberately. The chapstick goes away and now the hunt is on again. The hands are searching, hither and yon. From the backpack to the pockets and back again. Surely he's lost his mind.

For all the world, he reminds me of that girl I saw at the Rolling Stones concert where she couldn't get it together. She kept brushing her hair and feeling for her purse, about 4 times a second. She was clearly having a bad trip and was just performing ritualistic behaviours to try to regain some sense of normalcy. Some tenuous connection to reality. All she had was that hair brush and her purse and her friends were all around her. They could touch her, but they couldn't reach her. She kept sitting down
and standing up and grabbing for her purse. But no one could help her.

And that's what this guy reminds me of now. He's not a threat. He's just lost. He's alone and confused and the hands are going back and forth between pockets and backpack in a blinding ritual and eventually, by the grace of god, the hands harvest something. He nervously feeds the fruits of his labors into the faded brown wallet. Apparently, it was some pocket change, but the coins find no purchase there....they slip through the holes in the wallet and roll across the floor of the Starbucks.

And this is a nice place. Everyone here is dressed up and they're traveling alone, but there's no screaming kids in strollers in here. Not now any way. No fat moms and no screaming babies and I thank God for these simple miracles.

If you thought he stood out before, you should see him now... he's chasing the coins around the Starbucks and I just want to crawl in a hole and die but there he is, all guts and glory, chasing the coins across the marble floor and there's this music playing
over the intercom...I can't quite make it out...if I had my iPod, I'd use that Shazaam program to try to find out what the song is but I don't have that silly thing anymore because I can't abide by AT&T. Dont' get me started on that one.

So I'm wondering what this song is, because this new-age music really seems like the perfect soundtrack to this story...to this life fragment that i want to set down, for whatever reason.

So, one of the coins rolls by Queenie and she snaps her phone shut and steps on it and pigeon holes it beneath her boot and he says "Ooops...that's silver...it's mine." And I've never even hear that line before and it's a good one and everyone in the Starbucks knows it because they're all watching him now. Apparently they were all watching Queenie the Geek the whole time, same as me.

Of course, the soundtrack is still there. The most perfect soundtrack imaginable for this scene is being poured gently into the room from above by God himself. A perfect fusion of jazz, latin, soul, and funk, the kind of music that I'd never be cool enough to even listen to on my own. Music so cool it's debilitating.

Queenie reaches down to pick up the coin and her top falls open he gets a good eyeful as she does. She looks up at him and he's looking down at her and it seems like time stands still for a second. I wonder if everyone in the world isn't watching this with me...at this one point in time, it seems as though everyone within a hundred miles must see what's happening...that she's caught him peeking down her blouse and I'm wondering now if he didn't do it all on purpose. And now, they're both laughing and talking and somehow...somehow...the geek and her strike up a conversation just out of earshot and their excited blabbering is sort of fused into this music that's softly falling from the overhead speakers in the Starbucks and the two actually leave together. They're walking away together and I'm just sitting here thinking what the fvck? Did I just see that happen? Did that computer geek just roll a quarter across the floor at Queenie and reel her in like a fish? Did I just see that happen?

They're gone now and in their wake, all I'm left with is the din of this fading mesmerizing music. A composition without words. Something that only an audiophile could truly appreciate. A piece that only a musical connoisseur would recognize.

"If that loser can pick up a chick that hot, then maybe there's hope for me," I think. Someone, I feel that the soundtrack had something to do with it. I'll need to find out what the song was, of course, if I'm ever to attempt something of a similar nature. It wouldn't be safe to approach women with the wrong soundtrack, I figured.

I approached the counter and asked them where is that music coming from? Is it a CD? Or a radio station?

"We get a selection of music downloaded from corporate about once a month. That's what we play."

"What was that song that y'all just played?"

"I dunno. It just plays random songs that they send us."

"Can you check and see what it was?"

She disappears and when she returns, she says "Pucho something with heat," and with that, she takes off her Starkbucks smock, stashes it under the counter, and wades off into the crowd.

Pucho & The Latin Soul Brothers - Strike Up The Band - Heat

Posted by Rob Kiser on January 31, 2010 at 1:39 PM


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