West Side Story

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On recent trip to California, a woman I had never met before showed me her breast. The left one. I was waiting to get my hair cut at a salon in Beverly Hills, which sounds more glamorous than it actually is, when a woman with short, platinum blonde hair plopped down next to me on a sofa in the waiting area. I guessed her to be in her mid-twenties and she was wearing yoga pants and a tight green tank top that revealed two small cursive tattoos on her shoulders. One read “No Mercy,” the other “No Pain.” We were alone in the room and I tried to busy myself with a magazine and not make eye contact. “Do you want some wine?” she said suddenly, sliding closer and flashing a coy smile. Before I could answer, she grabbed my hand and said, “Come with me.”

ManAboutTOWNJAN16featureShe led me to a small kitchenette in the back of the salon where she poured two fish-bowl-sized glasses full of Chardonnay. “Do you live in Beverly Hills?” she asked, handing me a glass. When I said I was from Greenville, South Carolina, her eyes glazed over like I had just asked her the square root of her zip code. “Where’s that?” she asked. “Greenville or South Carolina?” I asked. She looked confused again, then said, “You’re silly.”

When we were back on the sofa she turned to face me, pushed out her chest and said, “Do you like my breasts?” Now, I stop the story here for a moment to make three important points. First, I have seen a fair number of women’s breasts in my life, and the sight of one, or as it more often occurs, two, does not generally offend me. Second, the question “Do you like my breasts?” is not just indiscreet, it’s superfluous. And third, as a man who prides himself on manners and etiquette, being asked by a woman to analyze her breasts blatantly rather than sneak a glance at them covertly and judge them silently, which is the accepted norm, put me in an uncomfortable position.

She repeated the question, and feeling I had no choice, I glanced down quickly at her chest, which was straining the material of her tank top. “Very nice,” I said. She frowned. “Nice? Is that it? Do you know how much I paid for these?” She then lifted the left side of her tank top revealing an enormous, brown, lifeless orb. I stared at it for a full fifteen seconds wondering how much just that one had cost. Racking my brain for adjectives, all I could come up with was, “Impressive.” Still unsatisfied with my answer, she lowered her shirt and became preoccupied with her phone. We finished our wine in silence.

An hour later, walking Rodeo Drive with a pricey haircut that was no better than I’ve gotten most anywhere else, I called the beautiful blonde who inexplicably enjoys my company. “A woman showed me a breast today,” I said, nonchalantly. “Just one?” she asked. “Trust me,” I said, “One was more than enough.” When I told her the whole story she said, “Are you still coming home tomorrow, or have you decided to move to Beverly Hills?” I told her I would be home on schedule. “I need to come back to reality,” I said. “Everything out here is fake. And expensive.”

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