She does a slow striptease, but in reverse.
Picture this: January. Cold in the morning, gooseflesh strutting. Her skin, lit up and cold…the chill announcing itself in italics. She shivers and belts her lavender flannel robe, tight. She had always pictured meeting for the first time in summer, never winter, but the calendar has tumbled open to this page in her life, thus. On this date, the number is circled in red pen and there, optimistically, is a note: Meet W!!! Coffee, Emp. Rulli.
A hot shower, where the pummeling sword of water tenderizes everything. Her body, her skin, injecting warmth over her. Thankful. She thinks, “That’s better.” Warmer is better.
Then, a towel. Dark hair scraped back and wrapped away from the face. The careful, but brisk and practiced, application of lipstick, the curling of the lashes, eyebrows brushed into groomed order. The ritual of perfume, two spiced black-tea sprays onto each wrist, move the hair aside so the exposed neck receives its aerosol allotment (two hits).W did talk once about vanilla, and she remembers the Nordstrom “fragrance stylist” noted this perfume’s sweet, vanilla-bean note.
Standing in front of her closet, the towel wrapped tightly. A skirt? That would give the better indication as to the real shape of her calves, that much is true. Her best assets should feature, she thinks. Yet, jeans send the better message, “this is casual. I am as casual as you.” Exactly as casual. And, heels, of course. That’s a done deal, because peering into her closet, there is little to choose from in flats: an old pair of slippers, neon green and maroon sneakers from when she thought she might get into exercise (she never exercised), some cheap flip flops. With outsized delight, she settles on a denim skirt, thick black tights underneath. Boots with their tall wooden heels.
Jewelry. On the left hand, always…fine jewelry, yellow gold and gemstones. On the right hand, always…costume jewelry, or silver. Check the ears and try to decide on hoops or studs or pearls. No, not pearls: too much. Not hoops: not worthy. This is coffee, three years in the planning. So. Diamond studs, the ones she has traded up for twice, cashing in smaller glinting pieces, adding a thousand dollars each time, to here have finally achieved a carat on each ear. Significant, but not overso. Apropos to the cause: this meeting. Meeting W.
A last smile in front of the mirror. The teeth? As brushed as can be, flossed to the max. Cleaned doubletime. Gums pink, some have bled.
Get in car. Drive. Find parking spot (good parking karma) and emerge, sleek.
Finally meeting W.
Deep breath, stand up straight. Emporio Rulli. Coffee.