Per Chance

Per Chance
3.24.2010
Ritz Carlton Resort, St. Thomas

I had seen her at the gym, the gym at the hotel, almost empty. She was there when I got there; I noticed her first; she was running on a treadmill looking out over the beach. White shorts, pink top, ponytail, matching hair scrunchie. She looked like something out of an aerobics class from the 1980’s.

If there were more units to choose from, I would not have chosen the treadmill left of her. I would have given her more space, another window overlooking the ocean, but fate suggested otherwise. I was wearing deodorant, and hope it smelled alright… she smelled very good. She wasn’t sweating, but her body was hot, and it released a pheromone that made me dizzy with attraction.

I started my workout running at speed 8.5, a seven-minute mile, for around ten minutes. Minute two, and I’m off to a good start on some vision of sandy beaches in front of me with this girl right next to me. We were running on the beach together, only with less clothes and maybe a drink in our hands. Rum drinks.

She was running at speed 6.5, a ten-minute mile, and had been going for five minutes before I started. Minute seven, and I’m kicking my own ass on the treadmill, my heart rate a steady 155. She watches me run, I see her head move and stay, her eyes on something in my direction. I looked over at her and she looked up at me and then off towards the beach again, smiling and embarrassed.

Minute nine, and I began running faster, hyperbolic. She noticed, astonished, as minute fifteen on her clock dragged on in comparison. Minute ten, I hit the “cool down” button and began my rapid deceleration into a fast walk. I stepped off the machine before the clock dropped to zero and came back with a wetnap to wipe off my sweat. She watched me go.

I headed to the weight machines on the other side of the small facility, and turned back to see her slowly walking on the treadmill. She had a bounce in her step I could not describe.

I exercised my biceps, deltoids, abdominals and pectorals with a three-round circuit of pushups, sit-ups, presses and rows. I think she went looking for me; I wasn’t exactly sure, but within a few minutes, I could see her walking around the gym through the mirror in front of me. My eyes caught hers again and she came over to the weight room. She smiled, and I crunched my last ab.

She didn’t leave, but instead waited by the water cooler, wiping away the sweat from her brow and her body. She looked really great, and I felt bad breaking up her show with the towel, but I was thirsty.

“Sorry,” I reach for a paper cup right in front of her and begin to fill it up.

“It’s ok, you could use it.”

I smile, “Yeah? You think so?”

“Yeah, well, no. I mean, you really push it.”

“Yeah, I get the best results that way. Plus this weather, I love it.”

She was impressed by my enthusiasm. “Yeah this is really great, isn’t it?”

“Yeah.” We both looked out at the beach. “I’m Alex.”

“I’m Kara,” she smiled and put out her hand. I shook it with a strong hot grip.

“Nice to meet you, Kara.”

“You too. How long have you been here?”

We stood and talked for about five minutes; nobody else was in the gym to overhear, so time moved casually between us. It was a good talk.

“What were you going to do later?” I didn’t want to leave without the chance of seeing her again.

“My friends and I will probably stay on the resort tonight.”

“Do you know the Coconut Cove?” It was the outdoor bar on the residential side of the resort.

“Yeah.”

“I’ll be out there after dinner, we should check it out.”

“Sure, we’ll be out there after 9pm.”

“I’ll see you then, Kara.” She made for the door and gave me a smile before taking off.

Several hours later, I’m making my way down to the Coconut Cove; down to the stone-tile walkways, over a couple coastal turnarounds by foot, five minutes away from the resort glitz and glam, exotic women yelping and retired rich men ranting over hard drinks and sports. I’m dressed casual for 9pm in 90-degree weather: swimsuit and tight blue designer t-shirt from Modern Amusement, Ray Ban sunglasses, and a thin leather necklace hanging loosely around my neck.

She was already there, Kara, with two other girls and a guy. They were dressed a little more proper, with polo shirts and shorts, but still casual.

“So that’s what you wear to dinner?” She spotted me first and comfortably spoke over her friends to grab my attention. People looked in my direction, I smiled, she smiled, and her girlfriends smiled. The guy was indifferent.

“When you live on the beach, you wear whatever you want to dinner.” I didn’t exactly know what to say, but I had to say something.

“Everyone, this is Alex. Alex, this is Kim, Chloe, and Ryan.” I said my hellos and pulled up a chair around the corner closest to Kara and Ryan, separating them, closing the gap in our group around the bar.

“What are you guys drinking tonight?” Each of them had 16-ounce cups of different colored drinks; coconut rims and parasol hats, melons and lemons and a few leaves of mint. “Alright, next round is on me.” And from there the ice was broken. We talked about college days and vacation spots, best food found on the island. I was feeling my confidence boom.

“Kara told me you met at the gym here,” Chloe started, “how do you pick somebody up at the gym?”

“I didn’t really pick you up, did I?” I asked Kara as if I’d known her my whole life.

“No, not really.” She smiled.

“Not really?” Chloe laughs as she presses on.

“Well, there was nobody else in the gym.”

“There were only two treadmills, and she was using one of them, so it kind of just happened.”

“Yeah, I bet it did.” She looked drunk.

“This little gym here has everything I need to get a good workout.”

“Not the best workout,” Kara said, sipping her rum drink through the straw, “I can think of a better workout.”

“Yeah, like what?”

“Buy her a couple drinks and she’ll show you!” Ryan cracked wise to which I smiled and all the girls gave us a dirty look. Kara played with her drink, sort of smiling, twirling the straw around with her tongue. Chloe was watching my reaction as I lost track of my face and my jaw, gawking at Kara. I notice Chloe and compose myself quickly while she laughs into her glass and takes a big gulp.

After a fourth round of drinks, the bartender, Charlesworth, gave us all a round of Patron on the house before closing the shop. Charlesworth knows me and my family, and he knows what I am doing with these people tonight. Good old Charlesworth, he’s like my sidekick on the island.

“Hey, let’s go to the beach,” I suggested to mixed replies.

“I think we’re going to go back to the hotel room,” said Ryan. Kim didn’t share his sympathies, but left with him anyway.

“Let’s go.” Kara said to me with beautiful hazel eyes. She was excited, and Chloe looked off put, unsure of what to make of all this.

“Ok, give me a sec, I have to use the shack,” and I leave them alone to talk. Charlesworth had left by this point. He unfortunately did not leave a bottle of scrap around, like he occasionally does.

“What are we going to’ do?”

“I don’t know, this guy is really great.”

“Yeah, I like him too.”

“You’re just saying that because he’s hot.”

“Yeah well, what’s your excuse?”

Kara, thinking for a second, “He’s more than that.”

“Want me to leave you guys alone?”

“No, I don’t know this guy, anything could happen.”

I washed my face and fixed my hair and quickly returned to hearing Kara say those last three words. I am drunk.

“Yeah, I like the attitude, anything can happen. Come on, I know the way…” and we made our way to the beach, a brief pathway through brush and ground lamps, guiding the way to tactful breakers on quiet sands. I’m walking behind Kara; my hands are at her waist as I guide her through the dark. Chloe is behind me; her hands are on my shoulders.

Kara stopped and I walked into her, bringing our bodies together. Chloe walked into me from behind, and yelped a surprised yelp that left us all laughing in place. Walking onward, I looked back at Chloe who was smiling, walking with a strut. Her body was fit and her outfit was revealing.

The beach is cared for by the resort staff. Every night they arrange the chaise lounge chairs with blue pillow cushions along the beach in a crescent formation. Tiki torches light up sections of the beach for reference, shining a path towards the security patrol shed at the edge of the resort.

We sat on the dry sand a few paces from the breaking water, and we could clearly see the water in the reflection of the stars. We sat there for a couple minutes, listening to the waves and watching the sky, myself, Kara and Chloe to the right of me. We sat close, my right side brushing up to Kara’s left.

I snuck a kiss on her cheek while she waxed a wide open expression at the sky. She turned to me, her expression changing more serious, and came at me with a kiss on the lips. Soft, warm, wet, talented, we enjoyed it a half-second too long; Chloe had noticed and made us aware by shifting around. She was not amused.

“I should go,” started Chloe.

“No, Chloe, stay!”

“Yeah, stay, I’m sorry, I got a little carried away.”

“I know…”

“Hold on a second!” Kara loudly cuts into the awkward air and begins to whisper into Chloe’s ear. Chloe looks at Kara squarely, and they nod to each other. Then all of a sudden, they kiss each other.

It looked like a first time for the two of them because what started as a peck had snowballed into more. But then again, I was pretty drunk, and in that state I believed more than I saw.

“Wait, wait! What’s the hell is going on?” I had to say something.

“What? Is something wrong?” Chloe crawled over Kara to tell me that face to face in a sultry voice, and immediately followed it with a kiss. She had a strong kiss, more aggressive than Kara’s, maybe brought on by all the awkward sexual chemistry we had. I looked over at Kara when Chloe withdrew, almost worried she would have a problem with what just happened. When she looked back at me she smiled. She wanted this to happen, and in that moment I realize we could have anything we wanted.

When the security patrol saw us fornicating on the beach, they asked us to go home, or in this case, back to our rooms. I invited them back to my place, and finished what we started; a chance encounter gone perfect (better than perfect), and making the most out of a tropical island paradise.

The Zara Man

The Zara Man in California

It was purchased at the Zara clothing boutique on Santa Monica Boulevard. It was the only thing Zucker had to cover himself from the cool ocean wind nearby. It was part of his wild experience there in California, visiting the Monkey and Ryu and Epstein. It came with him on the sandy beaches of the west coast, over the skies and through the woods of the east coast. It became his jacket of the moment. The other sport jackets were not amused. For years, the Brooks Brothers collection was the scotch to Zucker’s cigar, but not anymore.

Wearing it later as an overcoat in December, Zucker takes off the Zara Man and hangs it in the closet on its heavy, plastic hanger. The other jackets are hanging on their end of the rack, down from the pants and the shirts. It was the white suit at a party, and it divided the place in half.

~“Ah, don’t even think about hanging near me!”~ The Bomber jacket sat comfortably in front of the Blazer. It wasn’t any better off.

‘Relax! Like it’s up to me where I go.’

“How was your run at the gym?” A burst of laughter came from the other jackets, an inside joke between them. Zucker wears the Zara Man jacket over his Adidas sports liner in the winter sometimes, and they believe he wears it when he exercises.

‘Not bad, not bad. It was kind of cold out there.’ More rustling among the clothes less worn.

*Was it?* The Blazer had something to say. He was the most respected jacket on the rack. *I hear there’s been foul weather recently… what do you say about that?*

Awkward now, the Zara Man never had a solid conversation with the Blazer. ‘Yeah, it’s been raining a lot. He’s got that umbrella to help protect us, but the wind makes it so much worse. I’m glad to still be in decent shape.’

“*You’re filthy and disgusting, stay the hell away from me!*” The Fitzgerald was within inches of Zara Man’s back, a discolored, wrinkled mess. It had been worn without washing since its first days on the Californian coastline. It had a small orange stain between the back and the right shoulder. The jacket was a little smelly, and yet, it continued to go out into the bitter cold with the sweater and the Adidas, the gloves and the umbrella. It didn’t mind, it didn’t know or care about the consequences at all.

The Zara Man would always have the stories of life outside of the closet. The real stories, worn outdoors and indoors at eclectic events: dinners and parties and bedrooms and busses, commuting and waiting and rushing past pedestrians. The Zara Man saw more of the world than those damn jackets ever dream! The Hounds Tooth and the Camel Hair, the Bomber, the Fitzgerald and the Madison, the Blazer; each had their moment in a world of culture at a special time in Zucker’s life. Maybe the Zara Man will see that time come and go as well, in which case it will certainly be dry-cleaned.

False Hope

== False Hope ==

false hope is seeing your boss park his Mercedes while you step off the bus.

false hope is checking your email from the dating site as your roommate is having sex.

false hope is spending your whole paycheck on a Coach purse.

false hope is going to a club hoping to score.

false hope is being thankful your job hasn’t been outsourced or automated.

false hope is buying a house with nothing down.

false hope is copying your friends homework for a semester.

false hope is putting 15% in your 401(k).

false hope is not pulling the plug.

Every Day’s a “Holi” Day

I received an email Monday morning from one of my coworkers who operates out of Pune, India.

First of all, this goes out to him and his group that we work with, because without his frequent reminders of celebrations and holidays, I would be lost at work.

His email was short and sweet, “Check out Indian Festival ‘Holi.’ We celebrate it today.”

Naturally, I took the word and searched it up on Google. Below a few images I saw the Wikipedia result. I didn’t put two and two together until the last minute; the picture results showed people drenched in what looked like colors. When I read about the holiday, I learned a whole lot more about that.

– From Wikipedia and About.com

Also known as the “Festival of Colors,” Holi (होली, Holli, Doul Jatra, orBasanta-Utsav depending on the region) is a festival primarily celebrated by Hindus, Buddhists, and Sikhs to mark the end of Winter and to usher in the Spring season. It’s a joyous time when everyone goes nuts and lets loose. When I say let loose, I mean good fun, unadulterated, and occasionally intoxicated. I could go into that, but it’s more popular for it’s colored powders and waters, bonfires, great food, music and dancing.

The Festival of Colors traces back to ancient Hindu scriptures, and has been considered one of the oldest of Hindu Festivals. It’s an annual tradition, beginning on the last day of Phalguna, the lunar month, which is usually between February and March. This year the full moon occurred on February 28th, which means the first day of celebration was on March 1st – which is perfect! This year’s spring harvest is sure to be promising. The celebration itself is supposed to bring a good harvest to the people and keep the lands fertile for years to come. The more food harvested, the bigger the celebration!

Holi Celebrations

The specifics of Holi reveal a multi-day procession of color and music across most of India and Nepal that begins with “Holi Purnima,” the observance of the full moon. The night is followed by a day of dancing and celebrating with the community. Everyone gets involved, and some purposefully wear their whitest garbs to get the most out of the fun. The celebration is over on Rangapanchami, the fifth day after Holi. That means some people go on partying for days!

Holi is observed with bonfires lit to commemorate the miraculous escape of Prahlad from Holika, as written in Hindu scriptures (there are other roots to Holi, yet this origin is more widely accepted). “Holika Dahan” (aka “The Burning of Holika”) marks the commemoration of that accomplishment. Just to clarify, Holika was a demoness, and Prahlad is one of Lord Vishnu’s most trusted devotees, so you can imagine the compelling struggle between good and evil made this an epic event. Check out this link to learn more about that story from Wikipedia…

While the festival is celebrated with the best of intentions, it does give rise to environmental concerns over the wood burned during Holika Dahan. When you consider the number of people across India and Nepal and the rest of the World that light bonfires in observance of Holi, it adds up to a lot. This global concern has brought Western influence to an ancient Eastern tradition, and it has begun to have an impact on how the festival itself is celebrated.

Thankfully, Holi is still very much the same as it was hundreds of years ago. While some parts of the world celebrate for one day, some go on for as many as sixteen days. During that time, colored powders and liquids blanket the streets, along with people who are laughing, singing, and partying like it’s New Years. It’s one of the most wholesome celebrations I’ve ever come across. While I missed the Holi-day this year, I know in my heart that I’ll celebrate it at some point, hopefully in Pune so I can kick it with my coworkers.

Zen Koan about Life and Death

Today I witnessed a horrible spectacle, where a man was hit by a car. He did not survive.

He was given a funeral and formal ceremonies alike. At this man’s funeral a large number of people showed up.

The people that went to his funeral came from all places. Some knew him from work, some knew him from school. Some knew him from home, and some knew him from his apartment building. Some knew him through the people that he didn’t really know, and some knew him through the places he visited only once in his life.

The owner of a famous nightclub came to his funeral and paid him homage after realizing that it was this man, the recently deceased, that gave him the idea to start his own nightclub. It happened one night in a dive bar, when the man commented on the wall designs, or lack thereof, and wanted to go to a bar that made great use of the walls, artistically.

The president of the golf club, a 90-year old prune, said, “he was the best damn fella’ I ever knew! He hit the balls,” stuttering… “all over the course!” He said. “I am sure he’s up there… somewhere… hitting those balls on fairways in the clouds…” he began to tear up, and began a slow lazy walk back to his seat.

A kid, younger than the others, walks up to the microphone, mostly confident, not affected by the sorrow. “I can’t believe this guy got hit by a car!”