Dispatch 8 (September 24, 1998)
Ive been waiting for about half an hour as she
serves up sandwich after sandwich and mixes up smoothie after smoothie in an oversized,
The pages are in my hands, and Ive brought them in a
folder because my nervousness, wet palms and all, may have warped the paper. Its not
really so much nervousness about the writing Im pretty confident that for
better or worse, my writing is my own and Im stuck with the sound of my own voice.
(And no one, save maybe Mariah Carey, really enjoys the sound of their own voice played
I am nervous that shell throw a tantrum, insist
somethings not right, rail at me for not understanding her inner workings when so
far Ive been mostly exposed to the face of her clock and not the springs and screws
She is allowed to take a fifteen minute break, and when
she does, her brow is sweaty, the hair above it pulled back in a pony tail of dark curls.
She sits in the booth across from me. Its hot here the sandwich and bagel
shop has weak air conditioning and the ceiling fans are no comfort.
"Is this it?" she asks brightly, pointing to the
"It is," I answered.
"Can I read it?" she asked.
"Just the first few days," I said. "Up to
the day we visited Luisa."
She nodded approval and began flipping through the pages.
I shifted uncomfortably in my seat as she read, shrinking within myself, wishing I could
take a walk or order a smoothie or something; I wanted to be anywhere but here. But,
equally, I wanted to see her every reaction would she smile or laugh or just be
The answer it turned out was very little of anything. She
smiled at a few lines (Im anal, but not so anal that I was trying to follow her eyes
along the page), and every so often shed give a soft "Hmm."
She reads fast, and at first I believed her to be
skimming, looking specifically for references to herself and the time Ive seen her
and skipping over my excess wordage.
She went through about 12 pages in just over five minutes.
She put the last page down, slipped the pages within the manila folder and started to get
up. She said, "Okay. I like your writing. I gotta go back to work."
"Gina, what? What do you mean? You dont like
She sat back down again. "Its fine. I mean,
your writing is okay. Its just not really, you know, me yet."
"You?" I asked.
"Me, you know. You havent really gotten to know
me so a lot of what youre writing to this point was surface, right?"
"I guess," I said, trying not to be defensive.
"So well see what happens. Its a good
start," she said.
Gina reached over unexpectedly swung an arm around my neck
and gave me a kiss on the cheek. "You havent pissed me off yet," she said,
as she broke from the half-embrace. "Ill see you soon, okay?"
She walked back behind the counter and began wiping down a
counter I couldnt see with a dish towel.
Why did I ask her opinion? Showing her these writing was
supposed to be an obligation on my part an inconvenience, but an unavoidable one
that she should be able to read this two weeks after I wrote. So why did I care
what she thought? Wasnt it enough that I hadnt alienated her or caused her to
have a "Gina fit?" Did it matter?
I picked up the folder with one hand, sliding out of the
booth. I wiped my cheek and my fingers came away with her lipstick, a color close to