“Man, in those days lotsa fuzzy chicks strutted their stuff,” Marty grumbled. We were nursing Neapolitan martinis on the patio of the Backside Bar, near where our neighborhood in Brooklyn roared — before it got bulldozed for a Whole Earth Foods. The patio’s walled with warehouses all gutted to make condos. “Ah, those furry legs, with the tiny skirts on ‘em hiked up high…”
A woman’s high-socked, lengthy shorts had provoked Marty’s lust for the good old daze. I admired her long neck as she pressed more quarters into the vintage Wurlitzer, making Sinatra gloat through “Strangers in the Night” for the umpteenth time.
Back in high school Marty and I had a garage band: the Loco Motives. I’d practice my drumming while he smoked dope and picked up girls in Prospect Park. Known around the Gowanus as “Wacko McPhee” (even after he changed his name to “Moonstone”) Marty likes to show off. Can’t help himself. You could power New York with his mouth.
“Arturo, the world has changed,” he gloomed, draining his martini. A studio musician, he wore shredded bellbottoms and his braid had faded to a lighter shade of pale. “The communal garden closed last year, and when this bar changed hands the prices doubled. Only I, Marty McPhee, stay tuned to my dwindling dreams.”
“Alias Moonstone,” I pointed out.
“So I come home to my family name. I didn’t sell out — and marry Pancita Lopez from school, for Chrissake, and go to work for Bunker Savings.”
“I had a dream; I wanted to eat,” I confessed, and Swan Neck, who had soft, curly hair, looked up from gabbling with her friends and grinned. All three were made up seriously, with the same silver goop around their eyes. One’s a beautician, I figured.
When Sinatra faded, the youngest got up to feed the Wurlitzer, whose softly bubbling neon made the warehouse-walled patio almost cosy. Her plump legs, in fringy denim shorts, looked smooth as a baby’s butt.
“Sister, sister,” Marty appealed, “why do you shave your legs? You’re feeding the blade manufacturers.” She sat down quick, and Swan Neck shot us a challenging look. “A shaved leg looks like a store dummy’s,” Marty explained, while Sinatra warbled “It Was a Very Good Year” from beyond the grave.
“They build them dummies with titties on, but you never see none with body hair.”
“What’s so great about raw hair?” retorted the trio’s tough-looking blonde, who sported a stiff, beehive do. The beautician.
“A man who strokes a furry leg cam feels the resistance.” Heads tilted, and I poked Marty in his lean rack of ribs. “On chilly days the goose bumps pucker like a thousand kissy lips. Body hair gives a woman sexitude.”
“What a jerk,” a wizened man complained, clutching the fingers of his Maytime boy-toy.
“Leg hair’s so fragile, it’s the first to die when you get chemo,” Marty confessed. “Trust me, I know.”
“I don’t plan on getting chemo,” said the blonde.
“You are chemo, sister, when you wear lab smells.”
“He’s disgusting,” complained her bare-legged friend.
“Japanese robots don’t have hairy skins,” said Marty, and I kicked him heartily in the shin. “The capitalists fake everything. Body hair’s your guarantee of a human bean.”
“I never thought of that.” Swan Neck toasted us with her empty glass. She looked smart and Jewish.
“Why should I leave my hair alone?” demanded her blonde friend.
“’Cause that’s how it grows.”
“You shave your beard.”
“I’m not a Taliban, sister.”
“He’s an ayatollah in training,” I broke in. “Can we talk about something else?” Marty savored every curious eye. He’s a good enough guy; he just never learned when too much makes enough.
Now he climbs on a chair, belts out “I’m real” and pulls down his zipper. The old man giggled, Swan Neck guffawed, and the bouncer — a dreadlocked, ebony hulk, with a diamond stud in one ear — came bouncing oh-so-slowly towards my pal.
“Have you lost what remains of your mind?” I demanded, hauling Marty back to earth. His thin face flushed, and his blue eyes gleamed: Saturday’s night alright. “Doing that made Jim Morrison famous.”
“It’s too late, Marty; let’s git.” I tugged his braid, but he wouldn’t budge, squawking something about his rights. I ran for the exit like a prudent coward, and watched him shrugged out into the gutter.
“Hairy legs!” he crowed, getting up. “Didn’t you see, Arturo?” His blue eyes glowed in the dark.
“That bouncerina, man. Furriest legs I ever seen.”
Anna Sykora has been an attorney in New York and teacher of English in Germany, where she resides with her patient husband and three enormous Forest Cats. To date she has placed 47 tales in the small press or on the web, and 80 poems. Writing is her joy.