I was sitting in a café minding my own business, when in walked a rather handsome middle-aged man wearing a black dress. He was unusually tall and in obviously good physical condition. A well cared for mustache sat on his top lip and a full head of brown hair made him look as if he had been lucky enough to escape from the ravages that come with aging. From the waist up he looked like a well dressed middle class man who had experienced many successes in his life but from the waist down everything was all wrong. The black dress he was wearing was knee-high and revealed more leg than I was willing to see. His legs were toned, tanned, shaved and slid comfortably into a pair of black high heeled platform shoes. I was perplexed by this person who reminded me of a Centaur- except rather than being half horse I could not tell if this man was half woman. My brain had difficulty making sense of the situation and the sensation that I experienced in my brain can only be compared to throwing cold water on a hot grill.
He or she or whatever it was, walked to the empty table next to mine and took a seat. I must admit that even though I pretended that I was absorbed in the book I was reading- I tried to silently scoot my chair as far away from the table next to me as possible. I needed space to think, to register what was going on. However, my attempt to slither away was unsuccessful because my sense of smell was colonized by the perfume that percolated from his or her or its flesh. Out from the small black suitcase on wheels that he wheeled around behind him like a flight attendant, he or she or it pulled out a white laptop computer and put it on the round table top. As I continued to pretend to read my book, I watched this enigma from the corner of my eyes with the attention of a fierce guard dog. The man or woman, or half man and half woman crossed its legs twice and let out a strange perky sound that I pretended to ignore. I felt slightly uncomfortable sitting so close but I used all my understanding of meditation to stay still and calm in the moment.
A group of young black kids no older than twelve walked past the café. As they walked past they looked in the large front window and noticed the man or woman or it in a black dress who was sitting at the table with his bare legs crossed. As the boys noticed the man- I noticed there eyes go from a normal size to almost the size of their small faces. For a moment I felt at risk of being swallowed alive by one of the kid’s eyes who looked at me then at his friend and said “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!” I put my head back into my book so as not to attract any attention to myself or get involved with what was going on around me. I was just an innocent man who came to the café to quietly read his book without getting caught up in any conflagrations.
I moved my chair over some more so I could create some obvious distance between me and the man or woman or it in a black dress. I felt myself becoming slightly perturbed by this unwanted distraction. I agreed with myself that if need be it was okay to say goodbye to Mr Nice Guy and stand up for myself. At that moment you could compare me to a territorial cat whose hairs began to stick up- but I remained calm yet ready to defend if need be. While all this was going on- the man or woman or half man and half woman in the black dress could give two shits about me. I don’t even think he or she or it realized that I was there up until when I started becoming slightly agitated. I was not agitated because of his or hers shaved legs or the black high heels that invaded my space. I was agitated because I was confused. I prefer to live in a universe where everything is in order and in its right place. I like to be able to make sense of things around me so I can tell where I am or what I am in comparison to everything else. But this man or woman or half man and half woman next to me had me terribly confused.
My confusion only expanded when the cellular phone that sat on his or hers table began to ring. The ring tone was a Barbra Streisand song that I could not figure out the name of. He, she or it answered the phone and said without a care if any one around him or her or it could hear, “Hi honey! How are you?” And then with a suspect tone- “yes tell the kids goodnight, give them a kiss from dad and I will be home later after I get this huge pile of work done that is sitting on my desk. Okay I love you too. Goodbye honey.” I listened to every syllable that he pronounced with the clarity and spaciousness of a linguist. When he hung up the phone he turned on his computer and took a drizzling sip of his espresso. I could not help it anymore- I needed to know what was going on, to look this person in the eyes and then maybe the puzzle could be solved. I gathered together the courage and looked at him or her and he or she or it smiled back at me. “It has to be a man..a man just like me,” I said to myself and then like a shy child a gave him a slight smile in return and then quickly returned to the safe confines of my book.
I was done trying to make sense of anything more. With the earthquake in Haiti, the great recession that was soon to turn into a depression, the war in Iraq, global warming, AIDS in Africa, my life challenges and everything else that was going on in the world- I felt like I had no more room for this strange man or woman or half man and half woman in a short black dress. The world was hard enough to make sense of as it was and I could handle no more. I took a deep releasing breath and then quickly finished my lukewarm tea, put my book back into the bag and left the café without a trace that I had ever been present there.