COLUMN SIXTY-SEVEN, JANUARY 1, 2002
(Copyright © 2002 Al Aronowitz)
Suzi was not
what Howard expected. She was small and young. Her hair was so flat it looked
ironed; it had been dyed the colors of a melted, Day-Glo creamsicle. Her
eyebrows were plucked so thin they looked like they had been painted on with a
single-hair Japanese brush. She
wore a sleeveless garment of coarse black fabric and rope, which made him think
of the phrase "sackcloth and ashes."
A blue tattoo of an angel stood out like a bruise against the white skin
of her thin upper arm.
the other hand, was exactly what Suzi expected: tall, middle-aged, receding
hairline, golfing shirt, tanned legs, loafers, small hazel eyes, lines around
his mouth and eyes, white even teeth, and a slightly haughty attitude as he
stood in the door of his fabulously rich house asking Suzi if she had come about
course," she said. Her voice---husky and full of secrets, as if she were a
fugitive from justice with laryngitis---stung his heart, as it had when they
spoke earlier on the telephone and he'd given her directions. Her voice belonged
to a bigger, older woman.
As he showed
her around his place, detailing all the duties of the job---from the dusting of
the billiard table to the polishing of the brass
The subject of Yom Kippur came up as they sat on Howard's black leather couch, in
sunken living room, looking out Howard's enormous windows at the sun sinking
into the reservoir. Howard was
Jewish, and as it turned out, so was Suzi, although she had been raised an
atheist by hippy parents who toyed with Buddhism and Sufism.
As soon as
the sun went down the holiday would be over.
Neither Howard nor Suzi had fasted for the holiday, as was the tradition
during this time of atonement and new beginnings. On the other hand, they had both skipped lunch and were
to abstain from the bowl of mixed nuts on the ebony coffee table.
"It's the least we can do until sunset," Howard said.
said Suzi, who had never heard of fasting on Yom Kippur, a holiday she'd always
associated with death.
about a few other things---fatalistic poetry, Marxism and local crimes. At one
point, Howard brought out a book by Nietzsche to illustrate a point. He couldn't
believe that Suzi didn't know Nietzsche.
your brain, with your dark outlook," he said. "Here let me read to
He read and
she twisted a strand of candy orange hair around her finger and they passed the
time until the sky grew inky. Howard turned on several warm yellow lights.
thing is," Suzi said, "your house is already clean."
need someone to mess things up a little." Howard sat back down at a
respectful distance. "You know--an anti-maid."
"I don't think so. I mean, I'm not your person."
we just be friends then?" Howard sounded a little desperate.
hungry," Suzi announced.
her an omelet and made a pot of coffee. They ate in silence. It was a fine
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