Eleanor: Part I

shanghai morning

This morning, on a hellish, miserable run, I heard the wonderful lilting sound of a foreign woman brutally haggling in Mandarin with a motorcycle taxi driver while I was waiting at a stoplight. She was demanding a 5 yuan discount because her destination was only 6 blocks away (“I’m very late for work,” she said), but the driver was standing firm.

They barked back and forth and I bounced on the balls of my feet. I turned around to watch, hoping to distract from my burning legs. And what a distraction she was: tall and in her mid-20’s, with long reddish-brown hair, legs like sculpted porcelain and features that would have been more at home in Oklahoma than on either of the American coasts. I decided that her name was probably something like Eleanor. She carried a medium-sized purse over her elbow that bumped against tight-fitting jeans as her hands animated the injustice of the price-gouging currently underway. In what seemed like exasperation more than anything else, the driver suggested a 2 yuan discount. Eleanor agreed to meet him at 2.5 below his original asking price, on what I can only assume was principle. She wore round sunglasses with thick, speckled frames. She was the perfect woman.

I made eye contact with her as she swung her leg over the crusty motorcycle piloted by the even crustier driver. I smiled, but I can only assume that I appeared to be dying, considering the circumstances. She might have smiled back. I don’t know. It looked like the sun was rising behind her, everything was golden and it felt that somehow it was all working in perfect unison, as though life was suddenly embodying the spirit of a Kenyan marathon runner, arms and legs chugging in perfect tandem towards a fixed and attainable goal.

The driver started his bike, honked three times and took off through the red light. So I did what any reasonable person would have done. I followed her.

Though fully-depleted from the heat and the effects of 12 months of banquets, baijiu and Sichuanese cadres, I erupted in pursuit with a reserve of energy and enthusiasm I hadn’t known was in my possession. I was going to catch this woman, engage her in conversation and then make her desire me for the purposes of marriage, tender fucking and child-rearing.

Ahead, through the straps of a light purple blouse, I watched her shoulder blades lean left and then right and then back again, as the driver weaved in and out of the early morning traffic. I positioned myself in the opposite bike lane, charging ahead while horns blared steadily and bent in pitch as commuters blew past. Her hair trailed in the wind. I jumped the curb and ducked into an alley that would gain me about three quarters of a block. I ran harder.

Read Eleanor: Part II

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  1. Eleanor: Part II | Roger Presents: - September 9, 2013

    […] Previously: Part I […]

  2. Eleanor: Part III | Roger Presents: - September 17, 2013

    […] Previously: Part I  Part II […]

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