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Sunday, February 17, 2013

I Wonder if He Remembers Me



My downtown bus stop was moved recently from Nicollet Mall to Hennepin Avenue, a street known for figuring prominently in Prince’s movie “Purple Rain” and inspiring Tom Waits’ song “9th and Hennepin”.

Hennepin Avenue is an “iffy” place, a place with an upscale hotel that features a seasonal, outdoor bar made entirely of ice on the one hand and bars that feature transgendered folk lipsynching to Cher’s greatest hits and shouting at slow-moving vehicles on the other.

It’s a grittily friendly area, the average crimes being panhandling and visual assaults from dubious, toothless individuals in stained sweatpants and slip-on track shoes.

As stained and low-rent as areas of it may seem, however, Minneapolis cares about its downtown citizens and boasts a contingency of green-jacketed ambassador-style folk who give directions, pick up garbage, and offer general assistance.

The people in the green jackets weren’t around in the 80s.

Hennepin Avenue in the 80s: The Replacements were at First Ave., wet tee-shirt contests were titillating the opportunistic, and the city had yet to start the “Block E” renovations that would transform the street from truly seedy to just mildly seedy.

It was in this part of the city that I had found myself following a job interview.

Nineteen years old, hair curled in a I-can’t-quite-get-over-trying-to-be-Farrah-Fawcett sort of way, I had borrowed my sister’s dress, a flowered, summery bit of happiness with cap sleeves, a belted waist, and a hemline that stopped just above the knee. My mother’s nylons, a friend’s high heels, and suddenly I’m Mary Tyler Moore.

I've wowed my interviewer with my ability to type 40 words a minute and speak goodly English, and now I wait on the corner, wait for my boyfriend to pick me up.

I pace.

A red convertible pulls up. It is just past noon on a Monday. He is in a suit, possibly in his 30s, quite handsome.

“Hi!” he shouts at me, smiling.

“Hi,” I say, smiling.

“You workin’?”

“I wish!” I say.

“You waiting for someone?”

“Yes,” I say.

“Well hop in!” He pats the seat next to him.

I wander closer to his car, frowning, my head cocked to one side in unconscious imitation of my mother. He has a six-pack of beer on the floor of the passenger side. “What?”

“Jump in,” he says. “I can have you back here in under 30 minutes. You got somewhere we can go?”

What in the world was this guy talking about?

And then...

Simultaneous light bulbs appear above our heads. We stare at each other. In shock, our respective eyes widen, our mouths gape.

He’s looking for a prostitute.

He’s found a teenager.

“Oh my God,” he says, and he tears away from the curb and through a red light.

And I pull my compact from my purse and look at my face.

24 comments:

R. Jacob said...

all I can say is "wow"

Perpetua said...

I would have been that teenager too, Pearl. Naive wasn't a strong enough word.....

Sioux said...

Pearl--This would make a marvelous story for Not Your Mother's Book On Firsts...the first (and last?) time you were mistaken for a prostitute. They're looking for edgy and funny.

Think about it. You should not hide all your talent under the basket of chapbooks and your blog.

Daisy said...

I'll bet he does remember you Pearl! Probably tells his children the story - well, maybe not!

Hope each day finds you feeling better.

joeh said...

40 words a minute? Streetwalkers could type faster than that.

Joanne Noragon said...

I still need things 'splained to me. I was home from college for Thanksgiving and went to the store for my mother. A truant officer stopped me. I had been 18 for eight months, but he was not impressed. But perhaps he was relieving a boring day; he let me go after examining the punkin pie filling and canned milk in the cart.

Leenie said...

I'm right there with Perpetua.

That nice man is offering me a ride. No? WAIT A MINUTE! UH oh.

Daisy said...

Hahaha! Ooops! Perhaps we better define work. :D

Macy said...

Brilliant Pearl. I'm taking the message from this post that it doesn't matter what prostitutes wear - they'll get business if they just hang around the right streets so they can all wrap up war in this cold weather!

Macy said...

warm! dur....

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

All could have been avoided if you had only taken a cat with you. Hey....did you get the job? The typing one I mean. Sheesh.

Geo. said...

Convertible eh? I bet sometimes girls just grab his beer and run away. I would.

jenny_o said...

At least the man had good taste!

Wow.

Linda O'Connell said...

whne my cousin was teenager crossing a street, apolice officer stopped at the interesection motioned her across the street. She opened the door and got in. He asked her why and she said, "I thought you were telling me to come here." Pearl, at least you read the cues.

Eva Gallant said...

woo Hoo! Pearl! You hot thang you! lol

darsden said...

OMG could you please put a warning on your page about maybe causing sporatic spraying of ones beverage all over ones computer..if you are going to write post like this..dangit Pearl!!!

NotesFromAbroad said...

And you could do it again today, just as easily.. you doll face you :)

Lin said...

Yikes. At least you both figured it out in time. :O

Amy said...

Wow, that's a high-class lady of the night who wears cap sleeves! You never know, he could have been the Richard Gere to your Julia Roberts!

sage said...

This is funny now, but I'm sure it was scary at the time. I love your description of yourself--copying all the 80 icons!

Rose L said...

LOL Like the scene from a movie.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Oh dear! I bet you both about died of embarrassment.

Jo-Anne Meadows said...

Wow that would be an interesting experience........

Roshni AaMom said...

ack!! How come you never told us this before?!! :D
Scary but what a story to be able to relate later in life!!