Cover Story: Plying the Playa

Based on a true story

Ignoring every fundamentalist fiber in his body, Mike tried not to look uncomfortable when she lit the crumpled cigar. As he inhaled, it crackled and flashed a warm amber glow.

But he wasn't impressed. It tasted bitter and he couldn't wait to hand it back to her.

"I don't ... feel anything yet," Mike mumbled through a mouthful of smoke.

"You're not supposed to," the girl said. "But you might wanna blow that out."

Instead, Mike coughed miserably until his chest squeezed out the rest of the smoke. Immediately he wondered why she chose him.

Two hours before, Mike had dinner and then footed it a few blocks uptown to his favorite nightspot, dressed to impress. There, other young, drunk quasi-professionals shook saltshakers to Ying Yang Twins and slammed shots of tequila. Watching them, Mike propped himself against a wall, trying to look mysterious in Dior knockoffs. He almost missed the pretty girl in front of him, smiling.

"Why are you wearing shades?" she asked. "What are you trying to hide?"

"I always wear shades," Mike replied.

The girl stepped forward and removed his shades. "There. You have gorgeous eyes. Don't hide them. In fact, I'm holding on to these," she said, slipping the sunglasses into her purse.

Soon she swept Mike away with a whirlwind of compliments and cocktails, and before he knew it she'd swept him into the passenger seat of her car so she could "get some air."

As Mike sat wondering how he was getting home, the girl rummaged around the car until she pulled out a gnarled cigar butt.

"Do you do pot?" she asked.

Mike sniffed. "Is that a joint?"

"No, it's a blunt. Here, hit it."

As she put the cigar between his lips and lit it, Mike felt like the soundtrack to Pulp Fiction was about to blare through her front speakers.

"Calm down. I'll drive you home," she said. "First, let's get some food."

As she drove, Mike sat with clenched fists imagining that her evil weed sautéed his brain. For the first time around a woman, he felt like a hostage — and not in a good way. Finally, after what felt like hours of walking a treadmill in the woods, they arrived at her apartment.

"Sit anywhere," she said. "Want some ramen noodles?"

Mike didn't answer. He was too preoccupied watching a three-legged cat scoot its way from the kitchen and wondered if he was hallucinating.

Exhausted, he fell against a mashed-down sofa positioned across from a rickety-looking Futon, noted its faded sheet and wondered if she normally got men high and dragged them back to her apartment. Something smelled funny.

The girl stretched across the Futon, removed her shoes and kicked them into a corner. She must've forgotten she was hungry.

Out of the corner of his eye, he peeped a dingy mutt eyeing him suspiciously before returning its attention to the girl's caged cat. The caged cat looked at him helplessly, and for a moment Mike almost said "I feel you, man" aloud.

"Your hands look like they give good foot massages," the girl said, patting the place next to her.

Clearing his throat, Mike wondered if the sudden rancid smell was her feet and wondered why he was thinking about feet while he was getting propositioned. Go for it, he thought.

Mike moved to the Futon and began to rub her sweaty, calloused feet, and before he knew it she was peeling a condom wrapper open. Still dressed, he looked around the room and noticed they were about to entertain a rowdy audience. As soon as they began having sex, the mangy mutt and crippled kitty surrounded the futon.

"Br-rr-wrow," the dog howled, making the caged cat restless.

"Shut up!" she yelled over Mike's shoulder.

He flinched and made a mental note: Worst sex. Ever.

"That was awesome!"

Still breathing heavily, the girl jumped off the futon and ducked into a back room. Mike figured she was going to get another condom, but he wasn't finished with the first one. Instead of coming back to the futon, though, the girl stood in the doorway of her bedroom and hurled a pillow to him, flat as a towel.

"Can't I come in there with you?" Mike asked, letting the pillow fall.

The girl smirked. "Are you nuts? I don't know you!"

She turned and slammed the door so hard the Clapper in the living room heard it.

The sudden darkness began to spook him. Afraid the crippled cat would feel him in the dark with one of his three paws, Mike curled himself into a ball on her futon and prayed.

By morning, Mike dreamed he seduced a mysterious woman, and after their close encounter he told her he never planned to call her. His eyes opened before she could respond.

Oh shit, he thought. It made sense. From the dream ... from last night ... oh shit! It's her!

And once he realized how he ended up sleeping on a rickety futon alone, his haze began to clear and he remembered her name. Nadia was shitty the first time, too, he thought. ©

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