“It was really good seeing you,” she said.
“You too,” I said back. I hadn’t seen her in three months. It was good to see her. She looked great; happier than when she had left for Asia. They say that part of the world can do wonders for you if you let it. They eat healthy there, she had told me earlier.
She reached in for a hug. I put my right arm around her left shoulder, and then placed my hand on her lower back.
At least, that’s where I thought I put my hand.
She recoiled back.
“Really?” she said, squinting a perplexed yet steely squint that reminded me instantly of a woman I’d seen in a book of photographs about the impoverished people living in the Dust Bowl during the 1930’s.
People had crossed the street and we were in a sea of people and I had just accidentally grabbed her ass, full on, with an open palm. I’d even given it a little perfunctory pat-pat-pat. I’d thought it was her lower back, and the little pat is something that would’ve been fine if a few inches higher. Now, that little pat almost seemed sexually aloof; a “What, so I grabbed your ass? Big whoop!” vibe that might have swung if this was the 1920’s and she was a gangster moll.
What do you say when you grab someone’s ass?
I reached into the big bag of words in my head and came up completely empty.
I couldn’t say “I didn’t mean to grab your ass” with all the people around. That would show admittance – it would seem.
“Well,” I said, “I’m sorry. It’s a fine ass. But it was an accident. Oh my god. Really. Woof. But I’m sorry for…”
At that moment an old woman happened to catch my eye. She was within earshot. I knew I had to finish what I started.
“I’m sorry for grabbing your ass.”
My friend waved it off.
“It’s fine. It was an accident.”
My friend crossed the street, and she and her ass were soon gone. The old woman shook her head and hobbled past me to who knows what old-woman thing she was off to do. She would probably die soon, being old and all, I thought, and she would die with a memory of a strange man being apologetic about grabbing someone’s ass.