Ashley, the slow burner
I was in New York to promote a documentary I’d produced on the punk scene in the Middle East. We were part of a somewhat prestigious festival and I was doing everything I could to promote it – organizing an after-party, coordinating a modest amount of press, even standing on the street handing out fliers. That’s where I met Ashley, sauntering down the sidewalk eating a slice of pizza. She had a kind demeanor and immediately warmed to me when I tried to hand her a flier.
Staring me dead in the eyes, she said, “Middle-east punk, huh?”
“Yup, it’s a hell of a show. Plus an after party tonight. You should come out,” I said, trying not to be too unnerved by her unyielding eye contact.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I promised I wouldn’t go out tonight or tomorrow night. If you wanted to come back to my hotel, though, we could stay in….”
She smiled and I smiled back. I’d recently been in a somewhat similar situation – a beautiful woman who I had just met propositioned me out of the blue. Even though I wanted to go back to her house with her, I’d been too shocked to make the move and the opportunity passed me by. I’d spent the next month cursing myself for being weak-willed and vowing that the next time the situation came up, I’d show more heart. Fight instead of flight.
I was already back in Ashley’s posh hotel room before her story came out. Considering where she was staying, I had assumed Ashley was a rich tourist, on a little vacation with her daddy’s credit card. Something was a little off about that, though – her demeanor was too slow and friendly to be a spoiled little rich girl.
Ashley was, in fact, a cashier at a discount department store in suburban Illinois. She was in the city because she had been flown out to be on the Tyra Banks show.
“Since you already have me back in your hotel room, Ashley, would you mind if I asked what you’re going to talk about on Tyra?”
“My addiction to cough syrup. Do you want to drink some with me?”
I thought to myself, if you don’t stay here and drink cough syrup and then sleep with this beautiful, tainted girl, you will regret it. So, already knowing it was a mistake, I cracked a bottle with her and took a dive.
After an hours’ worth of drowsy, pedestrian sex, Ashley passed out smoking a cigarette. I killed it for her, put my clothes on and left.
A few weeks later, when I was back home in Seattle, bored, flipping the channels, I happened across her sitting on Tyra’s florescent stage.
Tyra demanded Ashley tell her about her biggest mistakes she’d made as a result of her cough syrup addiction.
“Well, just yesterday, I got loaded and picked up some ugly, older guy on the street.”
“You went home with him?” Tyra asked.
“Well, I took him back to my hotel room. I don’t know, I wasn’t thinking.”
And with that, I turned off the TV and thought to myself, maybe I shouldn’t work so hard to fight my own instincts anymore.
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