THE ASK SANDWICH
by Lynn Levin
The TSA lady at Newark Airport had a nice touch, and Josie enjoyed the pat down. The blue gloves slid under her arms, along her sides, down one leg, then the other. They searched, discerned. They pleased with just the right amount of pressure. Josie thanked the TSA lady, who nodded back with very professional brown eyes.
In bed last night in Robert’s apartment, it was their sixth time together, Josie had attempted the “ask sandwich,” something she’d read about in a woman’s magazine. First she told him how nice his cologne smelled and trailed her fingers playfully down his arm. That was the first slice of bread. Then she said she’d really love it if he rubbed her back. That was the sandwich filling. She would have praised him and reciprocated generously, which would have been the other slice of bread.
Instead he said, “You’re really bossy, aren’t you?”
Sheesh. She’d only done what the magazine had instructed. Josie curled away from Robert, then on his hard mattress, she recovered a little backbone. “I don’t consider that so bossy.”
“Well, I do.” The atmosphere in the room wadded up like paper.
Pulling her carry-on bag, striding in beige pumps, Josie made her way to her gate. She tried to wall off the Robert fiasco and focus on the nursing conference in Atlanta. She was looking forward to presenting her paper on pressure sores but hoped her seatmate would not inquire about her work. She’d about had it with folks who squinted and scrunched their faces when she told them about her field. Oh, you mean bedsores, they’d say using the old term. Didn’t know they were that important. Well, they can be fatal, she’d retort. She would educate them a little about patients who were stuck in bed, about reduced blood supply, friction, cell death, complications. And that pretty much ended the conversation.
At first, she’d seen a future with Robert. They agreed on politics and comedians, hated remakes of classic films and pork pie hats.
Maybe she should try being old school, passive. What was she anyway, a thirty-three-year-old sensualist who only thought of touch? And she wasn’t exactly a winner in the dating game—one six-month relationship and a lot of first dates with few follow-ups. Was it her or Match.com?
On the way to her gate, Josie passed a Hudson News. An array of cover girls beckoned her, fringed by come-on headlines: Drive him wild tonight. Ten types of sex to try at least once. Better orgasms now. Did everything have to be about the sack? Well, she would like to have some great sex before she died. Addicted to the promises on the cover, she bought a copy of Cosmopolitan.
Josie’s seatmate was a fortyish man in a blue short-sleeved shirt and Phillies baseball cap who said his name was Solly.
Josie said her name was Mimi.
Solly smelled freshly showered and had a dimple in his chin. They chatted about the weather and airplane coffee. When he asked her what she did for a living, she told him she booked models for fashion ads. With a light heart, she fibbed her way through a conversation about beauty, dieting, and divas. She’d met the famous Kate Upton. Yes, Karlie Kloss really was that skinny.
Solly said he didn’t know who those women were, but he complimented Josie on her big career.
“Sometimes those girls are so beautiful and sexy they’re unreal,” said Josie.
“I like the real type,” said Solly with a playful grin. “Real gals, like you.” As he sipped his airplane coffee, Josie spied no wedding ring. The two laughed a lot. Each time she said something he found fetching, he touched her shoulder. He had a big paw, but his touch was gentle and warm. It would have been nice to get to know him better. When it turned out they were both from central Jersey, Solly asked if he could have her phone number. Could he call her sometime?
This Josie now desperately wanted, but her wardrobe of lies made it impossible. She gulped and rubbed her nose. She almost knocked her coffee off the little depression in her tray table. “I guess with your schedule that would be hard to arrange,” he said.
“I do travel a lot.” Solly opened his laptop and began to study some documents. Josie paged through her Cosmo. Her head felt hot. She was very cross with herself, whoever she was.
Lynn Levin teaches creative writing at the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University. Her most recent books are a textbook, Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets (with Valerie Fox), Texture Press, 2013, and a full-length collection of poems, Miss Plastique, Ragged Sky Press, 2013. She lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.