At 6 a.m. Times Square in its emptiness, looks like an abandoned movie set with its massive billboards and theater marquees, while drunks sleep it off in dirty doorways.
As I saunter west to work, my tote bag slung over my arm, I see up ahead, a group of girls gathered like a glamorous gaggle of geese.
Were they just coming home from a night on the town?
When I get closer, the glamour fades like the morning after a party…dirty glasses smeared with lipstick next to smelly ashtrays and food left on greasy paper plates.
I realize they’re working girls, women of the night, members of the oldest profession there is.
Far be it for me to feel superior, understanding that at times, a girl has to do what she has to do to pay her rent, or feed her kids.
Two look like men, their necks and arms big and bracing, while a third is tiny and delicate like a doll that came to life. They have a Fellini look to them, Anita Ekberg about to take a dip in Trevi Fountain, except the joy is missing, the La Dolce Vita nowhere to be seen.
I’m suddenly of interest.
“Oh lookie’ here, all fresh from a showa’ I’ll betcha,” said one, dressed in powder room pink, false eyelashes fluttering like fruit flies.
“I quicken my step, especially when another says, “Ya know what you need doncha’ honey’?”
I can hear them laugh, howling at something I know to be true. Why am I out all alone at such an early hour?
I’m working too, walking the streets, hoping to meet up with inspiration.
Who knew this would be it, humbled by their plight.
These women jump in cars that go around the block for a 20 dollar blow-job. Imagine thinking, that was your only choice for a meal and a room in a fleabag hotel.
My heart softens making me turn around and go back.
The laughs stop. Is she armed? Is she crazy?
“Listen ladies,” I say, with an Anthony Perkins grin, “I know you must be tired. May I treat you to coffee at the cart on the corner?”
They stare at me, never expecting kindness on the heels of their heels.
“Come on, whaddaya’ say?”
Three turn away, but Miss Pink with great pluck, shimmies over. “Are you kiddin’? Why do ya wanna buy us anythin’ when we done nothin’ cep’ make fun a’ ya?”
“I’m glad I made you laugh, because all girls need a good giggle now and then.”
As the two of us meander to Manny’s Fresh Brew…Have a Donut, Danish, Bagel or Two...the others, like mares rejoining the herd, slowly trot over.
It makes me think of the night Jesus met a prostitute who came to him crying, kneeling down, washing his feet with her tears, drying them with her hair.
Now I wasn’t about to give Miss Pink’s feet a wash and set, but I did think I heard the guy in sandals say…
That’s what I’m talkin’ about Susannah. Compassion for all, hearts wide open, leaving any judgement to me.
Inspiration, that little imp, often comes in peculiar packaging.