SHE DROVE A CITROËN SM (2 of 2)
The large underground garage where Briona had parked the Citroën was dimly lit. As we walked over to the elevator, Briona pointed at a black Porsche 928 and said: “See that car? That car was in Risky Business. Did you see that movie?” Before I could answer, Briona hit the elevator button. I told Briona that I was not familiar with the movie, and felt somewhat inadequate saying this after having noticed the enthusiastic manner in which she had asked me about it.
The elevator that arrived was a small antique, mahogany cubicle. Once inside, Briona closed its door, slid the copper screen closed and pushed number 7, which was the top floor. The elevator went up slowly as we saw numerous doors slide down below us until we reached the last one standing.
Outside the elevator, immediately to the right, was apartment 704, and the moment Briona opened its door a four-footer approached me with a smile. I had never seen one of those before. It was a Russian wolfhound also known as a borzoi. The dog was very tall, skinny and furry with an arched back, and blended well with the art-deco black leather couches, sleek lamps, vases and statues. It was as if Erte’ had decorated the apartment himself.
In the corner, near the window overlooking Pacific Avenue was a bar built from glass bricks and was lit-up with different colored lights. The shelves behind it displayed a collection of liqueurs, and above that was a large black sign that read in pink neon light: Who is John Galt?
As I kept looking around the room, I felt I was in a state of aesthetic delight, which was long overdue. After sleeping in a basement closet, I was now seated on a leather sofa in the presence of a beautiful woman.
My dream of America seemed to be on track. After only a year in the US, I had questioned the efficiency of the country and its infrastructure. After constantly seeing third-world trolley buses getting unhooked in the street, and after looking up at the sky and seeing webs of electric utility cables and bus cables pulling on various apartment buildings, I was beginning to doubt this county called America. In Holland all the electric cables were planted underground. The trains were modern and efficient, as were the train stations. The roads were well-paved, well-designed, and at night, well-lit -- no pot-holes and fading street-lines. And most stoplights were synchronized, not on some ridiculous timer, forcing drivers to wait endlessly for a stop light to change in the middle of the night when no other car was present.
But at this very moment, sitting next to Briona, I felt I had reached the America I had come for.And the evening kept getting better. Briona had brought me a glass of white wine, and as I kept sipping from it, she kept staring at me as if she was massaging me with her eyes. As much as I enjoyed this, I didn't know how to respond to her, so I began looking around the room, studying different objects. Now it was I who was avoiding the direct eye-contact. In the corner of the room, I saw the ABC Lexicon of Love album, which was my favorite, especially the "Poison Arrow" song:
Briona turned on the television and offered me the remote control. It was the first time I had ever seen cable TV, and I was immediately christened with the MTV channel playing the Tears for Fears song "Everybody Wants to Rule the World."
As I kept changing channels, I was surprised to see how many there were -- so many more than in Holland. There was even a Playboy channel; I found this very Dutch.
Briona then asked me if I wanted to watch a movie, and provided me with a selection of VCRs to choose from. Next thing I know we were watching the James Bond movie Octopussy together. Briona must have seen this movie several times, because she seemed to be watching me as I was watching the movie.
At one point during the movie, Bond is lying in bed with Magda, drinking Don Perignon champagne, and notices a little tattoo on her lower back and asks: “Forgive my curiosity, but what is that?” Magda answers: “That’s my little octopussy,” and then they kiss. And precisely at this moment I made my move on Briona, and with success. As Magda and Bond were kissing, so were Briona and I. And I remember thinking: The eagle has landed. But that was a different movie.
The next morning we woke-up together and Briona opened-up the refrigerator and introduced me to a fruit I had never seen before: mango. I thought it was a strange fruit with its rope-like texture and its giant pit, but I did like its after-taste. "My goal is to marry this man," Briona told me, pointing at a leaflet on the refrigerator. I looked at his picture and didn't find him particularly handsome. He also looked much older than Briona. The name under the picture read: "Dr. Leonard Peikoff, Capitalism versus Socialism Debate."
I asked Briona why she wanted to marry him, and she said that he was the greatest man in the world.
We then went out for some real breakfast.