I’ve been secretly admiring whoever owns the Vespa that’s parked in the back of my apartment complex ever since I saw it two weeks ago. It’s clearly the Vespa of someone who uses it as their sole mode of transportation, not one of those “weekend Vespas” you see parked in the driveways of homes in expensive neighborhoods. Like, Vespas that were purchased with the idea of riding them in mind but, like most things you buy, never gets any action because you’re too busy using the only twelve or so things that any human actually needs to survive.
I know it’s not a weekend Vespa because there’s a little back storage thing on it and those things cost extra money I bet. Like getting heated seats in your car or something. And it’s real worn. The paint on the zipper is mostly gone because it’s been zipped and unzipped so many times. There’s a opaque sky blue claw clip gripping the right handle bar, because the person that rides it has some hair that they need to throw up when they’re riding and they need to do it quickly and efficiently. One morning, I saw the sleeve of a lavender sweatshirt sticking out of the storage area or Vespa trunk or whatever. I stopped and looked at it for fifteen full seconds before I realized what had happened: I’m fucking obsessed with whatever wild-ass female rides that Vespa.
I mean, it’s really all about her style and functionality, which are two things I’d probably tell you casually that I’m not really in to because I don’t normally identify what I like about things correctly at first and would assume that I do not like those two things because they sound obnoxious. Saying you’re all about style and functionality, for me at least, conjures up images of women and gay men who really like going to The Container Store to find “sensible, chic options for everyday living.”
And I hate The Container Store. I like to keep things in shoe boxes and jars and really only arranged my closet by color because I was bored one afternoon over hiatus. But style and functionality are what I like about the owner of this Vespa and I am really all about those two things.
Not style like, a fashion magazine, but her look. Her lavender sweatshirt and her cheap claw clip. That’s a look, you know? It’s not my look, but it’s a look, and I appreciate it when people have committed to a distinctive feel. My friends all have distinctive feels, and so do all the people I see on the other side of whatever mall or restaurant or venue I’m in and become as emotionally invested as you can get in a stranger. To put it as plainly as possible, like the USA Network, I know characters. I hate myself for writing that last sentence, it’s embarrassing, but it’s what I needed to do.
I had this like, weird sexy mental mystery about who the owner of this Vespa was. I was partially hoping it’s the long-haired, deliciously homosexual French guy who lives in the complex. That would have made his story so much more interesting to me. The claw clip of it all would have really put my affection for him over the top. There’s also a girl here who has like “former UC Davis sorority girl” vibes about her, and I was willing to accept that she was the owner too.
However, there are eighteen units in this building. Four of them are one bedrooms, and the ones in the back are all singles. I was unaware when I rented the one bedroom in the front that there were over twenty residents here and had I known, that would have only convinced me even more that this was the best building for me. Twenty whole people to spy and pretend I know is a dream. I can’t even believe my good fortune. There are so many people here, that I don’t know everyone yet. I only know like, three, so there’s always a new person poppin’ out of some door or the trash area or the garages and it’s the best part of my life.
Today I was walking Wagandstuff behind the building. I went to a brunch this morning, then decided that I wasn’t really up for 4th of July. It’s a bland holiday for me, like Easter. I’m not sure why I’m supposed to care and there’s no presents involved and day drinking makes me feel fat and tired. And I hate small talk and bugs and consuming warm five layer dip and flat Bud Light with people I don’t care about. So I allowed myself to not feel obligated and went home and watched that movie Conviction on HBO and then I walked the dog.
We were heading back inside when, behind me, I heard the noise of a— wait for it, sluts— VESPA. Before I could even turn around, I heard her say, “Excuse me, do you have cigarette? I will buy from you.”
FUCK YES I HAVE CIGARETTE.
Turns out my favorite person is an Italian woman about my mom’s age, skin was on point, hair was maintained nicely and probably box dyed, clothes were a mix of like, Armani Exchange and The Limited. Real plain, but fitted. The lavender sweatshirt was wrapped around her waist. I could see the full sleeve and at the top it said, “PINK.”
This was a lot for me to manage mentally. I explained to her that my cigarettes were inside, but that I also lived in the building she was pulling up to and that I’d bring her one to her apartment after I put my dog inside. While I was saying that, I was running through possible scenarios in which the PINK sweatshirt became a part of her life. Did she buy it after taking her Vespa to the Grove on an exceptionally chilly day? Did she go to Victoria’s Secret to get a whole haul of intimates and pick up the sweatshirt on impulse? Did she find it at the Goodwill? She seems smart. Not like the kind of person who would pay $65 for a common sweatshirt that has a gigantic logo on it.
She went on and on about how nice I was and that she didn’t know I was living in the building while I silently agreed with myself that she for sure bought the sweatshirt secondhand. We both entered the gate and I told her that I’d be at her place in a minute. I did it super calmly, as to not let on that I’ve been waiting for this moment for what felt like a very long time.
When I got inside, I put Wags in his cage without offering him food or water and ran to my bathroom, where I knew I had a random cigarette stashed in the medicine cabinet. I have no idea where my pack is, and I didn’t have time to look. I basically was acting like it was middle school and the hottest guy in school walked me home and then invited me to go watch his friends play baseball and I said I’d be right back, running frantically around my home looking for a jacket as if he’d leave because I was taking too long. I was actually afraid that I’d go to this woman’s apartment and she’d laugh in my face and say, “Oh, you actually came? I don’t want the cigarette anymore. Leave.”
I walked up to her apartment, which is on the shitty side of the building. It’s still a pretty good spot in a nice area of town and it has a better view than any of the other singles, but it bums me out to go there because I don’t know what the people up there’s lives are like. The porch needs to be painted and there’s a small square table that’s kind of uneven and I can’t even look at it without it sucking up my energy. I am now able to identify that feeling as my unease around things that are not stylish or functional. A lopsided square table is no one’s style, and it’s not functional. At all. It’s only possible function, holding things, isn’t even really an option. I don’t know why it’s there, but again, I really don’t know much about these porch people.
When I got to her door, she was crouched in the door frame, holding a small, silver pleather make up bag. It was supposed to look like fine woven leather and whoever made it wasn’t even trying. Which is fine, I understand there’s a market for things like that. Style. It took me a moment to realize that her entire apartment was stuffed with clothing, and that next to where she was crouching, there was another pile of clothing that was falling out of the door frame.
As I handed her the cigarette, she asked me, “Do you want some of my clothes?”
I said no because I really couldn’t imagine that there was something there worth taking. We don’t really have the same look going on, and because looking at her apartment reminded me that I have far too much stuff and it’s way less stuff than her stuff. She didn’t seem to be mental about her clothes, all hoarder-y or whatever. She was trying to give them away, so obviously that’s not her thing. I decided that she’s really into whatever fashion it is that she thinks she’s in to and is probably in credit card debt. That’s not why she drives a Vespa, though. That’s because she’s Italian and they do stuff like that there.
She pulled a quarter from her pleather pouch and extended her hand in my direction while looking at the floor, deep in to a pile of clothing for I don’t even know what. I hoped she was looking for a pen. I thought about her credit card debt and told her that there was absolutely no way I would accept money for a cigarette and to not even worry about it. She welcomed me to the building and as I turned to walk away, she asked for my name, which is exactly what I didn’t want her to do because then I would have to ask her name and then I’d know too much of the truth.
I chose to forget it already. To me, she is the nameless former model who lives in my building on the sad people porch and has a major shopping addiction and the hardest part of that is not the credit card debt she’s amassed, it’s that she can only buy a few things at a time because you really can’t carry all that much on a Vespa. I haven’t figured out her romantic life or her current day job or her childhood yet, but I’ll let you know when I do.