How many whores does it take to screw in a light bulb?


No. Whores. Prostitutes. How many whores does it take?

Uh - i don't know. (I can't remember if i've heard this one before. I know the answer will tell me more than i expected to learn about her when i walked in.)

Three hundred.(Her laugh is familiar - high and hurried, like a joke in itself.)

Three - why?

Because we've all got hard drug habits from sleeping with too many men, and STDs, and our hands are shaky. And, you know, sometimes the light bulb is hot, you know, and it's really high up and hard to reach, with all of our hands in there.

That laugh again. It's the same laugh as the perpetually drunk woman who pretends she can speak old english and importunes anyone who will lend her attention with the budgie she stores in her cleavage. Different woman, though. I have to reach over her at the counter to fill my coffee cup.

Comment ca va? Feliz Navidad! Ciao, bella. Bella! Bella dama. Comme ca. Tequila rojo, por favor. Feliz navidad. Por que. Pequeño. Ha - ha - ha!

I can't keep up and i can't hold a conversation with my friend, Josh, who's working the counter. She looks like she couldn't decide whether she wanted to dye her hair black or blonde, and that reminds me that i dreamt this morning of wringing water out of my hair and realizing that it was heavy, heavy like metal, and long to the floor. Hers is chaotic. So are her teeth. I am a citizen of the world! The police are afraid of me! See ya, Josh.

It's time to leave, to go to work. I walk out of the cafe, and round the corner. Every morning i go by here, it's a heart puzzle. Do i make eye contact? The corners are clogged with day laborers, hoping for work. Sometimes they are friendly, Buenos dias. Sometimes they leer. Mostly it's both: over-friendly leers, every one of them looking at me as i pass through them, each waiting for an admission that they're human. They lean on the buildings and stare. I can tell they're staring long after i cross the street. I can't possibly say good morning to all of them. Hola. Hola.

The people that need our notice most are the hardest. It's like steeling yourself to deal with a bad wound. This world is hurt bad. Needs a lot of work. No joke.