Hear me roar.
“You look like a lion!” That’s Stevie. My producer for the last three years. Yes, he knows what I like to hear.
I’m 38, but my legs look like a muscular 25, and I don’t mind letting you know it. These black heels are intentional. My red dress is intentional.
As is my hair. Honey streaks set off against my naturally dark skin, curly down to the middle of my back. It adds another few inches to my height depending on my mood and how I express it.
Yes, it makes me look like a lion.
I want you to look, to examine, to be drawn to me. I like it. I thrive on it. Your looks make me feel warm, alive.
Yes, this is the perfect job for me. Every glance or so-long-you-and-your-wife-are-both-uncomfortable-stare is literal money in the bank.
I make the world more beautiful–that’s my job. And you pay me each and every time you notice. The money flows right in. Well, it does if you’ve signed up, anyway. All it takes is a credit card. And if you spend too much don’t worry there are those counseling programs. The puritans made sure of that.
Some things about this country never change.
We stop, Stevie opens the door and I exit the van. I stretch up to my full height and raise my arms up and out in the universal human pose for victory.
My credits start racking up. Someone is already watching me. I hold the pose just a little longer until I feel the tell-tale double bump indicating I’ve captured all the credits I can from this looker. I wonder who it was. Were they waiting for me?
And then a I feel something else, something splash my left muscular-25 looking leg, and a tingle that quickly becomes a burning sensation. I’ve heard about this.
A threat to my very way of life.
I look down and sure enough it’s a dot of bright blue.
A nearby Urban Security team rushes toward the attacker. Too bad they weren’t a little earlier.
Five feet. Brown coat, torn. Hideous shoes. Looking every bit as out-of-place as you can imagine. The blue acid paint is evident on his left hand on which he has — get this — a knitted glove. With a hole in it.
The team tackles him, pushes his face to the ground and isolates the blue paint they can see. Resistance is futile.
Medics have approached me and are urging me to lie down.
“I will not lie down!” I shout this loud enough that my attacker can hear, loud enough that everyone can hear.
“You need to let them look at you.” It’s Stevie. “This stuff leaves a mark.” I had forgotten about him in the turmoil. I look and he’s covered completely in blue, having taken the full force of the attack.
“Oh Stevie…” He’ll be treated by the medics as soon as they’re done with me, but in my heart of heart I know it’s too late for him. He knows, too. I can see it in his eyes.
This industry is cruel.
I turn to my right, and spot a camera crew heading my way. What a perfect opportunity.
The medic has removed the blue dot from my leg and — get this — turned the scar into a heart. I make a note to get their names when this is all over. They deserve a big tip for the quick and creative response today. Stevie too.
The camera crew has arrived and a reporter is asking me for a blow-by-blow.
I pause for effect (and because cash is rolling in). Lots of people are looking now. It’s a live feed, and suddenly I’m a sympathetic lion. I can make this work.
“I lost a good and beautiful producer today,” I say in my most serious voice. “But we have to go on. We have to protect this beautiful way of life.”
The cash is pouring in as my audience waits for the line I’ve practiced in my head a thousand times. I hold the pause.
“Terrorism,” I say, “is an ugly business.”