"The whole world looks different from the back seat of a convertible," she said as she slipped on her black studded sunglasses and shifted gears. Her words floated back to me. "Where are you headed, honey?" She lifted her hand just off of the steering wheel for a second to check her nails.
It was a huge old convertible. Canary yellow. The paint was chipping and the leather of the seats was cracked.
"San Francisco" was my reply.
She was old. Her face had wrinkled from years of tanning and dark roots peaked out from beneath her heavily bleached hair. It didn't look soft. Nothing about her looked soft- her hair, her face, her synthetic clothing... I leaned my elbow on my bag.
"Oh. Another aspiring actress, are ya? I see," she said, checking me out in her rear view mirror.
I didn't want to be an actress.
"Well, honey, honestly, you aren't even going to pull commercials with a nose like that." She waved around her hands when she talked. Her long plastic nails clicked together, her clunky gold rings twisted around her fingers.
I liked my nose.
"Well, one tip for ya- don't ever let them talk you into taking your clothes off! No matter how much they offer you. You'll never live it down. I know I haven't." She looked at me again. I could tell she wanted me to ask her what she had acted in and who had wanted her to take her clothes off. After a few seconds I humored her. "Is that so?" I said flatly.
"Oh yes doll. It'll follow you forever. You see, I played a stripper in a movie in the eighties. It was called Candlelight. I'm sure you've heard of it."
I had never heard of it. "Oh, yeah, of course," I said.
She let out a loud, short laugh. "You were probably a baby!" she snorted. "Well, let me tell you, people still ask me about it. I hear it still makes its rounds in the dorms. Just last week a young guy came up to me and said 'hey aren't you the stripper from Candlelight?' So I said 'yeah' and we had a few drinks..."
I could tell that was a lie but I smiled a little anyway. The dusty air was spinning past me and the sun was blaring down- I could feel it on the part in my hair.
"But you gotta be careful of people like that, honey. They think just because they've seen you naked in a movie once they can have you then and there! But that's men for ya... Gotta boyfriend, girlie?"
"No, no I don't," I said. I leaned my head back and let the sunshine bounce off of my cheeks.
"Oh.. Well... you aren't one of those... lesbian girls, are you?" She whispered the word lesbian as if it were a curse. "It is supposed to be hip these days, you know, to be like that. Doesn't make any sense to me. Crazy- these people are. Next thing you know they'll live right next door to you."
I just smiled. I was as much a lesbian as I was an actress.
"You running away, sweetie?" she then asked me, lowering her glasses with a fake expression of worry. "You look awfully young."
"I'm not running," I said. "Just taking a break."
"Who is it, honey? she asked. "Do your parents treat you bad? Hate your teachers? Bad break up?"
I just ran my hand over the weathered interior and sighed as she pulled over to the side of the road.
"I'll just let you off here, hun, but I'll tell you- I've run away before. Its no good. Just go find yourself a nice rich man, honey, someone who can take care of your pretty little face." She smiled a wide, toothy smile at me. I got out and stood next to the car. Her lips were an obnoxious shade of pink.
I pushed my windblown hair out of my face, and looked farther down the road into the distance. "Thank you very much," I said as I pushed the door closed.