Pink Tights

By Wayne Scheer

For the past twenty years Elvin had eaten oatmeal with raisins and walnuts for breakfast. He’d once tried scrambled eggs, didn’t like it, and returned to his familiar morning meal. He saw no reason to change.


As he did every morning, he checked the business news, the weather forecast and Garfield. No surprises, he glanced out his kitchen window expecting to see nothing more than the morning sun rising in the East. Instead, he witnessed a topless young woman skate by wearing pink tights. He rubbed his eyes and stared as her tight, pink derriere sashayed out of sight. 


Not quite believing what he had seen, he called his neighbor.


“Gloria, did you see that?”


“See what?”


“The woman in pink tights.”


“What woman?”


“She was skating. Naked.”


“I thought she was wearing tights?”


“Well, yes, she was. But she was topless.”


“Was she wearing a helmet?”




“Then call the neighborhood association. There's an ordinance against that.” 


He hung up and continued staring out the window, waiting for the woman in pink to skate by again.


He waited. And waited.


After finishing his oatmeal, and rinsing out the bowl, Elvin decided to do something which for him was akin to running off to join the circus. Instead of going to work, he got into his Toyota Camry to search for the vision in pink. 


Like a dog chasing a car, he had no idea what he would do if he found her, but he felt compelled to search.  


Up Elm to Oak, he drove. Down Cedar to Maple. He finally reached Main Street. Would she dare skate down a busy thoroughfare during morning rush hour, her breasts exposed? He turned left, drove a few miles, then turned around and drove in the other direction.  


No topless woman on skates. No pink tights.


Instead of returning to the routine of his day, Elvin felt a need to do something else out of the ordinary, something spontaneous. He pulled into Starbucks and ordered the most bizarre sounding item on the menu, a Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino. 


The sugar and caffeine made him lightheaded. His mind wandered back thirty years to the time his older cousin, Belinda, had taken him to a skating rink. Although he spent most of his time holding on to the railing, a little girl had urged him to let go. When he finally did, he felt genuine exuberance. Every time he fell, the girl encouraged him to try again until he began skating on his own.


He remembered how he laughed and screamed and sang along with the music without knowing the words. When Belinda took him home, he recounted his exploits to his mother. She got angry and shouted at Belinda.


“He could have broken a leg, an arm, or worse,”  


He never skated again.  


Elvin put down his Frappuccino, his hands shaking. His heart pounded like it had decided to stop playing back-up to his other organs and take a solo. Without conscious thought, he pulled out his cellphone and did something he hadn't done in all his years working at Finch Financial. He called in sick.


It surprised him how easy it was. After telling Beth, the office manager, he wasn't feeling well and needed the day off, he started describing a series of symptoms but she interrupted him.


“I'm sorry to hear that, Elvin. I hope you feel better tomorrow.”


That was it. That was all it took to free himself for the day. The last time he took a day off was in the fifth grade when he had induced vomiting in order to stay home and study for a geography test.


Elvin laughed out loud, causing the woman at the next table to turn his way. 


“Are you all right?” 


“Yes, thank you.” He felt his face flush.


“That'll make you giddy, if you're not used to it.” She pointed to his Frappuccino. “You need to build up to a drink like that. Perhaps a Toffee Mocha Lite?”  


She extended her hand. “Hi. I'm Cassie.”


Elvin took her hand, noting how soft it felt. “Elvin.” Desperate to keep up his end of the conversation, he said, “This is only my second time in Starbucks. The first time I ordered a regular coffee. But I had a strange experience this morning and I can't focus.”


“What happened?”


The caffeine reduced his customary reticence to share personal details with a stranger. “I saw a woman skating down my street wearing nothing but pink tights.”


Elvin watched Cassie's eyes widen before breaking into an uninhibited laugh, far too loud for the small room. “Nothing but pink tights?”


He feared her laughter was directed at him. Still, he wanted to continue talking to her. 


“Maybe I just imagined her.”


“Do you have that kind of imagination?”


He didn't know what to say.


Still laughing, Cassie stood up. Under her short, rainbow-patterned dress, she wore pink tights.


Instantly, he recognized her, and thought of her bare breasts. Trying not to stare at them, he sipped the remains of his Frappuccino to steady himself. It dribbled down his chin.


“You are…”


“Yup. The skater in pink tights.”


Cassie took his hand and said, “Let's blow this joint.”


“What do you mean?”


“I heard you on the phone taking the day off from work. You can do anything you want.”


“But...where would we go?”


“Wherever our imagination takes us.”


She sounded insane, mad, crazy. And happy. He followed her, feeling the fresh morning air on his face, although he could also hear his mother's voice warning him never to put himself in jeopardy.


“I can't skate.”


“Why not?”


Now it was his turn to laugh. “No helmet.” He paused to gain confidence. “And I'm not taking off my clothes.”


She winked. “You need to build up to that. Like the Frappuccino.”


“Here's my car.” Elvin pointed to his sensible automobile.


“Let's take mine.”


He didn't know the model, but it was red, small, and didn't look all that safe. He got in anyway and buckled up. Her skates were in the back seat.


She drove fast and talked non-stop about everything from an old Tom Robbins novel she had just read to a kale-quinoa salad which Elvin thought sounded awful. She played a CD of jazz and told him to pay attention to each instrument as if they were speaking to him personally.  


It seemed like only minutes had passed when he looked around and saw nothing but pasture, immense and green.


“I feel like a child lost in a painting,” he told her.  


“Good. There's hope for you yet.” 


With that, she pulled onto a dirt road, stopped the car, jumped out, and ran until she found a path through a fence and onto the open field.


Elvin followed, gasping for breath, his lungs unaccustomed to such exertion. But he kept running, exhilarated, not wanting to lose sight of Cassie and awed at the expanse of land, so lush he wondered if he had died and returned to the Garden.  


“Isn't this beautiful,” she shouted. It was a statement, not a question. All of a sudden, she began spinning, her short dress rising in the air, exposing her pink tights, and looking like she should be performing on a high wire.


Elvin used the time to catch his breath and stare at this strange, wonderful vision. She was crazy, he felt certain of this, and he knew better than to be out in the middle of nowhere with her, but like men since the time of Adam, he wanted to please her. She possessed a quality--call it madness, joy, spontaneity--a quality he knew he lacked. As he approached his mid-forties, he thought this might be his last chance to regain his lost youth.


“How far can you jump?”


He wasn't sure he heard her right. Her rhetorical leaps without segues made his head spin.


Without further explanation, she took a running start and jumped, marking where she'd landed with a fallen branch. “Your turn.”


He hadn't done anything like this since he was a child, before his father died in a car crash and his mother grew fearful an accident might take her son's life. He took a running start and leaped with all his might.


He landed short.


“Try again.”


When he fell short once more, she urged, “Again.”


Again and again, until he landed inches past her marker.


She ran to him, almost knocking him over, and kissed him, lingering just long enough for him to taste her before pulling away.


“Now watch.” This time she took her running start and flew into the air, defying gravity, landing far beyond the marker.


Elvin rubbed his eyes the way he did in the morning when she skated by his neatly trimmed shrubs.


“You flew! You flew! I saw you fly! How did you do that?”


“I imagined I could. And I did it.”


“Can you teach me to fly?” 


“If that's what you want.”


They embraced. 


“It's been a long day,” she said, patting him on the back. “Time to return to our lives.” She kissed him again, this time on the cheek, and ran back toward the car. Elvin chased after her.


They drove in silence. Elvin imagined life with Cassie, free and uninhibited. Then he thought of his own boxwood-lined house and his button-down job. He knew she had no place in his life and he could never fit into hers.


At his car, they hugged goodbye.


“Will I ever see you again?” he asked.


She shrugged and laughed. “Who knows?”