The phone call from Miko was a surprise. I hadn't heard from her in months, and now she was on her way to New York. "I'll see you at the Washington Square arch on Tuesday at noon," she said. "I've missed you, RG." (I'd almost forgotten about that nickname....)
When I met her at the park beneath the stern marble eyes of the Father of our Country, she was just the same: the same perpetually worried expression, the same too-elegant clothes, the same thin, whippet-taut body. I wasn't expecting to see her daughters with her. They were along to see their dad, she explained. He was a TV and film producer and had lived in New York for years now, and Miko only saw him when she accompanied the girls on their visits. Naomi and Hanna were twenty and seventeen and precociously, gorgeously voluptous in T-shirts and shorts, a real contrast to their stylish, wiry mom. Miko handed each girl a credit card and told them to meet her at seven. I watched them walk off toward Soho, giggling, arm in arm.
Miko hit me in the ribs. "I told you in Tokyo, don't even look at them!"
"Humans are visually oriented mammals," I said. She liked that.
Miko had some errands to run, so I tagged along as she bought various trinkets and gewgaws for people in Tokyo. I didn't understand it; anything you could get in New York, you could get there.
"It matters where you get it. Japanese people want authentic things."
"Really? What about all the artificial beaches, virtual girlfriends, fake--"
"Those are for the people who can't can't get the real things."
Miko was a real snob. She was also unashamedly honest about being very rich, which was sometimes anoying but sometimes cut out a lot of game-playing. In Tokyo, she often settled arguments about who'd pay for an expensive meal with, "I've got more money than you."
"No, your husband does," I'd say.
A snob, but a true marxist. From each according to his ability, to each according to his need....
Once, when I put up more of a fight, she ended it with, "Just shut up and let me pay. No one likes a reluctant gigolo."
That's how I got to be RG.
We ended up walking through Central Park. A fat black guy on a bench was playing bongos and rapping, riffing off the people passing by.
"Oriental lady, eat some ice cream, eat a pork chop...."
I laughed. Miko walked faster and scowled. "So rude!"
"Well, you are pretty thin."
"In Japan, thin is good. And you know, we live longer than anyone."
A while later I was sprawled in bed in the hotel room, half-drunk and drowsy, listening to the shower run. Miko took the longest showers of any woman I've ever known. The water stopped and she stepped out of the bathroom, toweling her hair, trailing billows of steam. Her dark nipples strained into the conditioned air like live things trying to escape her pale, tiny breasts.
"You know, you're really good," she said.
"You're not bad yours--"
"I mean your work. You need to get out of theater."
"I like theater."
"There's no money in it."
"But I like it."
"You'd like TV."
"No, I wouldn't."
"The money's in TV. Let me set up a meeting with my husband."
"Don't you think that'd be... awkward?"
"I'll do it through a friend. He'd never know it was me."
"No, thanks. I do appreciate it, but..."
"Fine, whatever you want." She retrieved her panties from the tangle of sheets and snapped them on. She was really angry. "From now on, I'm calling you SG."