I met Allegra the Bar Fairy but once, though she made quite an impression. Naturally, I try and limit my activity in bars to revelry and shenanigans in general, but that particular winter’s night felt like it was meant to be between a pen and I in a place where no one could ever find me. I picked a cobwebby East Village dive and sat at the far end of the bar in a position where I could see everything, but I was mostly obscured by the jukebox in a shadowy corner. An hour later, so deeply engrossed in my scribbles on a stack of cocktail napkins that I practically had my nose to the paper, a waifish wisp of a blonde girl slid unctuously onto the barstool next to me and asked in a husky, implacable accent, “Have you ever written on an airplane puke bag?”
I was shaken from my trance and I looked up at her, as her large caramel eyes peered at me inquisitively. She was disarming as she was tiny, and she focused her doe-like gaze on me as the folds of her long grey cashmere sweater settled around her in an elegant manner. Her beauty was undeniable but subtle, with an almost elven quality to it that was accented by the tips of her ears poking slightly through her long golden hair.
“No, actually, I haven’t.” I smiled. “I’ve written on a lot of other weird shit, though.”
“What are you writing?”
“Honestly? It’s nothing of terrible consequence.”
“Sure.” she said, curling her lip coyly, unconvinced.
“I’m writing about how I shattered my toilet last night.”
“What are you really writing?”
She paused thoughtfully, unsatisfied with my answer, and then replied, “You’re fucked up, aren’t you?” I shrugged, bristling into slight self consciousness, unsure of how to respond to the query without having opened up with even the lightest conventional formalities.
“It’s okay, I’m fucked up, too. How’d you break your toilet?”
“I’m a klutz.”
“Ah. you think you’re fat, don’t you?”
“No… that’s not quite it.”
“You can tell me. Is it a boy? It’s amazing, these things strangers can say to each other in bars. don’t you think?” The cadence of her speech was effortless and soothing. “Your heart must be broken, I’ve seen that look in the eyes of others… let me tell you a story,” she went on and I leaned in, anticipating her confession, “Once, I mailed a puke bag break up letter.”
“Oh? To whom?”
“An African man that I was in love with. It was written on the plane back to Costa Rica, and I still hope that it never arrived. When I was twenty-two I’d gotten unexpectedly pregnant by him and we were going to get married, but I had a miscarriage when I was dancing at our wedding, and we just couldn’t survive the strain. After I left him I moved to New York to pursue my art. It’s funny, you see, the most tragic things in life always end up leading to shaping your life into what it was meant to be, and it’s for the better.”
“Wow. That hardly compares to my toilet story, I don’t know if I can follow up with that now.”
“You’re not fat.” she said, putting her small, dainty hand on my thigh. It was childlike and genuine, and suddenly I wanted to hug her.
“Listen,” she went on, chewing on the straw of her vodka soda, “you can’t take yourself too seriously. Some people will say you’re not sensitive enough. You know what I say to that?”
“Sometimes your clit’s too big, and sometimes it’s too small. You just have to have faith that someone out there has the right touch.”
The bartender, a surly man in red with a mammoth goatee, had begun to eavesdrop and raised a pint glass to cheers to her whimsical meme.
“Here here!” she said. “Simpatico!” as she lowered her arm her sweater fell askew and exposed a small scripted tattoo below a rising sun on the top of her wrist.
“What’s it mean?”
“Funny you should ask about this; perfect example. I thought it would be so cool to get my tattoo in Arabic, despite the fact that I don’t speak the language and have no tie to the culture. I thought it would be thoughtful to have a saying on my wrist that everybody knows, in writing not many could understand. I thought it said, ‘this too shall pass’ for a year until a Tunisian classmate of mine pointed to it and asked me what ‘that too shall pass’ meant. Figures, no? Forever in my skin is a grammatical error, the thanks I get for trying to be too cool.”
“You could always get it covered up to say ‘this clit shall pass’.”
She laughed melodically and slipped me a cocktail napkin with her name and address on it in swirling script. “Promise you’ll send me a puke bag someday.”
“Next time I fly.”
With that, she gracefully lowered herself off of the stool and left me to my stack of napkins in the shadows.
The next time I flew, I did grab some extra vom bags from the plane to send through the post, and I realized that I had lost Allegra’s contact information in the shuffle of several months and the vortex of clutter I call a bedroom. I remembered our peculiar exchange as well as her full name clearly, and sat one afternoon looking askance at the Facebook search field as the cursor blinked expectantly. I wanted to write that letter, but, I also didn’t want her to be real. I was almost disappointed when she came back as the first result, with a photo that confirmed her existence in the tangible world outside of a surrealistic vignette with a mystery minx at a location I couldn’t find again if I tried. In the spirit of modernistic defeat, I sent her a friend request instead of a puke bag.