Kiki hunted in her purse for her wallet. Warren Crane stood beside her, with his hefty head, too large for that neatly muscular blue-collar New Jersey body, his beefy sailor arms crossed and a whimsical look on his face, like that of an audience member waiting for the comedian to get on stage. When you are no longer in the sexual universe — when you are supposedly too old, or too big, or simply no longer thought of in that way — apparently a whole new range of male reactions to you come into play. One of them is humor. But then, thought Kiki, they were brought up that way, these white American boys: I’m the Aunt Jemima on the cookie boxes of their childhoods, the pair of thick ankles Tom and Jerry played around. Of course they find me funny. And yet I could cross the river to Boston and barely be left alone for five minutes at a time. Only last week a young brother hall her age had trailed Kiki up and down Newbury for an hour and would not relent until she said he could take her out some time; she gave him a fake number.
‘You need a loan, Keeks?’ asked Warren. ‘Sister, I could spare you a dime.’
Kiki laughed. She found her wallet at last. Money dealt with, she said goodbye to the trader.
‘That’s pretty,’ said Warren, looking down her and then up her again. ‘As if you needed to get any prettier.’
And this is another thing they do. They flirt with you violently because there is no possibility of being taken seriously.