I sit outside the Big O Tires, evading the waiting room’s televised hypnotism, and I settle into a little “o”:
The Big O is a Brotherhood.
They speak Spanish to each other but English to me. It couldn’t be any other way. I don’t speak Spanish. But that they assume I don’t, know I don’t, sets me apart…and on edge.
The Big O is a Brotherhood of Men.
They are so easy with each other—staff and customers alike.
When they relate to a woman, it is through unseen gloves of caution; it is to the male mind in her. This isn’t conscious, but it is intentional.
Truly, we women meet them there: Both genders steeling themselves into a hyper-neutrality, a sterile tunnel of androgyny, shelter from a storm of history and habit…to exile the fear.
We (women) fear dishonesty…duplicity…or worse. They (men) fear our fear, and perhaps, our pheromones.
I retreat easily to androgyny, and from humanity, until I choose to love. Love them, for their skill, their knowledge, their labors, their basic goodness, for no reason at all; and I invite in a shower of atomized gold, to disperse the fog of suspicion that all the smart uniforms and disinfectant cannot dispel, and which hangs in the air bound to the addling perfume of vulcanized rubber, which no amount of wishing can turn into licorice.
If tires were made of licorice, the world would be a happy kindergarten. On rainy days, we would not drive. We would stay home in our block-party home-schools and break-out groups, learning how to talk and play together and get along.
Meanwhile, back at the Big O, my car is now tired, but I am refreshed.
He knows…like he knew to talk to me in English…As if he heard these ruminations. He sits down on the wall next to me, like a friend, shows me diagrams and offers me half off an alignment. When I cannot accept, he offers me his hand instead, and we shake with smiling hearts. Goodness hailing goodness.
The Big O is a neighborhood; a circle… A Brotherhood of Man.
And the Big Oh is that revelation awaits everywhere.