The New York street was bustling with cars lurching and breaking as they started and stopped in the congestion. Automobile horns punctuated the molasses ballet every few seconds, their drivers hoping that by adding to the overall din traffic would move more efficiently.
Neon signs everywhere blazed that each establishment had the answers to all of your worldly dreams and desires right inside their doors. The sign in Pat’s Eatery window boasted Pat’s had the best coffee in the entire world, as did the posters in the windows of the other two diners on the same block.
A small family of tourists, each clicking away on their cell phone camera, passed on the busy sidewalk. Martha said it was nice to see a group of people who were not rushing to get from point A to point B. “I wish I could be like them more often. Walking around at my own pace. Must be nice.”
“They are blocking the sidewalk and the flow of pedestrian traffic,” Gabriella said. Martha noted the irritation in her voice.
Food vendors under umbrella-topped carts dotted the way to the coffee shop. Smoke from a green and yellow Salvatore’s Hots cart spread the aroma of cooked deliciousness throughout the area.
“I love the smell of the food, Martha, specifically the spicy smell of the sausage.”
“Why do you think the sausage smells good?” Can she quantify the difference between a smell and a pleasant smell?
“I like the smell of the sausage because I can taste it too. It has a stronger, spicier flavor than hot dogs. Smells good.”
“You can taste it from the smell?” Martha asked.
Gabriella gave another grin and said with an impish tone in her voice, “Yes, of course, I can. Can’t you taste it from the smell too? I thought we all could.”
Martha noted that Gabriella again classified herself as part of humanity. This is quickly getting interesting. What on earth is going on in that gel brain of hers?
“So, socialization is going well for you? You know, being out in public and all?” Martha probed again.
“I’m becoming more comfortable with it,” replied Gabriella. “It was awkward in the lab, but it seems so much easier when we are out on the street, or at least in other surroundings.” She put her arm around Martha’s shoulders.
“Thanks for the hug, Gabriella, but can I ask you why you did that?”
“Certainly. You’re my friend. I’ve seen Jim do it regularly to the women in the lab who are his friends. He’s done it to me too when we’re working on a problem at my lab table. I rather like it.”
The wind blew a strand of hair across Gabriella’s cheek. Martha brushed it slowly back over Gabriella’s ear.
“Gabriella, honey, you can be so smart about some things and so naïve about others. Anyhow, keep your eye on Jim. He’s a bit of a horny-toad. He’s a great guy and a skilled lab director, but he sure likes the women, even though he’s married. Just keep an eye on him.”
“Well, I looked up the idiom ‘keep an eye on’ and found it means to watch or give your attention to someone. It makes some grammatical sense, but I can’t see why anyone would apply the phrase to Jim. I can’t find any explicit reference for horny-toad that makes any sense at all. A search pulled up an obscure restaurant, a clothing manufacturer, and a photo of a horned toad, but none of those seem to fit your inference. Explain those terms, please,” Gabriella said. “I’m not processing them properly.”
“Sweetie, first of all, you shouldn’t use the word ‘processing’ when you’re in public. It will only point you out as being different from everyone else. You can say it in the lab, or a university or someplace, but let’s not do it on the street, okay?
“Secondly, most people understand the word ‘horny-toad’ even though it isn’t in the dictionary. Let me back up a little and explain. You touch things and feel the same sensation as I do. This is true for normal touching and, let’s say, closer contact. I think Jim is getting interested in that ‘closer contact’ part. Remember, he’s a married man and a bit of a letch. Okay, don’t look it up. I can tell you were going to. It means he is erotically suggestive and lustful. More than likely, he wants to get into your pants.”
“Is that a bad thing?”
“Girl, do I have to explain everything to you?” Martha faked exasperation as she threw her hands up. “Yes, I suppose I do. Listen, in our society, it is generally seen as bad form for a married person to have an affair. Most men and women prefer a rule discouraging their spouse from having sex with someone who isn’t them.”
“So are you saying having sex is a bad thing? Several of the people in our lab are having sex together, and they aren’t married. I’ve often watched Jim and Francine have sex on the couch. It would be fun to experiment with it to see what the fuss is all about.”
“You watched Jim and Francine have sex? Did they know you were watching?”
“Yes, they did. It didn’t seem to bother them. It was much more interesting than watching the same things on those internet videos. I don’t think all the shouting and moaning on the internet is real, do you?”
“Whaa? They let you watch! Somebody needs to do something about them. That’s just wrong!” Martha sighed as the two of them arrived at the coffee shop. This girl is too, too much.
“I’ll have to have a priest or someone explain things to you more,” Martha said. “Let’s get our coffee and get back to the lab.”