The Book of Wheeling

Today, for some unknown reason, I've decided to share with you certain indiscretions that even my wife is unaware of. Of course this is just a figure of speech, for the truth is that women seldom know everything that their husbands think and above all what they do, it being necessary only to add—for the consolation of any possible female readers or, for that matter, to feed the cynicism of my male readers—that the opposite is ever truer, because everyone, men and women alike, even the best behaved, has a double, if not a triple, life. The truth is that when I woke up today, the sun seemed to me slightly different and propitious to certain liberties, or to licentiousness if you prefer.

I am perfectly aware that perhaps I'm being dangerously foolish in yielding to such impulses, precisely these days when you can't smoke in restaurants or praise the eyes or mouth of a woman, much less her ass or tits. I'm lucky enough not to be a writer, and as a result no one can demand that I contribute to the nation's moral and civic betterment; I'm simply a citizen, whose biography, truth be said, holds not the least interest for the public and who enjoys, from time to time, wheeling through the city in his 4x4 jeep with its tinted windows and a CD player that drives chicks crazy with the sound it exhales, gentle or aggressive according to the preferences of each of them (you've got to hear my CD player to understand why the verb exhale corresponds literally to the respective sounds).

Not to brag, but the truth is that, from wheeling around the city so much, I pride myself on being one of its most profound connoisseurs, including its most wanton and unprintable secrets. If that's what you thought, you got it right. And that's precisely the reason I like to wheel around town. It's a highly stimulating and exciting exercise, not only for cardiovascular balance but also for other anatomical ornaments that our national prudishness prevents me from mentioning, although everyone, as Freud or Wilhelm Reich would say, ends up yielding to their power. Besides that, and at least when it's possible to go beyond visual reconnaissance, it is also, so to speak, a type of deserved compensation for the vast contingent of poorly loved or even unloved women that circulate daily in the city.

In fact, no one can deny, doubtlessly because of the war and other endemic factors, that in this old city there is a veritable army of women in need of real men, the ones who know how to talk, who are always ready to stick it in any woman and, above all, who don't forget to go around with a bit of money in their pocket (not a lot, because it's imperative not to jeopardize the kids' milk money and other regular expenses). Therefore, if the reader belongs to this category, he can begin practicing the art of wheeling, for the game, from the outset, is a sure thing.

One of the surplus values of the city, in that sense, is the diversity of supply. You can find almost anything in terms of color, ages, occupations, sizes, and shapes. The defenders of lost authenticity, whatever that is, surely have no notion that they are irremediably condemned to unhappiness, for what greater blessing can a man ask of the gods than the possibility of screwing all types of women, black, white, mulatto, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and—miracle of miracles—any other that may result from the mixture of all or at least some of these types? In that sense, Luanda is almost the true promised land, for as I wheeled around the city I've even seen some Asian women that you wouldn't kick out of bed.

A few days ago I had an absurd idea, but one that might make me a little change, if I were one of those with nothing but money in mind: write a book about the strategies, tactics, and techniques of approaching the enormous number of women walking around the streets of the city, with the goal of getting them to freely open their legs, thinking they had finally met their Prince Charming or, at a minimum, someone willing to sponsor them, as it's put nowadays, in exchange for sexual favors (I dislike such formal language but use it merely to demonstrate that I'm not always vulgar and obscene).

The Book of Wheeling—that would be the title of my text, whose success would be guaranteed because, without unnecessary boasting, the fact is that over time I've been refining my expertise in the subject more and more. However, I'm so occupied with praxis, in other words with the act of wheeling in itself, that the theory can perfectly well wait for later when I retire and my kinjango, unfortunately, no longer obeys me.

In any case, and merely to whet your sordid (why not? You're also children of the Creator) appetite for the details of this future book, I'm going to give two or three really basic hints about what, with all propriety, can be called the art of wheeling.

The book's first chapter would obviously have to be dedicated to the approach. In this respect, the number one rule is to identify the target with the greatest possible precision, as it's only worthwhile to expend imagination and energy on those women who really need a man, even if for nothing more than to give them a ride; civil servants, for example, are normally a total waste of time (there's almost always someone waiting for them at the entrance to their offices), while students are the most vulnerable.

The second rule is to know the locations and hours in which women are most available, either by themselves, like at certain times of day (for example, lunchtime); in small groups, like coming out of sweet shops; or bunched together, like at the doors to schools and churches.

Finally, the third rule is never pounce too quickly, for several reasons: some of them may seem spectacular when seen from behind but are truly awful when seen from the front; others have a boyfriend or lover nearby, often in disguise; and still others are just a step away from their destination, and there's no response more lamentable when a man chivalrously offers a ride to a foxy woman and she says, with an air of fake regret, "Oh, what a shame, I'm already home!"

The various types of dialogue to use, naturally assuming the approach is successful, would constitute the book's second chapter. To begin, a basic inquiry: name, family, occupation. If the potential victim responds in a natural manner, the next question should be: "What does your husband do?" Or else (in case she doesn't appear the married type) "So, how's your boyfriend?" If by chance you hear one of these possible responses: "My husband works for a foreign company, he's always very busy, but I have a life of my own . . ." or "My boyfriend is taking a training course and will be away for three months . . ." then you can start rubbing your hands (or some other part) in glee, trying not to appear too anxious.

Of course things don't always go this, shall we say, swimmingly, so if you see that your questions aren't being well received, you must excuse yourself immediately and explain that curiosity is one of your most atrocious and compulsive vices, so much so that at that moment you were overcome by an irrepressible desire to ask her what her dog's name was (or her parakeet or kitten). But then try to get out of there as fast as your legs will carry you.

This exception aside, you should pause for a brief time just after the introduction to let her relax, after which you should ask her, obligatorily and necessarily, if she's in a hurry to get home or if she wouldn't prefer to first go for a drive and have some juice or a Coke. If she prefers that you take her directly home, don't forget as you say good-bye to ask if you can see her again or at least phone her without running the risk of someone slitting your throat. The answer will almost always be positive, since women as a rule detest violence.

These two stages—the approach and the chat-up—still belong to the siege phase. If they go well, you then proceed to the annihilation phase, as the venerable Mao Zedong would say (who would have thought that the old man, in addition to theorizing about guerrilla warfare, was also fond of other kinds of combat, eh?). Don't get your hopes up, because I'm not going to reveal here the several techniques of annihilation that I've used in the course of my existence. It's true that currently I run no risk of being considered a counterrevolutionary, but some may call me a pervert or the Antichrist, which is equally discomfiting. It's also true, as one critic stated, that all great writers are misogynists, but I've already said I'm not a writer.

My wife has just come into the room, and she must never discover that I lead a double life. What woman would like it for her man to chase other women in the streets, squares, and avenues like a dog in heat? I must therefore interrupt these perverse thoughts of mine. It's time for my afternoon bath and she's come to help me out of the wheelchair and into the bathtub. Actually, I've been in this wheelchair since childhood, and—I confess—I don't know what my life would be without the only woman I've ever really known.

Translation of "O Livro da Deambulação." Copyright João Melo. By arrangement with Editorial Caminho. Translation copyright 2007 Clifford E. Landers. All rights reserved.