In the one-seater
at the bar in Deep Ellum, Dallas
the vending machine takes the space
of sink and toilet combined,
offering tampons, condoms,
BJ blast, clit ticklin’ bunny,
pink-opal mini vibrator,
purple feather nip clips,
But no change.
It makes sense:
everything you need for a night-out
at a venue occupied by twenty-somethings
serving both beer and wine in plastic cups.
So different than the machines
in the entrance to the grocery store.
Stacked, hip high, holding
gumballs, stickers, temporary tattoos,
plastic charms in opaque plastic eggs
to occupy any two-to-eight year-old
for the duration of a shopping list.
In the hotel lobby beside the ice dispenser
the machines are in categories:
“stuff you only eat on vacation,”
“smaller versions of things you forgot at home.”
The pleasure of dropping coins through the slot,
the privilege of selection,
the anonymity of the machine,
the magic of the correct arm twisting to release.
As much as it is about offering
the right thing at the right time—
predicting type, purpose, preference, need
or desire—it is about being offered anything at all,
being considered, being known,
encountered by a stranger who says,
“I knew you would be here,”
“I thought you might like this,”
“You look like you could use
a good ________________.”