Monday, Jan. 13, 2003, 12:25 AM

Small town delusions

She says that she disagrees with my notion that the city steals your identity like the night strips the land of light. She says that she has attracted more attention the few hours that she has wandered the streets than the months she has traversed familiar routes at home.

You ignorant small-town girl. Of course you've gotten some attention here. Strangers have no problem confronting one another when there is no leash of familiarity to choke their inhibitions.

You won't get this kind of attention in a one-light town where you walk to the local store to get milk at your mother's request. And the only people you pass are your elderly neighbors. You may bump into Mrs. Jones - her hair in an over-inflated beehive that survived the death of the Fifties, carrying a bottle of cheap wine in a paper bag, and exploding to tell her friend Clare about the fight that the Martins had - how she caught him and the new secretary in his car behind his office building. They weren't teaching each other shorthand in the back seat of his boxy Chevy. Mrs. Jones will spill her story into the phone and Clare will listen attentively in her fuzzy slippers and nightgown, shoveling gooey globs of fudge-ripple ice cream into her over-inflated torso while trying to follow the shallow plot of whatever soap opera is on the television. No, you'll get no attention from the likes of them.

You stand before me in the phosphorous orange glow on the city at night. Your blonde hair tumbling haphazardly about your face, framing your slanted smile. You flash me a toothy grin and stare at me so full of pride and alcohol that I can breathe both.

I want to grab you by your skinny shoulders and shake until your pretty little head falls into the gutter with the other garbage. You infuriate me with your ignorance. Is it that you don't want to see the obvious or is the truth too large a pill for you to swallow? I've tried to feed you the truth in little bits like your mother breaking up the aspirin and feeding it to you in a spoon filled with syrup.

This isn't what I wanted for you. I didn't want you to invade my workplace in the middle of the night to try to render me jealous with other men's whistles and sexual innuendo. Is it that small-town naivete, desperation, or the alcohol that has caused you to mistake the catcalls of sex-hungry city boys for those of sincere admiration?