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Country Club Dad digs me. He's 50 to my 34. At 6'6", he is one foot taller than I am. He calls my body "diesel". And my legs "wheels".
Although he speaks very highly of both of his daughters, I think he loves the younger one more. It is she he takes to social functions. He speaks of her as if she is his wife.
Country Club Dad's wife, of course, does not understand him. She lives her unsuspecting life in the suburbs while her husband blandly entertains me in the city. Uggh. She and the daughters can keep him.
When did the dry cleaner's son grow into such a handsome young man? Last I saw him, the little chunk could barely operate a cash register. Now he's so smooth that somehow he and I have a date. Although he is only a year or two younger than I am, I like being the older woman of 21. Pssst, girls: I have a teenaged boy toy!
Too bad, though: His kisses are so abominable that I can't help but imagine I am molesting a little chunky cashier. And I can't believe how wet a dry cleaner's son's mouth can be.
When they open me up – and oh, they've been dying to slice me open for years now – they'll be surprised to discover, deep within my viscera, a burgeoning, bustling metropolis, home to a pulsing cluster of at least a million microscopic people that, when viewed with the naked eye, appears to be just a little "mass" of benign cells that they'll advise me to have removed for fear that it could grow into something malignant. But how do I tell them I love my mini-metropolis and the way its population renamed all my organs the names of old-time Hollywood stars?
It's not that I don't feel anything. It's not that I am numb. It's not, as acting teachers have so lamely analyzed and criticized, that I don't let anything in and let it all just bounce off me. The thing is this: I feel everything. I am not only not numb, I am hyper-sensitive. I let everything in. Everything. Nothing bounces off me; everything is absorbed. My entire body and mind feels even the slightest impact with the full force of a head-on collision. You see, it's not that I don't feel. It's that I feel so much. Too much.
The other afternoon, Marissa was in and out of the Bloomingdale's fitting room so often and so long that the other customers started handing her their rejected try-ons on their way out. She didn't know if she should be impressed that they thought a classy store would hire a girl like her or offended that they thought she looked like a common, bedraggled fitting room clerk. But really, who cared. She was there for one reason only, anyway: to carefully print SNATCH GOES HERE in indelible bold black marker in the crotch of every pair of pants she brought in.
He reminisces about the first time we were together ("hooked up", as the kidz may still be saying), almost six years ago, in my apartment. Before, we were the classic "just friends", but something happened that made me pounce on him, and then the whole night took on a completely different flavor from what we'd both expected at the start of the evening. He remembers it all. Even that we barely made it up the spiral staircase to the bedroom after we made use of every surface downstairs. And I, the girl with the memory of an elephant, remember nothing.
I am in divorced, diminutive (except for, you know) Dave's multi-car garage, attached to the huge, too-clean suburban house he built for himself and his young son. He is admiring, aloud, his pristine white Corvette convertible. It's the one kind of Corvette that I have always loathed: the Stingray. "I really hope it doesn't rain," he says, looking up at the sky that's begun to darken. "I'd really like to take you for a ride with the top down." I pray for rain.
It rains. Dave curses. "Some other day, then."
I don't risk it. I never see him again.
Kate awakens with a start and touches her teeth with the fingers of both hands. Yes, yes, those in front are still there. Her tongue slides back, forward, around, probing the rest of her mouth, paving the way for her fingers, which quickly follow just in case the tongue has missed a huge gaping hole where a tooth should be. Ahh, yes, molars. They too are intact.
So, good. It was just a dream. But look.
still here. Her waking nightmare. The person who barely speaks and from whom extracting even the slightest comment is like pulling teeth.
I am standing atop a dusty hill in Athens, Greece, looking down on the sprawling, cluttered city not very far below. I realize my father was right: the place is filthy, just like he said it was when he visited several decades ago. I am wondering if I will find Diet Coke (and if so – cold?) anywhere in this rundown town. I am wishing I wore sturdier shoes.
"It's just a pile of rocks," I say to my boyfriend, who, several feet away, is riveted in place, in awe that he is standing where the Acropolis once stood.
We're loudly silent for most of the rocky, nauseating drive to the tiny town of Lendas, Greece. Earlier my boyfriend lamented that our three-week vacation isn't nearly enough time to see all he wants to see and do all he wants to do. I secretly lamented that we still have a long way to go before we can finally fly home and leave this torturous vacation behind.
We're not in Lendas for very long before the electricity fails. Our small (clean!) motel room is completely dark. But we don't like each other enough anymore to take advantage of the darkness.
From across the room, I watch his mouth talking to someone I do not know, forming words I do not hear. I watch his mouth smile as the other person turns to leave, and watch it retreat back into repose almost immediately and then grimace.
I love watching his mouth engage in everyday activities. I love that the mouth which does the ordinary things with other people during the day indulges in extraordinary things with me long after those other people have forgotten about his mouth.
I will never forget his mouth. And I hope I won't ever have to.
We stand face to face, not two feet apart, our mouths that have kissed each other not forming the words we both want to say, but grinning so loudly that words would be superfluous anyway. I know he's thinking what I'm thinking. I know he's wishing what I'm wishing. I know he wants what I want. And I know how he wants it, and how it will be when we finally find ourselves alone. It's been so (too) long.
So now, face to face, we find ourselves speechless. We grin so fiercely. We grin as if we have invented teeth.
I made you hot chocolate every morning. Brought you huge glasses of cold water throughout the day. After everyone else left for home, you closed your door and I stood behind your chair and massaged your shoulders. Sometimes you stood against the closed door and I knelt in front of you. This, you assured me, was even more satisfying. I was happy you were happy with me.
So why, one of the times I went over to your apartment in the evening to watch TV, did I have to hold your dick while you peed? Wasn't everything else enough proof!?
The thing is, you leaden lump of lard, if you're gonna have the balls to send photos of you and yours to a chick you only know via the internet, you've gotta expect her not to respect you even if she promises she will before she receives the pictures. You can't go around thinking that sending photos of your ghostly white gut, underneath which is nestled the reddest balls this side of the 99 Red Balloons of popular music fame, is a wise move. Next time, you'd be better off refusing. And my god, keep that raw rod under wraps!
She answers the door barefoot, in a loose and flowing shirt. Her hair is loose and flowing as well, and she apologizes that it's not "done". She feigns being frazzled and asks if I want "the tour" of the apartment she and her boyfriend moved into three weeks ago.
She shows me the three bathrooms with the jaded air of someone accustomed to having more bathrooms than occupants. Does she think I've forgotten that a year ago she was living in a studio apartment the size of the foyer in this one? Or does she, herself, just want to forget?
Dogs, I tell her, turn around on the street to smile at me. They pull on their leashes to reach me as they pass. "That's because they know that I love them all," I say. "I am in love with every animal in the universe. Except people. People, I hate."
"Why do you hate people?" she asks me. "I've been meaning to ask you for quite some time."
I start to try to explain, and then I realize I do not owe her an explanation.
"I hate people because they ask stupid questions," I want to say.
But I don't.
It's so simple, really.
I think of you and I wonder what you're thinking, so I call you (you love my calls) and tell you I'm thinking of you and wondering what you're thinking.
You are home and you want me warm and snuggled beside you, so you email me (you know I love email) and tell me you want me beside you in the warm and soft-sheeted bed where we feel the safest and soundest.
So why, if it's all so simple, really, am I here, wondering, call-free? And why are you there, alone, with your computer turned off?
In 1982, I fucked a boy named Norman who had a very cute face but who would've benefitted from a clean shave and the removal of the baseball cap that seemed permanently affixed to his head. Under that cap was a mass of gorgeous brown hair, but he may as well have had a huge bald spot hidden there for all anyone knew.
Norman, 18, was a virgin before he met me. He was also an Eagle Scout who was awfully proud of his medals. If I'd known this sooner, he would've remained a virgin after he met me, too.
I liked her better when she was depressed and crying and would disappear for weeks on end and later resurface and tell me she just couldn't face the world or herself and spent all of her time trying not to kill herself but sometimes barely succeeding. I liked her better when she wouldn't or couldn't eat and we bought her protein powder to make wretched lumpy pseudo milkshakes so maybe she could keep her weight above 85 pounds. I don't like her now that she's been electroshocked into thick numbness. Now that she's eating eggdrop soup. These are not improvements.
At night, when I can't sleep, I lie in bed, alone, and imagine the miles of arteries and veins and capillaries mapped, labyrinthine, throughout your body, transporting the blood that colors the cheek that I once made blush by saying something that reminded you of a time we were in bed, together, one afternoon. Where we should be now, and tonight. Where, if we were, I'd mention that same thing that blushed your cheek. And I would imagine the blood transported throughout the miles inside you and rushing to fill the one part of you that I love filling me.
The old dog has melted on the sidewalk, a contented, snoozing, lazing lump of thick fur, fuzz, jowls, and the hugest paws I've ever seen. She's 200 pounds, 10 years old. A multi-colored Mastiff named Stella.
Instantly I am crouched in front of her. I tell her she's beautiful. You're a beautiful puppy, Stella. A good girl. The best. I smile as I stroke her soft, silky head. Her glossy, glassy eyes look up at me, into mine. I turn my head so she doesn't see my eyes filling with tears.
I stroke her warm head and my heart melts.
I'm busy, home, writing, I said to his voicemail, so no, today wouldn't work anyway, and come to think of it, Friday doesn't work either, but next week, yes, next week should be all right, and nights, yes, nights work too, as I told you back in ... January ... so give me a call or grab me at the gym or whatever, and we'll work something out, all right, now go back to doing whatever it is you're doing on this crisp brisk winter day, go back to eating your pear.
Oh, how offhand I sound when really I'm anything but.
In his mail this week he will find a #10 envelope on which his name and address will have been neatly printed using a laser printer. He will tear the envelope open and find nothing inside. He will think the sender forgot to include whatever it was he or she intended to send. He will wonder who even sent it.
He will not know that the envelope is not empty. He will not know that inside it is a kiss she blew to him. A kiss that will just have to suffice until she can give him one in person.
Two-thirds of a 12-ounce can of Diet Dr Pepper and two-thirds of a 12-ounce glass of iced coffee later, and I'm still dragging. I know it's because my energies are being diverted into activities that don't excite me. Amazing. I can go to new restaurants, see fantastic plays, and shop all day, and it doesn't thrill me as much as you'd think. I'm just living for next week, when I'll spend an afternoon in the company of the only person who's made me feel truly alive since I moved to this city several years ago. Alive ... without caffeine!
So what do I do? Do I refuse to do what I want to do in order to adhere to some "principle" I don't wholeheartedly believe anyway? Do I act on a "should" (actually, a "should not") rather than follow my impulse, the mere thought of which causes my heart to pound so furiously and passionately that I fear it will burst from my chest if I merely unbutton my shirt to ease the pressure? I know what I want to do, so why do I fret so much over a meaningless "should"? That, itself, is something I shouldn't do.
First the dog will die. I give him seven years from now. He will be 12.
Then it's a toss-up between the man and the cat. The man's family is quite adept at longevity, but cats are known for it too. Nine lives and all.
So if the man goes first, say in 15 years, I'll be left with a 19-year-old cat lying like a lump on my chest. Oh so heavy, but not nearly as heavy as the lump I feel already, now, seven years and 15 years earlier than when all of these deaths will kill me.
Anna Paquin, onstage in the off-Broadway play, "Roulette". Wearing a short, shiny black skirt, torn fishnet stockings, and black knee-high platform boots. Red "Emily" tank top (bra straps showing) and black rubber bracelets. Shoulder-length black hair pulled back with two barettes. Heavy black eyeliner. Red lips. Skin so white. She's much cuter in person than I thought she'd be.
Anna Paquin, when you sit down on the black leather sofa on the set, I would appreciate if you wouldn't knock your knees together. Don't you know I'm hoping for a glimpse of whatever you're wearing (or not) under that skirt?
Our waiter has his fingernails painted green this week. Dark green. Pearlized or iridescent or something. They match his T-shirt and the necklace of big rocks that I feel compelled to compliment him on but at the last minute decide not to. Because I don't like it. Just like I don't like his nail polish.
I feel sorry for the necklace, because the stones didn't ask to be arranged in such a hideous fashion. But the fingernails I don't feel sorry for. I just think they look stupid.
I wish I could think he was hip, but I really can't.
I appeared in the In Memoriam montage at the Academy Awards this year. I was positioned between that famous old-time actor who lived to be 100 and the young beloved actor who died suddenly of a health condition of which he wasn't even aware. Whoever was responsible for putting the montage together knew he'd better place me between two well-known stars, so the applause that their mentions brought about would carry me too. No one knows who I was.
But I was pretty, wasn't I? In black and white, my eyes shining, my hair curled so beautifully? I was pretty.
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