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Tonight I broke my self-imposed two-day fast. At 10:00, I sat down with my little black and white bowl of tempeh and vegetables that I'd made four hours earlier, and ate it.
I wish I could say it was worth the wait. I wish I could say it – and the small cup of chocolate soy pudding; brownie crumbs; dish of Soy Delicious (two flavors) with a smidge of chocolate sauce; a few nuts; and a large banana – left me in ecstasy, but ... no. All that waiting – for this?
Next time I do it right. I feel like starting right away.
In my closet hangs a short black and white dress made of a flimsy fabric that I think, if boiled, would yield a thick oily substance that could not attach itself to dry skin but would, instead, roll off it like mercury beads from a broken thermometer scattered across a cold tile floor. I used to wear this little dress with enormous pride. It was the one dress I felt cutely sexy in, the dress I would wear with a date I wanted to seduce. Now when I look at it, though, I wonder, "What the fuck was I thinking?"
The window is open only about six inches, but that's more than enough to allow the almost obscenely mouth-watering aroma of something fried to waft up from somewhere below, through the screen, and across the room to where I sit. The smell reminds me of Kentucky Fried Chicken, which I have not had since 1987. I have not had any chicken in 14 years, but right now I can't help but fantasize about steaming bucketsful of just the skin, removed from the flesh and bone, in two varieties – extra-crispy and original -- and making a mess of my fingers and lips.
He has shelves full of books, yet confesses that he has only read two or three pages of each volume. These books all look very commanding: thick, many-paged hardbacks with short, stern, imposing titles like "CHURCHILL" and "KENNEDY". They're all about supposedly important historical figures about whom I have no interest. It's clear the books are there to impress visitors, to make their guardian feel like he's intelligent enough to maybe someday flip through another two or three pages.
In my company he reads 15 pages of the new Clinton book. I think I'm supposed to be impressed. I'm repulsed.
"Oh my god, I can't believe I'm sucking the dick of one of the most powerful, influential, well-known men in the city," Julia thought as she swiped another lipful of stringy drool from her chin and wiped it on the authentic Persian carpet that comforted her bare knees now but which later would prove that quality, price, and authenticity didn't eliminate the existence of rug burns. "It seems like just yesterday I was still blowing maintenance men on cold tile floors just for changing lightbulbs and fixing fuses. And today ... this! I certainly am moving on up in the world!"
Why am I wasting my time with a man who wears pleated shorts, tucked-in polo shirts, and the measliest of namby-pamby loafers, when the guys who truly attract me and cause the blood to race so fast through my veins that I can feel them tingling through my skin are the ones who knock around in cargo-type pants, untucked and unbuttoned long-sleeve shirts with the cuffs rolled up, some sort of groovy necklace, and, quite possibly, a bandana in his longish windblown hair? What's up with me with a suburban lawyer, when I need a writer, an artist, a drummer?
The trunk of the car springs open and inside he places the plastic bag containing two bottles of wine bought just for tonight's dinner at his friend's house. He snaps his fingers, bounds to the corner of the garage, and returns with a lacrosse stick, which joins the wine.
"Why are you bringing that?" she says.
"Christine plays lacrosse," he says.
"So? Do you expect a spontaneous outbreak of lacrosse sometime during the evening?" she says.
He never plays lacrosse. She knows he has the stick just to impress his friend's All-American wife.
Like anyone gives a fuck, she thinks.
Melissa decided to be spontaneous, so instead of having lunch with The Girls, she went home. She only lived five blocks away, and half of last night's delicious stromboli waited, foil-wrapped, in the refrigerator. If she left it until tonight, her roommate, Laura, would probably have claimed it for herself.
Entering the apartment, she heard a rustle in the kitchen. Damned Laura! she thought. Couldn't keep her hands off it, could she?
However, it wasn't Laura's hands she had to worry about. Laura was feeding the stromboli to her twat!
"At least this time you removed the foil," Melissa said.
It's lovely, really, that after you have spurted and spewed and left a sticky, gooey mess all over my thighs, abdomen, and more, you jump up and fetch a towel. But don't you think it would be right if you mopped up the mess as well? If you'd take care to clean up what you left? Didn't your mother teach you anything? If you spilled a glass of milk on the breakfast table, did you run for the paper towel – only to hand it to your mother? (Oh, and P.S. didn't your mother tell you to dampen the towel first?)
I was looking to my left, waiting to make a left-hand turn, and saw him running down the sidewalk. Running, as in exercise, not as if from a crime scene. Running, and approaching.
I rolled down my window and called to him.
"Why run, when you can ride?" I said. "Do you want to get in?"
He did. So he did.
And I drove him home. Where I blew him, after coyly pretending that's not why I was there.
If only he didn't live in a trailer park, the story wouldn't be embarrassing at all! (I usually leave that out.)
She's running around the yard – or whatever passes for running when done in high heels – chasing fireflies with two little girls, the daughters of her new boyfriend's friends. She's having an OK time, but not nearly as much of a blast as she's pretending. Occasionally she sees the adults looking at her, smiling.
"Oooh, great" she thinks. "They're going to point out to him how great I am with kids. He's going to fall in love with me for this." Little does she know the friends realize she's a fraud, and they're smiling because she's making an ass of herself.
My patients intrigue me. Jan, for instance, told me that when she and her sister, Ann, were five and six, respectively, they would play a special ball game called "Ding Dong". The girls faced each other with their legs apart and their opposing feet touching, forming an "arena" between their legs. They took turns rolling a pink rubber ball in the arena, aiming for each other's crotch. Whenever one of them was hit in what they called their "little switch", she would yell out, "Ding!" her sister would yell out, "Dong!" and then they would yell, in unison, "Ding Dong!"
Oh, John. John with the handsome face and great hair. John from 1997! What was I thinking, not fucking you on our third date? What was I waiting for? We had a fantastic dinner, wine, and were on my private deck enjoying the warm summer air and the moonlight, and you were trying to enjoy my ass by rubbing your cock against it. Through my short dress, yes, but only because you were a gentleman. And I was pretending to be a lady.
Who the hell did I think I was kidding, acting like a girl who followed "The Rules"?
She is with the fraud frat boy. There are others here in this horrid "pub" on this Friday night during happy hour who are real frat boys, who you can tell are members of the frats that their fathers and grandfathers joined, whose names are followed by Roman numerals.
"The higher the Roman numeral," she thinks, "the bigger the jackass." But at least they're real frat boys. Not like the one she's with. The one she's with is the first male in his family ever to attend a university. And his father still has an Eastern European accent. How mortifying!
She sits on the subway and pulls a half-full (optimist!) bottle of water from her large totebag. Pops up the "sport cap" with her teeth, tilts the bottle bottom up. Takes an athletic sip. A gulp, really.
"Everyone here thinks I just worked out really hard," she tells herself. "They think I need to quench my thirst."
She makes sure no one can see inside her bag, which does not contain any gym clothes. Never has. Never will. Looks looks around at the passengers's passive faces. Yep, they all think she's a big-time athlete! They're just pretending not to care!
He comes home and just stands there. Stands, pretending to go through the mail. There, in the boots he knows she hates, a hatred that earlier in the day she reestablished just in case he forgot.
He stands. And waits. Waits for her to turn off the vacuum cleaner and straighten up. Look his way. Just so she can see him in The Boots. So she vacuums the same spot of the rug with a focus she's never devoted to vacuuming before. By the time he finally leaves the room, she's vacuumed clear down to the center of the earth.
For years, she's been telling people she thinks she can trust that she thinks there's something wrong with her. "I think there's something wrong with me," she's been saying. "Like, in my head."
These people she thinks she can trust just brush her off and tell her she needs to get more sleep. "It's just a phase," they say. "There's nothing wrong with you."
So why now, 30 years after her first declaration -- and finally well-rested -- is she hiding under her desk, knees pulled up to her chest, hands pressed against her ears, still trying to make it go away?
If he really wanted to apologize, he'd send something amazing to her office, something requiring her to come out to the busy reception area and sign for it in front of everyone who happened to be there or passing by. He wouldn't send it to her apartment, where none of the girls she cursed him out to would see it. No, he'd have to send something public. And big. But he doesn't.
So she sends herself a huge cactus in a gorgeous mosaic pot, with a little note: "Sorry for being such a big prick." And no one's the wiser!
Sometimes when Barry's sleeping, and he gets that angelic look on his face that, before Barry, she never believed existed except in stupid girls's fantasies or worthless "chick lit", she is overcome with the warmest feeling of desire. Not to ravage him so he wakes up to find her kneeling between his thighs with her mouth full, but to just eat him up with a shiny spoon, like jelly from a just-opened jar. Ahhh, the first skimming of the jelly's surface is like nothing else. But skimming Barry's skin with her spoon, and tasting his pore-ooze, is a close second.
Some days I walk down the streets of this city and don't have to remind myself how fantastic it is just to be here. On those days, even the subway is enchanting, and the buzz of languages wafts from laughing faces of a multi-cultural group of lovely human beings. Nothing can bring me down.
Other days I walk down the streets of this filthy mess and must consciously remind myself, "It's New York, you should be loving it." But I don't. And the clash of languages chokes me and I want to beat in the faces from which they swarm.
Mrs. Hobart rubs her eyes again. And again. Rubs them with tiny balled-up fists, fists that pounded pie-crust dough into submission every day for 50 years, starting when she was so young she couldn't even pronounce "fist". ("Punch it with my fish, Mother?")
Her fists are weak now. Too weak to pound pie-crust, that's for sure. But strong enough to rub her eyes, as if freshly-sifted flour was blinding her.
Too weak for pie-crust, but not too weak to rub her eyes so far back into their sockets that the next rub finds her fists punching deep into her skull.
Jana meets Dave's new girlfriend, Gina, and can't help smirking. "Gina's a cut-rate version of me!" she thinks, sneering at the other girl's Old Navy cargo pants, ribbed tank top, and flipflops.
Jana is decked out in the same ensemble, but hers is so much better because it came from Banana Republic. And she didn't wait for it to go on sale, either. Even if she did, though, it still would have cost more than Gina's inferior two-bit nothing garbage.
"Sure, she thinks she's the shit," Gina thinks. "But come on. I saw the Suave shampoo she left behind at Dave's!"
I keep coming to the tenuous "conclusion" that I want to effect the look of what I'm calling "the city hiker". No pointy-toed shoes for me, no. At least not for daytime, which is when I'm mostly out and about. This fall, I want boots that could accommodate me climbing over rocks, even though I know I won't encounter any rocks along Broadway or in the East Village, where my walks tend to lead me. I want easy-to-move-in clothing in sturdy fabrics like corduroy. Cargo pants whose pockets I'd like to think I'd use. Anything but the same ol' black.
All those stupid octopus references people make about guys and girls in cars parked in secluded areas notorious for makeout sessions. That's what Steve hates.
"He had eight hands!" some fakely chaste girl says on Sunday morning about Saturday night's date, who actually did get his two hands full with a minimum of protest from her.
Steve doesn't hate that the squealing girl pretends to be coy. He hates that she's giving his species a bad name. He'd like to give her eight fingers (the middle ones!), but that wouldn't help his reputation, either. Still, it sure would be fun!
If you think about it, he's remarkably unremarkable. Nothing too special about this guy. Except for the simple purple bracelet he's always wearing around his right wrist.
What does it symbolize?
What is this delightful disease du jour in need of funding by the fashionable?
No one asks him why he wears the thing or where he got it. They just smile at him in mute appreciation for his support for something, whatever it may be.
And he wonders:
Why, all of a sudden, is everyone into the purple rubberband I take off each week's fresh asparagus bundle?
First day of first grade, and they're all lined up against the wall, waiting for seat assignments. This is nothing like kindergarten, a free-for-all, where if you weren't quick enough to get the good seats, you wound up sitting on that one chair with the wobbly leg. Here you have no choice. You had to sit where they sat you.
All except for that one little girl named Sandy. Sandy Cotton Candy in her dress of spun pink sugar, so perfect and pure that she gets preferred seating high above the rest of the class, in a pink cashmere hammock-sling!
Tomorrow, he says, he'll return the book I lent him two months ago. He'll hand it to me with the same hands that've touched his body to wash his skin and scratch his nose and rub his eyes and do unspeakable things I'd like to talk to him about on the phone, under cover of darkness and the cocoon of my comforter.
But we're not the "we" we used to be. So when he hands the book back with his thanks, I'll just politely say "You're welcome". And once home, under cover of my covers, do unspeakable things to it.
P.S. I hate your car.
After all the wimpy, simpy emails she'd sent him over the course of their three-day breakup, and the follow-up wimp and simp in as many days afterward ... after all the pink font "I'll never forget you" melodrama and the "xoxo" and the "accidental" attachment of that one hot photo of herself that she'd been saving to send him for his birthday ... after all was said and done and resaid and redone, and she finally realized she actually was over him, she sent him that P.S. It, more than anything else, had the power to devastate.
On our miniature golf date, he wore tube socks with two or three bands of color just under the knee. They would've have been bad enough under pants, hidden from plain view, but were even worse because they were paired with too-short shorts showcasing the too-thin thighs that rose above this mess like saplings uncertain as to whether they should be growing there at all.
I can't believe that after seeing him in those socks and shorts, I let him anywhere near me. But I'm pretty sure both were abandoned when I let him have sex with me that night.
I was in the front, admiring Norman's profile as he drove to the location of our surprise double date. My sister and Pete were in the back. Pete had just told my sister he thought he loved her.
"I think I love you," he said.
"No you don't," she said.
She and I locked eyes in my side-view mirror. I raised my eyebrow. She sneered.
Ten minutes later she and I stood off to the side as the guys unloaded their personalized bowling gear from the car's trunk.
I don't know which one of us peed in her pants more.
What made me think I could ever be happy dating a guy who kept a set of golf clubs in the trunk of his car and who spent way too many afternoons "hitting some balls" with one polo-shirted, khaki-panted, loafer-footed, pole-assed business associate or another at some country club? What made me think I could ever be thrilled to tell my friends, "This fellow I'm seeing ... well, girls, he golfs! A lot! I am so very proud!"? I would have been prouder to introduce them to a scabby, balding, nail-biting, drooling leper in a satin smoking jacket and coordinating ascot.
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