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The teasing is like a simple tickle at first. Light, whispery, giddy. No threat. "Oh, stop!" -- a concession to protestation. Soon the teases accelerate into taunts, and, just like a foot grabbed between the relentless hands of a tickler hellbent on producing screams and tears, your emotions are held captive, in the hands of the sadist whose satisfaction comes only in the form of your agonized outburst and surrender. As a defense, you laugh instead, struggle to free yourself, pretending the whole time that your fight is just a fanciful part of the game. Never reward them with tears.
She's looking at the shoes in the large display case. I stop in front of it and do the same. Oh, look. It's shoes! In a shoe store!
No more than three seconds pass, when she -- older, a bit haggish but otherwise non-descript -- says, "Now you've ruined everything!" and turns to stare at me over her right shoulder. A scowl obscures her tormented face.
I'm not sure how I responded. Whether I left, or stayed put and continued looking at the shoes, to further ruin the everything, or laughed and called her a cuckoo nutbag humdinger loco lucy.
Since the ubiquitous mass of sycophantic supporters of your Flickr rubbish won't say it, please allow me to do so: Your stuff is pretentious, contrived, and self-indulgent. Black and white does not make you artistic. Neither does a blurred image. And a black and white blurred photo Ö well, you see where I'm going.
Your sophomoric Photoshop collages and cutesy little "tags" may fool those who only know you online, but I know you offline and in the flesh. And I know you're a petty, fretty, manipulative little cunt. With doughy arms. (No wonder the black and white. And blur.)
They both should have known better. I'm sure they did, too, but just did what they did anyway because they didn't give a fuck about knowing better. It's clear they didn't consider consequences, so why would they not do whatever they wanted, regardless of whom it hurt and how bad. Like they even gave it a passing thought?
One was 50. One was 18. I was 19. I don't know which slipped the drug into the drink, but it doesn't matter, does it. I do know, though, what they did to me, even though I could not feel it. Physically.
High heels are sexier than flats, but barefoot-with-red-pedicure is sexiest. Especially when he comes to my door, fresh from the mile walk that separates us, steps across the threshold, brings the outside energy inside, and pulls my body close to his for the hug I've wanted all day.
I am reminded of his height and practically swoon when I realize, anew, that it allows me to fit oh so perfectly beneath his chin. I suppose it's not "feminist" to want to feel safe and protected and taken care of, but fuck it. (At least I'm not coupling "barefoot" with "pregnant"!)
Mid-sentence, a dog approaches, and I'm no longer interested in whatever it was I'm talking about. I cut off my words and focus all my attention on the dog. Thankful I don't have to think about walking in order to be able to effectuate it, because otherwise my steps would cease and I would stand, rooted in place, waiting.
As they approach, I get smiles from dogs whose people don't seem to know how to. Meeting me, they have my undivided attention. Once past, they turn around several times, smiling.
They know I love them. Every dog ever, anywhere, always.
Weight-loss magazine articles tell frustrated fatties that they can substitute healthy foods for the gut-busting snacks that got 'em fat in the first place. Want an egg roll? Crunch a seaweed rice cake! Crave a fudge-doused sundae? Sip a cup of fat-free Swiss Miss! Dying for pizza? Munch on two Triscuits topped with a half-teaspoon of catsup while staring at a ball of fresh mozzarella!
This is about as satisfying as watching C-Span when your heart is set on Lifetime, glossing your lips with Maybelline when your lips die for Chanel, and fucking Ray Romano when you need Olivier Martinez.
He's 23, tops. The hair, clothes, messenger bag. The toss of his forelock and his "Hi!" when I look his way after he'd looked mine for about three minutes during this subway ride.
When I'd entered, it was clear he was digging the music on his iPod. He lip-synched as he tossed an apple from hand to hand. I grabbed a pole. Focused on my feet. I smiled before completely lowering my head, and I suppose some smile atoms landed on him.
I was smiling because of him, not at him. But who was I to let him think otherwise?
In the movie, a beautiful woman walks down the sidewalk and a garbage collector calls out, "Hey, baby!" or some other show of generic machismo. I think nothing of it. But my companion says, with a laugh:
"Yeah, right, buddy! You're a garbage collector!"
I shudder with disgust. Not at anything on-screen, but at the display to my right. I'm not necessarily offended by stereotypical macho behavior of men, but am absolutely offended that the man in my company thinks that a garbage collector doesn't have the "right" to heckle a woman that a man in a higher position does.
Darren doesn't get why "the ladies" don't dig his ties.
"I mean, they're just ties, for Pete's sake," he says for the third time -- and we're only 15 minutes into his session. It's my last of the day, and I'm not up for it. Where's a patient with a simple eating disorder or abandonment issues when you need her?
"Stripes, see?" he says, coming closer for my inspection. I cover my tablet so he won't see doodles of bunny-heads surrounded by flames.
"Stripes're always safe!" I say.
He unclips the tie, pulls it off, and says, "So what gives?"
All hell is about to break loose, so hold on to your ascots, monocles, and the fiery batons you toss into the sky and catch as you pirouette dreidel-like. Why? Because: M&Ms now come in a dark chocolate variety.
Because I am vegan, I eschew milk chocolate in favor of dark. (It just so happens that I prefer dark chocolate over milk, which makes it easier to explain this phenomenon to nosybodies.)
Now I'll be popping these colorful morsels into my drooling maw by the quivering handful, and there's no telling what will happen.
Donít say you haven't been warned.
No matter how bad the show -- no matter how poorly attended or how poorly performed, there's always someone in the audience with at least a single rose, if not an outright bouquet, for someone in it. A boy/girlfriend, mom/dad, sister/brother, roommate, friend, long-lost daughter given up for adoption -- someone who thinks the particular performer person is brave and beautiful and brilliant.
Eyes bright and face flushed, the performer always receives the flowers with grace and gratitude. Hugs are exchanged, as are tears and congratulations.
"You were great!"
"Really? You think so?"
And sometimes they even mean it.
"Sometimes I imagine myself standing over my cat's lifeless body," Carrie says, "my hand covered in the slick blood that drips from a knife-blade."
She's trying to shock me. In the two years she's been my patient, she's told a variation of this fantasy at least a dozen times. I doodle a smiling sun on my tablet and the letters "GMAFB" next to it. Give me a fucking break, Carrie Bradshaw Underwood Fisher, I think.
"And sometimes I just think about taking cuticle scissors and snipping the ends of her ears off."
My own prick up at this new development.
If I don't acknowledge Valentine's Day, I'm one of these girls who claims it means nothing to her, but who secretly knows, deep down in her pajama-clad, ponytailed, baked-Lays-cramming, cat-cuddling, Sex-and-the-City-watching heart that she wants someone to want her tonight, to do the things she claims are "stupid" and "commercial".
I always considered Valentine's Day ridiculous, but this year, having someone whose kisses buckle my knees, whose hand on the small of my back sends a shiver up it, and who warms my cold heart, I am overjoyed that I have someone who wants me tonight and every other night.
Stanley asks me if I wouldn't like to be a pepper, too.
"I don't get it," I lie, turning to a fresh page of my tablet and touching the tip of my favorite gel pen to the top line.
"So you're saying you're already a pepper and you'd like company?"
"What?" he says.
"Green? Jalapeno? Chili?" I say. "Chipotle!"
He stares at me like I'm wacked. Meanwhile, he's the one paying me twice a week!
"I meant Dr. Pepper," he says, and starts singing the familiar old jingle.
"Then the answer is 'no'," I say. "Stop being silly."
Sometimes I miss her. Her tiny body, her huge fury, her peculiar style of dress that incorporated shoes that no one under 253 should wear. Her intensity, whether in the form of venom at Jessica Alba's popularity or as tears over a passage in a book. Her fragility when talking about her dad. Her strength when denouncing him.
But the fickleness and paranoia, the depression and self-pity, the opinions about everything and anything, the colossal self-centered discussions, were, in the end, what separated us. And are why I choose not to contact her even though I think about her often.
He likes his juice pulpy, his bread crusty, his grapes firm, his coffee black. And her ass at his disposal, up in the air or across his lap or bent over something, to do whatever he wants with and to it.
His hand, open and flat -- sometimes to glance across it, leaving nothing behind but her shudder, and others to directly slap it, leaving its imprint in the wake. Bruises, sometimes. Welts, others. Either/or. Both.
She discovers this on the second date. It takes quite a few more before she learns of his juice, bread, grape, and coffee preferences.
I used to avoid the camera because I was hideously shy, but now, years after the shyness, there's a real reason. This: I can't act "normal" in front of one. And not in the, "Oh, it's all so posed and forced" kind of way. No.
Point a camera at me, and I'll pretend I'm fellating my own finger. Or stick out my ass like I'm taunting you to spank it. Or grab my tits and shimmy and writhe like a low-rent stripper. Never do I just stand or sit and smile benignly for the camera. Why why why why WHYYYY?
Please stop text-messaging me. You gave up the right to such casual contact over a year ago, when you stopped contacting me at all because -- oh yeah, that's right, you never really told me.
Apparently you don't understand the formality behind the outward casualness. Text messages are the kisses of the instant-communication world. Email is the fucking. So, just like Julia Roberts' character in "Pretty Woman" didn't allow clients to kiss her, believing, as I do, that kissing carries an intimacy that the "sex act" may not necessarily carry, you're not allowed to "text" me.
It's somebody's job to decide the width of subway seats. Somebody's job to decide on their color. To decide how many rivets or bolts or screws needed to secure the seats to the car. To choose the circumference of the poles that people hold onto and the number of holes on the ventilation panel beneath the seats.
Someone, somewhere, sat down -- and figured all of this out. And the chairs that these people sat in to do their jobs, well, those chairs, themselves, and the desks, and everything else, were the products of someone else's jobs.
It doesn't end.
Will they think I'm a Pollyanna, "Up with People", koombayah (spelling?) doofus if I don't participate in their hate anymore? Will they refuse to hang out with me? Will they have nothing to do with me?
The real question is: Do I care?
No. I do not.
This isn't to say that I'm going to be all hand-holdy and free-to-be-you-and-me nauseating. It's just that I must replace the bitter hatred with something less destructive. And if they don't like it, that is not my concern. I have to let go of that negativity.
I am positive I can do it.
The audience laughs where it is expected to laugh, and the actors pause to accommodate the guffaws and applause. This is annoying in a TV sitcom, but even more so in live theater, because here I can see individual shadowy faces of the audience members, their eyes and teeth and foreheads agleam with contrived delight. Here the weight of the pose covers me like a blanket I want to kick off with hot, impatient feet. This is the same audience that will lift itself at the play's end and cheer at the performance it will have forgotten a week later.
How original. You live in the East Village and your head is shaved. A huge tattoo of something I can't identify splays across your back. You worship Henry Rollins and practice martial arts. You drink sake and eat sliced pears.
The first time we fuck, I am disappointed. You're not terrible, but, well, you're supposed to be better than this. The gazes across the table, while eating, of all things, cherry pie, were those of a man who would know exactly what to do with me. But as it is, you're better with that pie than you are with mine!
I've been known to ask him, "Where did you come from?" Not in the "I was born in Sheboygan but grew up in Toledo!" sense, but in the hazy gazy trippy dippy mystical cosmic one.
I used to lie in bed and imagine someone saying to me what he says to me. Touching me the way he touches me. Wrapping himself around me, whispering to me. And, yes otherwising me. (Don't ask or even try to imagine, because believe me, it's outside the realm of anything you could create.)
I envisioned him with all my might. And now he's here.
Before acting class begins, one of the Three Swedes announces that she and the other two have something special. When they leave the room, the rest of us are left wondering. I hope that upon their return, they burst into flames and turn into gravlax, so the day won't be a total waste.
They re-enter wearing white robes with candles atop their heads. Or they're holding candles. Either way, there are robes and headgear and candles. And they're singing.
We're all supposed to be transfixed. And most of the poseurs at least pretend they are. I alone pray for fire.
Everything was going just great, Nadia says, until she and Kevin went away for a weekend. "The room was fancy," she says, looking at me over her shoulder like an old-time black-and-white movie star. I wait for her face to blur at the edges and her hair to set itself in perfect finger-waves.
"He'd won $260 playing blackjack, and my pockets were bursting full of quarters. The all-you-can-eat buffet was better than I'd dreamed it would be."
What, then, ruined it for her?
"Very used Q-Tips in the wastebasket," she says, choking back a gag.
I nod in solemn sympathy.
Today marks six months of the most romantic relationship I've ever had, to date, in all my three and forty years. Six months straight out of a ridiculous romantic comedy, complete with bouncy soundtrack, with him played by John Cusack and me by Marisa Tomei (or a similar quirky and sexy brunette stunner!). Six months of disbelief in all we have in common. Six months, and still, chills of thrills still run up and down and all around my spine when I see him waiting for me on the sidewalk. (And he actually picks me up and spins me 'round.)
"I want to know everything about you," he said. "What you like. What you hate. What your favorite flower is. Your favorite color. What you had for breakfast this morning. If you even like breakfast. Do you believe in ghosts? When you were little, what you wanted to be when you grew up. Did you ever want a pony? Do you believe in fate?"
I'm supposed to think this is remarkable, his interest and enthusiasm?
"I want to know what makes you tick, what turns you on, what makes you happy. What makes you sad."
Touchy-feely New Age fucker.
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