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Wow. Now that's a hot ass, he says.
Shhh. Don't say it so loud, I say. Where?
Behind you, he says, pointing over my shoulder.
Don't point! I say. What the hell is wrong with you?
I duck my head and turn to see the ass in question. There's not a person in sight.
See? he says.
No, I say.
In the display window, he says, moving closer to the glass. Her.
Uhm, she's a mannequin, I say. You do know that, right?
Duh. Of course, he says. I'm not stupid. She does have a hot ass, though, doesn't she?
Only Amelia Earhart can tell you what happened the day of her last flight. And she will, if you sit still long enough to listen and have patience to lean in close so you can hear the whispers that pass for speech now that she's, like, 250 years old or something.
She'll tell what she ate for breakfast. What she wore. What she was thinking when whatever happened, happened. And why she's kept herself hidden for so long. But you'll never find out, because your mom told you never to go near that crazy old hermit lady in the cul-de-sac.
Last night I dreamt a nun was fisting me.
What? He glances at the cab driver.
Fisting me, I say. A nun.
Shhh, he says, nodding toward the driver, who I'm sure has heard worse.
I don't remember why she was doing it. It was part of a test or something.
Gross, he says.
Yeah, but the part that disturbed me most was that when I looked on the form she was filling out, she'd written that I weighed 165. When I told her I'm 115, she looked at me like I was lying. Do I really look that fat?
Tonight it's the short list. She got home late, and since she has to be asleep no later than 11:00, she doesn't have time for the long list. That takes at least 25 minutes, and she only has ten if she's to make her bedline.
So she cries selectively. Limits her tears to the Cyclops kitty she saw on the internet, born with one eye, no nose, and lived for just a day. Unwanted pets who have to be put to sleep. The World Trade Center. The melon she let rot on the counter.
Tomorrow she'll cry for the rest.
Words and phrases that I cannot say aloud without vomiting:
- Snot rocket (god help me)
- Get laid (getting nauseous over here)
- Period (referring to the monthly function)
- Horn dog
- Horny (on the verge of an aneurysm right now)
- Anus (mighty cringe, just seeing it on the page)
- Clitoris (even typing it is making me ill)
- Dysfunctional (that weird 'y' rankles me)
- Come (used as a verb in, yes, that sense)
- Ejaculate (I feel faint)
Must lie down now.
Although he's in his early 30s, and it's time for him to be doing these things, he feels like he's merely acting the part. The two-bedroom apartment in a well-kept Brooklyn brownstone complete with garden. The summer weekend house an hour away, which he reaches by rented car, his and her bikes secured atop. The dinner parties, both at the brownstone and the summer house, for which he prepares elaborate dishes, served by his barefoot soon-to-be-fiancee. He wonders if anyone else —- his guests, his barefoot hostess —- feels like an imposter more suited for the children's table than the grown-up one.
If I didn't know better, I would have thought the squeal of the train on the tracks was the shrieks of a woman caught beneath its wheels. I wondered if anyone else on the platform -- reading newspapers, dipping fingers into snack bags, bopping to iPods -- heard the squeal/shrieks, or if they were deaf to the noise, as I am most days.
So why today would I not only hear the noise but pay special attention to it? For a moment I swear I see a flash of teeth beneath a grimace, a pink-sleeved arm, and a white sandal.
Martin remembers reading somewhere that a greater percentage of people would choose death over public speaking. Although he's confessed to his wife that he's scared to death to give his speech, this morning he's feeling pretty good. He whispers, I choose to live! at his rear-view mirror reflection after he pulls into the convention center garage.
At the podium, he feels dizzy. He starts off with a joke, as planned. Pause for laugh, Index Card #1 reminds him. And he does. Only no one laughs. No one even coughs.
Martin suffers an aneurysm, completely unrelated to the incident, and dies.
Jerry doesn't have the heart to tell Dina that the incense smells like cat pee. He wonders if she'd be offended if he told her that it isn't just her incense —- it's all incense. Ever since he can remember, he's hated the stuff and always likened its scent to cat pee. Sometimes a mixture of cat pee and sweat. He imagines himself saying, But it only smells like cat pee! There's not a hint of sweat, darling! But he says nothing.
When he gets home, his wife, warm and groggy with sleep, thanks him for finally emptying the litter box.
Maria can't seem to pull a pen from the rubble of her purse. Why the hell does the bar have to be so dim? Sure, the pinkish light is flattering, but come on.
In rapid succession, her hand surfaces with the following non-pen items: blue plastic disposable razor, mini flashlight, retractable blush brush, tampon, Chapstick, lipstick, flexi-straw, pepper spray, two batteries, a Slim Jim, breath spray, a bullet, and vibrator.
During the frenzy, Walter produces a pen from his pocket, but as soon as he sees the bullet, he puts it back without Maria seeing. This girl doesn't need him.
If I don't get away from this old lady with the E keychain soon, I'll cry —- either from her stories about no-kill shelters sending the animals to other places to be killed or because I can't escape her in general.
When I'd stopped to tell her I agreed with the sticker on her purse —- ABUSE ANIMALS AND GO TO JAIL —- I didn't anticipate her talking to me non-stop for ten minutes. Or that she'd talk about the one subject I cannot entertain.
I try blurring my ears so I can't hear, but her words, soft-spoken as they are, still penetrate.
Does food get happy when it's eaten? Getting eaten is its purpose, after all -- so I suppose when it happens, it feels like it's accomplished its goal and thus feels a certain sense of pride. At least that's what I tell myself as I'm loading peas into my mouth and rolling them around individually on my tongue. I try not to think about something I read a while ago about plants screaming when they're uprooted. I try not to imagine the peas saying goodbye to each other. I tell myself they're happy. That this is what they've always wanted.
He clambers up the bus steps and pauses before regarding the seating situation. He hates sitting in any of the front seats that the able-bodied are instructed to give to the disabled, so he's thrilled to see a single window-seat halfway down the aisle. He'll leave those other seats for the able-bodied.
Everyone on the bus pretends they're not thinking, Thank god I'm not that guy. Thank god I'm not the one with those clanky brace-walker things and fucked-up twisted legs. They tell themselves they find his disability and sunny smile inspirational.
He grins to himself, fully aware of this.
I have some really embarrassing music on my iPod. Stuff so hideous that I cringe when I scroll through my selections and see it. When it plays, I hide the display lest anyone on the subway glances over and sees the kind of tripe I'm listening to.
I will rename these songs in iTunes with the names of painfully hip songs, so I don't have to hide the display from strangers' curious eyes. Once I do this, I will set the backlight on the display to Always On, so they can marvel at just how impressively tuned in I am.
Back when I thought being tan was pretty, I used to go to tanning salons. I was always convinced that the salon personnel was spying on the clientele via closed-circuit cameras, so I made sure that when I got undressed in the little room containing my self-serve capsule, I positioned myself in only the most flattering of ways. If a particularly good-looking young guy were on duty, I would make sure to gently ease myself out of my clothes in a private striptease and direct sultry glances toward the framed wall art, behind which I knew the secret camera lurked.
I do not understand the clomping above-head. I do not understand the need to walk with such a heavy foot. Neither my landlord nor his wife is a very large person, but from the sound coming from their apartment just above mine, you'd think they were not only 500 pounds apiece but equipped with feet composed of a particularly solid blend of concrete, brick, and lead.
Is it wrong to fantasize about gripping those feet in a vice and then turning the screw until they were reduced to nothing more than a bloody pulpy mass of muscle, bone, and flesh?
Although I cannot see clearly through the ancient Magic Eye peephole in my front door, that does not keep me from trying to spy on the minimal activity in the lobby. I know nothing is really going on, but the shuffling of papers in the recycling bins and the muffled footsteps are enough to pique my interest.
Because I am certain that my subject knows I am peeking, I make sure to stand with my feet very wide apart, on either side of the door, so neither they nor their shadow is visible beneath it.
I'm such a fucking yenta.
Holy fuck, I just scared the fuck out of myself. I listened to myself, on the phone with Time Warner, asking where the technician is who was supposed to be at my apartment between 8 and noon to install cable, TV, and phone service (it's now 12:07). Rather than raise my voice or use a stern tone, my usual method, I spoke softly and calmly and pointedly. And much more slowly than I think I've ever spoken in my life. Hannibal Lecter has nothing on me. I hope M, the representative on the other end of the line, has nightmares.
I should've known he'd have commitment issues the second I saw him doing the Jumble in pencil, Martina says.
Maybe he didn't have a pen, I say.
That's no excuse. If you're going to do a puzzle, you should always have a pen handy.
I'm more disturbed by the fact that he was doing the Jumble and not the crossword puzzle, I say.
Or soduko, she says.
Sudoku, I say.
Yeah, well, either way, she says, never trust a man who does any sort of puzzle in pencil. Ten to one, he won't call as promised.
He thunks his espresso cup on the counter as if it were a shot glass.
"C'mon. How bad could it've been?" I say. "She couldn't've been worse than that last loser you met on Nerve.com."
"Well & she had no arms."
"That's right. Armless."
"Well, was she at least statuesque, like her ad said?"
"Barely five feet! To her credit, she said she meant 'statuesque' a la the Venus de Milo!"
"At least she has a sense of humor," I say.
"But no arms," he says.
"That must've been disarming."
"I hate you," he says, and lights a cigarette.
Recently on Sixth Avenue, a bus chugged by that had an ad running along its length, featuring big arrows pointing up to individual windows. Beneath each arrow was the name of an occupation, such as LAWYER. The bus passed before I could note the other occupations or see the passengers's faces above them. I wondered if any of those people would have been appalled to have his or her face associated with an occupation they found loathesome. I wanted another bus to pass, filled with guys I've "dated", with arrows pointing up to their faces, indicating DOUCHEBAG, COCKSUCKER, and DINKY-DICK.
He doesn't have to know that as they exchange witty email, she's wearing slippers so huge and floppy they may as well be Bozo's. Or that she's drinking pink Crystal Light via flexi-straw while watching "Three's Company". After all, she wants to impress tomorrow night's blind date, not repel him.
Tomorrow night, he'll be put off by the glossy girl who presents herself like she's an extra on "Sex and the City". No way this kind of girl would ever just "hang loose", watch stupid TV shows, and play Stratego.
That whole week afterward, she'll wonder why he doesn't call.
I'd like to say I'm so focused at the gym that I don't notice what other people are doing, but it's impossible to avoid looking at the mat area when it's only a few feet from my treadmill and people are conspicuously stretching. As if the spread legs (in shorts), sweat-wet crotches, and bulbous exposed bellies aren't enough fodder for disgust, I must witness this one scrawny schlub who looks like he's fucking the blue Swiss ball -- and fucking it badly, with tremendously poor form. If that's how he moves against plastic, I shudder to imagine him against flesh.
Most of my patients like my new office. They especially enjoy the patio, and two of them said they feel so comfortable out there that they've actually fantasized about firing up the charcoal grill and flipping a burger or two during their sessions. "Corn-on-the-cob would be nice, too," Linda said, eyes a-glaze.
Marcus went one step further last week and brought a pound of ground sirloin to his late afternoon appointment. "I'm starving," he said, holding up a wrapped package. "I had to work through lunch."
I raised my eyebrow at him.
"Bad idea?" he said. "I forgot you're vegan!"
"Is it OK if we watch 'The Nanny' instead of talking?" Phyllis says as she enters my office. "There're two episodes, back to back." She extends her hand.
"What's with the hand?"
"The remote," she says. "Can I have it?"
"I didn't say OK to TV. And if I did, I'd retain control of the remote."
"Remote control control?"
(I silently admire her cleverness.)
"So? We gonna watch?"
"No," I say. "I've already seen these two. How about Regis and Kelly?" I only say this because I know she hates Kelly Ripa.
"Great!" she says, and flops onto the sofa.
He may as well have said he kicks puppies, abuses waitresses, and hates Woody Allen.
He won't wear shorts on a date, he assures me, but, yeah, when he wears 'em, they're khaki.
Visions of past khaki shorts on past guys pass before my eyes as if in an actual parade. Khaki. Pleated. An odd length. Tucked-in pressed polo shirt. Everything belted. And on the feet? Socklessness and loafers.
Even if he'd been lovely otherwise, during our pre-drinks phone chat, I would've passed on our planned date. His personality was as revolting as the shorts.
Khaki? Cocky? Kaka!
The beautiful boy shuffles out of my apartment before 10:00 the next morning. I damn the tentative plans I'd made with someone else, because they alone prevent me from staying in bed with this one, lounging until who knows or cares when. This guy, who didn't exist in this world until I was almost a teenager, had spent the night sleeping with me only in the literal sense of the word, and it was one of the best nights I've ever spent next to someone. A "thank you" would have been embarrassing or pathetic, but still, I think it anyway.
Marina stays up until midnight to send Chris email at its stroke and thus be the first to wish him "happy birthday" on the actual day. She's sure his wife is sleeping -- so although Lauren will wish him a happy birthday when she wakes up, she won't be first. Marina will.
At work, Chris notices the email time-stamp. He knows that ordinarily Marina doesn't stay up late on weeknights because he demands that she be in the office when he arrives at 8:00 a.m. This morning, she's ten minutes late. As his special gift to her, he doesn't complain.
Tomorrow: the hideousness of the first time hanging out with someone, and all the typical garbage questions that come with it. We may as well be asking each other "What's your sign?" and "What's your major?"
I don't want to know any of the regular crap. I don't care about his work. Or his divorce. I don't care when he came to this country from Australia. I don't care where his tattoos are.
All I want to know is this: Does he like dogs? Would he ever hunt? And does he like spicy ethnic food? Everything else & who cares.
"The horn player was hot," I say as the three of us leave the restaurant after brunch. "I didn't get a good look at the bassist or the drummer -- but the horn player? Nice."
"Well, you just know that if he plays an instrument with his mouth, he's going to be goooood," my friend's friend says. She looks at me as if I should think she's sassy because she's making a reference to oral sex.
I pretend I think she's sassy, but all I think is, "Oh god. Until now, I didn't consider that she even had a snatch."
My Tuesday morning patient, Monica, will recite all of the state capitals for you if you let her. The trick is, you have to take special care to stop her before she sneaks it into conversation, as she is prone to do.
Last week, she started peeling a huge orange in my office even though she knows I expressly forbid food during sessions.
"Monica, please don't peel here," I said, looking up from my notes.
"Montpelier?" she said, looking up quickly from her peeling. "Vermont!" By the end of her frenzied recitation, her tiny palms were overflowing with juicy pulp.
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