I was out just walking, you know, and thought I saw the first boy I ever
performed fellatio on.
Dim lights. Musicperhaps.
But its eaten up by the phones static.
Tell me more, in his violent
He was limping. I think.
His hair was gray. It was still wet, also.
Hm. Did you love him?
I thought I did. You
know, at the time I thought I might have loved him. In any case, I wanted
to love him.
Did he rape you?
Yes, but I let him. It
was later on, though, when we were older.
Did he spit on your face?
Yeahjust as he
was about to orgasm, he spit. But I dont know if he meant to do
it or not.
Did his spitting excite
Do you think about him
No. But now it kind of
excites me to think about it. I get excited thinking about what might
Did you ask him to rape
Did you want him to rape
No. Yes. Pause. Secretly.
Did he pin you down while
he raped you?
It was at a party. There
were a lot of high school kids there, but mostly boys.
Did any of his friends
rape you too?
Did he tell people about
If you mean did he talk
about how he fucked me, then yes. All the time.
Did you like hearing
What do you mean?
Did people look at you
differently, and did that excite you having people look at you differently
as though on some level you had power over them?
I guess so. I never thought
about it like that.
What else happened.
Some girl wrote stuff
about me in cherry lipstick on the mirrors on the second-floor girls
So when I went to fix
my hair I was reminded that I was a slut with a ten-gallon cunt, or whatever
Did you try to wash it
I did. Not at first,
but after school was over I went back in there and washed the lipstick
Did it reappear the next
Do you ever fantasize
about being raped again now that youre older and . . . wiser?
No. I wasnt that
kind of girl. Im still not.
What did you do then?
kind of girl were you?
was just a nice girl who walked a little slow and talked even slower and
who lived in a house that had one of those fat ladies in a pink polkadot
dress bending over showing her fat ass out on the front lawn. I was the
kind of girl who would play catch with you if thats what you wanted
and my father had no teeth. She laughs. No. Im just kidding.
He had all his teeth, but he did have a fat derriere.
do you want to do on our date?
response. Then, Dunno.
you had many blind dates before?
the woman can answer, the bartender changes channels. Tyson versus Holyfield.
just does itwalks right on up to the attractive woman in the long
camel-hair coat and red boots and says, "Have a drink with me."
she says, "Okay."
a sidewalk cafe, right next to a chicken place. They sit inside at a circular
table by the washrooms, in back.
says, "Can I ask you a personal question?"
says, "That all depends."
has an accent of some kind; he cant, try as he might, place it,
other than its someplace east of the Danube. This he finds exotic
and in its exoticism slightly intoxicating. He is reminded, all at once,
that he is extremely pleased when a woman he will be with wears darkly
colored undergarments, especially if she has olive, not paste-white, skin,
and deep-set eyes. It turns out that tonights woman does, although
her skin is borderline olive colored. As he places an index finger thoughtfully
on the cleft of his chin, he wonders after the color of her undergarments.
bartender also has an accent: Italian, worn thin by years and years of
orders a whiskey sour, extra whiskey. He still does not know, yet, what
he should get, so he asks for a few extra moments during which hell
she says when her drinks set in front of her, "what is it you
want to ask?"
Lights are low and smoky-bar-ish.
She has, by now, taken off her long camel-hair coat; underneath shes
wearing a green tank top.
He gives her as shy and boyish
a grin as he can; she giggles. Shadows crisscross half of her face, while
the other half is as pale as cream despite its olivey complexion. On the
mound of her left cheek, on the fleshiest part, theres a mole the
size of a dime.
tells her sheepishly, "Right."
sips from her drink and twirls a cocktail straw in it, clinking the ice
cubes. She does not, yet, say anything.
prefers, as a rule, women who are unafraid of their own bodies. He has
found that the uninhibited woman is, alas, a rare commodity these days.
Consequently, he is altogether surprised when he chances upon the uninhibited
and totally sexually aware woman; that is enough to make him happy for
a year. Of course, this doesnt happen very often, as he is not the
kind of guy who ventures out into the night very often, but during the
past twenty years it has happened once or twice, and that is enough.
bartender returns wearing a puzzled look. He has decided on a shot of
Jameson, to go with his companions whiskey sour.
says, "Hey, come on now. Let her rip."
He laughs, and then says, "All
right." He pauses for the moment, to aggravate the already thick
tension between them; she seems not to be aware of this, but he most certainly
isuneasily so. He continues, "I dont know your name and
I dont want you to tell me. But there is something I have been wanting
to do for quite some time now." He is trying to sound as sophisticated
and mature as possible, under the circumstances; her smile grows wider,
and she may or may not wink at him and her wink may or may not be suggestive
of certain lewd, well, undercurrents going through his mind at this very
moment. He says, "But I never have because of being so shy."
She might know what he is hinting
at, but she doesnt want to lead on in any way, so all she says is
"Okay. Im still with you."
he laughs, nervously; then she laughs.
It is noon and they are both on
their lunch breaks and decided that even though they arent drinkers
they might like to have a drink today. Her girl friend Janice, who works
upstairs in administration, had planned on coming with her, but at the
last minute cancelledher sons school called or something.
She then asked a guy she kind of half knew, Roy; but he said he doesnt
drink and, plus, he had a few errands to take care of, anyhow. As for
him, he was on his way to work when he saw the place and decided, hey,
why not? Hes the boss, so he doesnt have to work much; plus,
he was thirstyand feeling adventurous.
says, "I was just wondering if you would . . ." And he lets
it tapper off; hes not sure why; most likely, he just feels like
it, and follows his feeling.
Over the years, he has had a few
girlfriends but has never been married. Once, he almost married this one
cute girl with red hair but she left him for a mime. This was not a joke;
he wished, wishes, it was. The only thing he remembers about the cute
girl he almost married is that she gave particularly good fellatio; he
is no expert, but he remembers hers being particularly good; she had the
technique down, sure, but there was something else going on, too. Perhaps
he should ask the attractive woman sitting right next to him if she gives
particularly good fellatio, and then, if she says yes, or even if she
responds negatively, ask her if he might find out for himself, today or
another day. But she is not wearing mascara; in the tapes he watches the
girls who appear to perform particularly good fellatio always wear thick
mascara and oftentimes have tattoos.
She reaches over now and taps
him on the shoulder and says, "Thats okay. Tell me whatever
you want to."
notices, of a sudden, that one of her front teeth is gold. She then notices
that he noticed, and explains, "An accident."
he says, embarrassed he was caught looking.
has never had a threesome and is not sure if he would like to have one.
Correspondingly, he has never sodomized a woman but thinks he might like
to. Some nights, after all, he has time to fantasize; days he doesnt,
not really, but every now and again theres a wasted minute or two.
Every other night he watches pornographic tapes. He has not yet tried
the Web, even though hes been told on numerous occasions thats
where the future of porn is: online. (He can hardly work his VCR, even
still; and he still has an eight-track.) He has never paid a woman, or
a boy, for sex, and would not consider himself an amoral or shady man;
he just likes to watch people having sex and fantasizes that one day perhaps
he will be filmed having lewd and morally borderline and illegal sex,
is all. (He also fantasizes that in a previous life he was a gymnast or
a diver who wears really tight and constricting clothing, for professional
reasons.) In any case, this is what he is thinking of right at this very
moment in this very divey bar: he would like to have a threesome with
the woman with the questionably olive complexion; at the very least, he
would like to have really morally dirty and illegal sex with her. But
he cant, as much as he would like to, as much as he has fantasized
ever since he let himself be aware of his own fantasies that one day he
would walk right up to an attractive woman in a long camel-hair coat and
red boots, tell herat least, not today.
he looks busily at his wristwatch and tells her, "Gosh, Im
really sorry but I do have to go."
says nothing. Just glances his way, and smiles.
up, he says, "You know, I was just wondering if maybe youd
like to have dinner with me tomorrow night."
her exotic foreign-sounding voice, with her questionably olive complexion
in perfect hue, she says, "Yes, I would."
he says and hands her his business card before he leaves.
likes a woman with tattoos, preferably on the fundament or to the left
of center of her crotch, or around the small of her leg, by the ankle,
and he wonders if he might get the chance to discover the woman with the
questionably olive complexions tattoos, if she has any; he would
Before he leaves, he notices that
the bartender has turned the television back to the talk show that was
on earlier. He watches it for a moment and so does she.
the screen, a rotund man wearing green corduroys asks the short, plump
girl in the too-loose sundress, How did the rape make you feel?
he hears the answer, he says, "Goodbye," and leaves.
new friend says, "Ill call you tomorrow morning." She
looks happy, more or less.
down the block, he realizes he forgot to pay for his drink.
he meets her the following day, after work, shes reading Men
Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.
walks over and is about to sit down when a large rotund woman with heavy
mascara comes by and asks if hed like her to take his coat, which
is really just a parka, and he doesnt know what to say and begins
at once to sweat profusely like he always sweats profusely in times of
awkwardness or danger or both. She dog-ears the page she stops at and
sets her book aside, and then places it in her pocket book and smiles.
Should she stand and shake his hand or kiss him on the cheek, or would
that be too forward?
She stands, but hes already
a cozyish dining room with dark mahogany wood panelling and napkins artfully
sculpted into swans set at each place and a fireplace with a fire in it
even though its almost sixty degrees outside, unseasonably warm.
He had never been here before, never even heard of the place, but trusted
her when she told him, "Its really really very nice, actually."
After talking to him this morning, she began to have second thoughtsa
date? Drinks between just-friends? A nice dinner shared between two people
who just met and who liked each other enough, and only enough, to have
nice dinners every now and then but nothing more? The beginning of a torrid
love affair? She began to worry because, A, she didnt remember what
he looked like, not really, save for the unfortunate case of his over-oily
skin, which made her worry all the more; B, she knew that she wasnt,
and probably wouldnt be for a long while now, ready for anything
as intense as a relationship, if thats what this was the beginning
of; and, C, her favorite TV show was on tonight and shed forgotten
all about it when she said, "Tonight?" He was, she remembers,
breathingalmost pantingheavily into the phone, and this unnerved
her. "Oh, tonight," she remembers saying, "tonightsfine?"
Still not quite sure if this was a good idea.
"Hello," he says, scooting
in his chair and knocking one of the tables legs and almost spilling
both of their waters; he still smiles at her.
She says, "Hello," and
flicks a hair out from an eyeball and blinks rapidly for a moment or two.
The smile she gives him in return is a nervous, Im-not-sure-if-this-is-such-a-good-idea
kind of smile, and he notices it and widens his smile and chortles, once,
nervously, and despite everything she knows is right with the world she
giggles, once, softly. She doesnt know what to say next, so she
just looks at him. He hasnt unfolded the swan napkin on his pre-warmed
plate, and when he catches her looking at him nervously, is what it looks
like, he glances away, and down, and notices the swan napkin and begins
to unfold it, but she laughs, twice, somewhat loudly and come to think
of it obnoxiously, which surprises him, because hes having big-time
trouble unfolding his swan; he almost tips over his water; then, once
hes twisted the swans head around in an attempt to unfold
it successfully, he doesthe water cascades off the edge of the table,
drips right in his pants. He almost, but doesnt, jump up and knock
the table and knock everything on the table straight up, and off, even
the candle. That would have been comical.
"So," he says, and she
Right at this very moment luckily
the waiter introduces himself: Randolph. He asks would they like anything
to drink, for starters, and then looks at him, and then looks at her,
and she says for him, "Double shot of Jameson for the gentleman,
and for me"
"Whiskey sour," he intones,
then giggles. They both giggle.
Her palms have already begun to clam up.
Their drinks arrive and the waiter
asks if theyre ready to order appetizers or salads or even their
entrees. The waiter is tall, looks tall, and his accent is somewhere between
Jersey and Long Island-y, and hes garlicky-breathed.
When the waiter leaves, she asks,
"How was your day?"
"Oh," he replies, surprised.
Hes not sure why hes surprised but he is.
"Hey," she says playfully,
"what do you do anyway?"
He tells her. Hes not sure
he should. Hes not sure shed understand that this is something
thats serious, a real, live business, not smut.
"Oh, right," she says
and realizes more than anything else right now at this very moment she
would like a cigarette, or lozenges.
He says, "Its not like
you think it is."
"Oh, of course not."
"Interesting," she says.
He says, "Somewhat drab is
what it is, really."
"I can only imagine."
"Its really repetitive
and boring and frankly Im sick of it and dont know how much
longer I can keep doing it," he says.
Says she, "Where do you live?"
He lies. How could he tell her
the truththat he still lives with his mother and not because shes
sick or dead or dying but because hes just too lazy to go through
the hassle of finding a place and moving and paying rent on time every
month? With Mom, he doesnt have to worry about stuff like that and
he likes it when lifes like that: worry-free.
"Wow," she says, truly
surprised, or even if shes not truly surprised she sure sounds like
it and thats all he can think of right now so he doesnt say
She says, "Thatsisnt
that still a somewhat dangerous neighborhood?"
Hes not sure if she means
this as a kind-of compliment, meaning, hes a real big stud and impressive
and must be a knockout in bed because he lives in such a dangerous neighborhood
and if nothing else living in a real dangerous neighborhood filled with
creeps and goons and sociopaths and the low-income elderly makes you a
real big stud and impressive and a knockout in the sack, basically. Or
if she means hes a total schmo for risking his life and well-being
or if hes a loser unemployed donkeys ass whos basically
not her type at all and shell never visit him at his place of residence.
But she says, "Wow, Id
like to see your place sometime. I really would!" Is she always this
After an awkward while, and when
their waiter Randolph has emerged from the kitchen bearing the appetizer
they ordered, that shrimp glazed combo thing, all he can think of to say
is, "Maybe later." He realizes at once that he should not have
said that because its just way too forward and presumptuous for
a first date, if thats what this is.
"Wow," he says, and
cracks a knuckle. Why did he have to say that?
She realizes, as the coconut glazed
shrimp scampi is set down in front of them, that this guy her date or
whatever he is really isnt as bad as she thought he would be and
worried herself all day today since their curt and unexciting phone talk
this morning. Hes really actually somewhat very attractive, although
shes still not yet certain if what shes feeling for him is
true-blue emotional attraction or just obsessive physical neediness. Still,
she is fairly certain that even if what shes feeling for this guy
sitting across from her is either attraction or neediness whatever it
is sure is a real bad and bad-karma-ish thing and not something she needsor
wantsin her life as its set up right now. Everythingsfine?
Yes: fine! Shes recently, of late, even begun feeling really really
happy. Oh, she forgot to turn off her festive holiday lights this
morning before she left for work!
"Mm," she says, biting
into a shrimp.
He says, "Huh," trying
to stab a shrimp of his own with the tines of his fork for the eighth
time in the last minute.
She notices, chewing, that his
face actually is quite attractive and handsome in the classical baroque-ish
sense, which is something she always used to look for in a guy and only
rarely, very, very rarely, with the exception of Jeremy, found, ever,
and always wanted, after Jeremy, to find again one day. Just not now.
It still may be too early. She has, and for a long while now has known
that she has, a thing about the curvature of a guys jawbone. She
doesnt know where it comes from because most girl friends she knows
worry more about a guys eyes or hair or bod or possibly the size
and shape of their dingy or if they know how to use it or if theyre
into giving or receiving, in the sack, which shes always agreed
with so she never seemed weird and arbitrary, talking to her girl friends
about guys, and whats attractive about guys, or whether theyre
smokers or drinkers or perverts or sweeties in the sack or if theyre
well endowed, financially. Perhaps the whole jawbone thing is a totally
arbitrary fetish she has thats dug way deep down into her inner
Freudian inner child, which would be unattractive, to a guy, if they knew
about it. Or maybe its because her father had a real strong and
inflexible and brusque jawbone and over time and over the long years since
he died, Dad, its festered from way down inside her where her inner
monster is and up into her plain-jane consciousness, and this is the reason
she finds jawbones really sexy, basically; at least she remembers her
father having a really very strong and inflexible jawbone, and it being
"How about you?" he
would like to know.
She smiles but says nothing, and
pops another shrimp in her mouth and chews.
Her chewings really very
sexy and sexually suggestive, is what hes thinking, but all he manages
to say is "Are you from around here?"
For a long while now, she has
been alone; a long time ago she was hurt and feels that she still has
yet to recover, so she keeps up her guard. Always. It doesnt matter
how many guys ask her out, and there are quite a few on a weekly basis,
she always responds, "Yeah, right," or, if shes feeling
particularly generous, "Oh, Im sorry but I dont think
so." Her face she keeps stone-cold immobile and off-putting. She
smiles a lot, but theres nonetheless something cold and distant
about her smile; its the way, smiling, she doesnt quite look
you in the eye. Plus, her walk is brisk and solid and when she walks her
feet whack the floor and when she walks she looks dead ahead, never behind,
only rarely to the side. She basically hates anyone who has a dingy dangling
between their legs, is what it has come down to for her, since Jeremy.
She used to like guys, liked them quite a bit, even liked sex, before
and for a short while withespecially fantasticallywith
Jeremy. But not now. Now she mostly likes being solo, whether at work
or at home in her cramped half-bedroom apartment. She likes baked potatoes
for dinner and sometimes even breakfast. She likes tea, no longer coffee.
She bakes coffee blonde brownies but never eats them. She thinks frequently
about quitting her job and going back to school. She jogs, some mornings,
and takes a shower in the morning and a bath late at night, before bed.
She wears the pajamas Jeremy gave her and spends most nights cuddling
herself and maybe watching prime-time sitcoms. She has dyed her hair twice
since Jeremy. Oh, but the best thing is she no longer needs to take the
pill. Oh, but the down side is her menstruations been worse.
Her hair is lighter than he remembers
it being yesterday noon, so light its almost blonde, and its
crimped and the way shes tussled it on her head looks intelligent
and whimsical all at once and he likes that in a woman. Plus, shes
more intelligent than he remembers her being yesterday noon when they
met for drinks. He doesnt remember her talking very much yesterday
noon, and that put him off; he likes it when a woman talks and talks,
but only if its intelligent. Today, hes happily surprised.
She says big-sounding words hes never heard before like cornucopia
and eidetic; actually maybe he has heard of cornucopia before.
He was worried yesterday when they met and got to talking, plus, because
she talked like everyone else talked and wasnt very funny. Plus,
yesterday noon after she said yes after he just walked right on up and
asked her if shed have a drink with him he didnt think she
was very intelligent, because, hey, who says yes to having a drink with
a strange emotionally afflicted (though how could she know that at the
time) man whos needy and emotionally underdeveloped in all the wrong
ways? Only nymphos, is who.
What did he ask her? He looks
nervously around for their waiter or a busboy or anyone because he would
like to order a drink, a fancy, exotic drink, and maybe she would too:
So he says, "Sorry?"
She just looks at him. And he says, "Hm."
Drawn-out, patently awkward silences
are often the earmarks of deep-seated insecurities that might later come
to the fore. She wonders if perhaps now might be a good time to tell him
about her father. Would that freak him out? Would it matter if that freaked
him out? Maybe, if hearing about her dad freaked him out, shed know
if he was a good match and a good listener and what she really looks for
in a guy, dependable, or if hes just another dweebo. Should she
wait and tell him in more private surroundings? But then, shes decided,
this isnt really technically a date so it doesnt really matter
if hes freaked out hearing about her dad and what her dad did to
her and possibly others, years ago. Should she, even if this isnt
technically a date, tell him anyway? He might be able to help, or at least
have something deep and moving to say as well as resonant to her life
as its set up right now. You never know until you ask, right? Should
she deflect this whole matter of her father off back to the stratosphere
from whence it first came? Should shewait. She has to potty.
When shes gone, their waiter
Randolph comes by to let him know, "Only five more minutes. I promise."
And hes about to do it,
to order himself an exotic drink, and one for the lady as well, but shes
gone and he isnt sure if shed want one, but then sos
In the bathroom, she thinks back
to her father and all that happened and all that what happened prevented
from happening in her own personal life. Love, pretty much. Though life
with Jeremy sure seemed like a life of love and honest devotion and dependable
compassion, even though in the end it turned out to be anything but. Buther
father. What a strange man! He had so many friends, she remembers, too
many to keep track of, and he was always out of the house living life
and doing big major-major important things, while mom, when she was around,
moped about, drifting, lackadaisical, daydreaming, maybe on good days
sweeping the kitchen floor. But Dad. He was smooth, a real tight-handshake
guy, a guy who wore cologne and who shaved twice a day and had his shirts
pressed at the cleaners and wrapped up afterwards, wrapped up with red
bows, as if they were brand new. Plus, he had hairy furball hands.
is the first thing she says when she sits back down. "Oh,"
he stutters. "Its for you."
"How very nice of you."
"Mm," she says.
He says, "Thank you."
"Tart," she says, squeakingly.
Its a gimlet or something.
Before his cancer, her father
had been an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, and she had, years ago, gone
under his knife once or twice. But you cant tell by just looking
at her. Her father was a good oral and maxillofacial surgeon, one of the
best. She looks, still, as natural as they comescarless, almost.
He wouldnt notice the scar unless she let him close enough, and
as things are going thats not going to happen. Her dad looked mildly
like Chuck Norris, and maybe this is why, ever since, she has liked dweebo
guys with imperfect teeth and a mildly buttery complexion. He is a crook-teethed
butter-skinned dweebo kind of guy, but shes not liking him.
Until, gasping, he asks her flat
out, "Were you abused as a child?"
She should be shocked, should
be horrified, offended, exasperated, should get up right now and walk
straight away, for good. She should at least play the taken-aback part.
She instead just gazes at him with absent eyes and says, "Thank you
for being so . . . forward."
Is she serious? "Wow,"
he says, regretting ever having said anything especially having
asked her for a drink yesterday noon.
Randolph their waiter approaches
now with two steaming plates, his steak tartare, her calamari, and sets
them down, says, "Anything else I can get you?"
"No," she says, responding
to her date, whoever he is, not Randolph.
Hes busily sawing off a
bite of steak when he jerks his head up, says, "Oh, Im so"
"Because Im somewhatwhat,
"Fragile," he says,
without meaning to.
"Scarred," she offers,
by way of compromise, "is more what I am. But no."
"I didnt mean"
"Not by my father, although
he was something of a tough guy," she says. "Calamari?"
Hes never quite figured
it out, the whole medium versus medium rare question, and ends up, every
time, ordering his meat either dry and tough as rawhide or bloody, almost
jello-y. Tonights the latter.
Shes lying again, of course,
about her father being something of a tough guy. He was, even during the
cancer, anything buthe was a sweetheart, a nice, complimentary,
fizzy-minded teddy bear, she remembers, unless he was touching her you-know-where.
In which case he was a monster. Once, he was touching her you-know-where
and was about to insert you-know-what you-know-where when suddenly out
of nowhere Mom, who was supposed to be at the library, or wherever, opened
the front door as only she could, without using the key, which always
confused everybody, and called up, "Honey?" He said, "Fuck,"
almost loud enough for Mom to hear, and removed himself from his daughter,
and zippered himself up and almost zippered his, you know, and went straight
downstairs, and must have forgotten to wash his hands because all she
remembers Mom saying was what, "Whats that smell?" She
waited under the covers for maybe half an hour. If her mother came up
and asked whys she in bed, she would have said, "Cramps."
Which wouldnt have been that big a stretch. Finally, before Mom
had the chance to come up, she got up the pluck to go down and see whats
what. They were at the kitchen table, chitchatting, when she came down,
her winter coat on, scarf, gloves, her boots too, and was about to leave
when Father said, "Have a nice time, sweetie." That was the
kind of sweetheart her father could be.
"No," he suggests, "it
just doesnt taste like steak, is what."
"I can have them cook you up another one."
"Oh, no," he says, "its
"All right, then," says
Randolph and skulks away.
He didnt mean to cause such
a ruckus. He just wanted Randolph their waiter to know that the food wasnt
that good in the hopes that maybe then Randolph might drop the attitude.
Not that he has attitude, really, but paying this kind of hard-earned
cash, not that his cash is hard-earned, selling strangers panties
and the occasional pet coffin for high markups on the internet doesnt
exactly count as all that hard, youd expect the food to be really
very outstandingly good. It was a guilt type thing, and might even have
landed him a free dinner somewhere down the road.
Had he played his cards right.
She just sits there, watching,
wondering if this guys the type of guy who complains just for the
sake of complaining. Whats the deal with that anyway, huh? Jeremy
complained, sure, but only if there was concrete evidence that you should
complain and not just sit there and sulk. That was one of the first things
she liked about him, Jeremy, and of course it was one of the first things
she began to loathe about him when she began to loathe him. Like, theres
that one time he planned on taking her out for a fancy-fancy dinner at
some tres-expensive seafood restaurant by the railroad trackswhen
the food didnt come for like the longest time and they began to
get upset about the foods absence Jeremy walked up to the maitre
d and asked and pushed and asked until the maitre d just .
. . scowled. Growled. And eventually placed a hand on Jeremys shoulder,
his right, she remembers, and gripped and something else and it was then
that Jeremy slugged him with his left hand and of course they had to leave;
she remembers it being embarrassing for everyone involved and remembers
also smiling way down inside that her man could pack such a wallop with
his left hand even though he was a righty and as a righty could hardly
do much else with his left hand, which seems to be how all righties are.
It was a rush, leaving, everyones eyes trained on you and your heavyweight
southpaw. The maitre d went straight to the carpet, and didnt
wake up. Maybe he never did.
He would like to take this piece
of overcooked overpriced beef and walk right on over to the maitre d
and shove it right down the maitre ds throat until he gags and chokes
and maybe even chokes to death or at least almost-death and then he would
like to fetch his date and take her by her hand and march her right back
to his place, or her place, and without saying anything, without having
to say anything, have illegal and morally reprehensible sexual relations
with her till just before dawn, when, if he was the man hes always
imagined himself to be, hell go jogging for five-some miles and
then eat a PowerBar and go to work energized, exuberant.
But all he can think of to say
is, "Its good, right?" Meaning the squid.
She suggests he try some. He says
no thank you. She asks why not. He gives her some lame-o reason that has
something to do with chopsticks and an early-morning trip to the dentists.
She suggests that maybe he should live his life more fully and try things
he might not otherwise try, which shes only half-kidding about,
and then, when he doesnt seem to get it, she touches his cheek warmly
and then smiles and then giggles, once, softly, but still he doesnt
"Interesting," he says
when the calamaris wiggling around his mouth.
"Its an aphrodisiac,"
she says, not so shyly. "According to some people."
"Huh," he says. He just
thinks it tastes like he imagines a nose would taste like, only saltier.
She suggests that living life
on the edge and taking risks is what its really all about, deep
down, but after she says this all she can think of is the way her father
breathed, more like hacked, down her neck when he did the things he did
to her; it wasnt the way he normally breathed.
Hes still not sure what
to make of the whole calamari thing.
So he suggests, after dinner, that they walk around, and for a while
they do. Then the wind picks up, or the winds, is what it feels like,
and they decide together to duck into the next warm place they pass, which
turns out to be called Randolphs. Randolphs, from outside,
looks empty, but once inside everythings so sardine packed together
you can hardly breathe. Shes not quite sure she wants to be her;
neithers he. Yet in they go, and find a relatively peopleless corner
in backby the johns. Why does he always have to pick the locale
closest to the washrooms? Is it a smell thing, or a comfort thing? Theyre
immediately accosted by three large burly men the faces of whom appear
as pitbulls, compacted, wrinkled together, snarling. He places,
without exactly meaning to, a hand on the large of her leg; she jerks
backward, away from him, but then settles; instead of removing his hand,
he squeezes, once, lightly; she doesnt flinch this time. It seems
that the three pugs might light to dance, yet where, and to what music,
you cant be sure. All you hear is the far-off baseline from the
techno club two buildings down, toward the reservoir. Hey, why would he
let three strange men the likes of whom would send any respectable mother
into a grand-mal tizzy just by one villainous wink ever dance with her?
He tries, therefore, to fend them off, let them know, "Whatever you
got, we dont want. Get it?" They seem not to, for one of them
has just leaned in and whispered something in her ear. She gigglesout
of politeness, he assures himself, but how could he know? Then, all at
once, two of the pugs are gone. The remaining pug, the whispering one,
now would like to know, aloud, "Hey, lady, drop this looser and get
. . ."
He knows this one, though hes never used it. Does it work?
Not. For, if his hearings
right, she just let the pug know, "Do yourself and your friends a
Too late. The other two are back,
bearing two foaming drinksone for him, the other for her.
They move in, and sit. Their necks
are humungo and bulge-y and fibrous cords poke out and recede, the skin
around the cords pasty and crack-skinned. Eyes are like darts, cold and
piercing, and hes thinking that perhaps it might have been a good
idea to have taken those kickboxing classes he vowed hed take a
couple New Years ago, from Dolph, or at the very least to have started
doing situps and squats and squints every morning on the morning. Because
he feels like a zlubb, sitting here with these beef-meisters, thinking
that what shes thinking has a whole lot of something to do with
mayo and relish and the extra chunky spare tire hes been carrying
around for a quarter decade now. Not that hes particularly fat.
More like hes mildly stout, portly, and if he wore wool hed
be fashionable but since he wears polyblend rayon things who knows what
he is? Not fashionable, thats for certain, is what hes sure
shes thinking. Thinking, now, theres no way shes going
with the man she came here with, the man who against all odds has been
making her laugh all night, so far.
One of the pugs screams out, "Whoop!"
The others echo with "Whoop! Whoop!"
Music, oddly, is "For the
Love of Money" by the OJays.
She eyeballs him and flashes him
a look he interprets as saying, "Interesting!"
Off in the far corner of the bar
he spots a woman in a tight red-and-black football jersey who is playing
a high-velocity pinball machine. A second woman, this one wearing green
velvet on leather, stands right there, winking at him, is what it looks
like. He tries not to smile, but of course he does. Then, nervously, shyly,
pathetically, he looks away. What is he, a homo? Why did he look away?
Is he one of those kinds of guys whos all big and macho and donkey-hung
only in his head, not in real life? Hes all but forgotten about
the three pugs and especially the woman with the sweetheart Daddy. Why,
because Miss Wink here is tearing his heart to shreds. Shes taller,
sexier, classier, and more open and sexually insinuatory than the woman
with the sweetheart Daddy. Okay, so she hasnt completely one hundred
percent slipped his mindbut still. Now, in his mind, because of
the three beefy pugs, shes rendered dirty; tainted; yesterdays
fantasy. He no longer wants her in a dirty and morally reprehensible and
no-holes-barred kind of way. He no longer wants to take her home and do
her XXX. Maybe its the alcohol. Or the lasciviously winking woman.
Or just . . . him. He no longer wants her at all. When he looks back,
the woman who winked at him, the woman he might have been able to have
tonight, to have and to hold and to do dirty and morally reprehensible
things to, is gone. Theres a breach, a clefthe looking away
and then back, away. Then back. No doubt about it: Miss Wink is gone.
The bartender smokes two stogies
She feels, at once, that she is
no longer quite herself. That instead of the quiet, polite, reserved woman
she usually is, everythings changed. That now she is a loud, brash,
no-holes-barred shittalker who lives her life on the edge and doesnt
think twice about changing the linen, which admittedly she thinks twice
about all the time, twice a day, more, and generally just lives her uninhibited
sexually liberated and adventurous (but always safe) life by one rule
and one rule only: Life without inhibitions is the only life for me. Its
liberating, being spontaneously uninhibited, especially considering what
happened with Jeremy and happened to her after her life together with
Jeremy, after the lies, the fights, the furies erupted from the hinterlands
and made something beautiful into something despicable and base and animalistic
and something that made her self-esteem go way down, fast. Now her self-esteem
is so high its off the charts. She feels really really good and
at home in her self and especially in her body. She feels like she can
do anything she sets her mind to, which is a totally new and uninhibited
feeling for her since Jeremy and its something that basically causes
her to up andout? With the three pugs? Sure. Why not! Perhaps it
is the fact that her date is a tad boring. Maybe its the alcohol.
Maybe its just . . . her?
Hes fixated on the TV. On
the TV, a rotund man wearing green corduroys asks the short, plump girl
in the too-loose sundress, How did the rape make you feel?
It makes you feel worthless
like a worthless piece of trash. I dont want to be liked for my
looks . . .
You think you caused the
Um. Can they hear her? Yeah.
So youre thirteen
. . .
I want to disappear.
Not yet flustered but close: So
youre thirteen and . . .
What do you fucking care?
Do you even give a shit or are you just here to put your fat ugly face
on the videowaves to sell some books, huh?
All right. Looking toward
the host, who shrugs and waits for the word from her production manager.
He says: We dont have to get . . .
I just want to disappear.
Why wont anyone let me disappear?
Hes fixated on the TV one
minute and then the next thing he knows shes gone. Hey, where did
Then he spots them. Out the back
So hes all irked, okay,
and gets up and goes over trying his luck with Miss Wink. He kicks his
way through two large guys who look surprisingly exactly like long-lost
identical twins of the three pugs, which disturbs him, and doggypaddles
his way under the legs of a three-hundred-pound woman wearing no undergarments
at all, with varicose veins like advertisements up and down both her legs.
He almost loses his dinner. Then, he doesall over someones
just-shined wingtip. Run! He does, and luckily ends up right where he
wants to be, where Miss Wink was but a moment ago but nownownow
shes no longer there. Hes lost. He scans the room for Miss
Wink. Nothing. Maybe he should just take this as some kind of an omen
from on-high. What does it mean? He doesnt have a clue, and doesnt
want one, either. Maybe it means that he is and will always be a pugfaced
loser muckball for the rest of his life, even though he had the courage
and the effrontery to march right up to an attractive stranger and ask
her for a beer. Maybe it means that that kind of thing isnt what
makes you a man. Maybe, after all, he should just forsake his fantasies
and go home and pop in a porno and wank it till the early pre-dawn hours
when his alarms pre-set to go beep, beep, beep!
Miss Wink? Miss Wink? He scans
the barstill nothing.
Meantime, the three puggish beefmeisters
have maneuvered her out back into the alley. He saw them maneuver her
out back, but then didnt see anything. He thinks perhaps he should
go out there, or at least tell the bartender, for he knows without a doubt
whats going on right now or will go on in a minute or two or twelve:
sexual assault. Hes in the biz, after all, and knows what kind of
monsters sexually uninhibited and morally saucy images on TV or on the
Net make docile men into: real bad monsters. He just sells worn ladies
panties online but isnt that part of the porno biz? Anyway, being
the fine young upstanding citizen he prides himself on being one day in
the not so distant future he knows what he needs to do. He needs to go
out there and beat the living calzones out of the three beefmeisters who
either are or arent but will sexually assault the nice attractive
withal drunk-as-a-monk woman he had dinner, a rather nice dinner at that,
with earlier this evening. That was so long ago, hes almost forgotten.
What did they talk about? Whats her name, Stephanie? Hes not
sure he ever got her name. But does that matter? All that matters now
is that there is a woman out back who either may or may not be in the
midst of the most heinous and longlasting crime that can happen to a woman
in this day and age. Just the thought of it excites him, but he knows,
he knows he must know, thats a sick and vile and morally warp-hole-ish
thing to think right now. Nows a time of action, not fantasizing.
So he takes one deep, deep breath. Everything comes into crystalline focus.
He is going to save this woman from the three pugs and from her imminent
disquiet and rescue her and take her away and marry her and make her pure
again, and in so doing he is going to make himself a better man. He will
stop selling ladies panties on the Net. He will stop watching porno
tapes. He will eat less, exercise more. He will stop masturbating. He
will stop having dirty morally reprehensible thoughts and have only sunshiny
thoughts of community awareness and help-the-homeless. He will donate
one-thirty-second of his salary to the charity of your choice. "Hey,
buddy," the bartender calls out. He turns. The bartenders face
is not a happy face. "Stop pissing on my floor." He looks down.
Sure enough theres a puddle of urinebut wait! He has big great
things to do! He has a woman to save! He has three pugs to render infertile
and testosterone-free! But the bartender has placed his bear claws on
the mans shoulders and is gripping so hard the man squeals, soft.
Hes not going anywhere. Hes not saving anybody. Hes
not going to be a better man and make the world a better place. Not today