Balloon Ride

As you shower, you think of the South Pacific musical lyrics—“I’m gonna wash that man right outta my hair.” You wonder how long Bob will be there, till 9, till 10, till noon? You wonder if he will stumble into work as well. Or if he will just shut the alarm off, roll over, and go back to sleep in your bed. Unlike you, he does not seem to feel any guilt about taking sick days even when he isn’t really sick. You know this from experience, from when he used to date you and call you uptight and tell you what you really needed was to lighten up because hey, you only live once. Days of our lives, one life to live and on and on. All those bad TV reference puns.

Last night, he’d called and sounded so pathetic and so you’d relented and said, okay, yes, come over. You don’t like to kick sleeping dogs, crippled children, or homeless men. He was down and out and he needed you. You, who he’d walked out on for another woman. But she’d left him, and now he felt like you’d felt then. But maybe not that bad.

“I’m picking up a six pack,” he’d said on the phone. He’d brought three.

“I wanted us to have a choice of flavors,” he’d explained when he showed up at your door looking like a college student stocking up for a house party, one of those questionably legal things where people you invite as well as those you don’t show up, the hosts charge by the cup and someone, usually a tall skinny guy named Nate or Bill or Joe has to make multiple beer runs to the liquor store with a fake ID.

You didn’t point out that beer really doesn’t come in flavors. What he had brought over was not multiple flavors but rather multiple brands. You didn’t tell him that 18 beers was way too many for the two of you, that you had to work, that you were busy, that you didn’t mind him drinking but you didn’t really want any yourself.

He kicked his shoes off, came right in, sat down on the couch, opened a beer, two actually, one for you, one for him. “You like Miller Light, don’t you?” he asked.

“No,” you were tempted to say, but the truth was Miller Light is your beer of choice, and you felt touched that he remembered it. You feel touched when anyone remembers anything about you, any detail because this seems to indicate that you matter, even if it is only in a minimalist sort of way like a cat sitter or a baby sitter or a spinster aunt. You know that you are not that important to Bob. If you were, he would not have broken up with you only to sleep with Brenda, Bobbi, Breanna. Maybe that’s your problem. Your name didn’t create that nice alliteration.

Bob looked good last night, you thought, even though he is at least fifty pounds overweight and you didn’t know if the clothes he was wearing had been washed recently. His asshole, white man, I-own-the-world, slay-the-Natives arrogance is irrationally attractive because it is something you lack. You think about the Bible for reasons unknown. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Weren’t they supposed to get something, inherit something? Maybe the Bible is just propaganda. The opiate of the masses like Marx said. All that knowledge that you acquired but don’t really use in your job as an executive assistant to Mr. T. Once you made a joke about your boss’ name. “Dahnnanana, Mr. T. You know like that program from the 80s.” And he’d said, “Just type, okay?” He had hurt your feelings.

He later apologized but you knew he hadn’t really meant it. He just didn’t want to seem like he was an asshole even though he really was one. In your opinion, most men are, and yet that’s what you like about them, that Manifest-Destiny, conquer-the -world confidence, that and the smell of them—beer sweat and Old Spice that drives nurturer you wild. Though you are smart, you will never rise above certain subservient roles because you don’t believe in yourself, your ability to make decisions. Even small things like choosing between Special K and Cheerios stresses you out. When you dated Bob, who made every decision so easily, you used to ask him, “Hey, which one should I have for breakfast?” And he’d say, “I don’t know. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter.” But it does matter, you’d wanted to scream, during those times when your self-worth pulsated through your body like a dose of rage.

You imagine it was like that for The Incredible Hulk. You liked David Banner when he turned mean and green and said to the world, Screw you all. I’m not putting up with all the crap you dish out to me, not today. I’m going to overturn cars and kick people’s asses. You wish that you could do the same. But female superheroes are kind of wimpy. Look at Wonder Woman and all that crap she took from Steve Trevor, but maybe that was just on the 70s TV show. Maybe if you read the comic book now she would be more independent, more empowered. You always liked that theme song. Change their minds and change the world. You sing it to yourself. Wonder Woman, all the world is waiting for you and the wonders that you do. In your satin tights, fighting for our rights and the old red, white and blue. But why did she have to wear satin tights? Why do superheroes have to wear such skimpy costumes? Did Superman really need a cape? I mean wouldn’t people know it was him because he flew through the air and rescued people? You think too much, Bob tells you. And maybe he’s right. Maybe you should just be satisfied with the world, your world, the way it is.