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I try to feel something other than revulsion for the jiggly fat bespectacled stringy-haired Asian girl who obviously spends a lot of time perfecting her karaoke act in front of a mirror every week before she goes onstage to perform it every Thursday night to quite a bit of applause. I try to summon up something like admiration for her dedication. Or appreciation of her marginal talent. Or even pity for what seems to be a lack of life outside the weekly karaoke show. But nothing comes to me but revulsion. I want her to shut up and sit down.
The old lady checks me out for the duration of our subway ride. From my peripheral vision, it appears she is doing so with admiration.
She indicates an address on a slip of paper. At each stop, she asks, "Is this it?" I tell her I'm getting off at her stop, and I'll ensure she gets where she needs to go.
Just off the train:
"You dancer! You ... ballet! You stand so – !" She mimicks my stance, posture, and walk. She beams. "Someone should take you to show and put you on stage! And there ... you dance!"
I love these people who, on their "blogs", spout off about how much people suck and about how much they, themselves, are so enlightened and world-wise, when they've never strayed far from the midwestern cornfields where they live. How can anyone make judgments about "human nature" when their experiences are so limited, and the only humans with whom they've ever had contact are those in their same narrow spheres? How lovely to sit on your porch in mid-nowhere and pontificate about things you have never lived. Perhaps you should visit a real city, somewhere not homogeneous. And then we'll talk.
The girl you married isn't the one you wanted to marry many years ago, and I know this because that other girl was me. Or I. (That's the proper grammar, P.) So now you're with her, not me, but only because you never formally proposed to me. Then again, I wonder, would I really have wanted to live the rest of my life with a man who had bad paintings of Civil War generals (or whatever their rank is) hanging on the walls, and a plaid sofa? And who routinely ate Spaghettios and wore seersucker suits?
One night, Jack awakens with throbbing tooth pain. He wrenches the problem molar from his bottom right jaw with his thumb and forefinger (no problem, he's a strong man!), and throws it across the bedroom. It doesn't ricochet off the wall or fall to the ground. It just poofs into the most spectacular blue and purple butterfly Jack has ever seen. So bright it seems to glow in the dark.
The next morning, the butterfly is gone. Jack opens his mouth to inspect the hole in his jaw, but finds instead a caterpillar nestled where his tooth was once lodged.
Helen's mom and stepfather moved into a trailer home just before Helen's high school graduation party. Helen was mortified, and was crying to several of her cool "burnout" friends. I stood on the edge and consoled her too, even though I didn't know her to well.
I looked around the place and thought, "Well, of course she's crying. She lives in a fucking trailer now."
"It's a nice place," I lied.
But secretly I was thrilled that she lived in a dump. I loved seeing this girl that I thought had it all ... having really so very little.
I shouldn't bring attention to my typos, but still. I just can't have anyone who reads these 100 Words thinking I think "too" is spelled with one "o". I misspelled it here yesterday, and it's haunting me. It's almost as bad as if I used "your" instead of "you're".
When speaking, you can't make the distinction between a typo or bad form. But in writing, it's too glaring an error – even if noticeable only by me. So I point it out before another "stickler" can bring it to my attention.
Does this make me somewhat homophonic, in addition to neurotic?
Within two weeks of moving into the old house, Jessica discovered it was haunted by 150-year-old ghosts named Myra and Myron – eight-year-old twins who died of suffocation at the hands of their deranged, syphillitic mother. They liked playing minor poltergeist-type pranks such as opening and shutting dresser drawers really fast or sliding a spoon across the table during breakfast.
One night, Jessica awoke and felt hands wrapped around her throat. She loved when her boyfriend surprised her with her favorite fetish! But when she opened her eyes, no one was there, and all she could hear was child-like giggling.
According to "D", everyone from our acting class is doing really really well. This one's got the lead in a Showtime movie! That one's in Florida doing an "independent movie"! Another one appears "like three times a month" on "One Life to Live"! And another ("so talented!") is doing a movie in Montreal and doesn't know if he's coming back to the United States! And "D" just saw "S" in a play on Long Island, and "S" was amazing! And on and on. Then why when I search for any of these superstars on Google, do I come up blank?
Here are names of some guys whose schlongs I wish I'd never allowed company with me, and who probably forget that we were ever together, or at least forget my name, which is probably a good thing, because they never should have been so lucky for me to have laid eyes or hands on any part of them in the first place:
Keith, Doug, Alan, Alan (the other Alan's friend), Frank, Tony, Lou, Barney, Pete, Scott, Ed, Ed (the other Ed's friend), Dan, Tad, Larry, Andy, Norman ...
And oh, there are so many whose names I don't remember. Funny, that.
Even when I was "in love" with you, I thought your hairy back was disgusting. I tried to pretend I thought it was actually kinda cute, and that it didn't disgust me and make me think of all the girls in the world who probably vomit just at the mere mention of a hairy back, let alone the sight of one as thickly covered as yours. In a way I felt as noble as Mother Theresa, so selfless in my caring and "love" for you even though you were frightfully deformed. Oh, you hairy beast, it was all just charity!
I don't have to love your future baby. I don't have to look adoringly at your stomach and admiringly into your eyes at the wonder of pending motherhood and share a tacit moment of understanding because we're both women who have this marvelous gift of being able to bring life into this world. I can look at your stomach and wish you'd chosen a different shirt, so I didn't have to see your distended bellybutton, which looks like the little thing that pops out of a turkey to let the cook know it's time to remove it from the oven.
She's excited about me meeting this new guy in her life. He's a fabulous blend of sophistication and boyishness, she says. A savvy political advisor who happens to do some magic tricks.
"Magic tricks". Is that supposed to be endearing? I envision him reaching behind my ear and pulling out a shiny new quarter. Or fanning out cards and telling me to pick a card, any card. Or unzipping his zipper and making his dick talk.
These tricks are charming! she says. I wish she hadn't told me about this, because now I'm biased, and not in a good way.
Pssst. I've got a little secret. Move in a little closer, OK? The secret: Not everyone who lives in a big city runs around every night like a "Sex and the City" wannabe, shaking her tits on an overcrowded dance floor in clothes she can't afford even on a charge card and shoes she can't walk in even from the front steps of her gorgeous brownstone to the cab that just so happens to be waiting for her on her tree-lined Upper East Side street. Some of us actually stay home, like REAL PEOPLE! But don't tell anyone, OK? Shhh!
It's been almost two decades since you were a teenager, but one night you find yourself listening to Meat Loaf on the radio through headphones, and he's telling you how two out of three ain't bad, and there ain't no way he's ever gonna love you, and you find you're crying like the teenager you once were but never will be again, and you don't know why and don't even know if you want to. And then a song you never liked comes on the radio, a song that always made you wretch, and suddenly you're not the teenager anymore.
Hey, you there, girlie. You in the tight tanktop barely containing your obviously fake tits. In the fancy cargo-type pants that show off your impossibly cute ass, and high heels that you can barely walk in, but which make those tits and that ass look perky as hell what with the way you have to balance yourself and all. Yes, you. Why is it that I want to run up to you and grab your body parts and give them all a good squeeze ... and then kick your legs out from under you and watch you splatter onto the sidewalk?
Somewhere there's a person who every morning sees you pass on his way to work, whom you never notice. This guy thinks about you when he dresses for work. He puts on a shirt he hopes you'll think he looks good in. He makes sure it's tucked in just so.
Before he even sees you, he anticipates approaching you. He doesn't see you on his way home, and he misses you. And all the while you have no idea that someone you don't know wants you to know he exists and that he picked out that shirt just for you.
I do not use the bathroom in his apartment, even though I have had to pee for about an hour and probably won't get back to my own apartment for another. I do not use the bathroom in his apartment because I know that if I do, as soon as I leave, as soon as the elevator doors close and I no longer see his face, he'll race back to the bathroom, kneel next to the toilet, and lay his head on the warm seat that just moments ago came closer to my ass than he knows he ever will.
What he doesn't know is that she definitely would have fooled around with him if he'd had a two bedroom apartment. No question about it. During the elevator ride up to his place, she made that the determining factor. A studio? Definitely not. One bedroom? Nice, but a sign of boring practicality. But a man with two bedrooms when all he needs is one? A touch of extravagance she appreciated. Two bedrooms were what it'd take to get her into one of them. His tiny studio (not even an alcove!) didn't even warrant the peck on the cheek she dispensed!
Remember that time in 1986, when you were just starting out as a lawyer and we worked in the same office, and one night we were hanging out in your large studio apartment in Philadelphia, and you disappeared into the bathroom, and from behind the closed door, told me you had a surprise just for me, and then you emerged completely naked, your thin boyish body completely shaved? Well, I'm still waiting for the part of the surprise that was just for me. ‘Cause that shaving thing was just revolting. And totally just for you.
I can't stand people who indulge in self-help books. Books on how to "deal" with this or that. How to overcome. "Empower". Understand the opposite sex. Communicate with their child. Bring out their inner child. Keep the demons out.
How revolting that there are enough crying, whining, simpering, wimpering, pathetic losers out there who need books to tell them how to lead their lives. Who need the written word to tell them how to act, feel, be, and do.
OK. Read this. Here's my bit of advice: Throw away the fucking books and stop being such an asshole.
There she goes, with her piercings (one in her eyebrow, one under her lip, and a few the public can't see!) and tattoos (shoulder, small of her back, ankle, and that Chinese symbol on her wrist that EVERYONE can see!). And oh, you just never know what color her hair is going to be. Blue? Maybe. Green? Could be. You just never know!
What you also don't know is that every night she watches "Maury". Alone. Eats Lean Cuisine. Alone. But the next day tells everyone in class how great the "E" was and how she had a threesome ... again!
Whenever Margo doesn't feel quite like herself, she likens the feeling to having newspapers shoved inside her head. "It just feels like I have these hugEe, crumpled-up wads of newspaper inside my brain!" she says, squeezing her eyes closed and pressing on her temples with her fingertips.
This happened to Margo way too often. Eventually she went to the hospital for tests, thinking the worst. "It's a brain tumor!" she said. "I know it's a brain tumor!"
But the doctors didn't pay attention. They were too catching up on the stock market reports and "Marmaduke" comics lodged in her skull.
A pretty black girl, about nine years old, with a smooth rounded belly, holds onto two poles and sways in concert with the subway's motion. She and her quiet, pretty mom smile. The girl's hair is in a simple braid. She wears blue jeans, white sneakers, simple gold earrings and a fine gold chain from which dangles a single small charm. I can tell she's especially proud of her striped shirt with little red and blue plastic heart charms hanging off the shoulders. It obviously makes her happy to wear it. It makes me happy enough to want to cry.
When they enter the F train, I dub them "the Suarez family". All four – dad, pregnant mom, sons (about six and nine) sit quietly at the end of the car, facing the rest of the passengers, the parents on one side of the aisle, the boys on the other. Dad shakes a container of yogurt and silently passes it to the younger boy, to his right. He opens it, takes a gulp, and, smiling, hands it to his brother. Dad does the same with another container and shares it with his wife. I fall in love with the Suarez family.
Every day I bemoan the death of elegance in our schleppy, loudmouth species. Where's the beauty these days? Where's the sense of mystery or reserve? These little strumpets present themselves to the world with all the coyness of a gynecological examination.
Here it all is, everyone! Take a good look! I have nothing to hide! Hook my dirty feet up in the stirrups ... oh, and here's the speculum. Awesome! Yeah!
Kindly close your legs, trollops. Present yourselves to the world with legs crossed. We don't have to see everything you're made of. Some of us like to be kept guessing.
One perfect August day two years ago, we took a subway to Coney Island after drinking coffee just above Union Square. We walked barefoot on the beach, our pants rolled up just below our knees – just like a commercial for life insurance or the latest asthma medication. Screamed on the ferris wheel. Laughed like complete idiots. Rode back into Manhattan on the subway, our hands on each other's legs, kissing without regard to my usual hatred of public displays of affection.
That evening you took the train back to the suburbs and told your wife your meeting went very well.
He enters the store as if apologizing for his intrusion. Scans its shelves and displays, finds what he wants, and brings it to the counter.
He does not look into the eyes of the man who takes his money and gives him his change. Pretends to go through his wallet in search of something else, and smiles to himself as if he discovered it just after he receives his change.
"Next in line," the counter-man says.
He leaves the store. Ahh, sweet relief!
But still: He knows everyone is laughing at his purchase of a YooHoo and a king-size Kit-Kat!
If I hadn't seen his face, I would have guessed that the 20-something guy on the F train with the pudgy pink toes pressed into generic sport-type sandals and the ham-toned hairless calves and shins was just another beefy, slovenly suburban housewife on her way into "town" to do a bit of weekend shopping and errand-running. But who knows? Maybe he was indeed a woman with a bit of a five o'clock shadow (three hours early) playing about his ruddy jaw, on her way into Manhattan to her secret source of special industrial-strength depilatory still not available in Brooklyn.
Holly likes to tell herself she's on her way to becoming the kind of woman she's always admired. She likes to envision herself as a sleek modern temptress with her streaked hair and shiny new black handbag, fresh manicure and pedicure, and the new sweater she thinks makes her look 15 pounds lighter. She likes to think that everyone at P.J. Doodangle's wonders who the hip new girl is, the impossibly chic new girl who orders her own drinks and pays for them too. She likes to pretend she doesn't realize she's a pathetic booby-prize who will never turn heads!
I would like to assemble all the guys with whom I've ever been involved sexually and re-do now what I did with them way back when. I want to see if Jeff J.'s eighth-grade kisses still make me swoon. If Pat K. can still make me beg him to do things I can't even print. If fumble-fingered Joe R. learned since high school that "fingering" involves more than placing your dormant digit between, uh, labial folds. If I will still use my teeth to great destructive ends on Herb C.'s dick. Re-do everyone except the two rapist Eds.
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