REPORT A PROBLEM
After a few-year hiatus from meat-eating, he's back to being a carnivore, and from the looks of things he's back with a vengeance. He gnaws greasy rib-flesh off the bone with all the ferocity of a starved jackal, brandishes drumsticks with corpulent glee a la Henry the Eighth, and practically fellates his fingers after pulling apart a rotisserie chicken.
If I asked what was up with the reckless flesh fervor and obscene finger-licking, I'm sure he'd say the display wasn't deliberate. I want to stuff an apple in his slick-lipped mouth and roast him on a spit over open coals.
I rake the brush through my cat's back and come away with enough grayish fluff-dusty under-fur to fashion into a kitten. I smoosh it into a kitten-shaped ball, rustle around in my little straw basket of adhesive-backed googly eyes, and find the perfect sized pair. I press them onto the furball, taking special care to be gentle, because this is, after all, a newborn kitten we're dealing with.
My cat tiptoes over to see what's happening. Sits a foot away from me and says, "What the fuck are mew doing?-
I tell her to keep quiet while her baby's sleeping.
"Tara's got a sugar-daddy,"Tara's friend explains to his boyfriend.
"Yeah, a sugar-daddy with no sugar,"she says. "How about a Splenda-daddy?-
She laughs with them, but inside cringes so hard her stomach has turned into a fist that punches her from within.
It's all a sham. A facade. A bunch of bunkum. Sure, her situation looks sweet to outsiders, but only she knows the truth. She's got the lowdown, and not only is it not sugar, it's not even Sweet Ãƒâ€šÃ¢â‚¬Ëœn' Low. It's more like the tiny saccharine pills she remembers from her grandmother's kitchen cabinet many years ago.
He laughs, and his mouth opens wide enough that she can see his small, dull, yellowing teeth, protruding not far enough from his way too obvious grayish gums. How many teeth are crammed into that scary dark hole, anyway? It can't just be 14. It can't. "Fucking niblets,"she thinks.
He doesn't grin often, but when he does, he always seems to have a large fleck of black pepper stuck between his two front teeth. The long-neglected cavity makes her want to hide in a deep hole.
That night, she throws out two cans of corn and her pepper grinder.
He's let me down in ways I cannot even articulate. Yeah, that's right. Can't. Even. Articulate.
Even with a vocabulary as diverse and colorful and jam-packed as Manhattan, I still find it impossible to put into words the magnitude of what's happened. I won't even try.
He was the Band-Aid for wounds that could've healed quite all right on their own, out in the open air. A cast for bones that were barely even fractured. A crutch, when I was fine walking on my own.
He let me down, yeah. But I let myself down as well.
Ayyy. It stings.
"Last night I dreamed that my apartment smelled like pizza,"Marcy says.
"When you dream,"I say, "dream big.-
"Oh, I did,"she says. "It was a large, deep-dish, crisp-crust pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, anchovies, and extra cheese! And I don't even like all that stuff. I like my pizza plain. What do you think it means?-
I remind her I'm a therapist and not a dream analyst.
"OK, so, as my therapist, what do you think it means?-
I tell her it means her session is over and that she'd better beat it quick before Little Caesar's closes.
"I don't know what it is about him,"Linda says, "but I still want to fuck him even though he has bigger tits than I do.-
This is the first time during her session that I've stopped doodling a parade of cocks in the margin of my notebook.
"He's white and doughy and pasty, and his ass sags, and his thighs rub, and he's all squishy and soft. But still, all I can think about is his flesh compressed around me.-
I imagine her fucking a just-opened roll of Poppin' Fresh biscuits, and mask my laugh behind a sputtering cough.
I hate when they tell me their dreams. They act like their dreams are the wackiest dreams ever to hit the dreamland circuit. Despite my telling them I am a therapist and not a "dream analyst-, they insist on giving me every snooze-worthy detail. This one wakes me up, though:
"Every week I dream I'm shitting directly into my own hands,"Marvin says. "I shit and shit until my hands are full, and then I say to myself, Ãƒâ€šÃ¢â‚¬ËœWell done, son. Well done.' Do you think this means I'm full of shit?-
I want to praise him on his self-discovery.
"Did I tell you I had a collapsed lung?"Marlene says as she chooses a pair of dumbbells from the rack. All casual-like, as if she's asking me if I noticed it was raining.
"What? No!"I say, gasping, meeting her eyes in the mirror, feigning concern. "Oh my god! Tell me what happened!-
So she does.
It's times like this that I want to kick myself for pretending to care. Because let's face it: I don't. I would rather hear about the rain. I would rather hear about shampoo. About scissors and paperclips and pencil shavings. Soup. Wheelbarrows. Spatulas. Celery.
He's in the bathroom, and the water is still running. He's been washing his hands for what seems like five minutes, removing all evidence that he actually touched me for 15. If he touched me for 30, would he be in there for 10?
I hide behind a sheet because I ate something salty last night and my 26" waist measures 26-1/2" this afternoon. I may have missed a hair on my knee when I shaved this morning in anticipation of our get-together.
He exits the bathroom, ghostly molten flesh jiggling, cock deflated, and tosses a paper towel my way.
I notice the tiny ped socks before he even mentions them. "I only wear small socks,"he says, indicating his ankle, exposed thanks to the way his legs are crossed.
I laugh and tell him the socks are cute. Even though they secretly remind me of teenaged girls and tennis.
Fast forward to a month later, after he's revealed himself to be a jackass. He sits across from me, ankle crossed over his knee. I wish I had a machete and a calf-high sock to catch the blood I want to spill.
"Wear real socks, douchebag,"I want to say.
Dear I'm-A-Nice-Guy Guys:
Do me a favor, please? Stop telling me you're nice. Stop telling me you're "not like other guys-.
Stop saying it and show me. You know that saying, "Actions speak louder than words?" Well, it's trite, but it's true. And your actions, buddy boys, are not only speaking but shouting volumes, shrieking from the top of their phlegmy lungs from the rooftops of the highest skyscrapers Manhattan has to offer. Hello, Empire State Building!
"I'm even more of a dick than most guys!"your actions shout. "I'm so not nice it's not even funny!-
The train pulled up to the platform and he, already inside, saw me waiting to board. He thought I was very cute and sexy and wanted to bend me over and fuck me right there. So, through several stations, with his computer programming book propped on his lap, he tried to communicate this by staring at me until I thought his eyes would burst into flames.
He tells me this later, in an IM. It's all extremely hot - until, unsolicited, he sends a photo of himself in cheesy white underwear and a bowler hat "pretending to be a Chippendale lol-.
They're all staring at the last muffin crumble, pretending they're not. Feigning interest in the conversation that none of them are hearing, because all they can do is watch that big chocolate chip poking out like the watchful eye of a Cyclops. They couldn't be more attentive if they were dogs awaiting biscuits. Attentive to the muffin, that is.
"So, gentlemen, what's it gonna be?"the waitress says for the fourth time. "Can I getcha anything else? More coffee?-
She expects this crap from women. But men? Ugggh. And here she'd thought the one in the baseball cap was kinda cute.
She's wearing the same skirt I've seen her fat ass in for the last four days. I'd like to think it's because she heeds the fashion gurus and buys like a Parisienne - choosing the absolute best she can afford ("investments-), and thus her wardrobe, although limited, contains only stylish, classic, well-cut pieces. But it's not so. She buys garbage. Today's skirt (which was yesterday's and several days before's as well, and which, I suspect, will be tomorrow's and the next day's) is pilling, and the hem is unravelling.
She's not an elegant Parisienne with exquisite taste. She's an American dirtball.
She's skinny all right, that's for sure, but does that stop her flat ass from flapping underneath her loose white yoga pants like a turkey waddle or an ancient man's deflated scrotum? No. Her ass fascinates me for its lack of tone and uncanny resemblance to a particularly unimpressive pair of undercooked flapjacks, flap flap flapping above her shrivelled, cottage cheese thighs.
With each step she takes on the treadmill, her flesh ripples, sending shockwaves up the length of her leg to that quivering ass, and my stomach into my throat. I should tear my eyes away, but I cannot.
Marina's husband forbids bathroom use after 10:00 p.m. and only allows her to peek through the blinds in the den for two-minute intervals for a maximum of 14 minutes daily. Her shampoo must be white and unscented. If he smells fruit or flowers on her short-cropped hair (which he cuts himself with the cuticle scissors), he'll scrub her scalp with the laundry detergent that matches her break out in a rash.
If he discovers that she is still seeing me, her therapist, after he forbade her to even walk on my street, then she'll really have to answer to him.
I propose an age limit for futon users. After someone reaches, say, 32, he should be banned from using anything other than an actual bed.
Fuck practicality. Screw frugality. I don't want to have to get up during a "make-out session"so a guy can unfurl a futon in preparation for the next steps. Before I date someone, I'm going to have to ask, right after, "Do you DIE over dogs?"and "Do you read?"-- "Do you have an actual bed?-
Unless the guy's in his 20s. Then, we can "do it"on an exercise mat for all I care.
I'm pretending I don't notice. Pretending I have no problem with it. Pretending my fingers aren't sinking into the doughiest flesh this side of the giggly Poppin' Fresh guy.
I work out like a fiend, ensuring that as little of my body "jiggles"as is possible. I am, of course, a woman, so this is a challenge. But I've largely succeeded. He, however, has not. He is a man, and as such, the parts that are jiggle-prone on a woman should not jiggle on him.
Yet they do. If it weren't for his cock, I'd swear he was a chick.
What did people do pre-caffeine? How did cavemen, for instance, find energy not only to wake up in a world without glaring artificial light to force them into fluorescent submission, but to then endure dark mornings without the benefit of coffee?
I have no respect for people who, nowadays, don't submit to caffeine, and act all superior for their restraint. People content to zen themselves into herbal tea comas. They should be forced to live in caves and tend to the separation of rosehips and fennel while I bang a soup pot with a ladle two inches from their ears.
"As you can see,"the realtor says, pulling on the blinds cord,"the apartment gets tons of sun.-
"A shame,"I say, avoiding the bright onslaught.
By now she should know that "sun"isn't a selling point. I thrive under cover of darkness. I envy the people who live in those countries that get only a few hours of daily sunshine, whose days could be mistaken for nights.
She can't disguise the sneer in her voice when she asks if we should limit our search to basement apartments. "How would I howl at the moon, then?"I ask, without inflection.
As we stroll to a coffee place on Ninth Street, he looks around his new neighborhood like he owns it, proudly pointing out places that've become part of his daily routine. There's his bodega. His bar. His breakfast place. There's the corner where blahblahwhateverblahyeah.
Perhaps I'd find it endearing, if only he hadn't just "dissed"my neighborhood. If only he wouldn't compare the benefits of his incredible new stomping grounds to the "tired"area where I live.
"How do you stand stand living up there?"he says.
Apparently he's already forgotten that, until a month ago, he lived there too.
It's her hour, and her money, and I'm supposed to be "non-judgmental-, but must I really endure Sandra's headstands in my office?
I haven't brought it up in three weeks (six sessions), but today I must. It's time to "gently suggest"that she start sitting in a chair instead.
"But this is the only way I can let loose,"she says, removing her sandals. When she starts unfurling her socks, I hold up my hand and say, "Whoa. No.-
There's only so much I can take. By now she should know that food, cigarettes, and bare feet are not permitted.
I'm going to open a bank. It will only accept checks that are standard in design and not embellished with images of Warner Brothers or Disney characters or any other representations of comic strips or animation, such as Ziggy or The Simpsons. It will refuse to acknowledge checks adorned with flowers, rainbows, fluffy kittens, and any other precious thing. Customers won't be warned of this restriction beforehand, but anyone who presents such a check to one of my tellers will be forced to pay a steep penalty and to hand over the check for immediate introduction to a Zippo lighter.
The seals are very small and packaged about eight per doughnut-type box, lined up like sardines. As soon as I lift one box's lid, a seal wriggles free from the rest and pops up to reach my outstretched hand. I stroke its slick gray skin as if it were puppy fur.
Now that the word is out among the seals that someone is petting them, they squeal in unison and squirm forward for pets, desperate for freedom.
I want to save every single one of them. I awake, relieved that they do not need saving. But I miss them anyway.
You've gotta love the arrogance of human beings in assessing the intelligence of other species. Animals are less intelligent than your basic sack of putrid human flesh because they don't communicate the way people do.
Based on the standards developed by and embraced by all-knowing human beings, animals are considered less intelligent because they don't speak. What a foolish assumption. Perhaps animals communicate in a language the human ear and human-devised instruments are too inferior to hear or calibrate. Or perhaps they do speak, but wisely choose not to, because they know that talk is cheap and means nothing anyway.
Marvin enters my office without grimacing, which is a first for him. Ordinarily his face is an exercise in contortion when he bursts into the room at 4:00, and twists itself even more when growls that he can't take it any longer, he can't stand hearing everyone jibbering and jabbering on the subway he is forced to endure in order to arrive at my office in time.
"Earplugs,"he says, lifting his shaggy hair to show me.
"They're not earplugs,"I say. "They're tampons.-
"They keep me from bleeding from the ears, though,"he says, "so I think they're appropriate.-
I can't stop the shaking in my hands. I know its cause, I know it's temporary, and I know that it should stop soon once its "raison d'etre"is eliminated, but right now it would appear to anyone looking at my hands, that I have a mild case of palsy. It helps if I keep the hands in constant motion so the shaking is not apparent, so it gets lost in the blur of typing. I can tap my fingers to the beat of pretend music, keeping time to nothing in particular, so nobody sees the strange quiver inhabiting them.
Sebastian starts each session by pretending to eat a sandwich. This week's is so enormous that it requires him to open his mouth incredibly wide. I swear I can see his uvula cringing in anticipation of the onslaught.
Today's Dagwood creation is dripping fake mayonnaise, which he licks off each finger individually with such relish that it's positively obscene. I tell him to knock it off. To finish his "lunch"already so we can proceed with his session.
"But if I eat too fast,"he says, "I'll choke,"and offers me an invisible potato chip from a non-existent small bag.
Freedom is so near I can almost taste it. Cliche, yes, but the cliche says nothing about how the freedom tastes. Freedom tastes like the ripest, full-to-bursting peach, the one whose lusty orange-yellow-red flesh separates from the dark wrinkled pit even without provocation, the one whose sticky-slick juice slops from your lips and covers your chin with its sweetness. Like a mouthful of ice-cold water sliding down a throat parched by sun and dust. Like steaming thick-cut french fries, sprinkled with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, after weeks and weeks of ascetic tofu. The indulgence will soon be mine.
I don't wish quadriplegia on him. Just paraplegia. I want his hands to still be available to try, in tear-jerking vain, to jerk off the now powerless tool between his motionless legs. He deserves to know what it feels like to be forced into limitation, to be deprived of the options he thinks are his privilege, his birthright.
When he's settled into paraplegia, I wish upon him a stroke that renders him incapable of speech. I'll then stand before him, calmly stirring a cup of coffee, and say, "Hey, complete asshole. What's it feel like to be half a man?-
The Tip Jar