On anticipation and the frigidity of a bed (Not by Me)
It is two fifty-four in the morning.
The party is winding down.
You leave out the back—the way you came in—and pleasantly surprise yourself lumbering
down the first flight of uneven wooden stairs in your heels in the snow without falling.
You have drunk two shots past Everything Is Fun And Why Aren’t You Dancing.
When you get home you are going to eat too much granola and watch Episode 5 of HBO’s
Looking, the happy one. You might even watch that whole other fucking webseries again, the
one that really resonates with who you are and close enough to how you identify, it’s only seven
webisodes anyway, it isn’t that late.
No one is coming home with you.
That guy that you met that one time at that other party—the cute one who asked you for your
number, which never happens—wasn’t there, not that you really expected him to be. You kind
of fucked things up with him anyway.
You still turned around every time the door opened, just in case. It’s too bad you regressed to a
high school mentality as soon as you entered your contact into his phone, but it isn’t your fault,
not really. There aren’t words for people who can love you, not yet; you’re allowed to regress
to a high school mentality out of the exciting promise of a new prospect and the paralysis that
follows such vulnerability. For these reasons you tell yourself that you forgive yourself for your
behavior but you don’t, not really. He would have been a great kisser.
You have reached the sidewalk at the bottom of the stairs. Time to trek the long six blocks
You carry your keys in your coat pocket, clutched firmly in your fist, so that they are easier to
quickly retrieve and use as a weapon if necessary. It has never happened before that one of the
homeless men who like to linger outside your apartment building has attacked you—damn that
stupid bar downstairs for attracting them here—but, as you remind yourself every weekend at
this hour: Tonight could just be the night.
You carry the corkscrew you forgot to remove after sharing a bottle of wine with your friend
earlier this week—and not with that guy that you met that one time at that other party—in your
other coat pocket, also clutched firmly in your fist, also to be used a weapon if necessary. You
reserve the keys for muggers and the corkscrew for rapists.
You wish you had borrowed a friend’s bra and stuffed it with toilet paper.
You wish you had shaved just once more before leaving your apartment.
You haven’t stopped moving since 9:16 this morning and you’re tired enough and you’re drunk
enough to actually stab someone if it comes down to it.
The stubble is growing through your makeup.
In daylight it is never this bad. In daylight you have always shaved more recently although that
means your bare legs are pink and bumpy with razor burn and while you never expect people
to be kind, they will at least leave your perverse physical body to its own undoing. There are
exceptions, of course, outliers, people who look you in the eye in class or at the supermarket
and tell you how beautiful you look when you’ve really put in that extra effort to doll yourself
up for the day. But they tell you this not because you’re beautiful, necessarily, but because they
recognize the dissonance between the canvas and its paint, and liberal-minded good-hearted
people that they are feel the need to overstate their solidarity with your DSM disorder that bars
you from health care, jobs, education, travel, love, and sex with a little affirmation of your
beauty. But this is not daylight.
Your thighs have become cold like the steel blades of worn ice skates within the first block
because you don’t own many pairs of leggings yet and the ones you do own don’t match your
dress but you had to wear this dress because you deserve to show off your ass, God damn it!
What else do you go to the gym for if not to eventually have sex with a guy who you will meet
at a party and who will know to throw you against the wall—but not too hard—when you’re
making sweet sweet love at three oh-six in the morning, before spending the night and kissing
and talking ‘til dawn, finally going out to breakfast with only an hour of sleep because He Too
loves going out to breakfast above all other meals and already recognizes that something special
in you that you thought that guy that you met that one time at that other party also recognized,
but apparently didn’t, for he still hasn’t responded to your text from last Tuesday?
No one is coming home with you.
You remember the last one who did: the accidental nature of it all; how he had come over
“just because” after a play and stayed much longer than intended; his lips that fit perfectly and
tasted new and of something you’ve long since forgotten; the imperfect, persistent passion
that followed; the almost-love; the sex; the love; the better sex; the time; the suddenness of its
ending. The un-reasons he gave. The later realization that it had something to do with the heels
that now plague you on this motherfucking ice.
In May you will go to Michigan to your cousin’s wedding and see all of your silent hateful
family. They will ask your brother about his love life and they will ask you about school. There
is nothing to tell them about your love life but you would like them to ask you anyway. You
crane your leg stepping over a snowbank and make a mental note to find a boyfriend by May.
You wonder what your aunt—the one who made an extra point (like the liberal-minded good-
hearted strangers who care) to tell your mom and you that you were “BOTH” invited to the baby
shower, as if for some reason you wouldn’t have been (i.e. your genitalia, about which everyone
preoccupies themselves)—will say the first time she sees you in a dress. You wonder if her
pointed acceptance of your condition will survive when she is surrounded by her conservative
Catholic wealthy white friends. You kind of hope it doesn’t, just to see what happens.
There is someone walking toward you about half a block up or so. He looks big. The lights
from the bar behind him cast him in silhouette. He appears very unknowable in this way. You
cross the street even though you live on this side. Not knowing is better than knowing something
bad. Or is it? Wouldn’t you rather know that the liberal-minded good-hearted people in class
or at the supermarket think you actually look quite stupid, but call you beautiful just to up their
political karma for the day? Wouldn’t you rather know that your aunt thinks you’re going to
hell, that the smiles they plaster on their conservative Catholic wealthy white faces are no more
genuine than their attempts at leading meaningful lives from the front seat of an empty minivan?
Wouldn’t you rather know that that guy that you met that one time at that other party hasn’t
texted you back because he’s realized, finally, that deep-voiced, flat-chested girls like you don’t
make for good girlfriends, so why would he want to love you in the first place?
The man crosses the street as well and your fingers clench around their pocketed defenses.
You are ready for him. You can see the whole thing playing out now: a misogynistic remark
followed by an unwelcome grope that would discover, in turn, an unwelcome appendage, before
he promptly turns to violence, punching you, the blood bleeding into your lipstick and blush,
beating you senseless like all the other girls you hear about on TV, raping you anyway, maybe,
pulling up your dress and splitting you hard, the blood bleeding down to your now-broken heels,
your keys and your corkscrew dangling useless from your shaking fingers.
As he approaches you see that he is white and you relax a little and you hate yourself for doing
so. He passes you and says nothing, does nothing. He is gone.
You walk the last little stretch to the light of your front door. No homeless men tonight.
You turn the key, you go in, you stumble upstairs, you remove your stupid heels and eat too
much granola and watch something that only somewhat resonates with how you identify because
television writers don’t write your people into their shows, you go to bed, alone, again, too late,
to the sounds of birds already singing a song that sounds better lying next to a lover.
In the morning you will shave.