to need a man

“I need a man in my life,” I told Vicki, poking at the green foam in my glass with my straw. Green. Inventive. Her eyes widened. “Oh come on,” I told her, “a guy. You know?”

“You need a man?! Like,” she leaned in closer, “Like your body needs a man? Or like, marriage?”

“Oh my – ” I choked before I could finish. Maybe green was not an indicator of potability. “Is that all that men are good for? I mean, I clarified, I said a ‘guy’, and that’s what I mean – a guy. A friend.” She seemed confused. “To fall in love with slowly?”

“No, when I say a guy I mean just a friend, a dude, a bro. I’m just tired of talking to girls right now.”

“That means me too, doesn’t it?” She frowned. “Did you just drink that whole thing?”

“That’s what I’m talking about! Every time I go out with you and your friends,” I sighed, rephrased. “It just seems whenever I go out with girls I’m told how inadequate I am, we all are, and I’m sick of it because the minute I challenge any of it I’m told I just don’t understand yet, or accused of being anti-girl.”

“What?” She was completely still, watching me.

“I’m tired of hearing about diets, and surgeries, and body modifications, and what this or that article says about when you should biologically reproduce. I don’t want to make the point of my life – why did any of us go to school or do anything other than embroider if it all leads up to this? I don’t want my life to be this one huge search for a ‘wonderful man’ with the right lifestyle it’s just sickening it just . . . My life needs to mean more than a huge diamond one day.”

Vicki looked at me steadily. I was looking down at my folded hands but I could feel her eyes pass over the bridge of my nose, my glasses, the top of my head like a hot searchlight. “You can get a sapphire, you know. They’re beginning to be in style so if you wait to get married it’ll most likely be in vogue by whenever that is. Sapphires are really pretty so you shouldn’t feel badly about not wanting a diamond – ”

“Was there some poisoned well I neglected to drink out of?” I interjected, even though I knew there was no stopping her description of wedding trends.

Or reaching her.

envelop

All the feelings I have about him are protective. From there you already know where I’m going: warm, tender, emotions that envelop like arms.

Sometimes, very late nights, I worry about him. I do not want him to disappear one day and come back, three days later, a changed man. So I put it out of my mind very quickly and think about something else.

‘always’

“Isolde, what the hell is that?” I pointed at the white bag on my bed. “What’s what?” She answered cheerfully, coming in to look at whatever it was. She was wearing one of my hats and pulling on a pair of my gloves. She followed my gaze. “What? Afraid I’ll stretch them?”
“I am and you will. Please take them off before it takes and remove your parcel from my bed.” She snorted. “You’re so uptight. You could buy more gloves.” Not really, I thought.

“Anyway it’s not my ‘parcel’, it’s your bag. Your present,” she said with a smile. This will either be terribly good or terribly bad. Wait, what’s the etymology on terrible again? Ran briefly through my mind. I opened the bag. “What did you fit in an iPad box, Isolde?” I secretly felt a little bitter. I don’t even go to that store – what would the point be? “An iPad . . . ” she twisted her head sideways, widened her eyes. There’s a catch, there’s some horrible catch –

There it lay, brand new and shiny. “This looks like yours,” I said at length, and she turned away slightly. “And that’s because it is yours, isn’t it? Isolde, why would you do that? Are you giving it to me, is it beyond repair, what are you doing?” She rolled her eyes, walked up to me, and flipped it over. “Read it,” she said flatly.

‘RJ, Isolde, Always’

“Oh shit,” I groaned.

oh oscar

Probably my number one advice to would-be suitors would be to not quote Oscar Wilde out of context. To me, specifically. Paraphrasing is even more, shall we say, frowned upon.

Especially – I’m looking at you, guy who has no idea this blog exists or otherwise would plagiarize it – if between the puffs of cigarette smoke you blow on my face as seduction, you happen to mention that you’ve never read Wilde outside of his quotes. Do not raise your eyebrow after such an utterance.

I’m also looking at you, guy who doesn’t read anything on the Internet except porn – wait, sorry, guy who reads nothing on the Internet – because mocking my love of Wilde by asking if he were some new hotshot hipster writer with a beard made me die, a little inside, right there in the passenger side of your sport utility vehicle.

In essence – well, in essence you should already have said something better. You should have said something you thought of yourself.

in praise of mumbles

I am not always brilliant or well spoken. I think the people that are – it has to be affectation.

Sometimes life is very simple. Sometimes you will be asked very practical questions and to expound upon your answers will leave your audience breathless with annoyance. As in, “Could you go for a hamburger?”

There is no dishonor is answering “Sure,” or even “Could totally go for that,” or some variant with ‘bro’, ‘dude’, or ‘man’.

loving Lola

I think that the guys I know – and this isn’t so much a well-formed thought as a sort of hazy notion – really like me so long as they think they can save me. Or buy me. The latter is easier to tackle because it’s a transaction, something nearly everyone can understand. Can you get a human through a transaction? It would appear so. Lola? No. Not only ‘no’, but ‘of course and obviously no’, right? I mean, don’t all of you, my dearly beloved readers, feel the same way? Can’t I assume we’re like-minded to a certain extent? After all, you’re blogging, and last time I checked, it wasn’t on ‘swag’.

Maybe that’s too broad and simple. Everyone I know and have known laughs at the non-protaganists in stories like ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Look at those money-grubbing wenches. Ha. Then I find myself telling a story about clear-cut asshole-ness – when I say clear-cut I mean it: take, say, a lawyer, and say he was, well, doing work with your company but he preferred to do all his business with you, and you think innocuous, and then suddenly he’s asking you to bend over his desk so he can look down your shirt. And there’s a humming sound in your head, and probably the blood is rushing to it, and probably I looked red as a lobster because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. “Are you going to cry?” he asked me. No, I thought. I am deciding between using the stapler that is closer to me than to you or – no, I’ve been a pacifist all my life. Why did I even think that?

Then I tell this story, which I find simple, which the director found simple, to the girls, the women I know, and they’re horrified, outraged, until I get to the heir-to-vast-wealth part. And they make a little sound in the back of their throats that sounds like ‘oh,’ and they tell me that maybe he didn’t mean it. Maybe he didn’t know better? Maybe the progeny of the very wealthy grew up differently, see the world differently.

And how is that okay? How is it charming or cute in the least?

Or is this one of those things that somewhere along the line everyone else seems to have learned? Everyone else but me.

bad things

“I’m sorry,” he said mid-sentence. “I just realized that you’re a really good person. I’m going to say goodnight now.” My back stiffened. I thought quietly for a moment, then asked him “What did you have in mind?” His eyes passed over my face, up from my chin past my hairline.

“You can’t do bad things to people and justify it by telling yourself they’re just bad people, had it coming.” He looked mournfully at me. “I think I can, actually.” He put his hands in his pockets. “I think I do on a regular basis. Will continue.” I shook my head. I have never been intrigued by inner demons not laid to rest.

slope

Sometimes I still wish I could see him. Acting on that wish would be unconscionable, so I don’t think I’ll see him. No one ever runs into anyone else in this town. I don’t know why.

The thing about a married man – and this is when backs stiffen, lips press together, and the most stereotypical of judgmental looks are employed, because every decent American knows that you do not enter into anything with a married man. If it’s a friendship that got complicated, that slid from a very regular, happy place into a murky gray area where the intensity level was far too high – well, it won’t net you any sympathy. It’s a forgone conclusion that you – I – was a bad Lola.

But the thing about an unhappily married man, the thing you will not expect and most definitely have mixed feelings about, is the way in which he makes you the center of his universe. He is sad, after all, and he is just realizing that much of the little things he pinned his self-worth on are nothing more than mile markers, and will not comfort him when he is lost. And then you –

I should say I. Then I, without realizing it, became the thing that made him happy, the sole thing, and he gave me attention and moral support and we shared sandwiches. If there is anything which I can picture as the absolute of two happy people, it’s sharing sandwiches. When I understood what power I held in his life I shivered all over. I don’t like power, not even the word, and most certainly not the implications. I don’t like unhappiness either, and it’s a point of pride that I’ve always been the sort of person my friends know they can call in any sort of duress. By this time we spent so many of our daylight hours together – I was on a sabbatical from the preschool, pursuing another career entirely – that he’d become, in essence, my only friend.

I was halfway down the slope, and as yet had no idea.