714 Readings | 4 Ratings

Boys and Girls in America Have Such a Sad Time Together

 #1

Whatever would propel me forward, move me through the kiss, the clasp, and the shudder. I jacked the volume and smoothed on the runny face game.

These online women are either unimportant, worthy of no more treatment than guesswork; somewhat important, but still burdened by unimportant elements that makes them unworthy of thorough treatment; or so precociously important that one can do no more than nurse high hopes sobered with caution.

I can smell her Gardenia perfume, a scent I love. Personal scent is extremely compelling on a woman.



#2

He’s nervous as a turkey, and I want him slurring.

My sister is like, “you need to date.”

She’s like, “get a gym membership, pull it together.”

I’m too hung-over.

I am drinking alone at home, with the computer in my lap, and I find this message board, and this guy "BigHeadRob" starts in, "hey working girl, did u make it to the gym last night?"

He’s an archivist for the Smithsonian. He’s got a dog.

He wears ties in all of his photos. He’s got a lot of photos online. He takes a picture of his outfit every single day and puts it online. He writes a little caption describing where each item of clothing comes from, “vintage Store in Phoenix.”

Every afternoon I go to the handicapped bathroom on the 4th floor and lock the door. It is the only private place in the office, and it has a big window. Every afternoon I floss my teeth for a long time with the sun on my face. Then I go back to my desk.



#3

We have spirits and ghosts and witches and downright devils among us and they will make you suffer. But when I look into the littleness of her fond eyes, I see that no harm is meant. She actually does want to take me dancing!

We’re sweating.

My sincerity as a love maker comes from my belief in the truth-potential of any relationship.

When we wake up, she goes into the bathroom and I follow her in there and she is naked before the sink, washing her face. I squeeze her.

“I have to get a picture of you like this,” I say.

“Why do you take pictures of your outfits every day?”

“Someone has been doing a little Rob research.”

“But why?”

“It’s just a thing we do.”

She watches me in this delightful and not delighted way.



#4

I was drunk.

He was an archivist for the Smithsonian.

He knew how to make basil ice-cream.



#5

The dog and I walked her home. Her corduroy pants were covered in dog hair and lint. She had to walk home in her high heels.

“Do you want to hold the leash?” I asked.

“I don’t feel good.”

“Come on.”

She took the leash and walked the dog. The sun was shining. We passed a Salvadoran outdoor market. Things had been hard for me in Washington D.C.

We arrived at her apartment building. “Can I have your number?” I produced a pen and paper from my satchel. She wrote her number on the paper. Then I produced my camera and said, “I am going to take a picture of you.”

“No,” she said.

“You can keep your sunglasses on.”

I called after her, "Let’s get a beer sometime." Then I sat on a bench outside her building and programmed her number into my phone.



#6

Whatever.

I’m done trying to seem witty or pathetic or ingenious or naive or dull.



#7

She was the last one to say my name, unless you count the women of the Grooming lounge. They scream, “It’s Rob!” every time I come in for a haircut.

Is thirty-seven a lot?

I’d say I’ve done a lot of work on thirty-seven women in my life, but no more work than was necessary to establish myself. The meaning of relationship is always different for any two people.

Posted 09/05/09
From the 2009 Mississippi Review summer fiction issue
Comments (0)
Would you like to leave a comment on this profile? Join Ink Node for a free account, or sign in if you are already a member.