The Indefinite State of Imaginary Morals, Relatives and Gin
She drinks his Tanqueray and tonic and envisions telling him that he really isn’t take-home material or the sort of guy who dresses up ‘real well’ with all the necessary un-tucking and scarf draping—he’s lost too much hair now—though he is satisfactory for a stand-by hook-up—this cannot be denied—or an occasional at-home necking, possibly a low-lighted evening event with coworkers.
Enter, gin and tonic #2.
The pillows have pushed out between them. Knees touching. He speaks deep and slow about high school football and stock options. She imagines him tight and angled, ignores the rounded belly. Pictures the thickness of his portfolio instead. She downs the rest of her gin and sucks on the wedge of lime, lets it linger on her lip.
Gin and tonic #3.
Skin to skin. The belly has turned out quite helpful, a fulcrum of sorts, and wouldn’t you know it? The belly hides the private parts of their sex so when she glances down to observe the gritty details—really, who can resist?—the mound of flesh will not let her.
Two minutes in, the belly surprises her. It proves to be more flexible than she would have imagined, taking on geometric swing patterns akin to Spyro Gyro, a game she’d so loved as a child, and there in the chaos of belly and breasts, the organs become art, flesh sculptures in motion. She names the penis Waldo and labors to locate its position in the gyrating fleshes between them, like finding the missing character on the back of a cereal box that your little brother waves in the air even though you’ve told him to Put it down! I’m trying to locate the penis!
It takes the better part of three minutes to find it. The penis works behind a camouflage of gray pubic hair and a love trail. She studies it like Dian Fossey studying apes or a mathematician studying circles and rectangles. She takes measurements by relationships. The arc of the penis equals the slope of the fluted glass. The girth equals the diameter of one in a half sushi rolls. She records the quantitative features, the dedication of it all, for truly, the penis has heart and stick-to-it-ness. A solid ten points for length. Four for width. Bonus points for its dogmatic work ethic. In the end, she awards the penis a handicap for discrepancies between actual breast size and push-up promotional dimensions.
Hydration is the single most important step toward anchoring into the reality of sloppy behavior. It is a wetting of the moral palate, a rejuvenation of the spirit, a pause and opportunity to decide if the behavior should register in the grand scheme of lifelong decision makings, or if the behavior is simply a burp, an unanticipated flinch of gastric sluttiness. She finishes the water, wishes it was gin then pulls a pillow into her bare lap. Slutty wins. Yes, it has been a slutty sort of evening.
They are both too worn and wasted and downtime to grab a towel, blanket, napkin, so they sit watching the pieces of spicy salmon with cucumber leftovers on the coffee table, the near-dissipated pools of soy. They talk about the distressed barn wood aesthetic of the room and try to ignore the nakedness of it all and the fact that the room has grown rather cold now and their sweated skins are uncomfortably slippery. Filthy slips. The kind of film one might scrub away with Clorox. When he leans back and offers his shoulder, she nearly cringes like a too old child expected to sit in her grandfather’s lap. In minutes, thankfully, he sleeps—it has been so long she’s lain still with shallow breath. She hums, in her head, the theme song to Mission Impossible, slides from his arm and chest, away from the couch, collects wrinkled clothes from the floor then carries them to the front door where she trips and slips over the skinny black skirt, the red bra that is really too small and the blouse buttons. Shit. She tiptoes back to couch, grabs purse, stops, drops, rolls when he snuffles in his sleep. Crawls back to door.
At the 7‑Eleven, around the corner, she stands in a line, waiting to pay for coffee and the Styrofoam cup in her hand. She adjusts the hem of her skinny black skirt and tries to straighten the twist in the red lace bra strap that irritates the mole on her shoulder because the mole sticks out too far. She has made mental notes to have it removed many times. The lace and elastic are cutting into her skin now and she thinks she smells the aroma of ejaculation and sperm swimming through her canal. She glances around the convenience store and wonders if 7‑Elevens carry pregnancy tests. The bra strap really is too tight. She sips the lukewarm coffee and laments for the environment and for Styrofoam and the people who made Styrofoam because they didn’t know it would be so bad when they invented it. They thought they were saving trees.
What would coffee taste like with Tanqueray? Would it be bitter?
She tells herself, Surely, he will call. How long will it take for him to call? The woman in the security mirror is staring at her now. Her eyes are smudged with mascara and age, framed by a familiar arc in the brows. She used to be so much sexier after sex. The mirror makes her nose convexly large.
Surely, he’ll call.
She considers death. It is best served as a preemptive measure. She vacillates between great aunt and second cousin and readies the tears because they are more convincing, a quicker getaway. Men run away from women who cry too much. When her cellphone vibrates, she tries to remember which relative she had used last time, not wanting to kill the poor thing twice.