For Davey

I have a tendency to ask people to turn off their televisions upon entering their homes. It’s crazy to think that somehow I feel I have the right to waltz into some ones apartment and start demanding control of their appliances. It’s terrible, and I’m fully aware of that; it’s just that I can’t help it. Over the last five years or so, I slowly cut out many forms of media. Newspapers were first to go, although I’ve made the exception of the occasional free weekly. Music radio was next; not just one but every station. Television was one of the last hold outs, but when it left, I saw no other alternative. Now I will catch but a glimpse of a captioned monitor at a bar and be instantly hooked, like a drug I remember fondly. I’ll sit there stuck and unblinking, way too overstimulated, bending to the will of advertisers and yet for as much as I may want to, I physically can’t look away. Television literally scares me, and so I always ask of my host, politely, sweetly, to please turn it off.
I’m no martyr–I’m not perfect. It’s not as if I don’t watch television to impress you, to make your parents like me, to expand my mind. In fact, I have a perfectly valid string of habits and vices just like other humans, several that I nurture and covet, a sea of cultivated eccentricities. I have addictions just like you, compulsive behaviors that I haven’t figured out alternatives for, and fear the gaping hole they would leave behind in their absence. Television, however, just isn’t one of them anymore.
I take my solace in Camel Lights. I prefer them paired with cheap beer, each new stick of fresh redemption brought to my lips and lit through the ashes of the former. My motivations are fueled by caffeine, cup after cup until my empty stomach curls around the small spoonful of sugar I’ve added, tight and controlled. I never bother to remove the spoon, it’s bowl sunk deep in a large mug, my thumb curled around it’s handle. Sip, swallow–my head clears, wavering toward productivity. Then there’s release; no, escape. The reason thousands upon thousands of Americans glue themselves to Must See Thursdays and pay ten dollars a head to see the newest instalment of Jerry Bruckheimer’s perfect world. It’s the reason we’ve invented methadone and 12 step programs. Escape, in some ways, is what we are all looking for–and I am the one who cleverly thinks I’ve found the perfect conduit. It starts simply enough; a glance, a handshake. Maybe we’ll exchange names and maybe I’ll remember it. Maybe we’ll pick up some beer, maybe my roommate won’t be home, maybe he’ll never catch on that I’m leading him to my bedroom because I don’t have a television; that he tonight, will be my salvation, my escape.
Sex is not something you can snort, smoke or ingest, and so when everything is still there is no withdrawal, just the slow ebb of a brief hormonal freedom. Like waves pulling from the shore it’s more gentle, calculated and planned. Predetermined. There is always one breath that escapes following a pregnant blink where everything you’d hoped to lose via this act is gone. Then follows a creak, a stretch, a lock of hair pushed behind an ear. A sigh.
At first I wont sleep, but prefer to wait until they do and with their back to me, I’ll trace a forefinger down a spine. Each one is some kind of trial; no, a tryout. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle, putting some boy in my bed to see if he fits, one finger down his back and down again, switch hands. I mouth the words I love you, I love you, I love you. It’s over and over with different intonations and cadences, just to try, to see how it fits. Hundreds of my unheard I love you’s have met the backs of many, finger poised atop a vertebrae, rushing to get them out before the high wears off and I’m forced again to realize that this intimacy is feigned. I whisper those words when it still feels real, still feels like I could make a home for this boy between my sheets that smell of pink and girl. Right before it’s gone I’ll sleep. It’s just before that moment when he’ll suddenly seem a foreign body next to mine that I’ll stir just enough to wake him, turn myself away beneath my blankets. Like clockwork, they always come for me. Roles reversed, arms interlocked in momentary affection. The arch of my back will meet the skin stretched across his rib cage, and through the halted breath in my ear, I can almost hear his own whispers.
"I’m just trying this out, you know–just to see, to see how well it fits. You inside of all my limbs, tiny and mine; I own you right now. I could command you with the weight of all of our pretending, could make you take back the words you thought I never heard or make you scream them at my bidding. I have you, I have you, I have you."
They do–have me. For a time. For that time between our lips first meeting and when sleep finally takes me I’m owned and I revel in that freedom. I ache to feel vulnerable. They always come for me, they’ll meet me on my side, an errant leg wrapped around my knee, a hand cupping one of my breasts, fingers intertwined playing a game of make believe. Like children playing dress up we’ll lay there, still, unconvinced that were just playing couple, forgetting that the fallacy of us and we will soon be revealed by a sunrise or an alarm clock. I always make myself forget the pretend that we make, or at least stave it off until we finally rise, dress, and my front door clicks behind him. I smile with a grace that comes from experience. I offer caffeine and use of my shower. My glance is carefully masked as to say "Hey, I like you!" and not "I"ve done this so many fucking times before." I’m pleasant and calm, I’m practicing a routine that I’ve perfected that falls from my mouth and eyes and fingertips like the inclinations of the alphabet. It takes everything I have to hold off the truth just a little bit longer until our parting, an empty space in my rumpled sheets waiting for another piece, another one to come for me, placed carefully in my bed to see if he fits.
One of them might, might click into place, fit my every curve and want underneath my bedspread. One of them might yield to my gentle fingertip, hear the words I didn’t quite speak, make pretend with me until we come to something else, something devoid of the unreal. One of them might, with me, awake in my room to find it a photograph of a dream, an instant we actually captured, held, realized. A moment we would think had been lost.
Yet each one–the meeting, the moment, my fingertip and our whispers and he’s gone, ill fitting, and I make room to try on one more, try one more time, find just that one that makes my escape acceptable. Each one, single file in a stream; no, a parade. I wait for my proverbial slipper to come in the form of one fragile boy after another, because they will always come for me, and they keep coming, and coming, and coming.
As he lives several hundred miles away our relationship existing largely via a telephone, I call my husband. I tell him all of this.
"What?" he says, "I’m sorry, honey–I missed that last thing you said, I was distracted by the TV."
I ask him politely,
to please turn it off.


Sam said...

M, you make me cry when I thought I was too tired. Sometimes it's good to play pretend. I think some of my times might be coming to a close.
I love you.

~PhoenixRising said...

Miranda.... My goodness, a good good writing there... Much enjoyed. I love how it goes full circle and comes back around... Thank you so much. Oh, and welcome to the land of blog. Couldn't resist any longer, eh?