Painting the faces on baby dolls may sound like a dream job but consider the dream. One twitch and an eye becomes an untoward lane. Show up mad and you’ll have the imprint of doll nostrils on your fingertips all night. Imagine the horror of your spouse, the delight of your lover, your own uncertainty pulling a contact lens out at a stoplight and detecting faint powder on the breeze.
True story: eels and humans used to be friends. So when they had to carry me out of the Belle Isle aquarium I was not causing a disturbance but rather exercising compassion for an ancient compatriot. I wanted to be so long and so thin and just as furiously countenanced. Was already living in a murky box with limited light, hideous fake plants, constant taps of fingers.
I signed up for a class on surrogacy but it was not about migrating butterflies so I quit. The guidance counselor identified quitting as my main strength and weakness. Crack cocaine, AP physics, checking and rechecking gas stove knobs before leaving the house, sex with strangers, nail biting, drunk appearances at the animal shelter resulting in near-adoptions, transcendental meditation.
Most of the guys who got the Varsity tattoo on their birthday now spend evenings drinking Miller Lite next to a bathtub full of the week’s dirty dishes. I would remember how they posed on social media except it wasn’t invented and we just had to gossip and draw crude renderings of how things went down. Sometimes we sketched them with sticks in the dirt at a bonfire.
When did desire become just another dangler on a charm bracelet, next to the flamingo or the handcuffs? My friends crushing so hard on Anna Karenina. All I wanted was to play with her hair. And then the decade turned and we started getting off imagining stacks of cash, extra thick credit cards. Fine, I’ll never say anything funny again, I said, and everyone laughed.
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