I like to talk about my pets. When I saw this, I laughed.
Awww. Unlike this, my lizards fulfill gender stereotypes. The man is lazy and irritable, the woman is patient and calm. The man expects the woman to gather the crickets for him (or maybe I made that up, but she hunts faster). And here’s the kicker–the man never gains weight no matter how much he eats, and the woman just gets fatter and fatter.
But, you know, patriarchy.
The strangers say hi at the Piggly Wiggly grocery stores, compliment my gold necklace, tell me I’m as beautiful as a Southern Belle, ask where I got my Gucci shoes. “Wow, New York!”
“The people here are too fucking nice,” I say to my mom.
“They’re not really nice, hun,” she says, handing me a glass of whiskey. “They’re just Southerners.”
The bank bought out the miles of land behind our property. They’re building high ranch houses, perfect for both people starting a family as well as grown families. There will be more dogs to bark at our pit bulls, persistent trick-or-treaters who will frown because we won’t buy candy, newly-weds with their sophisticated parties. There will be housewives who won’t leave us be, who will prod us with spinach and broccoli casseroles, send us invitations to their kids’ birthday parties, and probe us with questions about what we do.
We love the sparkling, speckless, spotless, spic-n-span, sanitary.
It sucks that no one gets you, Howie. They just don’t comprehend
that they carry so many—too many—estranged anti-
bodies. How don’t they see that the finger-
prints on a glass are chancy, too chancy, that those swirly
smudges from their own damn hands get so close—too
close—to uniting with your lips as you drink your
perfectly purified Fuji water. They are so naïve, so ignorant,
and they don’t see that you spray your bed with Lysol everyday
because when they sit on your bed, their ass
germs are rankling where you sleep. Oh Howie, you’d understand
if I said that I can’t lend you a pencil because if your hand—
which just touched that desk that you share with sloppy
society—held my pencil, that pencil would contact
all my other pencils in my specific Ticonderoga pencil
case and ruin me? They don’t see that it’s not so
funny, Howie, that we’re not always
comedians. You understand why I can’t offer
you a handshake or walk within a nine and
three-sevenths-inch radius of you, Howie. Right?
(Originally published in Rider University’s literary magazine, Venture, Spring 2011.)