Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fruit, Not Fire

It's hard to think of what to say these days. I'm in the middle of something ugly, I know that, and it's hard for me to think in full thoughts. If I tried to write about what was going on lately, I wouldn't even know where to start. Each day seems to be pieced together out of random happenings that have no link, no common thread, like these:


My kitchen is covered in flies--fruit, not fire or anything else interesting. They arrived one morning after my friend Emily and I had another Martini Sleepover. We got drunk on raspberry bellinis. We stayed up late watching Project Runway and talking about ex-boyfriends who got fat. I didn't clean up any of our sticky cups or empty champagne bottles or bowls of apple crisp. When we woke up the next morning, there were flies bring their luggage into the kitchen, setting up house in the caps still sweet with vodka, the glasses still red with raspberries. They haven't left since. I've tried different things to kill them. I've tried to kill them by clapping them between my hands--I'm surprisingly good at this, and it's surprisingly satisfying to see the crooked wings flat against my palms--but that's slow-going, and they're reproducing faster than I can kill them. I've put out saucers of sweet-smelling soap, hoping they'll get stuck in the thick liquid. I've chased them down with a bottle of hairspray, releasing long streams that make them slow and dopey, but not dead.


I drove the two hours down to Boston on Monday night to get Josh. He'd been in France, teaching English and missing America, and he came home because he couldn't stand it anymore. He'd taken to buying beer and standing on the urine-soaked corner the bums gathered on. He'd been eating a lot of French hotdogs and drinking a lot of cheap wine. He couldn't find a second job that would bolster his meager finances--after all, a guy doesn't make too much teaching English to fifteen year old French girls who use their English to ask, "Can you take us home with you?"--and he was sick of being stuck in the middle of nowhere, his only friend an Irish guy who'd knocked up a French girl and was thus stuck in France with his own bunch of students.

So he came home. And as I rode the escalator down to the International Arrivals section of Logan Airport, I felt like I was in the opening scene of Love Actually. I scanned the crowds of people tugging suitcases through the gate, and on the other side of the room I saw Josh, the boy who, when I dream of him, arrives as Conan O'Brien ("Seriously, that kid looks just like Conan!" Emily's brother said after we'd all had martinis at the darkest basement bar in all of Portland, the best place to carry on illicit love affairs), and I started running toward him. We hugged.

"I love America!" he said.

For the next few days, I'd spend my time trying to entertain him. I handed him the pack of sex flashcards Diana had sent me. "These are stupid," he said, but when he got to MISSIONARY POSITION he laughed and turned the card toward me. On the front a man in a tuxedo was leaning close to a woman with close-set curls. The caption said Let's start with the missionary position and go from there. He also liked FELLATIO (After fellatio, he was putty in my hands!) and CUNNILINGUS (You may have heard about me--I specialize in cunnilingus).

The next day I handed him The Pop-Up Book of Sex, another gift from Diana, and he said, "This is ridiculous," but then he spent the next fifteen minutes using the tabs to rock the pop-up characters back in forth in different sexual situations. His favorite was the spread of pages that explained the Mile High Club. He made the male passenger's hips batter the stewardess, who was wearing fishnet stockings and too-red lipstick, over and over and over and over. "Ha," he said.

"When was the last time I told you how much I love America?" he asked.

"Five minutes ago," I said.

"Well, it's time again. I love America. I love it a lot."

I made him omelets. I brought him beer. I poured him wine. He did his laundry and watched French television and soccer. We got drunk and watched So You Think You Can Dance, and I tried to explain to him that this was the second time that SYTYCD had a contestant who looks like a boy from my past. This season, every time Legacy steps onto stage my head feels like it's going to fall off because he reminds me so much of this boy it's overwhelming.

"What do you think of his partner?" I asked. "Do you think she's pretty cute? Would you do her?"

"Does she have a pulse?" Josh asked.

Later, he downloaded the new Bone Thugs song and played it over and over and over. He played it on our way to the Chinese restaurant, on the way to Freeport, where he wanted to buy new pants, and on our way to Portland.

"How much do you love this song?" he asked.

I liked it okay, so I told him so.

"Will you listen to it after I leave?" he asked. "Will you listen to it every five minutes? Hey, Jess, have I told you about America and how I love it?"

We got into debates about everything. Josh was argumentative ("I'm not argumentative!" he insisted. "I'M NOT!") and he wanted to debate the word "nice" I used to describe him when he asked me to list his good qualities. He wanted to debate formal grammar instruction.



"You're right," I said. "Sure, yeah, absolutely. That's it. I don't know you at all. I haven't been your friend for NINE YEARS."

Josh tried to love Abbey. It looked promising at first. He walked through the door on Monday night, let her smell his hand, and then he scooped her up. She let him kiss and hug her, and when he let her down she threaded through his legs. After that, though, things got rough. There was hissing. There was growling. There was swatting.

"This kitten is a bitch," Josh said. "I hate her. She's cute. Why doesn't she like me?"

And the thing is, I don't know.


My mother, my brother, and my brother's girlfriend are coming to Maine for Thanksgiving. I'm throwing the celebration. This makes my brother pleased and excited. He's been promised lots of Freeport outlet shopping on Black Friday, and he's been promised unlimited lobster rolls.

Today I texted him--you don't ever call my brother because he's bad about both answering the phone when he sees it's someone other than his girlfriend, and he's equally bad about returning phone calls that were placed by anyone other than his girlfriend--and I asked him if he wouldn't mind so much going to the liquor store and bringing me a whole bunch of New York state wines when he comes.

Sure, he texted back. I'll do that. So, what's new? How's the man situation?

Ish, I said. Well, I mean, I don't know. I've been on a few dates with one guy. He's nice. He's a singer.

Woah boy, my brother said. My gaydar just went off. And does he love Will and Grace too?

Very helpful, I said.


Kristin said...

You really shouldn't go so long without blogging. I start to have withdrawl. And since it's all about me, you should heed my advice;) jk

I'm still waiting for the post about the guys getting in a punching match in your class!:)

Jess said...

Yes, I suppose I should talk about that. I have great teaching anecdotes, but when I think about them I get so tired... bah.

I'll get to it soon. Promise. I've just been all sucked-dry-of-my-will-to-live lately.