Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More thoughts about the media's objectification of women

"Sex is one of the most interesting things we as humans have to play with, and we've reduced it to polyester underpants and implants. We are selling ourselves unbelievably short." — Ariel Levy

Advertisements depicting women as objects.

"Violence against women comes in numerous forms and many feminists in modern America (including me) are of the belief that the media and advertising are detrimental to gender equality because sexism is used to sell everything." -Feminist Activism

"When women are portrayed as objects without subjectivity, it may be easier for some to justify violence against them. If a woman is just a thing to be looked at, her feelings and concerns might seem less important." -Naomi Rockler Gladen

"A steady diet of exploitative, sexually provocative depictions of women feeds a poisonous trend in women’s and girl’s perceptions of their bodies, one that has recently been recognized by social scientists as self-objectification." -Ms Magazine 1998

"We skipped over the part where we just accept and respect that some women like to seem exhibitionistic and lickerish, and decided instead that everyone who is sexually liberated ought to be imitating strippers and porn stars."
— Ariel Levy

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sexual Objectification of Women

At work a few days ago a lawyer from another firm approached my desk. He was in his late 50s and he said “Hey, Beautiful.” I sorta sat there uncomfortably, feeling really awkward, that I didn’t have my Vladimir Nabakov books for him to sign. After a moment of awkward silence he said “Can you give me a smile?” And, crossing my arms, I said, “Yes I am fully capable of smiling.” Because it’s one thing to sexually objectify someone, but it’s just rude to insult their control over their facial muscles. So he stood there and said “You have a beautiful chest.” And that’s when I lost my temper. Because complimenting a woman’s breasts is the same as saying “Evolutionarily you look like you could competently nourish one of my offsprings.” So I replied, “you would make a horrible father!” I told my friend this story and I was so upset and fraught and he tried to empathize. He said, "Oh, Barbara, I am so so so sorry! I can't believe that you have to work somewhere people lie to you!"

It really sucks to feel like a "thing" instead of a person. According to feminist scholar Linda LeMoncheck, to objectify women is to portray women as something that can be looked at and acted upon, which happens on a social level and in the media.

When I started researching this, several of my male friends were like “how can you let a few douchebag’s perception of you as an object dictate your identity?” And then they went back to watching porn and ignoring their girlfriends. But it’s not really a few douchebag’s perception; it’s everywhere: movies, tv, music, magazines, advertising, pornography, in the workplace, and stand up comedy. The television can’t be turned on without a woman being turned on. I hate seeing charicterizations of women in the media that have less purpose and emotional depth than a fleshlight. On an internal level, sexual objectification, and similarly sexual harassment can cause depression, body image anxiety, depleted sense of self worth, lack of sense of self, increased self consciousness, eating disorders, and sexual dysfunction. Since getting my boobies I have experienced all of these. On an external level, reducing women to objects has very negative consequences because when men begin to view women as a “thing” instead of a person studies show they are more likely to commit violent sexual crimes and gender bias and discrimination overall.

The media is culpable for sexualizing women. Magazines, tv and movies are permeated with images of woman being compared to inanimate objects or portrayed overtly sexualized. It is a trick advertisers use all the time. This effects the way both men and women view women in our society. When you think of a woman the same way you think of a car, you feel less guilty for slamming it into a tree or hanging fuzzy dice in it.

New Yorker writer Ariel Levy argues that Western women wear revealing clothing and endorse exploitation in the media which perpetuate female self-objectification. To research her book “Female Chauvinist Pigs” Levy followed around the Girls Gone Wild camera crew. Levy says that women reduce their self worth to their sexuality, and guising it all under the label of feminist sexual empowerment. She writes, “The proposition that having the most simplistic, plastic stereotypes of female sexuality constantly reiterated throughout our culture somehow proves that we are sexually liberated and empowered has been offered to us and we have accepted it.”

It feels horrible to see men objectify women but it feels way worse to see women willingly do it to themselves. In college I had a friend who used to make out with people at parties to get attention. One time she was having problems with a guy she worked with because she didn’t know how to be friendly to him without having sex with him. I was like, there has to be some middle ground between a hand shake and a bed shake. I thought she was a cool person, but she always seemed to completely lose her identity when she didn't have anyone to "perform" to. When we first started hanging out she told me she had problems relating to me because she was used to sleeping with people to get them to like her. I hate that a woman would do that to herself. She always wore miniskirts and low cut shirts to her job at Microsoft, but I guess you dress for the job you want, not the job you have. I remember watching her user her flirtiness to get attention at parties feeling dirty on the inside. I thought that can’t be healthy, it’s much better to be ashamed of your sexuality. At one party I watched a group of young boys feeding her alcohol and I got really protective of her and I tried to bring her water. Then while she was practically comatose, my boyfriend at the time commented on how hot she was and I felt insanely insecure and depressed. I had a nightmare that night that my boyfriend wanted to have a threesome with the two of us but it just turned into him cheating on me while I sorta sat in the bed feeling ignored.

I was raised by narcissists so I learned to internalize other people's feelings and feel them as my own. So when I see a woman objectify herself, I feel dirty, empty inside, violated, and void of an identity and existence. They think they're being sexually free spirited and adventurous, but if sluttiness is an adventure then I never want to get on that Indiana Jones ride. Sexuality is a varied and dynamic thing, not something that can be wrapped up in spandex and miniskirts. People think there's a power in stripping, doing porn, and flashing on girl's gone wild. And I guess there is a power in that, but it's the power that is pushing down on us, holding and polishing the glass ceiling above our heads.

I hate that girls are growing up in a society where movies and television are portraying women as these empty, vapid beings. I hate that the pinnacle for female sexuality is being constantly shoved down our throats and then bulimically regurgitated over and over again to impressionable minds. I hate that women competitively endorse and engage in self objectification. I can only optimisitically hope that in a culture with such brilliant and genuinely beautiful and thoughtful women as Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Julie Klausner we can grow into a society where women are considered and consider themselves subjects instead of objects.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dave the plumber

Dave the plumber stood in the stranger's bathroom, staring into the depths of the toilet, trying to imagine them, the food they ate, their favorite movies. He smiled shyly to himself as he dusted off the counter, wiping two long stray hairs into his palm. The hair was wiry and black and long, moist with tap water. He reached into his tool box and got out a ziplock baggie and sealed the hairs up and nestled the ziplock back in his tool box with several other identical baggies.

On his walk home from work Dave stopped by Sandy's Deli. He kept his eyes on the green and white tialed floor, letting familiarity guide him to the counter. Shyly, he looked up at the girl. She had brownish blonde hair that was in a greasy ponytail. Her pores were large and had bits of dirt collected in them.

"Hey, Dave, how is it going?"
"Ugghhh," he mumbled.
"The usual sandwich?"
"How's work?"

She handed him a paperbag with a smile that he ignored. He handed her the money and turned to go.

"M-M-My name is Deena," she said.

Dave turned back and looked at her. They made eye contact and then she hurriedly dropped his gaze and began picking up and then putting down various sandwich ingredients and utensils. Dave pocketed the brown paper bag and left the deli that he had come to every day for several years.

Outside on his walk home, Dave felt anonymous and simultaneously one with everything. He took his sandwich out of his pocket and began to eat it. It reminded him of the sandwich his mom made him when he was a sick child. It was the taste of absolute peace and comfort in being yourself, and yourself alone. Dave walked past streetlamps flickering on as night took over the quiet town.

The next day at work Dave was plunging away at a stranger's toilet when he felt some resistence. He shifted his weight against the plunger and began pushing and pulling harder and harder. He had something large and heavy on the end of it. He yanked hard upwards, plunging up a tuft of human hair, followed by a human head, followed by a surprised human being body.

"Hey," said the gentleman, shaking toilet water off his clothes.
"Hello?" said Dave in a quavering voice.
"My name is Steve and I am a sandwich maker."
"From the toilet?"
"What are you doing in the toilet?"
"Making sandwiches. Do you want one?"
"Yeah... actually... can I have a reuben?"
"May you?"

Steve the sandwich maker made Dave a sandwich that was more delicious than any sandwich he had ever tasted. Dave took Steve home with him and made him a tiny bed in his apartment where Steve was happy to reside, away from the stench of toilet land, and subsequently made Dave several sandwiches a day. Dave was very happy and well fed and his days got brighter and brighter and he began to love his job and his life and for once actually feel good about himself.

One day Dave was sitting on top of a park picnic table after a shitty day of work, enjoying a particularly nice sandwich while reading a book when a girl in a pink coat with long greasy brownish blonde hair walked toward him through the park. She kept her eyes on the ground a few feet in front of her and approached him, standing a few feet from him. She didn't say anything and then after a moment sighed.

"Hello," said Dave.
"Hey," said Deena.
Dave went back to eating his sandwich.
"Dave, you... where have you.... um," she said.
"It's me, Deena! From the sandwich shop!"
"I know."
"Well, you look... well..." She shifted her weight from foot to foot and messed up the back of her hair with her hand.
"Thanks," Dave said. "I feel well."
"You, just, stopped coming into Sandy's, without any word, no goodbye."
"I have to say goodbye to the sandwhich shop?"
"You came in for three years every day! How could you leave without saying goodbye?" Deena looked down, tears welling on her cheeks.
"Well, I don't... need you anymore," Dave said, befuddled.
"You don't need me?"
"Not you specifically. But, I met this guy in a toilet, right, who makes the best sandwiches in the world!"
"The best sand...?" Deena muttered trailing off. "Better than the ones I made you?"
"Yep, here have a bite," Dave handed her his sandwich.
Deena took the sandwich in her hands and looked at it and looked back at him in disgust.
"I can't believe you would say that. Sandwich making has been... my life. I built my identity around it. You know, I was happy. I liked my job and I liked... you. Then you had to come around and plunge away at my feelings! And, let me tell you this, there is no way that feeling of betrayal could taste half as good as the sandwiches I make!" Deena took a bite of the sandwich. "Holy shit..." she said softly to herself. She slowly ate the whole thing in silence, relishing every bite, and then turned her gaze back up to Dave.

The park grew darker and rain began to pour down on them. Deena stood, getting sopping wet in her pink coat, staring at Dave. Crumbs dribbled down her chin and mustard stained her hair. She rocked back and forth on her heals and tilted her head up, allowing the rain to wash onto her face, careening in rivers and pools around her sunken eyes and bony cheekbones. Leaving her in the growing damp darkness, Dave quietly packed up his tool box, pocketed the book he was reading and walked home.

Friday, June 17, 2011


John woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. Theresa lay beside him, sleeping. Her breath was deep and rhythmically even, her breasts rising and falling beneath the white sheet. John put his face in his hands and tried to drown out the screaming. It was the third night this week that he had been woken up by anguished tortured cries. He grew cold and quiet as he listened in the darkness. John looked over at the girl next to him. He bounced up and down violently on the bed, knocking a pillow off.

"What?" mumbled Theresa groggily.
"Oh, hey, sweetie, are you up?" John said.
"What do you want, John?"
"Do you hear that horrible noise?"
"Your voice?"
"No the screaming... it sounds like it's coming from down the hall."
"You're an idiot. There's no noise except you keeping me awake."
"You're not incredibly supportive of me," John said.
"Incredibly supportive? Don't be silly, John. I'm not at all supportive of you."

John sighed and scooted to the edge of the bed and climbed out. Wearing pajama pants and a loose fitting t-shirt His bare feet felt cool against the hardwood floor. He looked over his shoulder back at Theresa but her soft breathing had resumed. The high pitched angry screeching resumed, unlike any noise he had heard a human make before. John tip toed out of the bedroom and down the hall.

John and Theresa had moved into this house a few weeks ago and the night screaming had begun almost immediately. It seemed to be getting louder every night and Theresa never admitted to even hearing it.

The hallway was dark and empty, void of pictures and any of their little souvenirs of life. John heard the screaming growing louder as he walked down the hall, past the bathroom. He caught his reflection in the mirror peering at him in a sliver of light. His skin grew hot and beads of sweat began to gather at his neck. He walked past the living room and into the kitchen.

The kitchen felt simultaneously empty and crowded. The table was littered with Theresa's paperwork, scraps and emblems from a world he would never be a part of. Food piled across the counters that had been delivered by his mother. The many long windows looked black in the night. The smell of old rancid coffee perpetrated the white room.

In the middle of the kitchen stood a woman. She was screaming loudly and incessantly. She didn't stop to breathe when John moved toward her. She was completely naked, her pale body lumpy and soft like rolls of pretty vanilla pudding. Her breasts were large and free, hanging like dangling purses over her torso. Her thighs were round and hairless. She had long black hair dangling down her back in a tangled greasy tail.

Her screams came from deep in her abdomen, high and angry. They were the screams of someone lonely and desperate and lost and scared. They didn't sound like the cries of someone who had lost love, but rather of someone who believed they'd never find it, that they were destined to be alone forever. It was the shrill whining of self indulgent loneliness and hopelessness.

As John took a step toward the screaming anonymous woman she lifted her chin and he gasped and stopped his advancement. On the body of the beautiful, naked, screaming woman was his face. Not like, his face as it would be had he been born a woman, but his face exactly, feature for feature. He looked at his own stubble, his own crooked nose, his frowning lips gasping for air as they uttered scream after scream. His eyebrows shut up on both faces and the woman seemed even more terrified as she realized with surprise that she was looking at herself in him.

John walked to her and looked into his own eyes. Huge dark circles formed under them, purple and green with lack of sleep. Cavernous wrinkles embossed the outer edges of his eyelids. His lashes curled up. His eyes were shaking, frightened and red with crinkly bloodshot lines forming. On the woman his eyes blinked and then a puddle of tears cascaded from the stretched rims and down his bony cheeks. In his eyes he saw his past and his future staring back in the wildly confident endorsement that he was the only one who could see and hear this creature violently wailing in misery.

Standing a few feet from each other the woman shuddered and trembled. John took her face (or rather their face) in his hands and began kissing her on the full manly tear soaked lips. She let herself be kissed for a second and then stopped screaming and brought her hands to his face. The kiss was soft and sad at first and then it became angry and hungering. John ran his hands through the tangle of hair and began kissing her long thin neck. He let his hands fall to her naked, sweating legs and she wrapped her thighs around his waist. He picked her up and carried her to the kitchen table. Knocking over piles of Theresa's paperwork and an old half full coffee cup, he sat the woman on the table and dropped his pajama pants to his ankles and hooking her ankles around his neck.

Rain fell against the window and the wind roared in the chimney. Seconds and minutes and other units of time sped past quickly. John's house sat silently and calmly amongst the row of sleeping houses filled with quiet, simple people.

A few minutes later John returned to his bedroom. He paused at the foot of the bed, staring at Theresa. She lay still, with her eyes closed, but he could tell by her breathing that she was awake, listening, and waiting. John dropped the bloody knife to the floor by his side of the bed. It still had a few sheets of her paperwork sticking to it. A couple droplets of dark red ooze dripped onto the floor. He kicked it under the skirt of the bed. John sighed and wiped his warm moist hands on his flannel pajama pants. He climbed into the soft comfort of the bed, nestling into the sheets that were just as messed up as they had been when he had left.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sammy the Anxiety Troll

Sammy flipped through magazines, clearly bored. He sat on the floor of the squishy pink room, his green claw feet propped up on a cushion of soft nerve endings. He raked his nails through his green and purple fur, shedding dead skin, little bugs, and wayward hairs as he did so.

Apathetically, he leaned his scruffy head towards the eye windows and peered out. Bethany was standing in front of her closet gathering piles of tops over on arm. Sammy cocked his head to the side and watched as she smelled the armpits of various items. He shrugged and decided that it didn't mean anything. Humans sometimes need to smell something to remind themselves that they still exist. Sammy leaned back, snuggling in the comfort of her brain, feeling calm until he saw her reach for her makeup drawer. Sammy jumped up and ran to the eye window and peered out. Bethany never wore makeup! He watched as she applied the foundation, singing happily to herself as she trimmed her four haired mustache. Sammy swore to himself and stamped his foot in agitation in the soft squelchy ooze of her young brain.

Bethany was getting ready for her first date with Brian. She had picked out a very pretty top and was wearing her hair in the style she liked that made her feel like an astronaut. She slung her bag over her shoulder and walked to the bus stop to meet him.

Sitting with his arms crossed, Sammy growled as Bethany and Brian hugged hello. He had really been looking forward to spending the evening curled up in Bethany's brain watching Ally McBeal out her eyes while she wrote sad ukulele songs about lonely monsters and gave herself facials. What was the use being a social anxiety troll if the host chose to go out and live life? Sammy decided he wasn't going to sit on his haunches and take this offense in stride. He clapped his claws together and spring into action.

When Bethany laughed at one of Brian's jokes, Sammy put pressure on the nasal passage so the laugh erupted in an embarrassing snort. When Brian asked Bethany a polite question, Sammy tickled the conversational lobe so she was forced to grapple for an answer that came out in a stammering succession of nervous stutters. When Brian put his hand on the small of her back to guide her through the door, Sammy spit a cascade of monster saliva into Bethany's sweat glands, allowing sticky moisture to drip out in a salty ooze, saturating her armpits, neck, and back.

Bethany looked at Brian over the pasta dinner. She watched as he chatted with her going on and on about something she had to pretend was cool. She leaned over to carefully take a bite of pasta and her hand inexplicably involuntarily twitched, dumping the red saucy bite all over her lap. She laughed nervously, higher pitched and more nasally than her normal laugh and cleaned it up. Bethany hadn't realized how much she liked him, but her neurotic energy indicated a more serious impending attraction than previously assumed. When he touched her hand her heart raced so quickly that her chest hurt.

"I'm having a lot of fun," Bethany told Brian.
"What the hell?" asked Sammy. "How could you be having fun; you're uncomfortable!"
"Me too," said Brian.
"Seriously?" asked Sammy. "But she's being such a fucking dork!"
"I'm having a nice amiable time," Bethany said.
"You're having an agitated, anxiety ridden time!" screamed Sammy.
"You look adorable," Brian said.
"She looks sweaty and emotionally exacerbated!" said Sammy.

Sammy realized he was going to have to up his game. If he didn't do anything this could turn into a happy and fulfilling evening and he would be starved for anxiety. He would go hungry trying to scare Bethany back into agoraphobia and constant trepidation.

On the walk home Brian put his arm around Bethany and Sammy tried to make her stumble but unfortunately she didn't fall on her face. When Brian and Bethany got to her front door Sammy started to throw a violent tantrum.

"This was a fantastic date," Bethany said. She blushed and stammered, "I mean, it was a date, right? Is it a date? Forget I-I-I said date. I'm sorry. What?"
"It was a date," Brian agreed, smiling down.
"I... um... we should... do it..."
Brian's eyes widened as he waited for her to finish.
"...again some time?"
Her heart pounded uncomfortably and torrents of sweat drenched through her clothes. She looked up at him and he looked down at her. He moved closer, tilting his head. Bethany closed her eyes and began to violently shake.

Sammy angrily dived down towards Bethany's esophagus and tried to force her to throw up on Brian's face.

Bethany fought back a sudden burst of nausea and began hiccupping and shaking in a frenzy. She kissed Brian curtly and thanked him for dinner and they made vague idle plans to see each other again. Bethany let herself into her apartment. Still shaking in trepidation, she leaned against the door and tried to steady her heart beat and oxygen intake.

Brian walked home quietly looking down and frowning slightly to himself. Down inside him something rumbled as he tread farther away from Bethany's apartment. The tiny troll living inside Brian's penis was named Steve. Steve shook his fist in exasperation at the situation.

"How could you have possibly not closed the deal?" Steve muttered up the shaft to no response. "We did everything right to get into the pants and we didn't even get an invite upstairs. What a sucky first date!"

Steve folded his arms and tried to think of a way to punish Brian for fucking up so badly. He decided on the classic blue balls. It was never fun living inside of a penis, because obviously, penises are weird body parts.

Shaking his head, Brian let himself into his apartment. He poured himself a glass of water and locked himself in the bathroom to extricate his sexual tension, during which he missed a text from Bethany thanking him for the lovely evening.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Safety Dance

Every friday I give skype teleconferences telling young girls about the dangers of not using a condom, and the importance of being on birth control. I don't consider myself a hero, really, but I guess, in the sense that I make people think about the issues and help improve their quality of life, then yes, I guess I am a hero.

"Pregnant women are so beautiful!" That's what they say the second trimester. The third trimester they say "when is it coming the hell out?" The first trimester they say "you're glowing" which is correct because many of us are radioactive. That's how we get the adrenaline fueled power to lift cars off babies. The fourth trimester they say nothing at all.

Getting pregnant sucks. You get fat, gassy, stinky, tired and mean. There's nothing beautiful about it. Still it must be easier than being an actual mother.

I'll be giving this teleconference from my bed. I'm bed ridden right now, which is normal at my condition. My boyfriend left me a long time ago so my nurse has brought me a plate piled high with pancakes, pizza, and salad. She gives me a cup of milk as tall as a puppy. I used to be a size four! This is what you have to ingest into your body when you become like me. And that's why I'm here to talk to everyone.

Pregnancy is a condition that occurs when you intercourse another human being with his penis inside of you and he ejaculates without a condom and you're not on birth control and Al Green is on the tape deck and the curtains are carpet orange and the candles are almost burnt out and rose petals and twigs and moss rest on the foot of the bed and in your hair and down your throat and you cough but you're choking and he's too busy ejaculating so you heimlich yourself. Now that doesn't sound like it feels good at all, does it?

I have been pregnant for four years now and I don't appreciate it. Several of my friends have gotten pregnant after me and already had their babies, which really sucks, because none of them are friends of mine anymore. My stomach is the size of an anorexic baby shetlund pony, or I might as well say, it's the size of a four year old child.

A lot of mothers don't name their child until it's born. They look into his eyes and somehow they just know what his name is. But I felt like I needed to name him before he was born, because he already feels like he is alive inside of my uterus, or at least it did after he started talking. When I first heard his voice I knew in my heart that he was a Simon.

"Mom," Simon said.
"Yes, honey?"
"Are you doing your teleconference about how you hate being pregnant with me?"
"Oh sweetheart," I said, appalled. "I don't hate being pregnant with you. I just hate being pregnant period."
"No such thing as a pregnant period," he said.
"That's right, sweetie! Good job. Do you want a cookie? Mommy will eat a cookie and digest it for you!"

It's especially awkward in preschool. Some of the other mothers go to preschool with their children, but I'm clearly the most involved. No one can see when he raises his hand so I have to yell out 'Simon is raising his hand, he's got something to say! Everybody listen! Shut up! Listen! He's got lots of placenta muffling his voice so listen!' And it could potentially be uncomfortable. I can't even imagine what it will be like when he goes to college, at his first job, at his wedding, his wedding night...

So that's why I'm telling everyone: wear condoms, take birth control, wear diaphrams, get an IUD, do it all, all at once, do it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

clean up time

The apartment was mostly empty, void of furniture, art, food, and everything that could potentially elicit an emotional sensation. The two boys sat on the grey couch. Al flipped channels rapidly on the tv. Steven fidgeted, rubbing his hands over each other drying out his skin, and shuffling his feet against the floor. Dust lay over the arm of the couch smiling in the dull light as dirt accumulated around the corners of the door.

"So what are we doing in Jennifer's apartment?" Steven asked.
"Watching tv," Al said.
"But... why not watch tv next door at our place?"
"We're making new friends," Al said.
"So where's Jennifer?"
"Who cares?"
"When's she coming home?" Steven asked.
"You're so inquisitive. She said to wait for her here."
"How badly do you want to sleep with her?" Steven asked.
"This is boring."
"I kinda want to... clean her apartment," Steven said.
"Why?" Al asked.
"Is that okay? I just... need to do it."

Steven got up and began opening closets. Al surfed programs while staring at his knees. Steven let himself into the kitchen and started cleaning with mismatched rags. A wave of relaxation washed over him. Humming, he did the dishes and allowed himself to slip into a trance like state. Steven unconsciously let himself into the bedroom and gasped.

The bedroom reeked of old socks. Piles of clothes and garbage heaved over each other so much that Steven couldn't see the floor. A rat scrambled across Steven's sneaker. The bed was filled with bits of cheese and sauce and other food remnants. Jars of pee lined the wall, glowing unhealthily.

"Oh, god," Steven mumbled, trembling in terror, sweat percolating on his forehead and cultivating in his arm pits.

A huge burrito about five feet long and three feet wide lay in the bed. It was dripping with cheese and red sauce oozing onto the bed. Steven clutched his heart as the burrito twitched in the darkness.

"What?" said the burrito.
"Oh my god the disgusting mess is making me hallucinate," Steven said.
"I object to being called a mess. Why are you in here, Steven?" the burrito said.
"How do you know my name? I don't even like processed dairy. Artificial growth hormones frighten me."
"You're an idiot." Jennifer pushed back the tortilla of the burrito and sat up in bed, bits of salsa in her hair, guacamole down her chin.
"Jennifer? Is that really you?"
"Little early in the morning for existential ponderings."
"Morning? It's 4:00. Were-were-were you sleeping in a burrito?" Steven asked.

Steven scratched his arm uncomfortably. Drapes covering the window kept the room in darkness. Arm pit juice and body odor seeped into his pores and he coughed uncomfortably. His breath caught with a caustic burn inside his lungs.

"Yes, I guess." Jennifer said. "I was eating it for dinner last night in bed and I just crawled and inside and snuggled the fuck outta the rice and beans."
"Me and Al are watching t.v," Steven said.
"Oh god, why... why... are you... people here people people humans."
"Jennifer?" he asked, shaking.
"I want to go back to sleep in my burrito," she said.
"You're... sick?"
"Want a corner of tortilla?" she said.
"Al really likes you."
"Oh," she muttered deadpan and sarcastically. "Great. A human being who likes me. Just what everyone always wants. Social interaction with others. It's a dream come true."

Jennifer climbed out, dripping with burrito juice off of her sweat stained pee covered pajamas. She approached Steven and stood confidently in front of him, arms crossed. He tried not to recoil.

"Does Al know... you are ill?" Steven asked.
"We had a date scheduled last month. I told him to wait for me in the living room and I'd take a quick shower," she said. "But, in my room, watching and listening to him from behind the door, I just couldn't leave the safety."
"The safety of being a disgusting sloppy mess?"
"Right. After I stood him up that date, I guess he just assumed that I got the date wrong, because he's been back here every night since then, waiting."
"Come out and talk to him," he said.
"I don't want to. I don't want to talk to anyone. Ever."

Jennifer looked towards the door and took a step towards the threshold. Steven's heart beat a little quicker. She looked at the sliver of light peeking through the door from the living room. She listened to the cackling sounds of television. She breathed out of her mouth, closed her eyes and walked back towards her bed.

Steven watched, frozen silently as Jennifer slowly took off each item of her pajamas until she was naked, hairy, overweight, pimply, and utterly vulnerable and alone. Her eyes looked past him and everything and nothing, empty and void of any feeling, desire, hope and optimism. Her lips slightly parted, not out of sexiness, but out of apathy and too much laziness to muster up the effort to close them. Naked, she breathed deeply, looked at Steven, and nodded with her head slightly cock to the side.

Steven quietly removed his shirt, his sneakers, his jeans, as if in a trance, as if out of obligation and boredom, until he was completely undressed. Jennifer looked at his eyes sadly, then dropped her gaze down and gave his body a once over. She seemed thoughtful for a moment and gave a short, curt nod and then climbed back into her burrito sleeping bag. She covered her face, hair, and head and Steven could hear the sound of nibbling and swallowing from inside.

He redressed promptly and neatly and left the bedroom and walked slowly into the living room. Steven stood behind the back of the couch, watching Al's head. Shadows of a Friends rerun flickered across Al's face. Steven silently headed towards the front door to leave. Without acknowledging his friend and roommate leaving, Al allowed the tears to freely flow from his stoic unmoving eyes as Steven let himself out the front door.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pick the puppy

Dr. Riderpoop bent over the child, dangling his gold pocket watch from his steady fingers. The little boy peered up at him from beneath bright red hair and a dusty speckle of freckles. His hospital gown gathered clumpily along his knees and he swayed slightly, eyes glazed over, with a blank face.

"Do you want him to be more shy or more outgoing?" Dr. Riderpoop asked.
Mr. and Mrs. Stephenson huddled together. His arm was around his shoulder. She was shaking slightly.
"Are you sure this is safe?" Mrs. Stephenson asked.
"Very. We've been psychologically engineering children for years now," the scientist said.
"And it's just like... hypnosis?" Mr. Stephenson said.
"Yeah but I don't make them pull down their pants and act weird."
"Unless you want that."
"Can you do anything about his red hair?" asked Mrs. Stephenson. "I heard it's a weaker gene."
"No," said Dr. Riderpoop. "Hair color is not a mental trait."
"Can we come back for tune ups to his personality?" Mr. Stephenson said.
"Certainly, it's like a hairstyle, you gotta cut it off before it gets atrociously ugly."

Dr. Riderpoop ran his calloused hand through the kid's red hair. The hypnotist looked around his office and felt the same hesitation he felt at every adoption engineering. The room was clean and organized, smelling of science, despite the fact that most of the science conducted was in their minds. He couldn't let the parents see his hesitation. The parents were scared and nervous and mildly hysterical. Maybe they had lost a child or were unable to conceive. They were unsure of what they wanted but they knew it had to be perfect. The doctor couldn't let them know that he wasn't sure what the kids would turn out like. He wasn't sure what would happen to their souls, or even what the soul was. He just had to take a deep breath and lie to the parents while he dove in and fucked around with fingerpaint in their future children's heads.

And when Dr. Riderpoop went home to take care of his own elderly father, Dr. Riderpoop senior, he put his head in his hands while his father gave him a cup of hot cocoa and a reassuring pat on the shoulder.

"You're a good son," the father would say. And the young scientist would shrug, not knowing that the biological implication was flimsier than supposed, as his father fingered his own gold pocket watch beneath the table.