They weren’t the first words I spoke to Stephen, but they were the first marinated in mustering up the courage to ask him out and bump uglies already. We were seated in the back of Mr. Duffy’s classroom, me having just royally failed my senior AP History midterm, due largely in part to already being accepted into art school and also because I was distracted by my first real, bawling-in-my-car-outside-Kenny’s-house teenage breakup. I had turned 180 in my seat to face him and breathily proposition an afternoon date: You. Me. Voracious ripping of meat from bone. Red hot smacking of lips. Guys like girls who can eat, I read in a Cosmopolitan once and had inferred from those “didn’t age well” mid-2000’s burger & beer commercials starring chesty bottle blondes and a firehose, inexplicably.
“That was the fun of the unknown, after all, the anticipatory ‘What if?'”
The name of the store was “Possibilities,” which I frequented with my friend at the time, Kara, the only Pisces in my life I’ve ever befriended. It sat next to a therapist’s office right off Pittston Avenue in Scranton, a therapist I visited only once at my mother’s urging after my parents divorced, but that’s not what this is about (although the timing of traumatic childhood event and thinking I was a witch pairs nicely, like spicy red wine and a good cut of meat.)
“You’ll never reach the center of an only child’s Tootsie Pop, the layers of narcissism run so deep.”
The hankering for fame like no other started as early as I can remember. I was an only child, so the center of attention simply by default, and I thrived most in climates where I was the focal point of the room. By four or five, I was already destined to be a Rockette at best, a groupie at worst, always discovered by my parents moving wildly in the center of some dance floor filled with drunk adults.
My father stood beside the wilted orange tiger lilies on the side of our house. So small and fragile compared to the grand spectacle in the sky. A meteor shower, a celestial trajectory of cosmic debris. Thousands, bright and fast, cascaded from the infinite galaxy to Earth. Earth, where my father and I stood, awestruck. I squinted to take it all in, despite my poor vision. “You’ll never see this again in your lifetime,” he said. His voice was ominous, echoing off the siding.
I fought to find the features of his face in the dark, grasping the unattainable, like catching a shooting star in a jar for keepsake.
A True Story of Culture Shock, False Promises and That Time I (Almost) had a Sugar Daddy
“You have a nice figure, Gringa. But you could still get a little more meat on your bones.”
That’s what Jim matter-of-factly suggested to me, right after gesturing his big, expensive gold watch in front of my face towards the passenger seat where I clutched my cell phone with a sweaty palm and frowned down at said bones, the knobby knees and bony thighs I had since childhood. He was shaking his head, craning to leer at the petite females we could see through my window, blonde ponytails swinging as they jogged Kelly Drive, headphones in, oblivious to his judging stares. “Why do white girls like to work out so much? You see so many of these pretty little things running and it’s like girl, you don’t even have an ass, why you tryin’ to get rid of the fat you don’t even have? I don’t like that. I like girls with curves.” Then that chuckle of his – that infantile giggle like he just got away with doing something he shouldn’t have – followed by an emission of cigar breath. I didn’t agree nor refute. I sat there silent and dumb, as I always did and always would in his presence, only this time I had the unwelcome thought that I really should have learned how to jump out of a moving vehicle if it ever came to that. It didn’t, but the reminder tingled at the base of my skull as I checked my phone for the tenth time that minute.