Sunday, January 15, 2012

Red Underwear ... a Sample

Originally Published in Story Magazine Spring 1998

I ran this ad, you see, because I was tired of being a lonely guy.  For the last couple of years, since my wife ran away with her dance teacher, I've regretted the days because they catch me in their desolate clutches.  I know I don't exist by myself on some vast island, but I am alone.  Sure there is the mailman who drops envelopes through the slot in my door; there is the upstairs neighbor's dog who whines every night at the wind; and there are the boys on my job at Zippy Delivery who aren't too deep.  I asked one of them, “What is life?”  He said that life was pussy.  That's all he could think of.  So despite all of that stimulation along with the animal sounds of the city and   the man and woman next door who beat on and love on each other until dawn, I was still lonely.
I went to the bars.  But bar people try too hard to be cool and sultry, as if they're owners of the universe and their silk clothes and gold neck chains are vestments of royalty.  I found myself silently berating them.
“Hi. My name is Henry,” I'd say to some sleepy-eyed woman. I'd get a blank stare as if I was the smoke that they had just blown from their cigarette.  “Probably just a Hospital shit toter,” I'd say to myself.  But those negative thoughts only made me more bitter.
No, bars aren't good places to meet people if you are down to earth and sincere.  Besides they sound like garbage can factories--”CRASH BAM BAM BOOM!”  I don't have a loud voice so I had to get real close to talk.  I worried about my breath, so I always suffered from anxiety when I approached a chick.  You see, I'm not too handsome either and the girls get righteously indignant if an ugly guy comes too close.  I'm 5'4”, skinny and bowlegged--I look like a wishbone when I'm naked. These glasses make me look owlish.  If I were a Tom Cruise or Denzel Washington, women would have welcomed me to run my tongue over their eyelids.  But for a guy like me, bars do more harm than good.
So I ran an ad in a local magazine.  It said:


Yes, I placed this ad.  I meant to put a comma between nice and brown.  I kind of worried about that.  I didn't want to confuse anyone as to whether I was saying I was nice or had nice brown eyes.  There is a difference.  Lots of guys have nice brown eyes but will put their fist in a woman's mouth before she can say “I do.”  Me, I am nice with brown eyes.  And that phone number, I thought it was clever.  Now the money deal may have been a bit of a come-on, but I really hoped that when the dough ran out, I'd be left with a nice girl, kind of by default.
I'm a great believer in default.  We are alive by default.  We are the eggs that didn't die and wash out in our Mother's blood.  We are the ones who survived the pill or leaked out of a busted condom.  And even if our parents planned us, we weren't the ones they wanted.  We are what they got.  So there's lot of validity in the principle of default.  That's why I was applying it in my quest for a nice girl.
Lots of girls called 881-LOVE.  Even a few guys--the husky voice: “Hello, I'm Tiger. I give heavenly massages . . . “Of course I hung up on them.  But Like I said, a lot of girls called. A few were only interested in my American Express number. One lady said she was a Pentecostal Minister, had six children, was trying to start her own church, and the Lord put it in her heart to call my number.  I told her that the person I wanted had already answered my ad.  The lady broke out in heaves of sobs.   She swore, when she caught her breath, to wring the devil's neck for putting rocks in her path of righteousness. The woman cried until I promised to send her a donation.   She kept calling me and asking had I given God his share.  I sent her a hundred dollars and never heard from her again.
Let me say this--It's strange the feelings you get when you run a personal ad.  You're giddy with power and confidence.  You dream of luscious women who are going to call, cry into the telephone, and say “I've been waiting to meet you all of my life!”  All of that is what you imagine.  You don't feel your own desperation until you see your ad surrounded by boxes of SWF's, SBF's, SBM's, and SWM's--all of those initials seeking love, and your own ad sticks out like a gout infested toe.  You get mad because you had to resort to this.  You had to beg for love and friendship.  But you try to have hope.  You make yourself believe you've done the normal thing and you will meet the right person.  Or so you think.

End of Sample

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