Theis about to launch its new newsletter that highlights a rotation of essayists, storytellers, poets, visual artists, and more. The newsletter will be published three times a week and the first installment is set to be sent tomorrow! My submission will be the 2nd installment, set to be published on February 3rd. (Sign up!)
I never feel anxiety over my writing, no fears and no worries. I’m confident of word and idea. However, submitting a piece to a man I respect,gave me a new-to-me anxiety. . . What will he think? Does it meet his standard or expectations? Will he rue the day he met me and my most boring of all tongues? So after working hard on my fiction piece for days on end, in a fit of fear I also wrote an essay to submit to Tom. Being neurotic feels like a fourth cup of coffee on three hours of sleep.
He liked my fiction piece, thus that will be published on Friday, and my fear-induced essay is below. It exceeds the 500 word limit, but I promise to respect your time and keep them short for a while!
If you find the right sinew inside a flayed fetal pig and give it a slight tug, you can animate its tendril tail. Connection to life and death is all but lost because fetal pigs are free of blood. Their color is drab, not yet pink of cooked shrimp, and never to be the pink of pig.
When I was 9 years old, my mom went back to college part-time and graduated when I was 15. Over 6 years and two husbands, she earned a biology degree as a “non-traditional student”. Tho the descriptor “non-traditional” fit even her non-student status.
Little litters of could’ve-been-pigs populated our home for my mom’s dissection homework when I was 14, and I’d show the tail-trick to all my friends, especially the squeamish ones. Where a flower arrangement once stood on our dining room table, there was now a porcine fetality. The unforgettably idiosyncratic scent of formaldehyde wafted from its tray. Put winter in a cellar and make it sweat with fear, and you’ll get the smell of formaldehyde. Cruel and cold.
I sniffle and drip in your phenol atmosphere until you hand me a tissue of elderly flesh. Being told to “blow” with a tissue in your grip elicits a different meaning than being told to “blow” with a boy in your hand. My first fellatio was also at the age of 14. A second dissection, but my tools were tongue and curiosity.
Which of us is pinned to the tray and which of us wears the gloves?
How often are you the pig of fetal and how often are you the scalpel of peel?
This Little Piggy Went to Market.
Two blocks off Market Street, I stood alone by the window and watched the sun set on San Francisco as the wedding reception exalted in the ballroom behind me.
I was a land-locked bridesmaid in a wedding full of pilots. One approached, suddenly by my side. He had Tom Cruise saunter but in a taller body. Tho it was the balding and belly-bulging Les Grossman of the movie Tropic Thunder that was Cruise’s most swaggering role. He commanded the scene and commanded me. I will do what I’m told til I don’t want to do it anymore, the most aggravating form of submissive.
The pilot introduced himself, keeping one hand in his pocket and one in a careful, confident grip around his drink like a neck about to be choked. I extended my hand, so he exasperatedly freed his, and we shook. I was taught early by my mom to shake hands instead of just nod or wave. “You can tell a lot by the way someone shakes your hand, especially a man,” she’d say.
“So you’re a pilot,” I restated factually. Then, with genuine inquisitiveness, I continued, “does that require some sort of a God complex?” A single bridesmaid is usually a sure thing sexually, but he departed and fucked another instead.
This Little Piggy Stayed Home
The home is where most children are molested. What an archaic-sounding term. Rather, the home is where most children are sexually assaulted. In Spanish, molestar is the verb “to bother,” and I had to explain to my Spanish teacher what “molest” is often used for in American English.
Children don’t ask for sexual touch. The feel of clinically precise invasion. We have no part in it. It is not coercion, it is assault with a chaser of manipulation. If you are touched in the individual openness of a little living room, then you will hide behind the couch until you feel it is safe to come out. But it won’t feel safe for decades.
This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef
The last red meat I ever ate fell from a man’s pants. A gift in my 20s from one of my mom’s married friends who liked to flirt with me. He was one of those men who still appeared boyish even in his 50s, maybe from youthful enthusiasm or the jolly-cheeked flush of alcoholism. I would let him hug me too long and gratify him by laughing when he’d whisper forcefully in my ear, “if it’s eatin’ it ain’t cheatin’.”
As a joke, he shoved several pounds of shrink-wrapped beef tenderloin into his jeans and gregariously pushed his pelvis toward me. I unzipped the edible gift, and the next night 10 of us gathered at my mom’s to feast on free meat, if meat is ever really free. I haven’t eaten beef since.
And This Little Piggy Had None
Why did one pig go to the market to buy roast beef and then not share? What a strange moral for children. Isn’t the “This Little Piggy” nursery rhyme simply an introduction to selfishness and foot fetishes?
My first fellatio at 14 was with my best friend’s boyfriend. He was also my first kiss and later my first sex at 16, but we never dated. We were never “public.” His was the first penis I’d ever seen up close and I incised it with my eyes; the ripples and ledges, the slit and smoothness. Whether coke or cock, if your first experience is perfect, it’s easy to get hooked.
One summer night after we’d had sex, he took me with him to drive through the Taco Bell parking lot to “see who was hanging out.” My face gave casual but my insides were in a burst. The sheer joyful validation of being seen together. . . alone. . . at night. He drove slowly, because how fast can you drive with only one palm on the wheel and an elbow slicing the summer air outside? I gobbled up every single slow moment of the roll-by, wanting people to see me with him. Maybe they’d lean their heads in to say hello and smell me on his attempt at a beard.
My unstitchable wound of being wanted only when the doors were closed led me to believe horrible truths about myself until I chose to focus my romance on the unavailable. . . the older men, the married men. Sex was scarce, but desire, want, and feigned intimacy were pervasive enough to crush any knowing wife and make me fear karmic retribution even years after I morally sobered up.
So terrified of being manipulated or hurt, I missed that I was still the one wagging the unborn pig’s tail. Trapped in a formaldehyde home all alone, I was the piggy with none.
This Little Piggy Went Wee Wee Wee All the Way Home
Photos from the 2008 San Francisco wedding. Pilot not pictured, the fella above was the groom’s blast of a flight attendant brother.
I wish there was a text equivalent to reaction videos I could respond with so you could see the ups and downs of my thoughts and accompanying expressions.
"He had Tom Cruise saunter but in a taller body."
"Tho it was the balding and belly-bulging Les Grossman of the movie Tropic Thunder"
Shit I did NOT expect the Tom Cruise kicking to continue!
"One summer night after we’d had sex, he took me with him to drive through the Taco Bell parking lot"
And now I know everything about him.
You do a sentence like this: “Put winter in a cellar and make it sweat with fear, and you’ll get the smell of formaldehyde. Cruel and cold. “ yet somehow the fiction is going to be even better? Do not know how that is even possible but I can hardly wait.