Last night J and I had dinner/drinks with the illustrious same-sex lovers Sara Seinberg and Ginger Robinson. They were both still fuming– or at least markedly frothy– over some vociferous man-type person who had been muttering to himself all through the produce department in a distinctly pay-attention-to-my-impo(r)tant-innerlife way. And the indispensable analysis he was offering to our fair protaganists? White corn is a gimmick.

Ginger, a long-haired southern Butch, deteriorates into pure genius whenever confronted with idiocy and/or grandstanding: “There are 300 varieties of corn. And he’s decided white corn is a gimmick?! Please. ‘Oh, I’m not gonna buy that blue corn, that’s a gimmick.'”

In honor of the men who take up too much space another tale. This, my own, from trying to study just once in Providence while young and attractive. I moved outside to the bench where I thought J still had a good view of me, not realizing that I was effectively blocked out by the edge of the building. I was not much more comfortable out there but decided that at least with the time constraint and the lack of distraction, I could get through a few more lines.

“Hey,” the man saw me sitting, innocently, absolutely absorbed in something very difficult on the bench, “we don’t have to be back right away. Let’s sit down for a bit.”

His friend looked at me and then looked over at his BMW M3 (1998) parked a full four feet from the curb, requiring traffic to swerve around him, and then followed him to the bench. He sat down a few inches from me and it became immediately clear that his companion was a dyke and he was the kind of man that thinks that the right way to talk to dykes is by acting like an asshole. Or possibly he was just an asshole.

“I can make girls’ skirts blow up just by thinking about it,” also the type who didn’t require a second person in order to have a conversation, “yeah, it’s true. I sort of think of it like my gift to men. Sometimes I’m waiting for the bus or something and I see a girl and I just make the wind blow her skirt up as sort of a public service for all the guys around me,” also the type who has probably never been to a bus stop.
“Are those projects? I think they are. Where I grew up, those would be PJ’s,” clearly this man has grown on MTV. I assume the woman is nodding or, I hope, gazing off and trying to think about other things so as not to lose a lot of time listening to whatever treatise her coffee ride is about to expound.
Fortunately a man who seems to know the two comes up and proceeds to talk to the proud BMW-owning, pj-expert, telekinetic skirt man. Softer spoken, I can slog through another few lines. Then a paragraph. Then a page. Then I can turn the page- make a few notations and check the index for all the occurrences of a philosopher the writer just cited. In three days this is the farthest I’ve gotten and I hope that coffee guy leaves with nice guy. Instead nice guy walks away alone, I realize I am wearing a short skirt, and coffee guy announces that they can stay for a full 13 minutes before heading back to the shoot. Oh. They’re t.v. people. This man certainly thinks of himself as a metropolitan guy— slumming it in suburban America and endlessly exotic to all the people he meets.

“That guy hates us, can you tell,” he’s talking to me now. I can’t move because it means he’s won so I sit still and try to minimize the barrage by keeping my head down, answering rudely, acting oblivious the fact that he’s fixed on my cleavage, and reading on.

“I couldn’t tell. I wasn’t listening.”

He looks up now, and, matter-of-factly, “Yes you were, but that’s alright.”

He and his companion talk a little longer and I successfully keep out of the conversation but am no longer able to read so I wait, willing them to leave. I have a special power to make men’s balls fly off, I think of telling him. But that would definitely escalate to some physical violence on my part so I just sit still.

“That looks so boring. No one would read that on purpose. You have to read that for class. Don’t you?”
“Yes.” Keep reading. Keep looking down.
“Look at that! She’s reading, what is it? “Nothingness and Religious Worldview,’ she’s bored to tears, look at it. You can’t even understand it.”
I say nothing.
“You don’t get it do you. What class is it for.”
My plan, which I know will be fruitless, is to scare him away with things he does not understand. My new plan is to set him up so I can say something of unparalleled cruelty. I hope I can think of something in time.
“Contemporary Japanese Buddhist Philosophy.”
“WOW! That sounds BOR-ing. They make you take that, don’t they?”
“Actually, I designed the course, I am only reading this English translation of the original because not everyone in the class speaks Japanese fluently and I have to teach it next week.”
“Oh. Open mouth. Insert foot.”
Ohhh, Open blender. Insert dick.”Hm. I could have gone to graduate school.”
“But- you know, too much reading and writing.”

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