People Who Are Good People
When we left the bar, we went to his apartment because he wanted to
show me the religious tracts he'd brought home from church earlier that
day. This would normally be a red flag, but he told me he was an
atheist so I figured it would be okay.
I kept hitting my head on things: a lamppost, a window, his coffee
table, his refrigerator door. This was also okay because I laughed
every time to make it seem like I didn't hurt, like this was all just
part of the fun, the same as the White Russians and creepy religious
He didn't like it when I called the religious tracts creepy. He told me
he didn't think they were creepy. We spent quite a bit of time looking
through the tracts and discussing them, mostly him discussing them I
think, but I don't remember what he said if you want the honest truth.
Although it was made clear to me that I was not allowed to poke fun at
the religious materials, he did reassure me over and over again that
when he'd told me earlier he didn't believe in God, he'd meant it. I
appreciated his consistency on that point.
Consistency is comforting. I would like more consistency in my life.
Eventually I fell off the couch and hit my head again and he picked me
up and carried me to the bed and left the religious tracts on the
coffee table. I was feeling a little bad about myself because I knew
that I was being slutty. That morning, while the atheist was at church,
before I met him or knew that he existed, I was waking up next to
someone else, another person who was almost a stranger.
When I woke up next to this other person and looked at this other
person's face, I'd realized it was covered in makeup. Not my makeup.
Makeup he himself must have applied before we'd met: subtle makeup,
doll-flesh colored for his skin. It was clumping up, gathering in the
wrinkles next to his eyes, ringing his pores, making everything on his
face enormous and fake and disgusting. I'd never seen man makeup
before. I don't know if he got it in Taiwan, or from a theater supply
company, or if it was just Cover Girl liquid foundation from Walgreen's.
I felt like the makeup thing should give me a free pass, because
sleeping with that guy had so clearly been a mistake. I shouldn't be
held accountable for a man wearing makeup. There was nothing I could
do about that. It was out of my hands. Having sex with the atheist
would be like a do-over.
I had already stopped feeling bad about myself by the time the atheist
took my pants off. He went down on me, but not particularly well, so I
started thinking about the makeup guy again.
I think that I'm probably a shallow person, I said to the atheist. I
think that I'm probably a shallow person but I also don't really care
about that. I don't care about that because I feel like I'm not as
shallow as a shallow person who has never realized that they're a
shallow person, and this is good enough for me.
After I say that he changes his technique, and things get a little
better. I look around his bedroom in the half-dark, searching for signs
of something. The things that make a person. There's a cactus on an
Ikea desk next to a printer, a jar of loose change. I don't see any
books. He has an Indian head tattoo on his shoulder. I am part Indian.
There's unwashed laundry in the corner. I would normally find the idea
of an Indian head tattoo offensive, but in this context it wasn't so
bad. It didn't seem like such a bad idea when it manifested itself on
the shoulder of a person who was performing oral sex on me. I have not
seen any books anywhere. I can't remember if there were magnets on the
refrigerator. Maybe. Yes. Maybe a magnet from a dentist's office and a
coupon for delivery pizza. Yes. Round Table. There are still no books.
My head hurts. I turn my head to press it against the cool of the
sheets. There's a lamp and a box of Kleenex and a picture of a dog on
the nightstand. It's the only picture I've seen in his apartment. The
only picture I've seen is of a dog.
Dog people are good people. People who like dogs are good people. I
like people who are good people. I close my eyes.
Andrea Kneeland has work in or coming from The Collagist, American Letters & Commentary,
Caketrain, SmokeLong Quarterly and others. A collection of hers, The Birds & the Beasts,
is forthcoming from Cow Heavy.
To link to this story directly: http://wigleaf.com/201008people.htm
Detail of photo on main page courtesy
of Warm Sunny Days.
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