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Waiting to Board the Cake

March 25, 2009

Once, I was married for a few months; a second time I came close. All my horoscopes and fortunes predicted these events. When I was fifteen, an old lady in a cardigan glanced at my tea leaves and declared I would find love on the West Coast. An allegedly psychic friend predicted the colour of my future love’s hair. Neither mentioned that one of these partners would be female, but aside from this large detail, the fortunes were dead right.

My affairs seemed cast, unavoidable, helpless against the bossy Fates. I celebrated the end of my marriage with reckless make-out sessions, unconsumated flings, and eventually settled down with the woman who’d kept me in martinis and platonic dates during the rough break-up months.

Then we, too, parted ways. I removed her diamond from my left hand, and another cascade of dating ensued: young men who’d loved me from a distance while lamenting “If only you weren’t so gay!”; a (male) client whose file I pulled after the office Christmas party; random girls gone wild in pretty lipstick and men’s neckties. All of this, thank goodness, remains safely stowed in my twenties, when flimsy intimacy didn’t seem short-sighted, didn’t seem exhausting, didn’t seem slightly grotesque.

Now, those episodes are just pecadillos, mischievous and fun but tiring and empty. At nearly-36, I join girlfriends for after-work cocktails, and as nights grow sloppy, we play a game called “What Would It Take?” As in, what would it take for you to become someone’s kept woman? Like the novel Sister Carrie, without the disadvantages, depression, or premature death.

We dream up arrangements that permit us to be kept without being compromised (as if by its very nature, “kept” does not imply “compromised”). Of course, we want genuine affection, not some arms-length situation rooted in gifts and gratuity-sex, but since the right men aren’t coming along, we cook up interim plans.

“If he buys me cute shoes, is handsome and thinks I’m keen, but gives me space to do my own thing and leaves me alone during the week, hey, I’ll suck cock on Fridays,” Agnes once declared. The bartender overheard and cut off our service although we weren’t even approaching drunk. I’m sure he could tell things would only grow more crass the more martinis he poured on top of our attitudes.

I once baked a wedding cake for a pair of friends–in due course, their situation reached an untimely end with him waking one morning to announce, “I think I liked getting married more than being married.” My sister is recently divorced. My brother is raising his son with an ex. Several seemingly settled friends have joined me in singlehood these past few weeks. Rather than feeling weird, alone, left out, I stand in good company–on my own feet, a little shattered, a little fragile, but good. I’m neither a ruined woman nor a shrink-wrapped bride-to-be waiting to board the cake.

These days, men are telling me I’m pretty for the first time in my life. And, now and then, I agree. I’m not sure what this means–their attention, my cautious nod that yes, maybe, I kinda look rather fine. Perhaps they detect a glowing halo of biology, beckoning me (and them) to something more solid. Tick tick tock.

Or, maybe, I’ve just learned to wear the right shoes, cosmetics, pantyhose, and smile.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. looka permalink
    March 26, 2009 3:35 am

    Maybe it’s just me connecting it with that in my recently not-so-brain:

    But I like reading a note of suspense in your writing. It’s not on the surface though.
    And not in the outcome of the stories or the way that people move in them. Or a blant kind of drama that only engages until the next gunpowdery spiced moment comes along to shoot the pace up again.
    Chemically Tabasco like.

    More, how you sum things up in a paragraph/phrase, reduced in a tasty and crisp way. The one-two punches you land, served with a smile.

    The way details pop up, seemingly out of nowhere, and conclude to the weigth and taste of what there is to say.

  2. Amanda permalink
    March 26, 2009 9:11 am

    The one-two punch! The suspense! Tasty crisp phrases! Delicious!

  3. looka permalink
    March 27, 2009 6:37 am

    You mean me? No way!

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