She’s hiding in the linen closet of her woes. Beyond that she carries a pair of scissors, ready to take snips at the fabric of her vulnerability, or the fabric of world that surrounded her, or just the fabric. Badass surface, yet fragile underneath–that’s what she is although she cannot admit it. That’s how I see her when she uses the word ‘piss’ instead of ‘pee’, when I know she does so deliberately like it were some form of rebellion. She thinks it makes her appear less feminine, more “dude-like”, because that’s what she wants me to identify. But in truth it works quite the opposite. She is in every way delicate, if the word could take human form and walk around my apartment in boxer shorts and a tank, no bra.
She doesn’t talk about love because she thinks it’s the last thing in my head. Talking about it might scare me away like all the other men before me. She thinks I think I own her, and in her eyes I’m like all the rest: a man who thinks with his penis. Maybe I am, because my penis thinks about her all the time. I don’t tell her this obviously because women don’t take to that kind of honesty so well. If they think anything like men at all, it will come off more as flattery than offense. So I remain the dickbrain in her perception. She never considers the implication that my penis never thinks of other girls. I’m not sure if I could convince her that I can’t break away from her power, that her allure drives me nuts with very little effort.
She never fails to be attractive in my eyes. There are women you are head over heels for one moment and tired of the next, but she’s nothing of the sort. Nowadays, I’m actually beginning to worry whether I am attractive to her all the time as well, something I never used to be bothered by. When she says stuff like “Wear anything, I don’t care.” I find myself looking for a better shirt. Or better shoes, at least.
She’s been burned more times than she can count, and so part of her is always guarded. She doesn’t want to believe that she owns me already. When I ask her, “Will you still love me tomorrow?” she thinks I’m pulling her leg. I’m glad I met her at this point in my life. Otherwise I wouldn’t have the slightest idea on how to keep her. I hate the guys she’s fallen in love with in the past, but at the same time I am glad we hadn’t met then. I had my own dickhead phase and I was dickhead Numero Uno for a time, Primo Don of the machismo school. I’d probably be one of those assholes that took turns in rending her heart. That would’ve been a tragedy.
She knows this and although she tells me she believes me when I say I’m not that guy anymore, part of it becomes an infection that eats her up from the inside. But I have changed now. After all I had burned too, more times than I can count. Not as the arsonist, but as the fire victim. She thinks men can get over relationships faster than the fizz of a beer bottle. How can I tell her that men don’t deal with emotions for the simple reason that we don’t like to deal with them? We don’t meet our friends for lunch and bawl until our eyes are sore. We don’t bawl, period. We meet our friends for poker or pool or a drinking bout, or all of the above, and then it’s over. Then we banter, talk trash, and discuss everything except the state of our hearts.
She snorts when I try to explain this. Snorts, I tell you, which she doesn’t do very well. Instead she achieves little sounds that charm the bejeesus out of me. “See, what I think is, when you don’t talk about emotions, you get a lot of these unexpressed feelings cramped inside you. The build-up is harder to recover from. I know a lot of men who have been ruined by past relationships. They won’t admit it, but it’s obvious.” I tell her. She thinks on it for a while. “That’s so gay,” she teases, and she pulls me down for a kiss.
She picks things up from the street and gives them stories. I tell her it’s a type of defense mechanism. She tells me she wouldn’t know what she’s defending as this has been her habit ever since she was a little girl. She finds a piece of folded paper on the sidewalk on our way to have Mexican food and gasps when she unfolds it. She speculates that the piece of paper had been ripped from a larger creation and thrown away by the owner. The piece she’s got contains part of an arrow. The arrowhead, to be precise. She asks me what I thought it was. “Could be part of an ancient war scene or a profile of a warrior,” I tell her. She discredits my theory and assures me it was most likely a drawing of Cupid. She stops walking and scopes the ground. I know she’s looking to see if there might be other pieces lying around, other fragments ripped from the same drawing. She’s always loved puzzles, so I know this business with the paper is giving her some sort of childhood thrill. I thought it appropriate that sometimes I see her as a puzzle that I like piecing together, and nothing gives me more satisfaction than the woman who is slowly uncovered from the jigsaw. “I’m going to keep this,” she says, folding the paper carefully inside her wallet. She gets annoyed when I smile. “What?” I tell her she’s a sucker for sentiment. She disagrees and proceeds to detail how tough she is. I pull her close. I tell her she can trash-talk all she wants and knee my balls while she’s at it but I still wouldn’t be persuaded. She laughs and leans her head on my chest. “I’d love to knee your balls,” she whispers.
She says love is giving someone a part of yourself that they can shatter. Or spit, “piss”, crap, and trample on. She doesn’t believe me when I agree. She thinks I can never be shattered. I tell her that when there is love to be had, the best way to treat it is to love hard. That’s the part that will shatter me. She looks at me and begins to see something in my eyes, to see ‘me’, I hope. I want to tell her I’ve always wanted her, lusted her, but things are different now. This development scares me, no doubt, but I suppose no one gets a warning when these things happen. It’s terrifying when making a woman happy suddenly becomes more important than getting into her pants. Not only that, but wanting to be the only person who can make her a certain kind of happy. But I am a man. I’ll say these things correctly in my head but when they come out of my mouth, the words escape like birds on Ritalin. Have you ever imagined serpents on hemp? So instead, I shut up. I hope that my lips and my arms are enough to tell her instead.
She sometimes struggles against asking me to tell her how I feel, so I beat her to it. But whenever I do it, running on pure initiative without having to be goaded, she doesn’t believe me. When I smile or chuckle at her annoyance, she gets suddenly irked. “You’re not taking me seriously,” she says. But I’m not smiling at a joke. I’m smiling because of how attractive I find her when she is afflicted by her own thoughts, especially the wrong ones, the demons that women are concerned about that men usually just take in stride. I sigh and embrace her to show her how I feel. I breathe in her scent, my nose and lips resting on her head. I feel the lump and warmth of her breasts against my chest and her arms around my back. She doesn’t know how much of home this moment feels to me, that I can exist forever like this, with her in my arms and the world drowning away. She breaks away and hits my arm for having a hard-on.
She is sometimes overwhelmed by thoughts that make her feel insecure. I know this when she pulls away in bed and turns to her side, staring at the markings on the wall. I wrap my arm around her to give whatever safety and realness it could provide. “You’re not the only person who has failed at loving someone before, you know,” I tell her and kiss her shoulder softly. “You’re not the only one who has learned.” She turns to face me, kisses the bridge of my nose and shakes her head in disbelief. I look at her, confused, and see a painting of irony, of cynical wonderment. I rub out the acrylic by kissing her back. As deep, fiery and meaningful as a kiss could ever get. “Believe me.” That’s what my kiss implores. Because I understand the many ways that make women and men different. But there are many ways that make them similar. She thinks I won’t be able to convince her. Oh I will, babe. Just wait and see.