(I wrote a book once. It was the worst book ever written. Regardless, I wrote the book anyway. Titled Passion Aggressive, it’s essentially my life, but broken down into chapters. The only thing the book doesn’t have is an actual point. Or an ending. Or a place on your bookshelf. No matter, I’ve decided to just start putting it on the internet because YOLO.)
I’m growing a beard. Not intentionally- it’s just growing. With the help of some overpriced tweezers, I’ve been holding it at bay, but there is evidence I could probably grow full-on lumberjack facial chops if I really wanted to.
It turns out I don’t want to so I spend some of my daily morning routine plucking any hairs that I think are trying to become part of a beard. My ex-boyfriend David used to laugh at me. I’ve never told the new guy Cooper about it.
Every day, I spend an absurd amount of time trying to look pretty. I think I am pretty, but as Cooper once told me, I’m only averagely pretty. I can’t hold a candle to Jessica Alba apparently and it’s probably because I weigh five pounds too much, can’t afford jeans that fit me properly, and I’m growing a beard. Whatever. At different times, I’ve been told that I look like Helen Hunt, Lindsey Lohan, or Jennifer Lawrence. None of whom look remotely similar to each other so I’m not sure which person I actually look like at all, which I guess more or less means- I look like me.
I reach down and pick up the third cream I’m about to rub all over my averagely pretty face. This one is for fighting off wrinkles and dark spots and just more general moisturizing. I’m twenty-eight and know nothing of the world, but I do know that years from now my looks will fade from average to old and the man I’m married to will probably leave me for some twenty-eight year old. I know this, because it’s the plot of prime time television, the conflict in every movie, the cover of all the US Weekly magazines.
As a woman, you’re forced to start fighting off everything in the world -weight, aging, doubt, men, shame- as soon as you hit puberty and the rest of the world realizes that you are in fact a woman. It’s exhausting.
Everyone tells me I’m a pessimist. Except for my friend Rachel. She says I’m not pessimistic, but rather just very grounded and I look at the world with an overwhelming realist outlook that most people cannot understand because they are too busy deluding themselves. So they assume it’s pessimism. She says it’s because I’m a Capricorn, but I don’t believe in that. People are constantly trying to dress up their personalities with fancy titles and names and explanations to avoid saying here I am everyone, just me.
My phone starts vibrating all over the bathroom countertop and it’s Cooper. I hesitate and try and decide if I even want to answer it. Do I feel like talking about nothing right now? As usual, the answer is decidedly, sure- why not?
“Hello?” I use the greeting as a question. We act as if every cell phone doesn’t tell you right off who is calling you, like it’s 1997 and I have no idea who is on the other end of the telephone, even though his full name and a picture pops up on the screen and his very own personalized ringtone echoes and vibrates around me. We all know that everyone is aware of exactly who is calling us, and yet, we all pretend we are clueless.
“Becki Trudell, I want to be inside of your vagina.” I roll my eyes.
When I first started seeing Cooper, I was sure he was of the same genre of person as I was. I halfheartedly believed that we were two of the same person, divided, and placed in different parts of the country that had somehow found each other by the world’s intentional doing and an overpriced lift ticket. But after a few months, it became apparent that the only thing he really wanted to talk about was how my vagina tasted like cupcakes and unicorns and listen to me reassure him that I was obsessed with his penis. I’m not, by the way. It’s smaller than David’s and much the same that I am average looking to him, his penis is average overall to me.
“Well, wouldn’t that be a treat.” I say, bored.
“How many times have you masturbated today? How many times were you thinking of me?” Sometimes I think Cooper might be retarded.
“I’ve only masturbated twice today. The first time I was thinking of Leonardo DiCaprio. The second time, Whoopi Goldberg.” I study myself in the mirror. He chuckles at my half-assed attempt of a joke and I can hear his disappointment that I did not take the opportunity he gave me to worship him.
“Listen, I was thinking you could come down and stay with me for a couple days. What do ya think?” He says this casually, you know, like we’re definitely not boyfriend and girlfriend, but we all have to get laid and he’s willing to import my vagina across state lines because of that. This is a compliment of some sort I know, but it only causes me to frown; I do not know what I think. I do believe though that transporting a woman across state lines for her sexual organs may be illegal.
“I don’t really have the money right now.” I say because it’s true, but also because the last time I went to visit him I spent the whole time having sex with him while we watched porn and I thought what the fuck am I doing here?
“I’ll pay. I’ll pay for you to come.”
Cooper is a young, handsome man, who just also happens to own a whole company or something super unimpressive like that. Even more startling is that Cooper is younger than me aging only twenty-six, and because of that I can’t stop tickling that feeling of inadequacy with the tip of my tongue long enough to let it heal. He had the luxury of being born into a family that had money and could help build a business and he now resides right outside of Phillidelphia, where he runs his business selling mortgages and filling out spreadsheets and firing people and writing company newsletters that are supposed to boost moral. And I listen to his stories of figuring out payroll and how this didn’t work out here and how this employee is not carrying his weight there and how he had his assistant get him a double maple latte with skim milk. It’s all very corporate America.
I asked him once at dinner what his passion was, if he could be doing any job what would it be. He responded that he would probably be doing what he is. Which means, he’s passionate about mortgages and fixed interest rates and verified assets and tax implications. I think he was lying though. No eight year-old wants to be a mortgage broker when they grow up- even if they do own the company.
I’m not giving Cooper enough credit, I just realized. He’s a nice guy, and he’s funny, and he really is handsome. When we first started seeing each other (in a definitely not, totally uncommitted way, of course), he seemed to be overly perfect. He did these things for me that were so romantic and sweet and I’m pretty sure he really liked me. I just don’t know if he does anymore and I don’t even know if I want him to.
I can’t remember the last actual conversation we had, which causes an empty pit of loneliness to begin to fill my heart heavy.
“Yeah, well, when were you thinking? I have to see about getting time off from work.” I shrug to myself in the mirror.
We carry on the rest of the conversation rather dully. He references my vagina only once more, which is notable. I go back to lathering my face and plucking my beard.