Whybeblue – Sarah Nolan

28.3. 39.2. 54.7. 68.9.

76.4 flicker. 76.2 flicker. 76.8 flicker. 76.9 flicker. 76.9.

76.9. Fuck.

I am naked. Head to toe. Standing perfectly still. And Erect. (No, the other erect. For your ease of reference, I have, amongst other things, boobs. And rather big ones at that.)

Where was I? Oh yes, erect. I am standing erect. My feet are spread exactly the recommended 15 cm apart.

I always hold my breath. Like the audience watching the action movie at the part where the bad guy is standing behind the good guy, and we all know (except the good guy, of course) that at any minute, any minute now, the bad guy will lunge and the good guy—being the good guy, and therefore always plagued by that particular blind spot—will get stabbed or shot (though not fatally, because again, being the good guy, he can’t die just yet) and as much as we scream at the TV screen, as much as we will him to turn around, he is deaf to our calling.

Oh sorry, I digress. I have a tendency to do that. Especially when I am nervous. Back to it. Naked. Erect. Belly held in (so I can see the numbers). My elbows are horizontal to the ground. My chubby hands (white, like the rest of my body) are placed one on top of the other, the fist underneath is clenched, the other hand rests firmly on top. This is my morning ritual. My 43 seconds of pain that sustain me for the rest of the day (no pain no gain, right?). I once read in Cosmo that if you think about your weight more than eight times a day, you are more susceptible to having a dangerous eating disorder (as opposed to an un-dangerous eating disorder). So far, I have made four references to my weight; if my story stops in the next two paragraphs, I’ll be safe.

Mirror mirror on the wall, you are, alas, right after all. I am the fattest of them all. Another 3100 grams and life will not be worth living. It bewilders me, how, in the span of 8 hours—8 hours in which I sleep, following two rice-crackers and half a glass of water—I can gain a whole 200 grams. Did I not read, in last month’s edition of the factually-reliable-self-esteem-inflating-and-information-rich edition of Cosmo (e.g., how to blow a guy without smearing your lipstick) that we burn calories in our sleep? (Incidentally, we also burn calories when we fuck. Fuck a boy, that is. Because, god forbid, it’s not like girls can fuck each other, and in any event, if we actually could, I bet science would say you gain calories when you fuck a girl, because lesbos are all overweight anyhow.)

I step off the glass, pull on my underpants, struggle momentarily to clip on my bra, slip (no, that word is deceiving) wriggle, first, into my grey stockings and second (after watching the ladder run eagerly to what it has been misled to believe is heaven), into the standard grey skirt, and button up the white pleated shirt (trying this time not to watch the shirt as it pulls at my chest. I am ready. Ready to apply, with my podgy fingers, the concealer that She gave me (it’s not to cover up your blemishes, She says, but to enhance your features), draw black lines on each eyelid with child-like accuracy (to enhance the almond-like shape of your eyes), and paint on the cherry-berry lip gloss (to enhance the all-so-natural cherry-berriness of my lips, needless to say) (at which point, She kisses me slowly on my now-enhanced lips, before drawing shyly away).

I look in the mirror. A clown, who has run away from the circus because he let little children apply his make-up, looks back at me.

Now don’t get me wrong. My seemingly suicidal mentality and depressed tone is not caused by She. I was already a goner before She was ever in the picture. So please, do not fear. I am under control. (In fact, you will be proud to know that I took the first step and during comp class last week logged on to whybeblue.com.au (truth be told, it was the rhyme that got me; the advert guys really did the job on that one).). I am under control. I am under control not because I know about alternatives. Not because I know about the wheel of life, how it will turn again, how things will not stay like this forever. Not because the advert guys told me things would change for the better. Whybeblue.your.life.is.not.true (perhaps there’s a future for me in advertising), whybeblue.just.sniff.some.glue (I may be a natural).

No. If you can keep a secret, I’ll tell you why I am under control. Promise? Don’t send in the troops or try calling the Department of Community Services. (At this point it would be helpful if I could cite some convincing statistics about the incidence of suicide amongst queer teenagers who live in the burbs with no one to talk to, save random strangers who read short stories hundreds of kilometres away whilst eating takeaway Thai in their inner-city apartments; alas, I don’t have any.) But here’s my little secret. I am under control

because
I
have
the
girl.

And not just any girl. The most popular girl at school. Not just the most popular girl at school, but captain of the debate team. Not just the captain of the debate team, but the most successful breast-stroke swimmer in our school’s history (and not just the best breast-stroke swimmer, She’s also very good at the breast-stroke (if you know what I mean)).

She comes from a good home. Red brick, 2 stories, 5 bedrooms, 3 car spaces, 2 living rooms (one for the formal living, the other (just to have all bases of living covered) for the informal living). Her parents have a good marriage (there’s a man (tick), a woman (tick), a union of the above (tick) to the exclusion of all others (well, half a tick, but that’s a minor formality).

Of course, no one can know about us. It took her parents a long time to build that white picket fence, and I would not want you, some stranger, going out and destroying the familial bliss that is the glue that holds our great society together. No one can know, She said. Please, if you love me.

Of course, I said. Of course I love you. But I am not keeping it a secret just for her. I go to Fred-Nile-High where the word “condom” has been redacted from the official version of the Macquarie Dictionary, where Father Roberts declared at Mass last week that Sex in the City is a threat to the sanctity of marriage, and where (rumour has it) even Dick Cheney’s granddaughter has been refused entrance (you know, if you are a (n) or if you are related to or know any (adj.) people, you are most definitely contagious) (and, of course, if you dare use That Word (other than in its correct meaning of “blissfully happy”) you must, by virtue of some Freudian concoction, be (adj.)).

And so this is the fruit of our parents’ sacrifice. This is why they work their butts off. To send their kids to the school with the glossiest brochure and the most unfashionable uniform. But at least they know we’re safe. Because no-siree. Just like in Iran, there are definitely no (n, plural) here. Just some blissfully happy, hormone-high teenagers, a handful of sexually frustrated middle-aged, middle-class, white teachers, and the random balding pervert.

You know, people who say that life is so much easier when you’re younger are either (a) wearing glasses of a rosy hue; (b) medically blind; or (c) all of the above.

You may think it’s hard being a grown-up. Poor you. Forced to think about the impact of rising interest rates on your mortgage for your half a million dollar apartment. Stressed out how you are going to afford your next, de-stressing holiday. Fretting about whether or not your brother-in-law will like that coffee mug you bought him for his fortieth.

If you think the young folk of today have it easier because we have broadband connections and think that Stonewall is just another club on Oxford street, then you’re still a PC. Welcome to the world of Macs, my friend.

But just because we don’t remember what it feels like to be arrested for homosexual activity, just because we aren’t as socially stigmatised as you may once have been, just because in some young circles today, being gay is the new black, or just because some of us may mistake Bobby Goldsmith for the latest fragrance by Armani doesn’t mean that we do not struggle in our own way, nor that we don’t want to understand the struggle.

Because you know what? Despite appearances, The Closet is still The Closet. Even though it may have undergone some significant physical transformations and may perhaps no longer look like The Closet of old, The Closet of new is still suffocating. It may be smaller, it may be refurbished with glossier paint, or it may have fancier fittings. But The Closet is The Closet is The Closet.

If you will allow me to speak from experience, I can tell you that I am suffocating, at least. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

Stop. Rewind. Play.

We are naked. She is standing behind me on the scale. Her legs are spread apart, cocooning mine, her arms around my belly, gently caressing. She is playful. Her fingers gently squeeze my nipples, and for the first time, I feel weightless. She kisses up the nape of my neck, along my jaw line, until her face is beside mine. You look like your mother, She says, just like I look like mine. I don’t respond. I know She would not understand. We are nothing alike. I live in a rented, government-owned family home (less the family), my mother serves Domino’s two-for-one pizzas on Tuesday nights after returning from the night shift, the only VIP card we have is for the 24-hour Krispy Kreme, and our plastic-fantastic has all but expired (it’s official, even Aussie Home Loans can’t save us now).

I move my face away. Hey, She says, why don’t you believe me? I think you are wonderful—you’re smart, the smartest girl I know, you get me, and most importantly (She pauses) you make me come. I smile. That’s better, She says. I don’t say a word, only look at her and wonder whether She will look like her mother when She is older.

Her mother is a stunner. She has straight blonde hair, quick brown eyes, a slender figure, and a sharp dress sense. Her long neck is always embraced by a string of black pearls (a cliché, but not). She is a woman of the world. Perfect posture, perfect elocution, perfect everything. She looks like the woman in the Mercedes Benz ad. You know the type. A woman who had the foresight to christen her children with trendy names—the Ashleys, the Jessicas, the Melissas of the world. Why is it that our mothers never read the Book-of-baby-names-so-your-kids-will-be-popular-at-school?

How old is she? I ask.

Oh, she is 46, turning 47 in September, She says. Wow, she doesn’t look it. People always say she doesn’t look it, She says. Well, she wouldn’t, I think to myself. People with two living rooms never look their age.

But she doesn’t just wake up looking like that, She continues. My mother works hard to maintain it. Watches what she eats, mostly fresh fruit, steamed veggies, fish, whole grains. Pilates twice a week, yoga every other day and she jogs (as the male American voiceover says, nothing’s impossible if you’re wearing a-dee-das).

She doesn’t understand. She’s not like me. She’s not like Susannah. Susannah, the girl next door. Susannah who understood. That is, until she suddenly discovered a desire for cock. And upon this epiphany (which, funnily enough, coincided with the Government’s announcement of its pre-election promises) she fucked Adam. Now there’s a baby, Eve (not to mention an extra 8 kilos). That’s what you call a bonus. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.

She is not like Susannah at all. She would not leave me for some overrated, government-subsidised cock. That would be cheap, and girls like She are not cheap.

I know you must, at this point (if you haven’t already done so), be thinking of me as just another overweight, obsessive, hormone-driven, cliché-hugging, pimply teenage girl more concerned about her clit-driven desires than accurate story-telling. The first five allegations are true. I make no attempt to deny them. But I fervently deny the last one. I am not more concerned about my clit-driven desires than accurate storytelling. (For the sake of clarity (and in furtherance of this point) that last sentence was not a denial of my clit-driven desires. Those remain.)

But as for accurate story telling, all the above descriptions of She are facts. Just as it is a fact that my hair is brown, my arms are flabby, and that I live in a weatherboard house with my dysfunctional mother. I am that overweight, obsessive, hormone-driven, cliché-hugging, pimply teenager (complete with clit) but I am not that overweight, obsessive, hormone high, cliché-hugging, pimply teenager-with-clit who puts She up on a pedestal and thereby destroys all claims to journalistic integrity founded before the Magna Carta.

You see, if I were indeed that dishonest-putter-upper-on-pedestals, I would say something outrageous like, every time She looks at me with her hazel eyes, we have entire conversations without uttering a word. Or I would say something like, every time She flicks her hair back in geography class, She sends flecks of love my way. Or her love for me has given meaning to all those sappy boy-band love songs and amazing grace, I once was blind but now I see.

Stop. Rewind. Play.

Naked. Standing together on the glass scales. She behind, I in front. She has no idea how much I want her at this moment. She speaks into my shoulder, but all I can hear are the mounds of her breasts pressing into my back and the loudness of her slender fingers playfully weaving their way downwards. I am aching.

I hurriedly unbutton my grey skirt, pull my stockings down to my knees, lift my hands towards the ache.

Oh, quit it, or you’ll be late. And you’ll miss it when the 8:37 bus arrives and She disembarks with The Jessica and The Ashley. You’ll miss the tidying of wavy brown ringlets just before She slips into roll call and you’ll miss your ribcage giving way and you’ll forget where your heart resides.

Rewind. Stop. Play.

I pull up my stockings, fix my skirt, grab my blue backpack, and run out of the house to catch my bus.

_______________________

Sarah Nolan is a lawyer whose desire to avoid having all creative energies sapped slowly from her by the day-to-day monotony that is corporate life, has produced this piece, her first published work of fiction. Born and raised in a working-class suburb of Sydney, she was encouraged to dig her way out of the working-class hole, only to find that sitting for double-digit hours in an office with a Harbour view is just another working class of itself. She can be reached at peni_arcade@yahoo.com.au.

Photo credit: “Weighting Game” © Natalie Johnson. Used courtesy of Creative Commons License.

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