Are you single?
The question sounds normal, but the answer tastes alien.
I haven't been single for whole years
more every time I kiss myself a Happy New Year,
a new fissure in me.
Fault lines lace and lance my skin, and they may—
at the softest
In answer to the question “Are you single?”
What is that?
A rebel MC
Burst my bubble
Set me free
Always in two minds, it seems
Living nightmares, making dreams
Crying with a happy smile
Laughing as I sob awhile
Single has no meaning here
My double life
Of happy fear
(free music video included, as an explanation of the reference to Double Trouble and the Rebel MC :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SE0hwfCu-m4
I Think it’s Chronic, Doctor
To be fair, I didn't expect much out of my life. From the time I was five, I had my life figured out. I was going to be a drunk aunt who stumbles in, says something funny, sees a man and decides to make him my next victim. I didn't realize that those were low expectations until I looked around and realized I am in danger of that being my reality. I have no one. My bed is always empty; my phone seldom rings. I am not a head-turner (never was), but men don't give me the time of day. A part of me wonders if it has to do with my maturity level since I basically cling to whoever I go out with. I squeeze my dog's leash in the presence of males, never let go of the shopping cart in the story, and talk to my friends as if others are invisible when we hang out.
Online, I transform into someone else. Someone sexy, someone desirable, someone new. I still only touch them with a ten-foot pole at shortest. I've watched enough murder shows to know that I am at the most risk from being swindled out of my ten-dollar checks and ending up butchered in someone's backyard. Plus, there's just no interest. I give crumbs of myself, and when I notice the pieces of myself missing, make them fast. Any skeleton that is still breathing when I go out to my doorstep is unceremoniously brushed off. I feel like a Taylor Swift album. Friends come over and party for a while, but I always end up alone and brokenhearted by the witching hour.
The distance is only felt and dwelt on then when I'm in my bed alone watching some oily people have what I wish I could. I'm destined to die a virgin in a dorm bed with porn playing to give my corpse some feeling. All I feel now is twinges of emotions. The sweet rainbow of feelings at a crush faded years ago and all I get is a kaleidoscope of ghosts whispering in my ear at various times. The forgotten dream of being married that was buried by comfort in being divorced. The hallucination of being a mother is cured with the jealous joy of being an aunt. The thoughts of being a normal housewife living in a large house commenting that my adorable kid had my eyes and his lips are suffocated with sad music and an assurance that it's fun to starfish in my bed and eat whatever I want and need no one. I decided that no one can tame me. It helps me sleep at night.
Are you single?
Am I single?
Of course I am.
Don’t look so surprised.
Am I single?
Why wouldn’t I be?
Have you seen the men around me?
Young pups who have yet to be weaned.
Old blokes who think they know what’s best for me.
No ambitions. No goals.
I have a job,
I have a car.
Am I a joke?
It shouldn’t be that difficult.
I am reasonable, understanding, generous and kind.
If I do say so myself, I would be an exceptional wife.
I do not turn my back from a door held open by a man.
Or raise a white flag of equality when asked to cook.
Am I single?
I suppose it’s expected.
It would take a great man for me to except him.
Grilled Cheese and a Carrie Bradshaw Apartment
120th and 1st – Rory checked the cross streets again on his phone. Before him stood a concrete compound, more a prison than a school. How do I get in? He tried what looked like the main doors. Locked. A taxi horn beeped behind him. Bachata played from a window across the street into the August heat while two old men argued in front of the bodega below. Behind the caged windows of the school, nothing stirred.
Lauren said she would be here. A single rusted auburn square on the building read NYC Department of Education. Rory checked his email again. Right time, right place. He sent Lauren a message. I’m here.
Fuck it. It felt good to say it, if only to himself. The word, though omnipresent on his mother’s tongue in childhood, had only recently been allowed into his vocabulary. It was the new Rory. He thought that, now he had left the christian world, he should allow himself some liberties. The students in his masters program swore, drank, and sexed. He liked the idea of it. Preparing to arrive in New York, he watched every episode of Sex and the City, learned to make cocktails, and signed up for an online dating service. Tinder had not been released, and though he had Grindr on his phone, he still felt shame when messaged and messaging men there. Sex and the City had charm and wit, and was, well, straight. Acceptable in part. He was still conflicted. Not with his sexuality, but with his living in the world. He still needed to please, be accepted – by whom, he wasn’t sure. He wasn’t sure he believed in God anymore, wasn’t really sure he ever did. He believed in doing good, or being thought of as doing good, which is not quite the same thing. That he was sure of. At least he thought so.
This is why he felt frustrated. Standing in front of the locked door, ready to begin a surely illustrious career in teaching, doing good for the poor, the oppressed, the whatever-label-seemed-most-worthy-at-the-moment kids. In his bag were supplies – his professors had told him these kinds of schools had no money. In the August heat, the pink shirt he had carefully chosen was dampening under his armpits and around his collar. A bead of sweat meandered down his forehead. Fuck.
He checked his phone again. No message. In his mind, he was stymied before he could even begin. The worst kind of stymieing. A writer with ink, no paper. A baker with yeast, no flour. Fuck.
He felt hungry. Skipping meals was habitual, trying to lose the little bit of belly fat that mocked him when he lifted his shirt to wipe his face during a run. In his mind that roll of fat had become the difference between finding love and being rejected. He did not realize skipping a meal meant he ate much more, and much worse, later in the day. He crossed the street, passing by the arguing men, and entered the bodega, the bell tinkling as the door closed behind him.
A gust of cool air hit him as he walked in. How does this work? He had never been in a bodega before, was not really accustomed to eating out. He had always packed his lunch, or gone hungry. The remains of imposed economy from his youth. A moustachioed hispanic man, kerchiefed and plastic-gloved, stood behind the deli counter below a menu of hoagies, bagels, and chopped cheese. Grilled cheese $1, the cheapest option. Perhaps his favorite food in the world. Years later, when traveling the world, when eating at fine restaurants, he would recall this moment. Bread? the man grunted. Rory surveyed the options. Jewish Rye. Seemed fitting. His mentor for student teaching was Lauren Cohen. The only Cohens he ever knew were also the only Jews that he knew, a middle school teacher in a nearby town. Cheese? the man was becoming impatient. Muenster. It sounded exotic, European. I add red pepper, is good. Aloud, Rory wondered how much extra but the man did not hear.
Rory checked his phone again. Here, in classroom, use entrance by wheelchair ramp.
$1.25 – want something to drink? Rory shook his head and paid, the grilled cheese wrapped in wax paper, sliced, then in aluminum foil and dropped in one of those thin black plastic bags ubiquitously decorating trees throughout the city. Rory hurried back across the street. On the opposite side of the building he found the ramp, and, pushing open the door, was greeted by a seated security guard dwarfing a short formica desk. ID? Who you here for?
Lauren, uh, Urban School for – Yeah, yeah okay. She upstairs. Second floor.
Rory made his way hesitantly up stairs that smelled of bleach and lemon cleaner to the classroom. Lauren was grunting. Hey, hi, Rory, right? Good to meet you! Help me move this desk. The janitors always rearrange after they clean the floors. I hate when students can get behind my desk.
This became evident in the coming months. A large woman, Lauren rarely left her desk, usually there eating her sandwiches on lunch hour that she had Rory fetch from a nearby deli – the Africans do something good to their chicken, don’t ever go to that Arab place. She was proud that her students ran her classroom for her, which meant she barked orders from behind the desk and students distributed worksheets from wire bins beneath the whiteboard. Rory’s great-uncle, a retired city teacher with whom he was staying while he looked for an apartment in the city, had a similar brag. Once I was talking to the principal and the bell rang. Well, I came in the door and there was a student taking attendance with the rest in their seats waiting for me. That’s the kind of classroom you want, son. Obedience. They should always know their place.
Each morning, Rory dutifully wrote the daily To Do on the board. The bell rang. Students filed in with the slow, slumping walk of a conquered people. Don’t forget to put your homework in the Turn-In bin. Pick up a copy of Black Boy from the front of the room. Don’t speak without raising your hand. Read silently. Answer the questions on the worksheet. Return your book, don’t take it home, I’ve lost enough copies. Forty three minutes later, the bell rang again and the ritual recommenced. A liturgical ablution four times each day.
For her fifth class, Honors English 11, Lauren came out from behind her desk. This is the class you want to teach someday, they actually read, she’d say to Rory, try and get yourself some honors classes. This class did not have worksheets, books were taken home, and Lauren led “class discussions” in which she prattled for long periods on the true sense of the text, the meaning that was hidden for her to see. One might even say she was animated. The period would end, and Lauren would settle behind her desk.
At lunch, Rory ate his grilled cheese. It had become an almost spiritual ritual. The warm muenster stringing out from beneath the buttered crunch of the bread, the sweet of roasted red pepper biting through the salt of the fats. Today, the leaves beyond the windows burned orange in the afternoon light. It was a Tuesday, when he attended university seminar at four. He told Lauren he needed to leave at one. He could have said nine. She didn’t care. She preferred when he wasn’t around. He had made some suggestions about worksheet questions. Fine she thought humor him.
Years ago, she was like him too. Had ideas. Wanted to be creative. But each year seemed harder, more tiring. Butter spread over too much bread. She hoped to teach both of the honors classes next year. The 12th grade English teacher was retiring. She could take his honors class, too, then only have a couple of the regulars to deal with. Unless that upstart from the 9th grade team wanted them. He always got what he wanted. Sure, he taught a tech class, sure he ran an afterschool club. She did things, too, you know. She begged donated tickets and organized trips to Broadway shows for her honors classes. That was something. She will email the principal some pictures from the last show of her, her son, and the three kids who actually showed up, remind her how committed she was to the school. Maybe remind her she went to Bard, and though the “honors” students would never get in there, they were lucky to have exposure to such a school through her. Emails, Levi, right – she had to email the specialized schools point person at his middle school. Could she afford private if her son did not get in? She’d be damned if she had to send her son to a school like this. She opened her laptop. Rory? You’re going? Okay, class, say goodbye to Mr. Culcharan and get back to your worksheets. She returned to her emails.
That feeling of freedom that comes when leaving work or school early – when you are getting away with it – elated Rory as he bumped his hip against the pushbar, opening the door and stepping out onto the sidewalk. Fall had come, and with it the amber glow that settles on New York. He had a few hours before seminar, if he went. He would look for an apartment. He had already visited some agencies, been shown some dark holes that were in his price range, plus a hefty commission. He would think outside the box. He was a bit ashamed to admit what he wanted. A Carrie Bradshaw apartment. Not huge, but with light. And in a brownstone. And in a brownstone with stairs leading up to double doors, not the ones remodelled in the 60s, with the staircase knocked down and aluminum door lit by a fluorescent light leading to a rabbit warren of dingy apartments. He had seen those. It had to be near the park, he’d decided. There was something about Central Park, something both satisfyingly natural and comfortingly tame that made him not miss the mountains, the lakes, the paths of gnarled roots where his happiest childhood memories had been. Proximity was important, like living near your gym. If one lives too far, it becomes easier not to go.
He walked down one of the tree-lined streets of the Upper East Side. The buildings here were white, more London townhouse than New York brownstone. Not the East Side. He preferred the West Side, he thought, one of those preferences that you cannot put your finger on a reason why. He walked across the park, along the reservoir where the New York skyline rises and a glittering shock of water piped from the Catskills reservoir dissipates its reflection under a cloudless sky. He paused in the shade of a tree, a london plane. It stretched its dappled arms towards the sky, leaves like burnt paper falling when the wind picked up, embers of the summer. He liked it here.
He had seen an apartment in the Times, listed by Corcoran in the Real Estate section. Their fees were huge, but he was able to figure out online from streetview that, yes, it was on 87th street, near the park. He had screenshot an image of the building. Maybe he could just ring the bell and ask if there was an apartment available? He turned off Central Park West and onto the street, checking the picture on his phone. There it was. Stairs, double doors, all boxes checked. Behind the doors was a row of bronze mailboxes. Nothing indicating an owner, or a caretaker, a super, whatever they are called.
Can I help you? The voice behind startled him. He turned to see a white-haired woman with daring fuchsia lipstick pulling a small handled bag on wheels up the stairs. No, no, thanks though. I am just looking at apartments. Can I help with your bag?
Thank you for asking, but I am managing fine. She grinned. 2a is let, just yesterday. Thought your realtor would have told you. She turned her key in the outside door as Rory held it open. You can call the management company to see if they have any coming up – number’s right there on the wall. They’re never much help to me, but you never know.
Rory thanked her from the steps as the door closed. So building numbers are listed in the entry, interesting. He called the number. No answer. He left a voicemail.
He knew he wanted to live near the park on the west side. Easy enough. That day he called all the numbers inside the entry for the buildings he liked on that street. No calls back. Each day, he walked a different street as the weather got colder, calling numbers. Occasionally he had awkward exchanges with people entering or exiting the building, who are you visiting, ummm, but mostly no one was around. No one ever called back, but a few times he spoke with the owner or manager.
We do have one available, couple just left suddenly. Yeah, one-bedroom. No, studio. How did you get this number anyway?
He thought his approach calling random numbers in doorways might seem unconventional at best, intrepid, uncomfortable at worst, a turnoff for potential landlords. Each time he fibbed. A friend gave it to me, she lives on the block and heard there might be an opening. Julie, maybe you know her? He later employed this technique, for no particularly sane reason, when staying for just one night, all he could afford, at a nice hotel somewhere remote. I wish we could stay longer, but we are staying with friends in the area. Just treating ourselves to one night, but they insist we stay with them. In the end, the fibbing had little effect. Perhaps because, though he had gotten in the habit of lying quite a lot, he wasn’t very good at it. Or perhaps people just didn’t care that much.
After a month of these calls, he found his light-filled apartment on the top floor of a family-owned brownstone just a few hundred yards from that london plane in the park. Original tiger-eye maple woodwork and doors, a skylight in a closet-sized kitchen beneath which he placed a new plant which would grow to obscure its light, and wood parquet floors, which he dutifully kept polished. If he stood on the edge of his bed, on the tips of his toes, he could see the tops of trees. A park view. Below market value, he was told. He made a grilled cheese. Yes, this would do.
Now, to find a man.
404: Girlfriend Not Found
When I gaze in wonder upon the sexy beast in the mirror, lost in his ageless eyes, full of wisdom beyond his mere 24 years, I ask myself that nagging question: Is intelligence heritable, and if so, to what extent? Though not immediately obvious, the affirmation or negation of this statement has wide-ranging implications for politics, economics, biology, evolution, morality, the very meaning of life, and whether or not that jackass in front of me can truly be blamed for cutting me off in traffic. It's the difference between being regarded as a hero or a pariah. It's the difference between vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores. It is an absolute fact that pigs feel pain. It an absolute fact that bacon is the perfect balance of salty and savory, with every essential amino acid your body needs to become strong. On the subject of protein requirements, you can deduce from nutrition facts label on any item of food that the government recommends a daily intake of 50 grams of protein per day. This is worrisome. Any bodybuilding forum will tell you that, to properly build strength, you must eat approximately one gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. For a sexy, technically overweight beast like me, that comes out to about 200 grams per day. The following question is important, so I'll give it its own line:
Why does the government want to keep us weak?
Everything happens for a reason. There are a lot of high-profile arrests happening right now, under the guise of quarantine. To maintain public order, the civilians have been kept off the streets, from the most satanic friday (the 13th) in the calendar, 3.13.20, until the most holy friday (Good Friday), 4.10.20. The fourth, tenth, and twentieth letters together make DJT: Donald J. Trump. There may be more than one time machine in play here. Betelgeuse is waning: the fourth horseman has been sighted on his pallid horse. Epstein did in fact kill himself; he did it to gain immortality. Follow the molecule shaped like the white rabbit, acetylcholine. There should be a whole factory of it somewhere in China... where was it again? Wuhan. If you haven't already, now would be a good time to research the Bogdanoffs, the Rothschilds, and the other, more elusive convexes of the dodecagram. They are every voice you've ever heard in your ear.
I wake up in the middle of the night and I see entities. I refer to women as pretty-pretties. I refer to their breasts as boingy-boingies. I've seen memes you wouldn't believe. What a funeral procession looks like when they drop the coffin, and the body comes tumbling out. What two girls can do to one innocent cup. I've seen a man dressed as a five-point demon reading a book about inclusivity to a group of small children. I've seen things that have aged me. Things that couldn't possibly exist. Interracial Incest.
In conclusion, I am single.
Yes I am 44 and I am single. After being in a seven year relationship with my deceased x that died from multiple cancers, it's amazing that I've been single again. I never thought that I'd be single again nor did I expect to be. But, what is, is.
What have I been doing with my time since I've been single? Writing stories, contacting publishers and doing art for more future book submissions! What better thing to do, right?
How do I feel being single? It hurts knowing that I'm single, but I also believe that I won't be single forever! If it happened for my brother's girlfriend and him then why wouldn't it happen for me too then?