Status & Social Standing
It’s a Saturday and he tells me to get out of bed because it’s four pm and normal people have been up for hours, with their gossip and their weekend jobs; it’s all seems so terrible but inevitable to me. Also was it not you, in this bed, the smell of your skin sour with the breath of loose women and violent men, at three pm only two days before, is this not what you do for a living? My sheets always smell of you and influence your routine on my dreams.
He leaves me tobacco in a pile on my bedside table but everything in my room is damp and nervous, the dehumidifier hums the tune of youth (not doing much at all), I’m smoking these soft sticks at ten pm, when I wake he has been gone for hours, hunting these same loose women and laughing at these violent men. You have turned twenty four and I am twenty one (not so young anymore, but you said you only had sex twice at eighteen).
Last week they seated me at an empty desk, out of sight, and I filled out an application and remembered to tear out my nosering. They asked me whether I was taking any medicines or drugs and I lied because I thought it rude. I wouldn’t have put down the normal weekends my friends fill my palms with, these capsules and powders that burn my sinuses but make me feel so flureoscent and stunning, these things that influence the baring of my teeth, the animal I convert to in such a rush, and I am on the the hunt then, too. But I should have put the little blue and orange ovals I asked for in a doctor’s office, for my skin, because I am not that young anymore and I don’t think I deserve the two or three blemishes a month, so obvious against my deathly complexion. I’m always asked for blood tests, everybody thinks I am anemic. I don’t need the pills, of course, but I’m not one for waiting around for adulthood to clear my face completely and instead put its energy into creating lines.
I’ve begun to notice the strange crinkles below my eyes when I smile anyway. And if I keep up with these weekends, if I keep up with my friends, bent at the waist over a bathroom counter or raising knuckles to our nostrils, my age will bloom too soon and I’ll get jokes about turning twenty-eight even in the mottled dark of another bar, by another man too drunk to spin stories. It’s never the women, they always manage to hold their own even after sinking shots of fuck-knows-what, this makes me as proud as when I bring them home with me.
I never know quite what to do with myself when I am happy, and I have been for over a month now, I don’t think it’s going away. Like, should I go for a walk? Smile into the winter like a fool? And I am getting hassled by my friends’ morose emotions, because they feel its ok to bombard me with them now that I have none of my own. Which is fair. But did I do the same to them? No, I was so frightened of others’ obligations and evoking them with my strange mix of anxiety and melancholy, self-loathing etc etc. They sat inside until I was drunk enough to loosen my hold on them slightly, and they’d start filtering out one by one, normally to someone I cared too much about to let them leave. But they would have to leave, of course, my sheets always felt the coldest then.
But more on being happy. I’m not too sure what I grew out of but I did. Though at twenty-one, physical growth is meant to have slowed to a stop, is that right? What then? I keep on seeing myself as I was and how other people saw me: Neurotic, and there’s nothing I can do to rub that impression away now that it’s been attached to my name and my presence in a room.
The woman at the organic store asks me if my hair is permed, where I got it done? And I say I wish it was because then I would be able to reverse it. My hair straightener quit, just like I am: Broke. The boys behind the counter smile. That’s something most people don’t know, my hair is naturally this ridiculous mass of curls you can separate and pull at, so they spring back into this stupid mane. I look fifteen or thereabouts. But why do I think that would be so bad.
And why does everybody I know put so much effort into reiterating how at odds they feel with their form.
How tiring that was. And how expensive it is to slather your face in self-loathing every morning. I feel for you, if you are still weighed down by that. If that anxiety is like standing under an awning in the rain, with it dripping on you at irregular intervals when you are not expecting it.
Because your face is your face. It’s a lottery but it’s your own. You can’t quit your skin, or you can, but why would you want to?
I wonder what everybody else is doing tonight, even with my windows open, the wind rips at any sound of mirth that might ebb its way inside. Get out of your house, it’s not so bad.