It’s cold out today. I can’t feel my toes. I’m running into door jams and blackening my nails as I wonder aimlessly through the apartment. Molly bailed on our drinking night. I honestly don’t know why I drink, but it’s just red wine. I do it for my heart, you know – all that resveratrol – I actually hate the flavor. I’ve never been drunk, I just pretend I am so my acquaintances will stop harassing me about getting wasted. You know – to “try it”. I’m a tight wad, apparently. I don’t poison my liver or stick my hand down my pants. I guess that makes sense.
The hardwood floor is making my teeth chatter and so I’m crawling, shaking, into the corner of the futon. Throwing a large pillow over myself, I settle into another riveting episode of the obviously scripted “Naked and Deformed”. Actually, I believe that guy’s prosthetic nose is falling down a bit. It’s okay, the audience won’t know. This Naked series is just another in the list of other similarly named reality shows, but if one is the best, this is definitely it. Why I like it in comparison to the others is because these people are really freaky. I mean, physically freaky. It’s easy in the others, where the participants are all pretty normal, there demons hidden away until they get pushed to a certain point. And that’s always fun – seeing all that mold blossoming to the surface. The dirty little realizations, the hidden person within, shared with us, the private eyes. No, that’s easy. That’s cliché. What I like about this deformed series, is that there is that strange outer shell, that already apparent, subconscious disgust by the audience towards the contestants. And it’s all about how we come out of our hate to sympathize with them. It’s fresh, a bit. It’s not to say they are devoid of inward gross, it’s more or less that the audience learns to – instead of diverting their eyes – truly look at the deformed contestant straight on, so they don’t miss their humanity. All those obstacles their bodies create for them. They no longer remain a voiceless, enigmatic inanimate being. This version encourages us to do the opposite from the others. It makes us identify with their humanity through overcoming obstacles their deformity creates. We sympathize with their resilience, rather than being jackals and laughing when they fall apart. We rise to the occasion. A person’s physicality gives you the starting point for your judgment. What’s inside either takes them down a notch or elevates them, depending on if what you see is appealing or not. If it’s good they start higher, if it’s bad they start lower. I guess that’s why I tend to victimize the beautiful people. Mindy’s a 10, but when you get to know her, she drops down to about a 6.
But I guess, when you think about it, a person’s physical beauty can be as blinding as deformity. Most people resent both extremes, probably because they make others feel uncomfortable. You know, if they’re too pretty we realize how obsolete we feel in comparison. If they are totally weird looking, well, we feel pity, maybe? Thank god I’m average. I don’t extend myself beyond myself.
Anyways, it’s a pretty good show if you’re willing to coax something out of it.
Goiter girl is shaking her head to emphasize how crawling down hill head first is a bad idea, and as I watch her jiggling flesh I find myself drifting away. My attention is drawn to the strange sound of silence seeping through the walls. Neighbor’s not doing much next door. It’s quiet. I’m quiet…I’m wondering what has caused this break at the thunder dome. The time is 9ish. I’ve got the coffee pot heating up some water for my cup o noodles. Nostalgia for college days again. And like obvious plot point there’s a rap at the door. My eyes dart about, I feel my mouth tilt downward at the corner. I open the door and….
“Um. Hi. Ryan. Next door,” he points next door.
I lift my fingers that wrest on the door, I peer through the gap at him. “Hey.”
“Yeah, so. Curious. Uh…how do I ask this without sounding like a total creep.”
“Look it’s late.”
“Yeah, I know, sorry. Basically, I’m streaming and my internet is down, suddenly. Are we on the same network? Or if not…”
Mhm. I shake my head. I have a hot spot. Password is my name…Reneamonroe85. No, you’re totally welcome. What are you watching….oh…oh! Okay, well don’t we all? Haha. Sure, enjoy. Goodnight to you as well.
The door clips shut. Clutching my waist I meander back across the floor to my throne. The futon sucks me in. At least he’s honest. But now I know why the room was so quiet. I listen harder….
Damn! But why? What’s so great about listening in on his porn fest. I don’t even like that stuff. It’s fantastic nonsense. It’s like licking the stickiness from a lollipop off the floor. I suppose I’m less interested in his porn than I am why he’s watching it…Adult entertainment. Man, the things adults are entertained by sometimes makes me think kids are further along in creative intelligence. At least, kids when I was a kid.
Porn, sex, office affairs. Man, I’m obsolete.
The water is making the coffee pot grumble and I silence it’s misery by softening my Americanized Asian cuisine. The vegetables float to the top and I watch them sputter about. I rub my eyes, set the cup on the coffee table and doze.
My noodles are cold and soggy. Not thinking about the waste, I crawl silently into bed, listening, even in my weak, sleepy haze what my neighbor “Ryan” must be doing. Sleeping? We’re sleeping together…we are. He on one side of the wall, I on the other. Making contact through the connection our bodies have with the physical matter that separates us. I lean my fingers against it, imagining him doing the same, the coolness chilling my spine. Shuddering once, I close my eyes and dream of both Ryan and Mindy having and office affair. Both deformed, while I look straight on saying something like, “It’s they’re humanity, I guess.”
Monotony, monotony, monogamy. The only romantic relationship I have is with my job, it seems. We’re always together, and no one or thing comes before. Oh god! I’m a mindless drone. How pitiful. I’m practically falling asleep while I type in Adobe. What is it I do? Who knows, who cares, really. I’m so comfortably bored most of the time that the answer is fuzzy.
Mindy flickers by. My peripherals catch her garters peeping out from under a tiny velvet black skirt. Classy. Who the hell wears garters anymore, anyways? Or velvet?
“Yo.” Rick’s stands in front of the opening to my cube.
I glance at him. Hm.
“So…What are we doing tonight?” His black eyebrow is cocked and ready for seduction.
“Um, too familiar, there Ricky Martin. I have a date with work, tonight.”
“I wish you’d give up on that marriage. Or at least be a little unfaithful and have a fling with me.”
I laugh. How corny.
“Come on Babe.”
“We’re not even remotely there, yet.” I sing
His retaliation is smug and claustrophobic. He swings my chair around, drops down, putting his face close enough to mine that our noses are almost touching. His breath is clean and soft, and it carries his words like smoke.
“Then let’s get there.”
“I have work!” My adamancy makes my cheeks glow.
Rick smiles at this, and as I lower my face, he tips it back up with his forefinger.
“God, Rick, weren’t you at the harassment meeting this month?” I shove my chair back and smack the corner of my little office space.
“Oh come on, Renea! We work in entertainment. What the hell does harassment even mean here. I’m not asking you to pose nude for me, I just wanted to eat some food and talk with you outside of this little box of yours.”
I admit, Rick is some sight, standing there, arms thrown exasperated at his side, palms up his hair a black thundercloud casting intense shadow over his distressed eyebrows. It’s rather charming how much he seems to want. I can’t help but suppress a chuckle with my hand. How girlish of me.
“It’s not a box, Rick.”
“It’s a cube!” I call out after him.
It’s 8 o’clock. I’m seemingly alone. I’ve got the spread for the gossip column coming together in front of me; violated people staring questioningly back at me from out of the Mac screen. I’m somewhat sorry for this invasion of privacy and beginning to ineffectually apologize, when I here some shuffling from the end of the hall. Ceasing the progress on my horrible masterpiece, I listen again.
A laugh. A very characteristic laugh. A Mindy laugh. Oh, yeah…this is happening. I picture myself in third person narrative, the glow of the tinted lights hazy and warm, my body clutched by shadow as I tip toe down the hall towards the noise. Something has taken over my sense of self, my vision floats in a soft fog as I’m drawn stealthily along. I have become that sad little creature that haunts the outskirts of others’ experiences. I’m siphoning the air for a taste, a touch, through sound. I stop at the door, it’s closed, but not sound proof. The words muttered are muffled and slurred with the heat of the moment. Mindy has most definitely acquired her latest infatuation. Her hot breath pumping the air, I can almost feel her desire for release from her body. From the beautiful capsule which holds her spirit captive. To have it broken, tossed aside, forgotten. An equalizing moment when sight and beauty become the lesser gods of desire.
I linger till the sound stops, then relinquish my hidden post. My guilt, I know, transfixed in my expression. Thank god no one is here to see my messy fingerprint. But a part of me almost wishes someone would.
I close up shop. Touch the keyboard, savoring the sensation. I shut off my dirty layouts of guilt and debauchery and as the monitor fades to black, my own face reflects out of the dark screen.