Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I am taking a creative nonfiction course - essentially, memoir writing. My first attempt...

Boob Tube
By Rebecca L. Morrison

I am watching the Bachelorette; you are talking. My darling, something’s gotta give.

Today, you see, is Monday, Ryan, and you know what happens on Monday nights – you kiss me during the commercial breaks. Otherwise, you sit tight and shut the hell up. I am super, super duper invested in Ashley’s search for love, clearly, and I’d appreciate it if you would respect that.

Remember what happened last night, Ryan? I do. It’s hard to forget a movie about a doctor who sews Person B’s open mouth to Person A’s 100 percent functional anus, attached to their very full intestines, and so on down the line.

Person B is Caucasian, American, young, and female. That could be me.

I squirmed and whimpered throughout the film, but you told me to “stop being a giant fucking vagina” and watch it with you.

I bet you were scared too. I bet that’s why.

You fell asleep promptly after the credits rolled. You had to work early the next morning, so instead of rousing you to hold me through the night, I quivered alone in the living room, even though I knew the door was dead-bolted. I let you snore.

I froze at every sound, every pitter-pat, jingle, and mew Audrey made as she padded around the apartment, high on nip. Finally, she settled in my lap, and I let her snore.

Until 2am, I bided my time. I watched King of the Hill and finished my box of chardonnay until my psyche was fuzzy enough to forget the vulnerable expression on Person B’s face when Person A could no longer hold his bowels.

But that was Sunday, my love, and today is Monday. I’ve stumbled through my day on three hours of sleep. Each time my thoughts drift – often, as is the case with my ADHD generation – I am the girl on the operating table, relentlessly imploring her captor, despite absolute knowledge of the inescapable nature of the horrors to come.

I can escape what she couldn’t, though, in the form of reality television. After lunchtime, when my vegetarian chili reminded me of Person B’s all too grotesque meal, I knew I had to strain my eyes to locate the light at the end of the tunnel, or else I’d claw them out before I made it through the day.

Each time my mind gruesomely wandered, I replaced those terrors with visions of Ashley astride an elephant in Phuket, Thailand, arms wrapped around…could he be her future husband? After tonight’s episode, I’ll be a step closer to knowing for sure, although I’m hoping she chooses Ames, the Ivy-League grad. This is what lifted my spirits high enough, past The Human Centipede, resting in a place where I could effectively evade the repugnance of the previous evening.

It was almost eight o’clock. My television, set to remind me to tune my channel to The Ashley Hebert Show, as if I’d ever forget, illuminated our silence with a program we’d jointly agreed upon.

“I’d marry Daniel Tosh if he’d have me,” I told you, inattentive to your insecurities. “This is the third time this week I’ve watched this episode of Tosh.0, and I’ll be damned if he doesn’t make me smile every single time. I think I am in love with him.”

Our silence was persistent and rich with the way you studied him, taking wardrobe cues, making note of mannerisms – impressing me has always been our theme. That’s what you get for dating an only child, Ryan, and I told you that in the beginning, back in January, halfway through Season 15 of The Bachelor.

“And on Mondays, I watch The Bachelor,” I told you. “I watch Tosh.0 for a half-hour beforehand. I switch to ABC at seven fifty-five on the dot, because I refuse to miss a second of it. During commercial breaks, I get up to refill my wine glass – always white, always dry. The channel does not change until ten.”

“Does that make you happy, princess?”

“Like you can’t even imagine.”

“Then that’s what will happen on Monday nights, princess. You’re adorable.”

As cold January turned to colder February, Ryan, you grew icy too. Attempts to coax me away from my Monday nights in front of the television scented the air between us, polluted by the money you owed me and the fights we had when I tried oh-so-gently to remind you that McDonalds is not its own food group. March didn’t thaw you, and I sat alone nursing a wine glass at your brother’s wedding. They ran out of white; I drank red.

Tonight, it was seven fifty-five on the dot, and you told me you needed beer. In fact, you would not shut up about it, frenetically rambling like my sophomore-year roommate, Ben, after the exhaust from his last pinch of weed scented the air in our den.

“Cool, go get it then,” I mumbled. “The keys are on the dining room table.”

You spent all your money on the pizza you got me for dinner, you remarked, and – yes, I heard you the first, second and third times! – you needed beer. But, Ryan, the last time I trusted you with my debit card, you came home from the store, and I was thirty dollars poorer. I just don't understand why anyone could ever need that many bags of chips.

The day before, we'd visited your mother's house.

"I got a $300 speeding ticket last week," you had admitted to me as you drove us there, sheepish and sudden, as I slumped in the passenger's seat immersed in text messaging. "That's why we didn't go out to brunch this weekend. That's why I've been saving."

"Saving? As in the money you told me you were saving for our apartment?" Our plans of moving in together - no, officially moving in together; I challenge you to find your name on my lease - altogether vanished.

"Yeah, saving. I was going to tell you. It's for the ticket."

I slumped further, plump, creamy thighs catching, squealing on the leather of your Toyota's seat, slick with the humidity of a late Virginia June that always makes my skin break out.

The speeding ticket was in fact $400, Ryan, which I discovered as your mother hastily thrust you a check made out to your insurer the moment we pushed open her screen door.

"This is the last time," she hissed, flinging limp arms towards the ceiling in a gesture of frustration, a woman long ago defeated. In thirty years, that could be me.

I'm wondering how the $400 you claimed to have saved left nothing but a zero balance in your bank account this evening, as you ask me once more about the beer.

Don’t tell me I never make sacrifices for you. “We will run to the bodega. I will buy you one six-pack of Coors. We will make it back by eight oh-one,” as I scrambled for my flip-flops.

Eight dollars later, we’re nestled in our separate chairs. I missed the first six minutes of The Bachelorette, and you are talking. And I realize, Ryan that I was scared last night, but perhaps it wasn’t the movie.

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