First Chapter: Man Hands
Sandwiches and Sorrow
“What you need is to be fucked.”
Ashley says this to me, and I sorta can’t breathe. The not-breathing is because I’m winded from giving Ash and Sadie a very long monologue about how desperate and alone I feel now that my divorce is final. A divorce I wanted, mind you, but the end of my marriage is devastating.
I’ve failed at marriage.
My Monologue of Despair was so all-consuming that I haven’t even taken a bite out of my crisp, gooey Cuban sandwich with garlicky mojo sauce. That’s how bad things really are—I let that slice of salty ham heaven just sit there and get soggy and cold, like my love life.
Because I am in despair.
So after Ash says, “You need to be fucked,” I can’t breathe. It’s partly because my nose is filled with snot over my sorrow, and also because, goddamn it, she’s right.
I take a bite of the sandwich, just so, you know, she’ll continue with this line of thought.
“…and I’m not talking that kind of ‘Oh you complete me’ bullshit and ‘Can I touch you here’ lovey shit. I mean the growling, fumbling, grunting—”
“Biting,” Sadie adds as she steals one of my fries.
“—biting kind of hot fucking. You know, headboard-knocking fucking. The kind where you’re all…”
“Sweaty?” I guess.
“Yes! Sweaty, but that good kind of sex sweat, right? Like when you’re done and you’re starving and you go to the store for ice cream, people take one whiff of you and they know. They know!”
“They know you got the dick,” Sadie finishes.
I sort of giggle-burp because I’m really emotional right now and this sandwich is so good, and Sadie, a therapist and a mom to newborn twin girls, isn’t one to use the word “dick”. Usually, it’s penis, if she says anything at all. She’s my most anatomically correct friend.
“What I’m saying is—” Ash holds up one finger to mark her place while she drains the rest of her beer. “—stop wallowing and let’s find you someone to screw.”
I swallow another bite of my sandwich, and then I realize a bearded waiter is leaning over the adjacent table, mesmerized. He’s polishing the same few inches of the wood surface over and over again with a dirty gleam in his eye.
Also, he’s wearing really tight hipster pants.
That’s when me and my friends—my dear friends from college, my soul sisters—share a secret glance of amusement. We’re at eye level with his crotch and the evidence therein. He’s not our waiter, but it’s clear that he’d still like to help us out with anything we want…and not just food and beverages.
Ash leans forward, maybe to get the waiter’s attention by hoisting up her boobs, or maybe she just wanted to rest them on the table. “You, sir. I can see you’re invested in this conversation. Can I ask you a rather blunt hypothetical question?”
I try to kick her under the table, but I am on my second mojito and the first mojito went straight to my fine-motor skills, meaning I am one mojito away from drooling, two away from peeing.
He blinks, and then he blinks again. He moves his skinny hips closer to the end of our table and I have to avert my gaze. “Hit me. I love this conversation.”
“Well then.” Ash shoots me a look. “Hypothetically,” she asks, “would you fuck my friend? Like, a good fuck? Not a romantic fuck?”
Blink. Blink. Blink. Then: “I’m working a double shift,” he says.
“I’m not talking reality,” Ash scoffs. “I’m talking hypothetically. You know that hypothetically means in the supposed universe, right? As in, just in theory?”
He adjusts his pants. There is a marked swelling on one side of his leg, and I can’t help but do a double take. That enlargement travels almost to his knee. I mean, it’s a fucking anaconda. He could jump rope with that thing.
“Sure,” he says. “I mean, not that I would, I’m totally engaged to my girlfriend. It’s on Instagram and everything. We had chalkboards with our names on it and the date and all. But yeah. I’d totally fuck her.” He leans down and whispers, “Against. A. Wall.”
There is a pregnant silence, by which I mean I could almost get pregnant just basking in his stare. His eyes are on my generous cleavage. Sometimes I find that sort of behavior from a waiter rude. But he’s not our waiter. And since we just invited him to hypothetically boink me, I can’t really hold it against him.
Sadie snorts, breaking the silence. “Hopefully not these walls,” she says, motioning to the wood paneling. “Splinters.”
“Ow,” he agrees, leaning close to me, and I swear he smells like wonderful things, including bacon. “I get off at three a.m. Just saying.”
There is another awkward pause, and I pass the time admiring his trouser snake. I’m a little worried that it’s going to bust out of his pants all Hulk-like. Some kind of response is required of me, but mojitos and pheromones have rendered me speechless.
“She’s not going to be wallbanged by an engaged man,” Sadie says, answering for me.
Right. I’m not. I’m not one for casual…wallbanging. I need an emotional connection. I needed someone like…Steve.
My emotions suddenly flood me again as I picture Steve. Slender Steve. My husband. My ex-husband. Our first kiss. The first time we made love, and he apologized because he couldn’t keep an erection. The last time we made love and…he apologized for not keeping an erection.
Ash snaps her fingers in front of my face. “Stay with us, Brynn! Don’t go toward the light!” To the waiter she says, “Check, please!”
He speeds off.
“All right,” Ash says, fishing her credit card out of her purse. “What did we just learn?”
“The waiter has an extra limb?” I offer.
“Oh, honey,” Sadie says with a sigh. Motherhood has made her a very effective sigher. “Answer this question for me: is that man attractive? I mean—are you attracted to him?”
I think about it before answering. I sip the rest of my mojito until it slurps. I try to analyze the peculiar warmth and throbbing in my vagina. Is it attraction or a urinary tract infection? Hmm.
“Yes. I am attracted to him.” I mean, he’s skinny and wearing tight pants and has a funky mustache. He looks like he writes poetry and listens to Philip Glass or something. His skin is slightly translucent, even though it’s June.
He’s totally my type.
“That’s what I thought.” Sadie grips my hand. Her fingers are cold and so fragile. “As your friend… No, as your therapist, I’m telling you from here on out, if you’re attracted to a guy, it’s a giant red flag. I agree with Ash that you totally need to be fucked, and we should make this our mission as your friends and sisters by choice. But here’s the thing—you can’t be attracted to the guy. Not at all.”
“Wait.” I’m having trouble following her, which is probably the mojitos’ fault. “You want me to fuck someone unattractive?”
They shake their heads in perfect synchronicity. “No, babe,” Ash says. “You need to do the nasty with someone who isn’t your type. If your body is responding with all those whozits and whatsits, then you need to run away because your instinct is just plain wrong. You make bad choices.”
Sadie is nodding along. “Really bad.”
“So…” This can’t be a good idea. “You want me to jump back into the dating world, forgetting that my tender emotions that have been run through a pasta machine.” (I’m a food blogger. Don’t judge my metaphors.) “You want me to ignore my instincts? My own body?”
They’re nodding. They’re totally nodding!
I think of Steve again and when I told him I was leaving him. “Ah,” he’d said.
I burst into tears.
The waiter brings us the bill and another mojito for me. “On the house,” he says and winks. His mustache, I swear, waves.
Ash and Sadie don’t say anything. Oh no. They just let me sit for a while. It’s loud in here, with the sounds of laughter and carefree Friday night cavorting. But it’s all weirdly quiet in my mind. “Okay,” I finally say. And then I drink the rest of my mojito in one long, impressive slurp.
I also think I pee a little.