Strip, Cheesecake, Red

So says the nametag currently affixed to my khakis. It refers to the type of steak, dessert, and wine I've ordered. I must wear this, in public, to the company Christmas party, as we are apparently idiots who can't remember free cheesecake.

Strip, cheesecake, red. Well, if that isn't my whole damn life on a one-inch sticker.

Strip. Hi! Meet my heart. It wants to fall in love with you. It's dropping towards infatuation right now, as a matter of fact, so hold my hands across the dinner table a little tighter, please. Also, may I help you remove my bra?

Cheesecake. I don't usually look like this, you know. The perfume is Estee Lauder, the makeup artfully laid, and the hairspray thick. Also, may I help you remove my bra?

Red. Some people bleed blood. I bleed words, and bent-over tears, and full on zooming joy. It is no wonder I follow rocket trajectories with such fascination: Up goes the payload, all rumble and fire and steam. Away goes gravity, floating and free. Back down again, burning away flinders of self and soul as the planetary fall slams in.

"Ballast is what I want. I totter with every breeze," John Adams wrote in desperation as he reflected on the ideal quality he sought in a wife, who was waiting for him in the form of the exemplary Abigail. In the last fifteen minutes, I have cycled through a sense of I'll-live quietude to all-is-lost-and-I-can't-bear-it tears to bald amusement at "Strip, cheescake, red." I have been alternately hungry and nauseated for hours.

"You are impatient. About everything," my mother told me last night. "You invest too much too soon. And then you get hurt." Call the boy, swing low. Kiss the boy, swing high. Having never dwelt in middle ground, I was far too affected by both. It makes me a writer; it also makes me exhausted. Both are what they are.

And I am me: strip, cheesecake, red.

December, 2003

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