Thursday, October 07, 2004


The first time Maxine touched her, kissed her, drew her near, Jessie couldn’t stop herself from shaking. Horrified at the lack of control, the complete disconnect between mind and body, she willed her hands and arms to be silent, still. Pleaded with them to return Maxine’s caresses with strong, steady passion. To please, please, for god’s sake stop that helpless, hopeless, pathetic shaking.

“It’s really not that big of a deal,” Maxine assured her later, with a gentle, teasing giggle. “Lots of people shake a little their first time.” But Jessie figured that Maxine most likely hadn’t—that Maxine had somehow been comfortable and sexy and smooth from her first time onward, had simply glided from admirer to admirer, petting them, soothing them, making them feel that it was all too good, too unreal, to be true. And after three weeks of dating—just when Jessie had dared hope that it actually could and would last—Maxine had nonchalantly, gently, set her back down where she first found her. Placed her back on the cushion on the edge of her condo couch and told her that she’d met someone—an artist who was older, interesting, Latina. Jessie had stared straight ahead, suddenly developing a keen fascination with the Frida Kahlo print hanging on the opposite wall. And as Maxine spoke calmly, carefully, about how they could still be friends, Jessie studied Frida’s sexy mustache and the deranged monkey leering in the background. And then she said of course she understood and returned a brief hug and went home to cry.

Now, as she sat across the table from Paul in Lambda Café finishing off a late-night Tuesday dinner, she found herself longing for the humiliating, debilitating shaking, the euphoric disbelief, the wrenching hurt and loss. Instead, she sat numb, distracted, far removed from feeling much of anything at all. Scraping the last bit of cold linguini off her plate and tracing her fork back and forth through the remaining sauce, she let her words carry on some colorless conversation without her. Let them fill up space as expected and required while she herself slipped further inward.


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