The New Lexicon Of Unsanitary Lewdness
A Short Story by Jeremy Benjamin
Written using the suggestion "Invasion"
Originally featured on 10-06-2008
As part of our series "The Bigger They Are, The Harder Empires Fall (The Ions Behind the Scenes of Every Regime Change)"

Theresa scooped Cajun-salty peanuts into her mouth with more ferocity than usual. “So then he split town with his new bimbo, and it only took me three pints of Ben ‘n Jerry’s to realize that, y’know what? This is perfect. I’m glad. Really glad. Not, like, hope she gives him an undiscovered STD and his nuts grow gnarly, malevolent purple teeth and nibble his dick off glad. Just, I dunno, calm.”

On the big screen TV to Theresa’s back, a touchdown was scored and a litter of college students with backward baseball caps roared and raised their glasses. To her left, the dance floor was primarily populated by Asian women wearing bright colors, a cascade of nylon-clad hips articulating the pulsing hip-hop, not caring that the songs were slightly outdated. Theresa could not decide which attraction interested her less.

Tyrone, her best friend from high school, looked unwaveringly at her as she vented. She wanted to think he was mocking their surroundings with his silence, but she knew that he was stupider than that; he was genuinely unaware of anything else. In his sleeveless racecar jersey, sideways purple visor cap and shaved head, he would have almost looked his age — old enough to drink but not quite old enough to know when to stop — if not for his dopey grin. A momentary air current blew in her direction from an opened door and she caught a faint whiff of…cologne? Tyrone’s dopey grin suddenly made sense: it said, I’m wearing just a pinch of cologne, not enough to smell, but enough to getcha unconscious to like whatcha smell. She wished he would ignore her and pretend not to watch the game — anything but look at her like that. This was a bad idea.

She continued speaking, before letting herself become infuriated with him. “It’s that cliché, the classic woman thing, then they uncork and get all boohoo, back and forth, back and forth till they make you seasick- but no, I’m truly relieved. For reals. Did I just say for reals? I don’t talk like that. Pretend I didn’t say that. But, um, don’t pretend I didn’t say the other stuff.” Had she found him annoying a moment earlier? If so, she could not recall why. That dumb, innocent jock look on his face was so endearing, she just wanted to squeeze him, take a bite out of his hard, meaty shoulder, chew his flesh like bubblegum until it lost flavor and then stick it on the back of his jeans.

He took another drink and she remembered what an idiot he was. A sensitive idiot.

 

Tyrone rolled his eyes and tipped his beer back quickly so that the surge of liquid would scratch the itch in the back of his throat. She wanted him to say something intelligent, but she probably didn’t think he was capable of the kind of repartee she was in need of tonight. He hated how she always sold him short like that.

Usually when they went out, she wore leather pants and…something festive. At the very least, she usually let her hair down. This time she wore it tied back in an elastic band, slightly lopsided. She was wearing baggy jeans and no makeup (not like she ever needed any). She always dressed down when her goals for the evening were analytical ones. He said, “Next you’re going to tell me how liberating it is being single.”

“Well, yeah. I do what I want. It’s grand.” Her elbows were on the table. She was bored. At any moment she might become angry. That was okay. If she wanted emotional support, that would be a piece of cake.

Ignoring his drink, he said, “Nobody does what they want.”

Her elbow flew off the table as if the table was on fire. “Yeah- alright- y’know what? You can stop right there. I’ve only had one drink, and you’ve only had two years of high school, so no talking abstract.” This was not going to be easy. She didn’t want it easy, whatever it was. He didn’t mind playing that game.

“I been there,” said Tyrone. “It’s not so grand.”

“And don’t be peddling no sad story on me. I just got walked out on, and I ain’t sobbing on your shoulder. But if you think I’ve got any sympathy to give tonight, you’d be pushing your luck. No- this whole thing is stupid. Let’s talk about something else.”

Tyrone made the palm-over-forearm timeout gesture. This was too much. “Now wait a sec. You think just because I’ve got hair on my chest and a thingy ‘tween my legs, I don’t got any insights on relationships? I’ll take discourse on romancin’ over discourse on the NFL season any day. Dissecting the intricacies of the complex things people do when they’re deeply, post-rationally, orgasmically in love-”

“I’m sorry, I’d chortle at what just came out of your mouth, because that deserves nothing less than a chortle, but I’m not quite feeling it — give it time. Dissecting… intricacies… I don’t know what girly magazine you browsed in the grocery line today, but I’m damn sure you mangled what words you’re quoting. Still I wish I could laugh at you. ‘Guess you’re learning that there are two things you ain’t getting from me tonight; that and my consolation- Wait, I’d better be careful and make that three things your lonely ass will have to go without this evening, and I won’t be blunt about number three.”

Tyrone took a sip. “I take offense at that. It’s not like you think. Men aren’t all…”

“Until you stop making those eyes at me, yeah, I think you’re all dogs,” said Theresa.

“Making eyes- what are you- Hey, you’re not about to go lezzie on me, are ya?”

“You haven’t given up on the third thing, even after I plainly said what I just said.”

“So what? You’s a foxy lady. Every fella wishes he were your prize, but they know you’re on rebound — it’s like a kid seeing a candy bar behind glass. The kid might break the glass, then he get home and his momma say boy, where’dju get that candy bar?, she see the look on his face and she spank him good, and he learns his lesson about candy bars; see, it’s important for you to understand the psychology of cock. Man wants it like an avalanche want to fall, like lightning want to strike, like night want to turn into day-”

“Cool it, Shakespeare.” Her arms were folded.

He wondered if she knew what the shape of her breasts looked like when her arms were folded, because it always made eyes turn.

He went on. “Let me finish; like…hold on, this is the best one; he wants like- nah, I forget. Wanting is no big thing, because he trains his eye to see where the glass is at, else his conscience deliver a spanking, so he asks his thinking brain whether he deserves it and if he’s got access, and if that’s a negative, he won’t front or throw no fit; everything’s cool, ‘cuz he’s got a thing called maturity. Not being blunt is cool, but there’s another kind of tact, and I’m talking about the unspoken deal ‘mongst platonic friends.”

“And what deal is that?”

“Might I add, platonic friends, that is, who may or may not be horny.”

She loosened her folded arms, no longer broadcasting her breasts. “The deal?”

“Hold on, there, I believe I asked you a question that went unanswered.”

“No, I’m not becoming a lesbian. What’s this deal you speak of?”

The night would go much easier if he kept her attention on him and his rambling, and did not let her run with her own rambling thoughts. It would not matter what he said.

“You know I won’t pull a move because I know better. I don’t hate you for being disinclined, you don’t hate me for wanting that luscious booty; that be how it works. When strangers give dirty looks, it’s because you ain’t yet struck that deal, and they feel invaded by you checking out their sweet ass, and you feelin resentful of them not wantin to know your ugly ass. But we’re friends, and we’s civilized. I can’t stop my eyes from doing they’s thing, any more than you can stop being beautiful. So it’s cool. It’s cool.”

Upon scraping the bottom of the peanut bowl with her unpainted fingernails, she looked at Tyrone. “That was either the most eloquent thing I’ve heard you say yet, or the dumbest thing I’ve heard anybody else say. Either way, I kind of want to punch you.”

“Now that ain’t cool. But anyhow, the point I was making about being single…” Tyrone downed the remainder of his beer and pushed the glass to the periphery of the table. “It’s the natural state, that’s all, like our species — you look down at your firm, smooth, milk chocolate slim belly and you don’t see no slimy rope of skin like something out of an eighties alien movie in the center of it, because that cord’s been sliced cut, make no mistake, we are the smartest animal alive, and nobody messes. Symbiotic my ass.”

“Shut up.”

“What I mean is, there’s nothing special in it. Sounds stupid to call it single, to call it anything. Loving someone — that’s grand. Loving someone every day — that’s even grander. Loving someone in the back seat of a car — that’s a little dirty, but it’s still grand. Loving someone in an elevator- actually, no, that’s just wrong. But my point- I ain’t talking about getting laid. I’m talking about the real-deal-long-haul, the no-fooling-around all-secrets-bared farting-permissible commitment-to-compromise have-and-to-hold-and-to-cherish-and-always-swallow eternal bliss-gasm kindred pact. The It.” Tyrone shifted in his chair. “Then I look at people who are married — or damn near it — thinking cheers, my homeboy’s living the dream. But then I look a little closer and think, naw, I sure don’t envy them. I start thinking when I find the right woman, it’ll be nothing like that, but maybe I’m just fantasizing. Maybe you’re right, single is better. Better maybe, but special? Hell no.” Tyrone removed his purple visor and exhaled. “But wait. What if you could have both? To get sweet lovin, and do what you want. To look a woman in the eye and say, I love you. I love you so much, I love you too much to be in love with you, or to even talk about my love for you, and I don’t mean because it defies language — I don’t believe that, anyhow. I mean…maybe we can be single together, so it’ll be just like we’re living now, except we’ll spend every minute of it with each other.”

“Tyrone, if you’re-”

 

That was when he should have kissed her.

That was the only time he could have kissed her, and he by every means should have kissed her before she finished that thought, table between them or no table between them. He hated himself for not kissing her when she said Tyrone, if you’re-

After they hypothetically would have kissed, there were lots of things that might have been talked about. Things like the two of them engaging in what was known as the Texas Tummy Slop, or the Boston Butt Whistler, or perhaps, if they were feeling particularly kinky and uninhibited, the infamous Schlag-handle Cookie-sheet Slammer might not be out of the question.

And then, after they really got to know each other, he might suggest his personal favorite: The Clock, which was where a couple paused during intercourse, with the man on bottom, and the woman would extend her arms and legs straight out in Superman fashion and the man would slowly spin her one complete rotation about his sex — like a human torque wrench, as the auto-mechanic from whom Tyrone had first learned about The Clock had described it — and once they reached the Twelve O’ Clock position, she would get her knees beneath her to straddle him, and intercourse would resume.

He would start with something relatively harmless, something she could do herself, just to see if she had a taste for experimentation. Something like…

 

“-trying to bewitch me, I may have to slap you on the wrist and send you home.”

Tyrone gawked. “Bewitch you?”

“I wasn’t born yesterday, Tyrone.”

“First off,” Tyrone lifted his empty glass, “if you think I’m in any state to drive my rejected ass home, you’d best have your cell phone on full volume ‘cause I’ll be calling you to pay my bail. Secondly, I don’t know nothing about no occult hypnotism, sending my spirit out through my fingertips and making it move your body around like a rag doll and manipulate your thoughts,” he wiggled his pointed finger and shimmied his body in hyperbole, at which Theresa chuckled, “they should put me on the Discovery Channel, unsolved mysteries, the voodoo king, dark Jedi master, bewitcher stalking the streets, ladies beware of his charm.” He popped his eyes wide, swallowed his lip and twitched his earlobe, and then grew serious while she was still laughing. “I know you wasn’t born yesterday, Reese, but you’ve GOT to be smoking crack, girl, because- come on. I was only expressing to you how I feel. Is it okay witchu if I do that time to time?”

She shook her head. “You’re being a big baby. I’m the one who just got dumped. You’re supposed to be cheering me up, not trying to pick me up. I know how you feel. Believe me, I’ve known how you feel for a long time. It’s easy to see how you feel, because it’s written all over the zipper of your pants, and it looks something like this.” She held up her napkin and pressed her knuckle behind it in a caricature of an erection. “And even if I was blind, I’d still know perfectly well how you feel. So the next time you feel the need to tell me how you feel, assume I’m a little bit smarter than you think.”

The cologne seemed to have erased itself from his pores, and, along with, it, his dopey grin. “That’s harsh.”

“I brought you here to talk about my feelings, and all we’ve done is talk about yours.”

 

Something like…

 

Tyrone frowned. “He’s the stupidest sucker alive for doing what he did to you.”

“Yes, I know that. I didn’t ask you to tell me what I already know. I said I brought you here to talk about how I feel.” She repeated the napkin gesture. “Not this kind of feelings.” She put down the napkin and pointed at her heart. “This kind. Understand?”

“I know he hurt you, but that slut of his won’t be making him any happier. Give him five- no, three days. Three days and he’ll be sobbing at your doorstep, on his hands and knees,” Tyrone imitated exaggerated tears, “baby come back, I need you, I made a mistake, I’ll do anything, oh, baby, pleeeeease.” He made windshield wipers of his fists at his eyes and kept it up until Theresa laughed. Laughing was good. She always lowered her head to the table when he made her laugh, like it was an admission of defeat.

When she looked back up at him, she was angry. “Damn it, Tyrone, you give me just what I need, then you ruin it with those puppy dog eyes again.” She opened her purse, pulled out a condom in a neon green wrapper and threw it at him. “Go grab one of those drunk Asian chicks on the dance floor, take her into the bathroom and then come back to the table when you’re ready to be a good friend and make me laugh some more.”

 

Something like…the Crazenvasion, the one where you marinate two tablespoons of raisons in one tablespoon of milk for thirty-eight hours and then pour the concoction into a condom, tie off the top and then pleasure your girlfriend with it, and then, after she climaxes, you pull it out of her with your teeth, chew on it until the condom bursts, and you eat the flavorful contents. Yeah; that she might like.

 

“You are right about one thing,” said Tyrone, “and that is, I am a perv. But there’s lines that even a perv won’t cross. I don’t do it in bathrooms.”

“Or elevators,” said Theresa.

“How’d you know-”

“You told me so a minute ago,” said Theresa.

“I said that? My mouth is like a dog that will roll around in dooty on the sidewalk if you take your eyes off’m for a second. I don’t even know what I say. Guess I’m just that relaxed around you. I never talk about elevators. That was, um, a traumatic experience.”

“Well since you don’t keep track of what you say, let me tell me what subjects your mouth has neglected to talk about since we got here; me and my situation.”

“Speaking of duty-”

Theresa reached behind her, dunked her hand into the bowl of Cajun-salty peanuts on the next table down — where an elderly couple was seated — and then crammed the mass of peanuts into Tyrone’s mouth and pinched his lips shut. “You should be glad you didn’t say ‘speaking of dogs’ — that would’ve gotten you smacked twice in the face and elbowed once in the groin.”

Tyrone tried to muster intelligence. “You got some unresolved complex of violence?”

“I don’t know. You want to be the first to find out?”

“Actually…I mean, um, no.” Tyrone thought of the Ice-axe Nelson, an act that required a minimum of fifteen band-aids per participant. Tyrone did not usually prefer the masochistic subcategory of pleasure, but as a connoisseur of all unconventional means of arriving at an orgasm, he was no stranger to ritualized pain. “Um, about your man, the lowlife who ditched you, I mean — I never liked him. ‘Not even sure what you saw in him. I was predicting you’d walk out on him before he could do it to you. Guess he’s stupider than I thought.” Tyrone’s mouth was still on fire from the Cajun spice. He grabbed Theresa’s water and downed the rest of it. “I didn’t want to say nothing while you was together, didn’t want to be the jealous friend, y’know-”

“No.” She shook her head hard, closing her eyes in exasperation. “I don’t know why this is so difficult for you. I didn’t mean I want to talk about him. I just want to talk about me. Get it? He’s gone. Gone. As in, don’t want to see his punk face unless its detached from his body and eaten by flies. As in, don’t want to talk about him. I don’t even like saying him.”

Tyrone sighed. “You’re giving me some mixed messages. I understand — you’re hurt, confused, you got some dealin to do. I wish that I could help you, and maybe I am, just by giving you someone to be ticked off at, maybe that’s all you really want from me tonight- some moments you know it, others you think it’s something else, but later you’ll see that there ain’t no logical point to this conversation, it’s a comfort no matter what I say, so I’ll just say the truth, which I believe I already done said. I may be an opportunistic dog, but there’s no mixed messages coming out of these lips: baby…”

 

Tyrone could not think of any other fantasies to suggest. He searched his visual index for obscene images, but looking at her, he could only picture one thing; waking up in a tangle of blankets and squeezing her body for warmth, kissing her earlobe in the dark.

 

Theresa shook her head and said softly, “I’m single and I’ll be single tomorrow” as their torsos drifted closer together.

The college football team on the big screen TV scored another touchdown, the baseball caps cheered and the sexy Asian women continued to grind on the dance floor.

Tyrone reached for Theresa’s hand under the table but found her knee instead. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

The elderly couple, just now noticing the theft of Cajun-salty peanuts, gave Tyrone a dirty look. Dirty looks meant no deal.

Theresa placed her hand over Tyrone’s. A tingle of heat slithered up to his shoulder and disbursed, sending electricity simultaneously to the back of his thighs and his neck.

Dissecting the intricacies might take all night.

Read More By Jeremy Benjamin

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Portland Fiction Project

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