The Enlightened Male: Portrait of a Male Feminist
At a tiny bar east of the old baseball stadium but west of the new baseball stadium sits a five-foot-five, one-hundred-and-sixty-four pound man in a flannel shirt named Drew Tafford. Drew Tafford casually flips through the pages of a photography magazine and notes to himself how quaint it is to do so, smacking his lips in a barely audible ‘nmmm’ that he hopes will draw someone’s attention. The bar he is in serves forty styles of coffee and one kind of beer. It is owned by a woman named Equinox. It is going out of business.
“Drew Tafford is a feminist.”
Drew Tafford says this to himself when he gets out of bed in the morning. Drew Tafford repeats it again in conversations that do not concern feminism. Drew Tafford owns three guitars but only plays classical piano. Drew Tafford has ‘many female friends.’ And to Drew Tafford, who gently sips a twenty six dollar artisanal coffee brewed in an old rice cooker that is also used to cook rice, these things are very normal and very good. “Men should be aware of their shortcomings,” he often tells uncomfortable looking coworkers. “We are the inferior gender, which is also an illusion.”
“Drew Tafford is a feminist.”
Drew was not always so enlightened, as he might say to a passing bag lady or slow-moving dog. Following the contentious breakup with his seven year fiancé Jennifer (who noted, cruelly, that Drew Tafford was not a feminist), Drew was forced to reevaluate his choices and self-awareness as a member of the newly affirmed generation of single millennials. After many agonizing days in the apartment paid for by his parents, he decided to drink ayahuasca tea in the presence of a self-styled Bay Area shaman, puzzlingly enough also named Equinox. Equinox had an AC/DC tattoo on his left thigh and lived in a tent.
“Equinox is a feminist.”
Consumption of the tea did not go as expected, Drew Tafford might tell a shop clerk or nearby baby. The bitter and occasionally lethal concoction used by aboriginal shamans to peer into the realm of invisible gods triggered Drew’s gag reflex and was fired at high speeds from his mouth and nose. The second dose went better, though Equinox left after an hour to re-watch his 2007 Warped Tour Unplugged DVD and Drew Tafford wandered into the street, narrowly avoiding an ice cream truck and three bike messengers. Drew Tafford, having shed his physical vessel to exist as a construct of liquid starlight, did not mind when he continued across a park known for high incidences of armed robbery and off the edge of a lakeside pier. Drew Tafford did not struggle to escape, did not emerge from the water, and drowned.
One hour later, Drew Tafford stood up and walked home.
As the sun sets on the little bar owned by a second Equinox and Drew is forced to leave, he turns to the only other patron and notes, in typical fashion, that Drew Tafford is a feminist. The worlds roll out in a rubbery, hollow tone that slightly unnerves the twenty six year old bicycle repairman, who looks intently at the wall while Drew Tafford turns pleasantly towards the door and notes, again, how quaint this all is. His lips smack again, saliva dribbling down his chin. “Nmmmm.”
As Drew wanders home he chews his lower lip, thinking of Jennifer. He imagines her eyes. He envisions her breasts. He enthrones her heart and her mind and the complex machinery of her organs acting in unison, the electrical impulses of her nerves firing with the crackle of a million steel cannons. His lip breaks open and blood pours across his neck. He bites harder. A chunk of his mouth tears off. He swallows it. Drew Tafford stomps as he walks. His fingers flick to inaudible music. He hums to himself as oncoming pedestrians cross to the other side of the street. All the while Drew Tafford flipping through new memories like channels on a television. “Nmmmm.”
Drew had fallen hard into the water of the garbage-filled lake, which in decades past was renowned as a must-see destination for local newlywed couples looking to rent paddle boats in the shapes of birds, and he smiled. Sinking face first into the ankle-deep silt was very agreeable to him, self-styled feminist and primordial energy being that he was, and the shifting fractals of a tea-induced alien landscape comforted him as brackish water flooded into his lungs. He watched from above as his flesh body lay still, bubbles ceasing to surface from the vicinity of his head and groin, and floated cheerily into the abstract midpoint between time and space that, Drew assumed, would contain all his departed loved ones as well as famous historical figures from throughout the history of mankind. Drew Tafford gazed across a labyrinth of mathematical constructs, endless oceans of sweet-smelling flowers and blazing rings of pure, unrequited love. Ah, the thought, this must be feminism.
Drew Tafford suddenly turned his attention to a peculiar object moving towards him in an odd swaying pattern. It stopped, hesitated, then slowly began to hover downward in the direction Drew’s drug-and-silt-filled body. Drew Tafford, having become one with modern feminism, did not mind this, and merely assumed the shape was curious of the shell that once encased his profoundly misinformed male vessel.
“Drew Tafford is a feminist,” he thought, and the shape stopped for a moment to mimic the phrase back at him before continuing through the gaping, waterlogged throat of Drew Tafford, assuming his motor functions, and walking away.
Another convert. Drew was very proud.
The door to Drew’s apartment opens with an explosive bang, as it has many times in the past several weeks to the great chagrin of his numerous neighbors. Months of mail postmarked to Drew Tafford lays scattered on the floor in overlapping concentric circles, and almost all of Drew Tafford’s furniture is stacked to resemble geometric assemblages present in higher level math courses. “Drew Tafford is a feminist,” says Drew Tafford, placing a wet box on top of chairs arranged in the shape of Ursa Minor. “Drew Tafford is a feminist,” repeats Drew Tafford, pacing up and down the same stretch of hallway in a clomping gait for over three hours. “Drew Tafford is a feminist,” mutters Drew Tafford, motioning to the crumpled form of a sixty two year old man with an AC/DC tattoo on his left thigh. The crumpled form doesn’t respond.
Drew Tafford freezes, his body tense, his eyes fixated in the darkness but focused on nothing. He flexes his fingers back and they snap, one by one, bones splintering and shifting beneath pallid, unwashed skin. His arms swivel and gyrate and crack long against the shadows of his home, legs rip backwards, ligaments pop and shift and break and veins rupture in stolen reds and violets. Drew Tafford rocks gently back and forth, each limb broken and twisted as the new flesh stretches over impossibly old bones, older than time, older than everything, so, so, so very old. He notes to himself how quaint this all is, and puckers.
“Drew Tafford is a feminist.”