A User’s Guide To My Brain And Body
Congratulations on your new girlfriend.
Here at Katie Tandy™ we want to express our mutual excitement about your new relationship. The Katie Tandy™ Temporary User’s Guide has been designed to assist you after your recent acquisition of exclusivity.
This small, noisy model isn’t our best-seller — this Cusp-of-33-Year-Old Theater Kid GOLD Edition has its idiosyncrasies — but those previous customers who’ve assembled it properly have given glowing testimonials on its endurance, pliability, and color scheme.
The information and diagrams provided here — written for your edification in the vernacular of the Cusp-of-33-Year-Old Theater Kid GOLD Edition (designed to acquaint you with her distinctive asides and flourishes) — will answer many of your questions and prepare you for every step of the “boyfriend” experience, making this transitional time exponentially easier.
This manual will provide you with suggested maintenance guidelines, outlines the limited warranty commitment — component by component — and guarantees your safety.*
*All safety equipment is included in the auxiliary package. This includes, but is not limited to: respirators, hearing protection, safety nets, face and eye protection, and flares. Just as the U.S. Department of Labor states: “A comprehensive plan is necessary for any confined space entry.” If manual is not followed, Katie Tandy™ cannot take responsibility for subsequent malfunctions.
A Brief Overview Of The Bodily Self
I am a touch junkie. If left to my own devices, I will bury my face between your neck and shoulder whenever possible. (It smells like bread in there.) I will take your hand in mine and bite your long knuckled fingers.
I almost can’t remember a time when I didn’t crave the body. It started with my own — I began masturbating in earnest, with intention, at age 8. We played a makeshift GUTS — may Mo and the Aggro Crag live forever! — in my backyard on my jungle gym, so it started in the classic, climbing-the-rope situation, which soon escalated to my Bumble Ball in my closet, which soon escalated to rolling around with my best friend, which gave way to holy-shit, who will TOUCH ME ALL THE TIME?
The point is, I want to ride your hand up to its hilt. I want to see your eyes perched above my dark mound of black hair and tug on your ears. I want to dissolve my every thought — silence my brain that throbs and spins and never stops ever, won’tyouleavemealone — in the sound of air escaping my lungs, the bursts of white light behind my eyelids, your voice saying, I feel you.
The point is, I want to ride your hand up to its hilt.
I want to be the pounding of blood between my legs, the slickness on my thighs, on your stomach. Can we burn and bite and taste each other until we’re so exhausted it hurts to pee even though it’s a school night?
How about we not talk at all until I’ve drained the mason jar beside your bed of all its water and I can feel myself grow silent and content and laughing, I feel you rush out of me, but I like it and want to sleep in it once in a while, so I do.
Please kiss my eyelids when we have sex. I find it to be the most tender lovely thing on earth.
Please hold my hand absentmindedly while we’re doing other things. It’s reassuring and reminds me that I am tethered to the earth.
I love being naked/in various states of undress and wish everyone was more into that in general. If you want a demure lover, partner, girlfriend, boo, sugar, darling, or love-bitch — who won’t flash nipples or underpants or chat in her towel to whoever is around or try to cajole nakedness from her companions the moment nature is around — I can’t be that love-bitch for you.
Watching people make out is the best. It’s better in Europe because everyone here is too uptight to really lay it the fuck out on each other’s faces and it’s a real shame. It’s so weird how much we love to mash our faces together and I love it and I will stare until you drag me away.
I want to touch everyone all the time. Their face and hair. I want to cup my hand on their shoulder and tell them their freckles are summer incarnate.
On My Penchant For Crying
I can be very anxious and depressed and nihilistic and I very well might wake you up in the middle of the night to sob all over your face and say, the world is so badly made.
I might see a Friendly’s and think of my mean, brilliant bitch of a grandmother who used to take me there for grilled cheeses or see an old cat whose fur is all wet and I might start crying and if that makes you uncomfortable or confused or you can’t relate to being bottomed the fuck out by how badly made the world is, we’re gonna have to go ahead and call it off right the hell now. If you’re not chronically disturbed by the human race and the lengths to which we’re wrong to one another, let us also part. Philip Roth writes in the Human Stain:
“We leave a stain, we leave a trail, we leave our imprint. Impurity, cruelty, abuse, error, excrement, semen — there’s no other way to be here. Nothing to do with disobedience. Nothing to do with grace or salvation or redemption. It’s in everyone. Indwelling. Inherent. Defining. The stain that is there before its mark.”
I’m inclined to agree. There is simply no other way to be here than in pain.
On The Fleetingness Of Physical Objects In My Orbit
I will be late a lot, my phone will be dead a lot, and I really, really hate lists. I will alternatively leave or lose my phone, wallet, and keys around town a lot and I really am working on it but I have really bad ADD (diagnosed!) and although I sometimes take Adderall to try and focus it makes me feel edgy and terrible and so mostly I just try not to forget, but that doesn’t work all the time. The key to lancing your incredulous rage that one person could be this bad at remembering things (believe me I induce said rage in myself) is believing me when I say it’s not because I don’t care enough.
When I forget things — which will be once a day — please try your best not to sigh in a terribly fatherly fashion. It makes me enraged and miserable.
(The emotional equivalent of sitting in someone else’s pee on a public toilet seat.)
On Notions Of Love And Foreverness
I have fallen prey to some (maybe) very scary societal steepings and ideally, I’d like us to be obsessed with one another. Not co-dependent or jealous — please! go and dirty dance with stranger-ladies and stay out long and hard and foster weird and wonderful hobbies that have nothing to do with me — but I’d like to feel really, really lucky to have found one another. (Not unlike two eccentric crabs who’ve been on the prowl for a shiny black rock for decades when we SHOULD be looking for dinner and then one night when we’re both ardently searching for that black rock we knock claws or eyeballs [just how does that work?!] and realize we were actually looking for each other.)
A Standard Philosophical Sidebar I/One Engage(s) In
Who. Who will hold all my pieces? Can I just hold my own pieces? Keep my own story? I feel as though it’s like 100 people having read all the chapters of a very long very good very sad and funny book . . . but only one chapter each. Together they know it dearly, but no one knows it in its entirety. And so with every year that passes and as my keepers move and fade, chapters are lost. Pages torn, stained with coffee. They’re illegible now, the passages overly underlined, over interpreted. Some ignored or streaked through with Sharpie.
The intensity of my parents’ marriage, fraught as it is, makes me wonder if this is the wattage that draws them together like moths — alternating flame and insect. Living as mutual keepers of their other selves. Holding all the context of another life.
I have a chronically fuzzy tongue.
My mouth almost always tastes like fingernails because I compulsively bite them. (I do not believe this is why my tongue is fuzzy.)
I feel very ambivalent about having children.
I am almost singing all of the time.
I have a lot of stories. I will tell them loudly and with much gusto at parties. If that embarrasses you in a bad way, I am again, not the love-bitch for you.
I will make a lot of plans. I am not scared of dying — because I heartily believe I will become soil and baby deers will nibble my tender grass-shoots — but life feels very, very short and I am desperate to fill it it to the brim with long, colorful nights lest I feel I squandered it, and stare bitterly into my bedside mirror when I’m old and grey and full of sleep.
(I also believe in ghosts. And yes I know those two beliefs are largely irreconcilable, but I don’t feel like arguing about it very much. I just feel both are true.)
I will often choose my friends not over you but certainly in equal measure because I’m paranoid you and I won’t pan out and I’ll be left with a gaping heart-hole the size of a peach-pit (which is just about a third of the whole goddamn thing) and it’s best not to take those kinds of risks.
I have a really bad mouth and my laugh is medium loud so if you hate getting dirty looks* from strangers in restaurants sometimes, this isn’t going to work either.
*I am very sweet to waitstaff, however.
I’m fucked up about my parents.* I’m obsessed with them and they’re both A LOT and I talk to them and about them all the time and you are just gonna have to be into that on some level. I will say, they are both really funny and very kind and I don’t act weird around them at all.
*Can I tell you that I might marry you because when my parents die I might die too? I think we might be a little like cucumbers, likely to perish if our roots are disturbed. I believe people can die from sorrow, heartbreak, betrayal. I dated an Englishman for a couple months who was purposefully callous — with the exception of discussions surrounding his father. One night we had drunk too much as we always did and I said, “I might have to marry someone just to scrape me off the floor when my father dies!” (That’s where I always imagine the final snap will happen. Something about all that white tile.) I said it at the time to be coy and hyperbolic — one of my specialities. Maybe we’ll get married because you’re just as fucked up and overly attached to your parents as I am! I brought my face close to his and smiled into his mouth. But then I realized, sipping my too-big martini, that it was true. So are you up for that? My inevitable mental collapse? I am rather buoyant and my “genes are good” — I’ll probably stay lithe-limbed forever if that’s any comfort? But boy oh boy, get ready for one spooky bitch you’ll be sharing tear-soaked pillows with around age 65.
I poop a lot and hate to close the door because it makes me feel really lonely.
I love gardening, but I’m not very good at it. Please be excited when I show you some baby zucchinis that are growing. It will really hurt my feelings if you don’t show interest. It’s not rational, but what can you do.
I have a lot of guy friends and will always kiss them hello and sit on their laps sometimes and flirt mercilessly. But I flirt with everyone. Including every dog I meet.* This is not a sign of disrespect. When I am with you I am so fucking with you, you don’t even worry about it.
*I love animals. I don’t do that the high-pitched squealing thing BUT I will show you videos of inter-special friendships between animals and I will be highly moved and I need you to understand (even vaguely in a gauzey not-so-clear way) that inter-special friendships are the surest sign of God’s existence.
I will talk about books I’ve read a lot. It’s okay that you haven’t read them but please listen to why I love them; books and stories are the way I understand the world in many ways.
I will always bake you a cake for your birthday if you’re into that and make a big deal of it — I love birthdays.*
*This includes my own birthday. I can’t help it; I know I’m too old to care this much, but I still love to get dressed up and have everyone sing around me even though it’s mortifying.
I will drink too much a couple times a month but I don’t behave too badly.
I oddly subscribe to antiquated niceties. A weird handwritten note is just about the best, and I love flowers.
I will keep you up late every night if you’re not careful and you’ll be tired a lot. Tell me you need a quiet night ahead of time and I will try and respect that.
I pretty much hate sports and fundamentally disagree with all the things it sets into motion . . . I try not to be a harpy about taking man-children and turning them into demi-gods we can then desecrate and render bankrupt and broken-bodied . . . but I can be rather snide. The takeaway is that I will probably never join you at a sports bar, I find it too depressing.
I will always want you to dance with me if it’s at all remotely appropriate. Please dance with me, we’re all going to die and everything is moving too fast, you might as well sway with my body next to yours.
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