Chick for a Day: What Would You Do If You Were One?

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What would you do if you suddenly woke up a woman?

The bestselling Dick for a Day: What Would You Do If You Had One? was an unprecedented crossover phenomenon, tickling humor fans, impressing gender studies buffs, and winning over readers of all ages. Now, in the interest of equality and fairness, editor Fiona Giles turns the tables, recruiting a varied stable of Y-chromosomed word-smiths to wax playful, erotic, and philosophic about how they would react if they suddenly ...

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Overview

What would you do if you suddenly woke up a woman?

The bestselling Dick for a Day: What Would You Do If You Had One? was an unprecedented crossover phenomenon, tickling humor fans, impressing gender studies buffs, and winning over readers of all ages. Now, in the interest of equality and fairness, editor Fiona Giles turns the tables, recruiting a varied stable of Y-chromosomed word-smiths to wax playful, erotic, and philosophic about how they would react if they suddenly discovered they had become distinctly female for a day. "Unlike its predecessor," Giles tells us in her introduction, "for this collection it turned out that a day just wasn't enough!"

Among this collection's brave contributors are alternative press darling Jonathan Ames, acclaimed novelist Rick Moody, premier British poet Jeremy Reed, Nerve founder Rufus Griscom, and rising star Justin Chin. Many of the contributions are comic, some are cautionary, and others are downright strange; but each, at its core, pays homage to women and their sexuality. Beyond the hilarious leaps of imagination and cleverly spun conceits, Chick for a Day's chief revelation is the way physical transformation into a woman encourages greater insights into the mind and spirit of both sexes.

Alternately outrageous and profound, Chick for a Day is an eclectic, unique tribute, loaded with eye-opening reading for men, women -- and everyone in between.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A follow-up to Giles's Dick for a Day, this collection of essays, poems and stories by men fantasizing about becoming endowed with female genitalia for 24 hours contains neither profundity nor insight, although it is amusing and, at times, fascinating. From novelists Rick Moody and Alexander Theroux to NPR correspondent Andrei Codrescu to poets Jeremy Reed and Richard Foerster, a legion of acclaimed wordsmiths both straight and gay weigh in. In her excellent introduction, Giles explains that for many of the women who contributed to the previous collection, putting on maleness gave them a sense of belonging and freedom, whereas femininity, for the men, was often a joke. She writes, "For men to put on femaleness is to stand out as comically shocking, or at least flamboyantly frivolous. If the female costume is exaggerated, this is funny not because women are powerful but because womanhood appears to be an inherently risible option within patriarchy." Few men in the collection actuZally explore what it means to be female in our society. Most of the pieces, like Justin Chin's "Marianne Faithfull's Cunt" and Ronald Sukenick's "Womanizer," focus solely on sex, and plenty of it. Not surprisingly, masturbation (with and without accessories) also proves to be a popular theme. Although some writers gain some insight into male behavior through their exploits, most are content to tire themselves out, along with their new equipment, as quickly as possible. The result is a humorous romp through male fantasy that includes a great deal of primping, pouting and posing. Agent, Elaine Markson. (Feb.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684855172
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 2/14/2000
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 8.74 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 11
The Duke and the Duchess 19
Breast Men 28
Tiresias at Evening 36
Ineluctable Modality of the Vaginal 38
53
A True Story from New Orleans 54
All 59
Dream On 63
Spelunking 69
Pig Family Game 80
Marianne Faithfull's Cunt 81
Horseback 87
Spinach Dress 88
What I Always Wanted 90
Monster 91
The Missionary 106
Sometimes It Ain't Easy Being a Gal 108
117
Cunt Talk 118
Tea for Two 127
The Body He Went to Bed With 129
The Newly Born Man 139
144
The Major Wants to Adopt the Girls 145
Achilles Speaks of His Deception in the Court of Lykomedes 150
Joe Gets Blunzed 153
Pearl Harbor 167
My Lady 178
The Mangina 180
No Offense Intended 192
Go with the Flow 193
X-Ray Dreams, 1963 200
The Hunger of the Day Before 210
The Pill 214
Bacchus in Black Lace 223
So Much to Do and So Little Time 226
I Want to Be a Woman 233
Womanizer 237
Notes on Contributors 250
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First Chapter

Ineluctable Modality of the Vaginal Arguing about Lacan's late seminars, about the petit objet a, or about the theory of the two lips, about the expulsion of Irigary, I think that's what it was, though I'm willing to bet most couples don't argue about such things, at least not after two or three margaritas, probably not under any circumstances at all, but then again we weren't really arguing about that, not about French psychoanalysis, not about the petit objet a, not about Irigary and that sex which is not one, but about some other subject altogether, it's always something else, that's what was making me so sad, how it was always some other subject, a subject that was bumped aside, some isolate, hermeneutical matter that I couldn't pin down in an Upper West Side bar while he was assuming his particularly vehement boy expression, a kind of a phallocratic face, or a carnophallogocentric face, a politics of face simulation, a phallic politics of facial deformation, it should have been about finances, this argument, or about the economic politics of sexuality, or about his inability to allow into debate the discussion of matrimony, which he always said was a social construction of commitment, rather than a commitment itself, and if I could agree with the liberating theory of contingency, the contingency of committed relationships, then I would see that this social construction of commitment was irrelevant, just something that magazines and television programming tried to hard sell me, and it's not that I disagreed, at all, I understood that marriage had feudal originsand was thus about bourgeois power and patrimony, but I took issue with the fact that we could never even discuss the nuptial commitment, because if we did he said that I was assuming a fascist totalizing language, a feminine language in the becoming of male totalitarian language, and then he would start to drink to excess and his face would flush and we couldn't touch each other for a week or more, well, maybe it was on this occasion that I did say it out loud as I too had drunk or was just plain fed up, maybe I raised my voice a little, observed that he was a phallocrat, that despite his seminars in Marxist aesthetics, or whatever, Walter Benjamin, women disgusted him, that the way he required the first and last word, the alpha and omega, was an oppressive thing, always the last word, always a dead stop, which was when he got going on some nonsense, on algorithms of the unconscious, on Borromean knots, those psychosexual and linguistic constructs that are essential to the conjunction of language and consciousness, the gossamer moment of ontology, the knot that binds, the erotic, the feminine, couldn't be untangled, couldn't be separated and formulated outside of feminine consciousness, these knots, a girl thing, Borromean knots, I don't know, up until then we might have found the spot where we agreed that we didn't disagree, and we might have listed the things we agreed on, a history that swept backward behind us, we agreed on being in that certain bar on the Upper West Side and, prior to that, we agreed on certain jukebox selections, Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen or Joni Mitchell if available, and, prior to that, we agreed on a sequence of semesters and vacations, ebbing and flowing, and, prior to that, we agreed on moving in together, cohabiting, and, prior to that, we agreed on a certain narrative of our meeting, a narrative that spun out its thread in this way: both of us trapped on the subway one night when it rumbled to a stop between Ninety-sixth Street and Seventy-second Street, both of us reading, coincidentally, The Lover by Marguerite Duras, straphanging, talking and giggling during the quarter hour that the Number 2 was hobbled in the express tunnel, the injustice of collapsed trains, it was sweet, and I asked for his number, because he was too shy to do the asking, or so we agreed later, and, in my black tights with the provocative stylized tear, he said, which was actually an accidental tear on the thigh, and in my gray miniskirt, which was only slightly racier than office garb, I was the one who was ready to move, ready to yield to some subliminal discourse of romantic love, we agreed on this narrative and recounted it periodically, refining and improving, concretizing or reifying its artifice, and he occasionally included actual passages from the Duras, blunt short sentences, claimed to have read these to me, to have read them aloud in the subway tunnel, as we hung on those straps, though there were no actual straps (it was a train that had only poles and transverses), and though I was actually reading Djuna Barnes, and later anyhow he always said that the romantic was a destructive force, responsible for all the worst poetry of the nineteenth century, responsible even for the theory of Total War, because by extrapolation, there would be no war without the romance of the Empire, the romance of nationalism, the romance of purity doctrines, he even said that he no longer liked Duras, whose i dea of upheaval was decadent, alcoholic, still we wrote this story together, shared the quill, about a time when we had been irresistible, when we used to burst into each other's apartments eager to fling off layers of fashion, when we used to cry out, making use of that philosopher's stone of romantic mythology, jouissance, I admit it, that time was lost, and when in the singular precincts of our separate offices we tried to locate that time, that fabulous unity, it was as part of our intimate folklore of abundance, rather than a part of actual experience, and that was maybe the real argument, the one we didn't have in the Upper West Side bar, that was the stiff breeze, and our relationship was a Mylar balloon slipping out of a toddler's moist fist, helixing around and around up into the elsewhere of the musky New York City skies, landing distantly back in time, during the Sandinistas, during El Salvador, during Iran-Contra, fogbound in the dim past, we had loosed our balloon, even if all this simply made him furious because he always said that I would not stay on a particular subject, that was the problem, the culture of femininity asserted as its moral right a fuzziness with respect to meaning, You're a sloppy thinker!, I arrived at a point, he said, through a kind of labial circulation, a vicus recirculation, as Joyce said, meaning probably both vicious and having to do with Vico, but maybe viscous, too, as in labial, viscous, heavy with a heavy menstrual fluidity, You won't stay on the point, you exceed and overflow, he said, in the bar on the Upper West Side, in the seventh year of our entanglement, our Borromean knot , but I insisted that staying on the point was his way of dictating the terms of the discussion like arguing about whether oval table or rectangular table as preliminary to détente, and if he was willing to let the point vacillate, then maybe he would know what it was like to be on my side of the negotiating table, to be me as I was perceiving him, overcoming in a flutter of jubilant activity obstructions of support in order to hold him in my gaze, perceiving that he didn't care for me any longer, perceiving that we had come to the time in which it was probably right for me to engage the services of a good Realtor, No, he said we were existing in segmentarity, but I said if he would let go of the point, and wear my skirt, feel the constriction of tights for the purposes of being professional without being provocative, being an adjunct without being a castrating cunt, as one guy in the department said of a colleague who didn't try to be a little bit sexy, if he could wear my skirt, he would understand how sad this was all making me, and this is why I was on the verge of tears, in the wood-paneled bar on the Upper West Side, though I refused to allow him to touch me as I cried, as I also refused to use tears strategically, they were just how I felt and I would not conceal it, they were a condensation and displacement, sure, but they required no action, and I was, it's true, a woman with a doctoral degree who believed against all reasonable evidence that there was some justifiability to the Western tradition of marriage, and who happened now to be crying, and who happened to be sad more often than not, who happened to hav e a striping of mascara on her cheeks, okay, but this only made him madder still, and there was the whole elegant spray of his logic about how feminine language undoes the proper meaning of words, of nouns, and that's when I said that he had no idea what it was like, would never know what it was like, that all of his bright, politically engaged, advanced-degreed tenure-track friends would never know what it was like to be a woman, the fact of hips, cervical dilation, labia major and minor, childbirth, breast-feeding, hot flashes, premenstrual rage, an outside that is an inside, circularity, collapse of opposites, it was something that he would never know about, and basically, I went on in my tirade, he secretly really liked it when I cooked, the percussive clanging of pots and pans, the poring over ancient texts like The Joy of Cooking, or Julia Child, he liked to see me doing these things, and after I cooked there was always this stunning moment when the meal was done and the dirty plates and cups and saucers were teetering in a stack around us, in our tiny roach-infested kitchenette, there was this moment of arrest when he would feign a distracted expression, a scholarly absence, as if the life of the scholar were so profound that practicalities didn't enter into it, and it was then that I understood that I was supposed to do the dishes myself, the dishes were my responsibility, even though I had done the cooking, the same was true on the days when he climbed down from his Olympian, woman-hating aerie and deigned to broil a tasteless piece of fish, some bland fillet that he always overcooked, and I was still the one who had to do everything else and had to sponge down t he table afterward, and I was the one who ended up making the bed, and doing the laundry most of the time, washing his fecund jogging clothes that I had to carry, reeking, to the laundromat, and his streaked BVDs, and I was the one who ended up buying the toilet paper, and I was the one who remembered to call his mom on her birthday, and I was the one who wrote the checks that paid the bills that placated the utilities that ensured that the electricity flowed into his word processor and printer and modem, and, I told him, I had done this in the past because I loved him, but that I was thinking maybe that I didn't love him that much anymore, because I didn't know how anyone could be so cruel as he was, cruel enough to cause me to feel that I didn't know what my point was, or that it was inappropriate of me to even attempt to have a point, and yet as Irigary said, The "elsewhere" of the feminine can only be found by crossing back through the threshold of the mirror, so, I observed again, the Dark Continent of the social order, you'll never know it, you'll never know the possible world of the possible universe of womanhood, this Oriental city-state that exists parallel to your own stupid, unreachable, masculine world, you want to tame it somehow and never will and you'll die never having tamed it, femininity, and the barmaid came around, and she was wearing very tight jeans and a T-shirt that was too short, purchased, I observed, at Baby Gap, so that her pierced belly button saluted us provocatively, she was like some teenaged toy girl, Hasbro waitress, she was the past of female sexual slavery, and in a moment of calculated witlessness he gave her the once-over, paused dramatically to lo ok at her breasts and her middle and the curve of her hips, Another round, please, and, of course, this was the thrust of his argument, as his argument always had a thrust to it, a veiled entelechy, namely, that he was above domestication, couldn't be bothered, still I had my teeth into him, and there could be no distraction, as I would complete the argument, and would be through with him or else have some other kind of resolve even if fluctuating, Okay, then prove to me in any substantial way that you know what it's like to be a woman and what our experience is like here where the legislature insists on control over how we use our bodies, prove for one second that you have an idea about what I'm talking about because we are at an impasse here where you either have to be intimate with me or lose me, the way I'm feeling about it, prove that I haven't wasted years trying to have a conversation with a total stranger, at which point in a stunning delivery of high affect, a prepersonal intensity corresponding to the passage from one experiential state of the body to another, on short notice, his own eyes began to brim with tears, as the next round of drinks came, even as he began to weep he checked out the barmaid's rear as she retreated from our booth, beginning with a theatrical sigh his story, There's something I haven't told you about myself, and I said, You're kidding, right, because we have lived together for a long time and I have read your IRS returns and I have typed portions of your dissertation because you were too lazy to type them yourself and I have listened to you puking and cleaned the bathroom after you puked and if there's something more intimate than all that, some preserve of intimacy that I have not managed to permeate yet I'm going to be a little upset about it, with an expression of dreadful but stylized seriousness, his crew-cut scalp furrowing slightly, from the brow upward, he admitted that it was true, that there was something he hadn't told me, a certain charcoal secret, a lost cat in the fringed outback of his psychology, and he said, Think of human sexuality as a continuum with inertia at one end of it and satiety at the other, two ends that meet somewhere we can't see, please not the language of the department office right now, could we try to keep this in the Vulgate, he ignored me: he was just a kid, scrawny, homely, no good at ball games of any kind, last to be chosen when choosing up sides, happened to be friends with this one girl, the beauty of the middle school, theirs was the profane friendship destined to be crushed in the imposition of social order, something like that, when the mists of childhood receded once and for all she would have nothing to do with him, but in the meantime the two of them ate Twinkies in the lunchroom, traded secrets, as all these athletes and student counselors came by to talk to her, ignoring him, unless to inquire about aspects of algebra or geometry likely to turn up on an examination or pop quiz, would it be all right if they copied from him, they were ambling by in order to impress Sapphira with the fruits of their boyish masculinity, they would perhaps say hello to him then, and then later in the halls it was as if he were masked or cloaked or otherwise concealed, outside of the radiating force of Sapphira, no longer her satellite, moon to her great Jovian significance, her efflo rescent girlhood, she would telephone him for forty-five minutes after the bus ride home and speak of how Kevin or Tom or Lenny had tried to get her to agree to this or that home breast exam, or the like, and then one afternoon when her parents were vacationing or on business, in autumn, leaves the colors of unrestored frescoes, Sapphira invited him over, arranged in hushed tones to meet and once inside the door, I have an idea for you, you are so wonderful, you are my best girlfriend, you are my one and only, and I want you to be just like me, come with me, girlfriend, sister of mine, and next he knew they were in her room, and she was helping him off with his jeans, helping him off with his T-shirt, and helping him on with her white underpants, and then her trainer bra, and then her plaid, pleated field hockey skirt, her eyelet camisole, and then they were in her parents' bathroom, with the vanity mirror, turning him, as on a lazy Susan, to appreciate all angles, scattering widely upon the glass table the pencils and brushes of her trade, and, God, here is the difficult part, I was so aroused, I have never felt so passive and so aroused, as she ringed my eyes with her lavender eyeliner, as she brushed on the mascara, as she rouged me, covered my actual physical blushing with her Kabuki cultural blushing, as her hands danced all around me with delicate embraces, it was as though she had a hundred arms, like she was Hindu statuary, I had never been so loved as I was loved now that I was a girl, I had never been so esteemed, and she even had a wig, which was sort of a bow-headed thing that a cheerleader might want to wear, with short bangs, and Sapphira herself had been a cheerle ader so she ought to have known, even if she was only wearing chinos and sandals and a sweatshirt that afternoon, And she even painted my toenails in a red umber, the color of menstrual efflux, and it was true, as I lay upon her bed with the fringe skirt, and she hugged me and called me her rag doll, that I had never felt so scorched as I felt then, and I knew, I knew, I knew, I knew what it was, so outrageous in my elevated state that I had to run into the bathroom to gaze on myself all over again, feeling a racing in myself that I had never felt before, the teleology of desire, the bound and cauterized site of the feminine, that's how it was, and I was so ashamed, and so ashamed that she knew, and she knew that I knew, and she visited upon me a knowing smile, and it was the smile that did it, that toppled the carefully erected façade, and I began demanding, Get this stuff off me, Get this stuff off me, even as I knew now what she was to those guys, to Kevin or Tom or Lenny, she was no different from what I was then, I could have provided for their needs as well as she, could have provided the trophy, the object, the ravishment, the rape they desired, I had become America's delightful exotic doll; this was a heartfelt display to be sure, and obviously it would not have been polite for me to turn away this difficult and generous admission, but I was still upset, you know, I was still deterritorialized, and if he tried to explain that this assumption of the clothes of the slut from up the street gave him access to femininity, I was going to have to get shrill, I was going to swallow a hunk of him, with my vagina, if necessary, some hunk of bicep or quadricep, Who, then, i s this other to whom I am more attached than to myself, since at the heart of my assent to my own identity it is still he who agitates me?, I told him we needed to leave now, we needed to pay the check, goddamnit, for once in our lives we would pay the check without arguing about whose turn it was to pay, because we needed to leave now, and there was a flurry of settling up and tip-leaving, his hands trembled at the astronomical sum, his essential tremor, and the bottled blonde with the decorated navel didn't even give him a second look as she swept the six ones and change into her apron and carried the two twenties back to the register, and we eased between the empty conversations in the Upper West Side bar, the discussions of cars and shares in the Hamptons and mutual funds, and I, in my impervious tempest, insisted on a cab, though we had in the past argued about whether taxis were an expense that fitted into the extremely narrow budget that we were trying to observe, and, if truth were a thing that could be revealed by argument, if truth were some system of layers that you could husk when your relationship had assumed its permanent shape, then it was true that our pennilessness, our academic poverty, surrounded by this Rube Goldberg contraption of cosmopolitan New York, by the limousines, by the price-gouging restaurants, by the dwindling number of our classmates who practiced the life of the mind, by our undergraduate classmates who were now psychiatrists, or lawyers, or boutique money managers -- this academic penury was wearing us away, sanding us down, burnishing us until like the professors of our own youth, we were hollow mouths, reciting things we no longer felt o r cared at all about, we were the culmination of a genealogy of ghosts, Marx, Freud, Derrida, Lacan, Nietzsche, Reich, syphilitics and cocaine addicts and income tax evaders, and I asked where in this arrangement was there room for what I had once loved with an enthusiasm dynamic, dialectical, rhizomatic, interstitial, metalinguistic, defiant, the possibility that thinking could save lives, as at the moment when I first heard him lecture, back when he was the assistant for Intro to Film Analysis, when he paced the proscenium by the blackboard in that room off 116th, back when he smoked, chain-smoked, barely made eye contact with those restive kids, how I loved him, back when he said, Anorexia, the scurvy on the raft in which I embark with the thin virgins, misquoting it turned out, in order to make a point about Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's, he wanted to make a difference and I wanted to make a difference, or a différance, a deferral, a deferment, a defacement, I recognized my own image in the eyes of that boy who was recognizing his own image in me, a flickering in candlelight, candles about to be blown out in the hushed, sudden interior of a bedroom, flickering in the pink night of youthful graces, all that was gone and now we had opened the windows of the taxi because the air was thick as bread, and we said nothing, and the taxi idled in traffic on Broadway, my stubbly legs crossed one over the other, I needed a shower, and I felt cross and shameful, unemployable, old, I felt he would leave me for a younger woman, like the barmaid, a trickle of blood at the corner of her perfect lips, as I pronounced these assessments, these solemn truths about us, facteur de la verité, as the taxi with its geometrically increasing fare expelled us on 120th and we paid the cabby a month's salary and we walked past Grant's Tomb, cromlech, dolmen, barrow, in our necropolis, what it was to be a woman in this afterlife, giving an extra bit of effort in the going hence of what you once loved, he said nothing, the key turned in the lock, it tumbled the bolts, as if the idea of the key were the perfection of an ancient ethics, I couldn't believe that I would have to lose what it seemed like I was about to lose, what it once seemed like I might always have, all the lights in our apartment had burned out in our absence, he always left the lights on and the bulbs were always blown, Let's compromise, he said, running his hands nervously across his Velcro crew cut, adjusting his eyeglasses, I'm so tired of fighting, and I didn't know what I was going to do until I did it, though there was a certain inevitability to these next moments, and I slammed the door, and I pulled the metal folding chair from under the kitchen table, situated it at the end of the table, situated it for spectatorship, I have a vagina, I said, I have a uterus, I have a cervix, he nodded wearily, and I said, Man's feminine is not woman's feminine, and he nodded wearily, and I told him to quit nodding, and I asked him if he happened to know where his shoehorn was, and he shook his head, no, and I said, Of course, it's a trick question, but I know where your shoehorn is, because I keep it with mine, as with so many other things you couldn't be bothered to think about, so I walked into the interior of the apartment, which was not so far that he couldn't hear the emanations of my breath, Look, he said, I don't know what I've done to cause so much difficulty, but I apologize, I honestly do, let's let it drop, I love you, and I could feel my steep decline coming on, as when the low-pressure system moves in and drives off summer filth, yet having made the decision, I couldn't let go of it, or maybe it's more credible to say that it was obvious that I could feel like subjecting him to this painful scrutiny and at the same not feel like doing it at all: I demand that you deny me that which I offer you, that sort of thing, a Saturday, a poststructuralist Saturday, the night on which I urged my lover to give me a pelvic examination on the kitchen table, which he refused, of course, Oh, the old biology is destiny argument, it doesn't suit you at all, and don't you think you're acting childishly?, was and wasn't, in my view, and the torrents of my argument were and were not forceful, and this was and was not erotic this argument, like the arguments that produced that old sweet thing so much gone from us now, and the resolution, it seemed to me, would be ephemeral, would never be what I suspected it would be, and so I went on with the display nonetheless, climbing up on the kitchen table now, holding, among other props, the two shoehorns, the one from a Florsheim on Eighth Street, imitation cordovan, and the other a shiny metallic stainless steel shoehorn of my own given to me gratis when I had bought, on Madison Avenue, this pair of sandals I was wearing, peeling off the ivory sandals, yanking down my beige nylons and then also my lingerie, satin and from Victoria's Secret, and then I hike d up my skirt, a thin rayon, slightly clingy wrap in a floral print, cream with navy blue blossoms thereupon, and I shoved a throw pillow from the sofa under my lumbar region, and I leaned back such that I was facing him, if facing him is the right term, since actually my face wasn't facing him, since, now, he was facing away, having apprehended what was happening, at last, and I readied my shoehorns, greased slightly, They're cold, they're always cold, when they come for you with the stirrups it is always cold, with a splenetic passivity, he mumbled, Don't I need a light of some kind, but I offered him one of these, a penlight that he himself used when grading papers late at night in our tiny apartment, when he did not want to wake me, and I embarked on my tour, Look, look, look, spread wide the external petals at either side, and I helped him along, as he seemed a little unwilling to commit, never mind that first trompe l'oeil for now, that little nub, move indoors, where the walls are pink and ridged like when the sand upon the beach is blown by successive waves, which means that estrogen is present, because when menopause strikes the rugae will vanish, straight ahead, if you please, the cervix has a different texture, sort of a pearly pink like gums, dense, fibrous, thick, rigid, averages four centimeters across, and the hole is a tiny dark spot, the os, like the hole in a bagel that swells to threaten its cavity, in a nulliparous woman it's a hole, if you've had children it's more like the creases in an old balled feather pillow, then up through there is the uterus, of course, you can't see, up there, endometrium, now lined with blood and sludge, the color of ugly sevent ies wall-to-wall carpeting, my sludge, after which we head north up into the pear, because it's shaped like a pear with a sleeve around it, and at ten and two o'clock in the pear, little holes, oviducts, and these go around each ovary, like treble clefs, they wrap cursively around each ovary, each end fimbriated, and in midcycle during ovulation, one egg gets primed to be released on one side, sucked into the tube from the corpus luteum, and then there's the hydatid of Morgagni, and the mesosalpinx, and the epoöphoron, and the Fundus of the Uterus, and the external abdominal opening, basically open all the way up there, all the way up, unprotected, vulnerable to the approach of the fleet of chromosomes, the little Navy Seals coming up the canal here, although you have to wonder at the fact of it from an evolutionary point of view how a perfect vulnerability makes for the reproduction of a species unless that ends up being the locution of our biology, of our position in things, or, to put it another way, the victim, in your construct, the penitent, always has the upper hand, always has control, hidden from you, present and absent, sacred and profane; yes, an uncomfortable position, holding the shoehorns in this way, arched over myself, while he took command of the penlight, while he tried to neglect his responsibility, and I mean uncomfortable in a lot of ways, I mean that I didn't want to watch his expressions of remorse, I didn't want to think about what I was doing, I was better off looking at the stuccoed ceiling, an interior style that always made me feel really claustrophobic, the simulated remodeling ease of stucco, and if at this point the penlight didn't do the job, didn't illuminat e, what did I care, now, alone or married, fertile or infertile, pregnant or barren, what did I care that he had gone now and left me on the kitchen table, had gone to the bedroom, I could hear him now padding away, the door only partly ajar, I could see the dim clamp light on his bedside table illumined, I could see him brushing his teeth with that furious inconsolable way he had, he sawed at his gums, and now he was reading, of course, reading in volumes that no longer comforted, reading to repair the differences, what was all this talk, all these pages, all this prose, all these sentences, what was it all for, I thought, on the kitchen table, holding two shoehorns in this way so that I was open to the world, its first citizen, its first woman, its original woman, naked on the kitchen table, like a repast, I left off talking, my outrage lapsed, what had we been arguing about, what was the source of the argument and where did it take us, don't leave me here like this, to refuse translation is to refuse life, all your broken bindings, your printing presses, your history of histories, I climbed down off the table and began straightening things up.

Copyright © 2000 by Fiona Giles

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