It is annoying to me when people confuse climate with weather—the denier who plummily queries What global warming? It’s FREEZING outside. Likewise, I have well-intentioned friends who make entire assumptions about Sketch based on what is going on right now. Things are going good at the moment, but he is not my boyfriend.
We’re in the holiday season, and here come other people’s expectations. Apparently, you are supposed to spend the day together, with family, possibly in matching sweaters, and this is not how Sketch and I roll. Our first ever Christmas together, I got him a rat in a jar of formaldehyde—the skin translucent, the tiny bones inside visible. Yeah, I’m that kind of girlfriend. He liked it though, kept it until the jar was shaken too many times (I don’t know why; a rat-jar is not a snow-globe) and the thing started to come apart. Eventually we abandoned it someplace.
There’s a lot of family stuff during this time of year, and I go alone, and I don’t mind going alone because it’s easier to get one seat than two adjoining on the overcrowded New Jersey Transit busses. It’s not just family, it’s extended family, people like my cousin’s wife, who has an ugly baby slung from each arm. I would literally die if I had to shoulder those burdens, just as she could not handle my life of carrying all the groceries six blocks and up four flights of stairs. The other day a homeless man on the subway was jerking off inside his pants just a few feet away and I just went back to putting on my mascara. My family and I are mutually horrified by each other’s lives, so it’s good that we get to live with our own choices.
The internet makes it possible to find other people who think the way I do. Thus: blogging. This week, I am Twitter-stalking my favorite writers. I don’t understand how Twitter works, so it is very ineffective stalking, like peering really hard out my window for a glimpse of Ryan Gosling. It could happen, it just probably won’t; I live on a sort of seedy side street. One of the writers, Jennifer Wright, replies and retweets something that I wrote, so in my mind we are best friends now.
Sometimes I worry that I am becoming a mean anti-Christmas type person. I want to be charmed by babies and Santa and mistletoe, but this is overshadowed by the more muscular and developed part of my brain that thinks videos of children crying over bad presents is hilarious.
Sketch’s apartment is a blissful holiday-free zone, the walls crowded with faces, none of them Santa. His unit faces an airshaft and a stack of other studio apartments; across the way, there is a middle-aged woman who walks around naked. Not in the way you do when you are showing off, but in the way you do when you believe you are totally alone and want to eat spaghetti without worrying about spilling anything on your shirt. Sketch’s nickname for her is Hiney-Time. She is an interesting study on what people do when they believe they are unobserved: she sniffs her bra as she removes it, she licks her plates when she’s done eating. Occasionally, awkwardly, we see her in the elevator and pretend not to recognize her.
Is it exhibitionism if you are obliviously unaware that people are watching you? In my teens and twenties, I had a whole fetishized relationship to parading around in no pants, very very aware of being watched. My dorm room window should have been tricked out in marquee lighting. This impulse has since faded, but I still have an astonishing lack of modesty (Exhibit A: this blog). I am most comfortable walking around my apartment in nothing but a pair of slippers, and it doesn’t occur to me that the Indian couple whose windows face mine might be bothered.
It’s kind of weird communal feeling, having these strangers with whom my life is so intertwined. I don’t even know this Indian man, but I see him doing lat pulls with an old towel in his livingroom every morning at 5:30. I sort of absently applaud his progress. I feel like the lights he has hung in his window are a sort of Christmas card to me, to all the naked neighbors his apartment faces. Who else can see them?
Sketch and I have an across-the-airshaft Annie Hall style relationship too; I just wish people would stop trying to make it be something that it isn’t, or looking at me with pity-face when the temperature of our relationship is actually precisely the climate that suits me. But I guess if I didn’t want people to comment on my relationship, I should stop walking it around with no pants on. That sort of thing generally is an open invitation to remarks.