One of my most dearly fondled anxieties about being unmarried concerns what will happen after I get hit by a cleaning van on Northern Boulevard and can no longer use my arms and legs. Maybe this is a thing all single people worry about: those cleaning vans are a menace, their mop-ballasted weight careening around corners and straight into bicyclists and dogs and forty-year-old single women.
Who will take care of me?
The thing is, I know it’s a scam: having children or a husband still doesn’t guarantee that you have someone to take care of you when you are old and fucked up. Being married doesn’t mean you will have lifelong companionship after you have reached the point where you pee when you reach for things. More likely it just means someone else to clean up after.
So I hired someone to do my investment planning and I figure when the time comes I will just pay people to feed/ bathe/ fuck me in my dotage. I’ll secure a team of monkey butlers or something. It’ll work it out.
Sketch comes out with me to somebody’s birthday party this week, a rare social appearance that makes the whole night easier. He is like my social-situations guide dog. I’m blind and groping and he steers me faithfully towards conversation topics that are appropriate (so not anal sex, then), making people laugh so no one notices that I have dropped a mussel in my lap and am now trying to figure out how to get rid of it. He does this thing where he will sit and tell the person on his left his favorite things about the person on his right. I especially enjoy this when I am the person on his right.
I do my best to flounder through interactions with other people most of the time on my own. I am still exchanging texts with that guy from Connecticut, even though people from Connecticut don’t like me. I guess we’re friends? I’ve never really had an unmarried straight male friend before. Generally, if you’re unmarried and straight, at least one of us is wanting to wrap a leg around the other. Connecticut and I share a love for things like cannibal horror movies and punctuation; he introduces me to something called an interrobang, a question mark / exclamation point hybrid meant to denote sarcasm. Because I’m not quite done scrabbling for attention from him, I text him, Have you just interrobanged me? Have I been interrobanged? I don’t include the aforementioned sarcasm marks because I haven’t figured out the keyboard shortcut yet.
I have a copy editor’s itchy fingers. I used to work at this techie magazine, back when I was still on a shit-ton of methadone, and I could often be found at my desk with the stem of my neck broken forward in an unlovely nod. But I loved to fix the things other people wrote, smoothing out errors, emailing PR flacks at software companies to double-check the specs on some software package I didn’t understand. It was like proofreading in a foreign language, one where you know the grammatical rules but not the vocabulary.
And I still feel like that a lot of the time today. The bar down the street, a depot for drunks that spew contrails of urine and vomit as they taxi along my sidewalk, has a chalkboard sign outside that tells lets passerby know: the kichen is open till 11. The misspelling is driving me crazy. The kichen? It sounds like what reindeer eat off rocks. Everyday I walk by, and it’s still there, still spelled wrong. Is it that no one else sees it, or that no one else gives a shit?
I try to remind myself that I want other people to be gentle and forgiving with my mistakes, so I should try to do the same. Last week I accidentally published a post with a joke-ruining typo in it and until I could get home to my laptop to fix it it was like walking around with your sock half folded on your foot inside your sneaker. I kept waiting for someone to derisively point it out, but no one did.
If I watch how other people act closely, I might eventually figure out how to act, like a language you learn from studying the pictures on a menu. Have you ever noticed that food and body parts are the first words people learn in any language? After dinner, Sketch comes back to my place, to apply his body parts to mine, and in the morning, I pretend I have lost all use of my arms and legs. I lay on the bed bonelessly, laughing while he rifles through my underwear drawer to find panties to put on me, picking out clothes for me to wear. The outfit he constructs is hilarious—tinselly legwear with this black micromini dress I might wear out to a club if I ever went to a club in my life. It’s a dress for a person from a different life than mine, but I can’t bear to part with it in case someday I stay up past 9:30. He pairs this dress with silver thigh-high socks and a pair of Chelsea boots. I look like a madwoman. I tell him I will call this look the walk of shameless, and, spontaneously regaining the use of my legs, I throw my parka over the ensemble and head out with him. My hair stands out in eleven well-fucked directions, and when we go to the diner for eggs and coffee, I see a bunch of people I know. My underwear is on inside out for the entire day, and, as with many things, I do not realize it, or care.