She has a scab shaped like Florida on her knee. She picks at Key West relentlessly until a wiggle of red drops down her right leg. As she picks, her eyes are fixed on my breasts, but she tries to pretend she's really staring past me. I'm trying to remember her name. We've been introduced a dozen times, but I can't.
The girl is blond. She won't stop talking to me. My no-good fag friend left me with her when he went off to get his dick sucked behind the YMCA. He's always leaving me to get his dick sucked, even after we've been at a protest all day in the rain.
Political actions are an aphrodisiac for Ian. I've learned I can't rely on him to wipe the pepper spray from my eyes or for post-bar breakfast banter or a taxi ride home.
The last thing he said was, "Go talk to that blond chick, she's always asking me about you," and he was gone before I could ask him her name.
The blond girl with the scab on her knee blurts out words like espresso shots. Hey. Hey, Ruby. How are you?
With half-winks and a predictable leaning, she tries to turn small talk toward romance, but there's no hiding that we're drinking piss-warm beer in plastic cups in the cold. We sit down at a picnic table with a bunch of other activists. The topic is outrage, but the subtext is sex.
"Ian told me you're a writer," she says, reaching out to light my cigarette, eyes still fixed on my rack. I call it my rack because today a man with a mullet in a blue Camaro yelled, "Nice rack!" while I was walking my dog. Rack? "1983 wants the expression back, baby," I'd muttered.
She tells me she knew Kathy Acker. She has an ancient typewriter purchased from Allen Ginsberg. She doesn't believe in gender. She likes dogs. She can do a handstand on two fingers. She speaks in rhythmic non sequiturs. I eye her forearms.
She touches me awkwardly, a brush against my arm as if her fingers were litmus paper.
The more she talks, the less I say and the more I want to shut her up by reaching my hand down into her baggy jeans while slamming the heel of my shoe into her left knee to make a bruisey scab the shape of Canada. Then tomorrow, when she picks the hard red crust off Lake Superior, she'll think of me making her moan in a crowded park filled with pleading politicos.
I get up to leave, and this is when I realize I've left my keys and wallet in Ian's backpack. He's obviously found some BJ pal at this point and is nowhere to be found.
Have you ever had sex with someone you don't know well enough to know you can't stand them exactly, but the hint of annoyance is almost hot enough to get you through? The blond scab girl lives across the street. I have a few hours to kill. Why not?
If it's not love, it's at least a little bit of exercise.
Her apartment is a room filled with ashtrays, piles of books and dirty plates and bottles. She keeps talking. Endless ability to ramble. I appreciate its blanket over the awkwardness. She opens her fridge and removes two cold bottles of beer. She twists the top off one, hands it to me and tries to look deep into my eyes in a way she's probably rehearsed.
My friend Buffy once told me that the trick to a seamless drunken one-hour stand is to always keep your underwear around one leg.
By the time I stand over her reclining body, my motives clear, she wastes no time sliding my red panties toward the floor.
I make sure they stay firmly in place around my right ankle, and the scab girl, whose name I still can't remember, gets down to business, which finally makes her stop talking, but not chain-smoking.
I keep thinking, "She's smoking during sex. How fucking weird. I can't wait to tell someone this story!" It makes it kind of hard to concentrate.
When she bends me over against the window, through the smudged glass I notice Ian across the street in the park, looking around like a lost fey lamb. I fake a breathy gasp, move her non-smoking hand away, zip up and kiss her on the cheek, narrowly avoiding the red ember.
She writes her cell number on a pack of cigarettes, but not her name. She must know! She says, "You can keep the pack, baby."
Later, for the first time in our seven-year fag-and-hag relationship, Ian says he's proud of me for my first indiscriminate sexual encounter.
He takes me to see Carole Pope at Vazaleen. We press drunkenly into the first row, where it looks like 1987, all these hot 40-year-olds just grooving.
I run into my old babysitter against the stage. I was in love with her the way you can be completely consumed by someone older and cooler when you're 10. Once she had the word "fuck" written in hickeys on her chest. She's still just as sexy. I practise a smile as I look at my shoes. Will she even recognize me?
She does. She looks at me wide-eyed and kind of embarrassed. "Jesus Christ!" she exclaims. "How you doing, kiddo?"
"Kiddo" is definitely not a term used as a come-on. She immediately turns to a girl on her right to slur drunkenly, "I used to babysit that chick. I'm so fucking old!"
Humbly, I retreat to the bar so I can hang out with Scab Girl and the other kids who only vaguely remember when High School Confidential was on the radio in third grade.