In 57 days I turn 30
“You know, armpit hair is more sexually gratifying.” My mother is holding one arm in the air.
We have stopped our walk after walking past WAXED (a waxing salon) on Avenue Rd. I ask my mother if she has ever been there.
“I have been everywhere. I only have ONE armpit hair!” She lifts her arm in the air. There is ONE armpit hair curling out of her skin. “HOW MANY HAIRS ARE THERE?” Mom asks me, demonstrating the success of her efforts to me, to the Avenue Rd. North community, to, let’s face it, the entire world.
“It’s taken me 35 years! But now I only have ONE hair.”
I have noticed this year that, apparently, my mom has been doing everything for 35 years. Her beauty regiments, her cycles of relationships, her passions, lately, all of them can be described as Ongoing for “35 years”. She has also been married for 35 years. The relationship between Marriage and Everything Else, her dramatization of time and its reliance on her marriage inspires an odd feeling in me, a feeling much like the feeling I get when I stare at her ONE armpit hair.
“What do you mean?” I look away from the hair to ask about how one might have sex with an armpit.
“How does it stimulate anyone sexually? Armpit hair. How is it sexual?”
“Some people like the feeling of hair, they get Hot feeling hair against their body.”
Mom seems as flustered as any woman recalling a worthwhile sexual position despite the proprietary chokehold on Feminine Sex Talks in Public.
“Against their body? What part of their body are they putting in the armpit?” OH I GET IT, says my brain, OH I GET IT, I think, “OH I GET IT, MOM! Like, you put a dick in your armpit?”
“Oh, I don’t know if that’s it! I guess that could be it…”
What else could it be, mom?
“Mom. What else could it be?”
It is Saturday night and my parents’ neighbours are having a party in their backyard.
Their sound-system amps a very appealing and oddly emotional playlist: Post Malone, Cindy Lauper, Randy Newman, Pink.
I listen while fingering my way through profiles on Tinder. I am not looking for anyone. I am just bored and generally unsure. The overflow of Men I Never Want To Meet makes me feel more and more satisfied with my current circle of Pleasant People I Love To Know.
Mom wears speckled Ray Bans and ripped jeans.
I have been on many walks with my mother. She often trips and falls. The result is a selection of jeans that are ripped in many places. In recent years when “distressing” jeans started to become popular, my mom took so much joy with each successive fall and consequential tear of her pants.
“I’M TRENDY NOW” she loves to yell as I help her up and she recovers with whatever bright side she can grab ahold of despite having just fallen down on Park Avenue or a San Juan market square or Queen St.
Today her jeans exhibit a rip on her upper thigh which makes me wonder but I don’t ask.
I was probably with her when she tore open her thigh. I feel badly not remembering.
I decide instantaneously: First chance I get, I am making my mother a statement tee for her to wear with ripped jeans while will state, “I’M TRENDY NOW” and maybe on the back it will state “I DISTRESS MY OWN JEANS”.
She would wear it. And she would tell everyone that I made it for her.
I read bio after bio on Tinder. Most of them are vapid. Some of them are a bit mean.
“If you’re reading this, you’re obviously trying too hard.”
“I have three tattoos, one dog and a boner for you.”
“Do you take credit?”
I find a guy, we can call him Joseph, whose bio simply reads, “Slowly getting back into the swing of things. Looking for an easy going, informative guide to help with the transition back to dating world.”
Earlier today my often-mentioned and still deliciously ironic meditation app guided me through a lesson on the word “Yes”.
“What if. We said yes. To those things. We are most afraid of,” whispers Tamara Levitt, instructor and essential voice in my head at all times, “Listen to what you really want. Maybe there is opportunity to just say Yes and accept the outcomes.”
YES, I want this guy to know that I read his bio and it’s really sad.
That is all I want.
I am lying in bed alone. I am listening to a faint, distant Shakira house remix. I am detached from my life needs and wants. I am almost already asleep. I am prolonging the evening but I don’t know why and suddenly, it seems, instead of going to sleep, I would rather let Joseph know: I read your bio and it’s really sad.
There are men I swipe past who I want to spit on or laugh at or maybe have sex with or maybe even meet but I just want Joseph to know: I read your bio and it’s really sad.
Until I want to tell him more.
Historically, I have fallen for sad, quiet guys. Without fail they string me along until they find someone “easier”. All I used to want was the Sad Guy. I used to want Him to know that I get it, that I understand his Sadness.
But, tonight, my impulse is more energetic than just a pat on his Proud To Be Sad back. I want him to know: I read your bio and it’s really sad AND–this is the part I have never bothered to witness myself feeling–and I am not sad, I am just watching you show me sadness without Affect, with anything but the impulse to tell you: Hey, good job, you’re sad.
Mom runs into a couple she knows. They are having brunch on a patio on Avenue Rd. They speak about The Stratford Festival and their mutual interests in attending annually.
“We’re going to see The Tempest,” remarks the woman with a very serious face and a nod to her political position as Feminist since this year the festival cast a woman in the role of Prospero and so aren’t we all grand for watching the contemporary rewrite on patriarchy: Women get old and are powerful too, here’s a storm to prove it (wind sound effects).
“Oh, with that old woman! Rachel, who is the old woman who is in it?”
“Martha Henry and good for you for your feminist alignment,” smirks the man.
I love my mom so much.
The topic of Sadness sparks my self-righteous side.
I write, without thinking very far beyond the word Yes, “Your bio is very somber.”
I can’t leave it at that, though. He might not intend to appear sad. He might not know he is sad. He might not even remember what he has written. I add sympathetically and perhaps apologetically, “…which makes it miraculously genuine relative to practically every other bio in the world (“OK” emoji fingers).”
He writes back.
“Thank you? I had to google Somber.”
“What did google tell you about Somber?”
“That I am one depressed individual” And in a separate message, “;)”.
“Some people have an uncanny ability to give the superficial sensation of acceptance.” Mom is proud of her sentence. I am a bit proud of her too.
“You mean they’re Fake?” I feel the need to clarify.
“Or another word is, INSINCERE.” Mom is smiling.
“Yes, that is another word.”
“I guess it’s all just Fake.”
“I know. I hate saying it too.”
“Yeah, that or” I want to impress Joseph with another definition of what I could have meant. All I wanted to say was: I read your bio and its sad. Instead, I used a word he didn’t know and then I cushioned my statement with a theoretical relationship to all the other men on the app.
Joseph interrupts me to include in his definition, “dark or dull in colour or tone; gloomy,” clearly riffing off Google, still a very boring person.
“You’ve mastered a serene version of Sad.” What the fuck are you even typing, Rachel, I don’t know, Rachel, keep typing, Rachel, I have gone FAR beyond the word YES and now I am plucking dusty fluff-drops of shit out of the air: “Serene” “Somber” what if just type “I have succeeded in finding joy today so it feels like the right night to recommend that you REWRITE YOUR BIO TO REFLECT THE POSSIBILITY OF HAPPINESS WITH ANOTHER HUMAN BEING.”
What am I doing. What am I DOING:
“Yeah, it’s a pretty grey adjective. I don’t think that’s bad. I wouldn’t have said it if I thought it was bad! I just thought it was genuine.” I am begging for this person to accept my determined intrusion into their sadness.
I remark, “I just thought it was genuine,” as if authenticity is truly the goal when I am on a dating gap, not looking to date, merely searching for my next opportunity to type something clever. I AM A BETTER PERSON IN PERSON I SWEAR BUT:
“More like comfortably numb,” he states.
And now, I am lost in his own ego-inclined use of a dated reference.
“Or uncomfortably alive.” I END EVERYTHING with pretentious competitive banter. I almost leave the conversation. I almost delete the app.
“I read it over. My bio.” He writes. “I gotta say. I was pretty drunk when I wrote it. But I kind of like it. What about you, what word would you use to describe yourself.”
“I think you have to pick a word for me, if we’re truly playing this properly.” I have give up on words.
“Fair enough, let’s play. I’ll be right back….”
Joseph leaves to find the one word that best describes me, based on my Tinder profile.
“Auspicious?” He asks.
Mom is in the bank depositing cheques at the ATM. I wonder if I should tell her how to perform this task via her phone. I don’t do it. It would complicate her life.
“Oh look they have a cute little heart on the screen. Oh, it’s for pride.”
The ATM advertises an RBC pride event. Their banner includes a rainbow heart.
“I just thought they put a heart there.”
For her. Mom thought the heart was for her. Come deposit your cheques, thank you: Heart.
“It’s ok.” She says. “It’s ok, let’s go.”
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