Raw Nerves

It’s still presumptuous, even now, in the twenty-first century, for a woman to take the initiative in asking a guy out. Guy feels like the right word. That in-between moniker that describes neither boy nor man. That’s what Beau was. And he was that. What the French call beau. Reed wasn’t bad herself, but she was, unfortunately, reed-like in physique–which might have flown in the Brigitte Bardot-idolized 1960s, but didn’t necessarily garner as much male attention in the Kim Kardashian-idolized 2010s. She was a few years younger than Beau, and therefore naturally cooler, more adept at keeping her finger on the pulse of that which was dormantly boiling to the surface in popularity. Or rather, “indie” popularity. And the latest thing on her radar was Raw, a debut feature-length film from Julia Ducournau. Beau, though of the French descent about four generations removed, had never heard of her, or it. Though he had a vested interest in cinema as a music composer, his ability to actually see a film in a movie theater had waned over the past few months, a time commitment to a new speculative project about female friendships bordering on lesbianism taking up most of his free hours. Those hours spent “off the clock,” as they say somewhat ominously. As though being “on it” is the only way to live. Survive. In any event, it wasn’t the first time Reed and Beau had gone to the movies together. But it would surely be the last.

They had seen their fair share of esoterica when it came to moviegoing. That’s rather what kept them coming back for more to each other, even though they had only casually known one another from that type of evening class you take in the pursuit of self-actualization as opposed to just biting the bullet and going to grad school. And so they saw everything that no one else would have gone with them to see: from Chevalier to Elle. Raw was to be no exception. It might even have been the most mainstream thing they saw together, and therefore the most befitting for a denouement to the only activity they seemed to have in common. That, and the fact that the premise was centered primarily around cannibalism. Reed rather felt like a cannibal in her appetites for Beau by the movie’s conclusion. Though, like Justine, the protagonist that guided them through a journey of repression followed by all-out flesh-eating decadence, Reed tried for so long to ignore certain of her own desires. Specifically, those of a “romantic” persuasion. She had so often told herself that Beau was merely a friend, that he kept her around purely as an eccentric curiosity, the way Enid in Ghost World did with Seymour. But the last few times they had rendezvous’d, he seemed to be putting out a different vibe, one that said, succinctly: fuck me. And she suddenly, at the end of the beginning in Raw when Justine ravenously eats her sister Alexia’s finger, really wanted to oblige what she assumed were Beau’s latent feelings of lust.

But lust can frequently be mistaken, misinterpreted. Guys–remember, they can’t be called boys or men–so often just want a companion of the female gender. It’s implied that because of their “softness,” they’re a more ideal confidante than, say, another dude. This is arguably the most and only challenging aspect of being a straight man: one must always feign a certain amount of machismo. But with a girl, it’s entailed a guy is permitted a higher level of emotionalism. In retrospect, Reed saw that, in large part, this was what their relationship was to Beau: an outlet for affectivity.

Would that she had realized this slightly sooner, before placing her hand firmly on his groin in the dark corner of the Angelika as the faint sound of the R train whirring past them toward the Prince Street stop underneath the theater vaguely muffled the slight gasp he gave at the feel of her touch. And yes, though he was briefly scandalized like all inhibited white males of the current epoch, he decided, apparently, that it was best to “just go with it” (one of the many phrases Adam Sandler has ruined in his later career, along with “bedtime stories”).

And as she gently unzipped his pants and took out what she felt to be a surprisingly hairless organ, a scene in which Justine just so happens to be ravenously pursuing her supposedly gay male roommate, Adrien, ensued. The sex was typically visceral by film standards, though of course was made all the more so by her taking a bite out of his flesh. Ah, flesh. What could be better, really? Flesh all a-mesh, like how that one hoe-ish hippie in Vada’s poetry class in My Girl describes two bodies touching. Suddenly, Reed couldn’t tell the difference anymore between Raw and her real life. That’s the trouble with unbridled media consumption–you start to lose all sense of what’s corporal.

This loss of cognizance of the blurred line between the real and the staged prompted Reed to do something so out of character, so beyond the confines of what she thought she could ever be capable of: bending her body toward Beau just as her “handy” work was about to make him cum and then–as though possessed by the spirit of Justine’s character–taking a gigantic bite out of the tip before he could achieve his biological goal.

He screamed in concert with Adrien. And, for an instant, no one in the theater could tell the difference separating fantasy from reality either. It wasn’t until Beau’s screams persisted after the same sounds in the movie that multiple audience members finally looked over and started to act. But Reed didn’t care. She had tasted of Beau’s most sensitive meat and fully understood the motivations of Justine. Who could possibly be bothered to care about public opinion and outrage after getting one taste of that? She didn’t fear what anyone thought of her as her mouth was suddenly ripped from Beau’s penis in such a way that even the most vigilant movie theater employee wielding a megawatt flashlight would never be able to find it amid the nondescript debris of popcorn and ripped pieces of tickets. It was like a redundant circumcision, executed in pure homage to the silver screen (and they say no one engages with cinema anymore). Beau wasn’t the only person who lost something that day in mid-March though. Reed suffered the circumcision of a friendship. And a new sort of enthusiasm for dick that couldn’t quite be quelled in a women’s prison.

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