“Hey, so this is going to sound a little strange, but we had sex about seven years ago now when I first moved to New York. You were one of my first one-night stands. You actually also gave me my first yeast infection. Any who, I couldn’t help but remember that you said you worked as an editor for GQ at the time and I was wondering if maybe–if you’re still working there–you could get me an interview.”
As Elizabeth typed out these words in an email after coming across Aaron’s in a routine import of Google contacts to some futile job website, she was horrified to see just how desperate she had become. And not just in her professional life. The very fact that she momentarily thought that it would even be remotely acceptable to email someone–let alone someone this obscure and far back in her past–the content of this message was an indication of just how far out of touch with any sense of normalcy and common human decorum she had gotten. When she thought about it, she supposed it had been a little bit more than “a spell” that she had been out of work, “freelancing,” if you will.
And when she got up to go to the kitchen to refill her coffee cup with red wine, she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and took stock of her reflection: matted brown hair that looked almost black from being so greasy, blemishes galore and a smile wrinkle that remained prominent in spite of the fact that she hadn’t turned the corners of her mouth upward in ages. She really ought to schedule herself for a laser facial, but that wasn’t in the budget this month, and hadn’t been for some time. What was she really trying to prove in quitting her steady, stable office job two years ago, huh? Was there nobility in poverty? No. She was not Gandhi. And she didn’t have the correlating thinness to prove the paucity of her bank statement. She was, in fact, starting to look more than a little soft, like a soggy crumpet–not even possessing the suppleness of a puff pastry. No, maybe it wasn’t so unreasonable to reach out to Aaron now, after all these years. Maybe he would even remember her. Men always remember the women who ghost them. It’s such an unusual experience for them to have, they who are usually so accustomed themselves to fleeing the scene when things get too “intense” a.k.a. she starts to ask him things like his middle name or zodiac sign.
She just instinctually didn’t want to spend the day with him that morning they woke up together in her air mattress (it was her first foray into New York living, remember). In fact, she pretended she needed to be somewhere early–her job as a barista that didn’t actually exist, she think she said at the time. They exchanged numbers, she ignored his texts and that was that. Another one-night event terminated in the fizzle-out facilitated by binary code.
But she consistently had a knack for remembering what people in bars told her their jobs were because she herself coveted success in the conventional form. Didn’t know how to measure it otherwise. Her own aspirations as a writer for TV had fallen by the wayside in favor of small-time ghostwriting jobs, typically for romance novels. There was something almost satisfying in constantly racking her brain for synonyms/euphemisms for the words “erection” or “orgasm.” Yet after a time, even that became less exciting to her than simply pulling the comforter over her head and closing her eyes. Yes, she had managed to afford a comforter and an actual mattress seven years on, and even to live alone for the mere price of $1,800 a month for the tradeoff of having to live in Sunset Park. That could all change soon, however, if she didn’t find real work–not this patchy kind that occasionally paid promptly and well. She was getting too old to live like this, had lost all the spunk and willingness that comes with moving to New York in one’s early twenties.
So after refilling her mug with the aforementioned wine and drinking from it as though it were her lifeblood, Elizabeth went back to her computer and re-read the email she had composed to Aaron. Yes, she thought. There’s a chance he’ll find it endearing. Heartrending even. There was no better time to prostrate oneself to potential humiliation than now, while wasted, desperate and essentially hovering above rock bottom. It was with this new, emboldened (read: removed from reality) mindset that she clicked the send button, took another sip of wine and went to sleep.
The following morning, Elizabeth awoke to no emails in her inbox–she didn’t count the coupon from FreshDirect. Which she couldn’t afford to order anymore anyway, perhaps a good thing as grocery shopping was the only activity she really had to get her out of the apartment. So she went to the corner, to the City Fresh, where she purchased some more provisions that consisted of chips, beer, tweezers and a head of lettuce. This was probably the ultimate mark of a single woman: cracked out, unrelated grocery purchases.
When she got back to her abode, she slapped the plastic bag onto her table and immediately went back over to her desk to check her computer. As it turned out, Aaron had finally felt compelled to respond:
“Hi Elizabeth, I confess your email caught me somewhat off guard. I had always known that women were secret whores wielding their sexuality for whatever they could get, but I had no idea just how deep it ran. Yes, I remember you. How could I not? You had such dark areolae for a white girl. I’m sorry to have given you a yeast infection. Now that you mention it, a few women have complained about this to me after I’ve had sex with them, claiming I had given them an STD. But maybe the chemical composition of my penis simply doesn’t suit some types. As you can imagine, working for Condé Nast this long has made me a bit crazy. Maybe as crazy as you are to have reached out to me in the first place after this long. So yes, I’ll get you an interview. There’s an opening in the mail room if you’re willing to work your way up, Paramount Pictures in the 40s-style. Let me know.”
At the bottom of the email was Aaron’s standard signature featuring the floor he worked out of in the 1 World Trade Center building. So Elizabeth did what any rational girl with no spare cash to expend would do: she created a custom floral arrangement crafted out of Monistat 7 boxes and sent a singing telegram along with it to belt out to Aaron the following original composition:
I never really knew the meaning of a beast
Until you infected me with all your yeast
I never really knew what cruel could be
Until you put your seed in me
But since I let you in my air mattress that night seven years ago
You’ve given me true insight into just how much men can blow
(But not your vag though)
Your erection gave me an infection
The least you could have done was give me a job interview
But now I see why so quickly with you I was through
Sometimes, you know, vengeance of the shaming variety is more important than sticking to a budget.