1. If you could choose your accoutrements, what would they be?
2. If you could be worn by any couple whom would it be?
The then Russells, no doubt.
3. What vibe do you feel those who wear you give off?
Said people appear to be thoroughly filled with knowledge without having the erudite’s gusto to consume.
4. If you could choose any man to wear you, whom would it be?
The father sitting in the park with his wife and child, watching as the child takes his first steps, trying with all of his might to stay focused on his son’s monumental moment and his elated wife and not look at the toned, unadulterated, massively long legs belonging to the female, high school volleyball player heading straight his way. Trying to stay in the moment of family and first steps, and for better or for worse and the fact that he’s a great provider and this is as good as it’s gonna get. It’s hard, though. It’s hard, for this high school volleyball player is sweaty and laughing and taking selfies and wearing tight, ultra short briefs all the while strolling through a park. Five things the wife will never simultaneously do ever again. Five things any woman attracted to him, a father, will never do again. He whittles down what it is that’s so attractive about this young woman, attractive beyond the physical — though the physical is a real coup — and he concludes it’s the fact that she doesn’t need him. She doesn’t even want him. She doesn’t even know he exists. The need to put her hooks into someone hasn’t hooked her yet. She’s still under the spell of boys whose only prereqs are being cute, tall and self-assured. The boys don’t need all the extras yet to make her love him. That need will magically appear in 10 years or so. The volleyball player isn’t scantily clad as an attempt to lure him in. She’s scantily clad because she’s just come from trying out for the best damn club team in the country. She has to dress this way. Club tryouts call for it. Volleyball won’t accept briefs an inch longer. If someone deems the way she’s dressed alluring, well, it’s all lost on her. She’s sixteen. Men his age are friends with her father. That’s it. And anyway, it’s not like he wants to actually pursue something. First off, it’s against the law but more than that he believes 16-year-olds who look and act the way she’s acting are put here simply to let people know — at whatever moment they set eyes on her — exactly where they stand in this life. Sixteen’s the last age at which a person actually, honestly, “no bullshit required” feels amazing about getting older. “She doesn’t even know from actual FOMO or YOLO yet,” he thought to himself. Some say it’s eighteen but nope. At eighteen you’re officially of age. Gone are the do-overs, the kevlar provided by actual adults. And so begins the downward slope of the fact that you still live at home. Local news can show your face. The papers can release your name. You’re officially the adult. Now some would say twenty-one but let’s be honest, the only thing that’s celebrated (in the states at least) is the fact that you’re now allowed booze to numb the pain. If that’s not a major red flag shrouded in celebratory garb then I don’t know what is. That aside, the father truly does love the woman across from him. The woman currently smiling from ear to ear as she watches her boy literally take the first steps down the road to becoming a man. The woman who gave him a perfect son. The woman who glowed for 38 weeks as her belly grew and grew. The woman he catches staring at him from time to time as if he’s some stranger, some tramp come in from off the streets. The study is fleeting, a spilt-second if that. He’s vowed to never ask her about the look or the accompanying thoughts. What person in their right mind would? He’s no fool. If every man is an island then every family is a planet, existing within its own solar system. And this is how he always pictured his life, work moving along at a steady click, a spouse to support him, offspring in his likeness… He’s in this thing until death does them part. Not because he wants to be (not that he wants out in any way whatsoever) but because that’s the way it’s done. It’s the way his parents did it. It’s the way their parents did it. He isn’t about to be the star to go supernova, thus, upending everything they’ve built. His planet will stay intact. No black halo hanging in the place of his perfect creation. Upon this conclusion, the volleyball player passes just as the son takes the final steps, ending the monumental moment. The father cradles his child, releasing a deep celebratory breath that coexists as a celebration of the volleyball player’s disappearance from sight. And there he is, happy to be rid of her, yet almost hating her for making him survey his very existence.
5. If you could choose any woman to wear you, whom would it be?
The mother who has just witnessed her son walking into his father’s arms for the first time just as she sets eyes on long, smooth legs, clad in the tiniest of briefs as they saunter past. The person wearing them appears gorgeous from behind and she’s laughing and talking on her phone, and taking pictures of herself and oblivious to everything around her, oblivious to the fact that her short-lived presence has the ability to make certain people of a certain age question their entire life up until this point. Or at least think, “Goddamn, she has amazing legs.” Looking at the girl does not make the mother want to be that young again, for being that young for her was hell. All the time spent looking at girls like this and knowing she’ll never be that. Knowing she would be the first wife. The one who it makes sense to marry so she can keep a happy home. As she watches her husband and child — still with the vision of smooth legs moving away in the periphery — she realizes she wishes she had married a man whom she could call out to, “Did you look?! Go ahead, look! I know you want to. Hell, I looked. Her body is something of lore. ‘SoCal, Huntington Beach-born and bred, volleyball year round, there’s a good chance she’ll get model scouted’ lore!” And they would laugh about it. As a matter of fact, out of the boisterous cackle, she would sail into, “We’re a unit, so lovingly locked into this thing, however, that doesn’t we’re beings unable to look at perfect bodies that were never possibilities for either of us to begin with. You always knew you’d have to master something cerebral to find your self-worth and I always knew I’d have to look on proudly while being your sous-chef in life! And also — and this is where it has to get a little serious — you weren’t my first choice. I feel it’s my duty to tell you that. My first choice was crafted in my head long ago at an age when all I was allowed to do was craft him inside of my head, back when the ideal him was a skyscraper that grew into a campus that ultimately became a city! There was no limit to how all-encompassing he could be; it just expanded with every flight of fancy that popped into my mind. But alas, we turn a corner and suddenly appears the architect, the builder and the agent stepping in to control matters. Suddenly, all of the accoutrements and accents that were so easily acquired in your mind are no longer available in life. You’re out of your price range. You’re settling for a less than desirable area. You’re suddenly thinking condo. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love you. And it doesn’t mean the moment I saw you my heart didn’t skip a beat. But it is the truth. Another truth? I met you at a point in my life when the fact that you wore Docs, went to Yale, interviewed at Google and had friends that wrote for SNL appreciated your attractive quotient. That’s all I needed. However, from where I stand now? If the world granted me the ability to manifest the ultimate him? He’d be nothing like you. I’m afraid I’m back to wanting the unlimited dream while hating myself for thinking I wasn’t good enough to go after it. Now, I’m prepared to take on any and all truths about your choosing of me.” All she wanted was to make painfully truthful declarations to this man across from her and not have to retreat into the right, non-threatening things we say. Because in truth, there is freedom. Because it wasn’t about being young or beautiful or alluring to the masses. It was about her partner looking at her, and actually seeing her. It was about this man’s ability to step outside of himself and push away the everyday banalities of mortgages and talking shop and possible pre-schools and how hard they felt after the Jay-Z concert and pool parties and dinners with deckle edged, calligraphed place-cards calling on some weird want to be back in grade-school and Guitar Hero at a friend’s house because they still had some fun left and dressing up like Leopold & Loeb for Halloween and electric cigarettes and parties with muted, old, important films playing on the wall while talk of “Thank you so much! We have to go release the babysitter but let’s for sure have lunch next week” loomed overhead like a redundant, storm cloud. She wanted him to see her. She wanted to know in her core, if this were to all fall away, absolutely everything they had built and created together and there they were floating in nothingness, she wanted to know she was all he wanted; positioned across from her in the void, forced to stare at her for the rest of his life, he would be as happy as humanly possible. But she’ll never know the answer. She simply never will. They have too much stuff blocking the path, too many things: date nights, a station wagon Porsche with a facetious “Baby on Board” sign hanging in the window that doubled as fact, her family loves his family, Sunday brunch with friends, strolling down a trendy street with him pushing the pram like a proper father, an impending trip to New Zealand, a week at Taghrid’s parents’ sprawl on St. Simons, sweet candids of the family on a friend’s Instagram, clearing out the DVR, hydrangeas, coffee table books, a Roth IRA, new countertops, holiday parties, fundraisers, laughing at that show, a week of eating clean, being blown away by that other show… Plus, the person she married would furrow his brow if she asked him such a question. She could feel the lump forming in her throat. Her son, the ultimate love of her life, without him it would all be worthless, his first steps and all she wanted to do was cry for herself.
6. Is there a person you would want to be worn by but because of circumstance, a.k.a. not appearing cool to their peers, this person can’t purchase you?
The 16-year-old volleyball player passing a family — mother, father and baby — just as the baby walks away from–
7. Uh uh. No way. I’m done with this scenario. I get it. You’re unisex. You can be worn by anyone, however, I’m officially depressed and afraid of my future. Can you maybe check in with the Stones? They seem to be having a blast and I’m sure Charlie wouldn’t be caught dead in you and yet he can’t seem to get you out of his head. See? The man can’t stop thinking about you.
Nice try. Now, where was I? Oh yes. The volleyball player furtively watches as the baby travels ever so wobbly away from the mother and toward the father. At first, she spots me encasing the mother’s feet and wishes she could trade in her Nike Benassi Swooshes, but she knows that move wouldn’t fly right with her crew. She then sets her sights on the entire scene, “Wow. They’re really losing it, so it must be the little guy’s first steps. Good for you, little guy. Look at that. Real life. Cute baby. They do look ‘real life’ happy. Wonder if I’ll be a mom one day. Wonder if mom had the same thoughts. What am I talking about? The woman was born to bear. Yield human life she was placed here to do. I don’t even know who I am. Seventeen next week and I don’t even know who the fuck I am. This world thinks I’m so simple. It thinks if you shove some needy guy in front of me to keep me occupied, a sport or an instrument to empower me and there I am, ready for life. But you wish it were that simple. You were young once. You have to remember how complex you were. You have to remember thinking it all might be too much to take and so the thought of checking out altogether popped up from time to time as the best possible scenario. You once knew what they see on the outside might not be at all what’s going on inside. ‘Put her in this! Drive her to that! For the love of God, just keep her busy and soon enough she’ll be on her own and thriving and I can be proud and bragging!’ Sometimes I can swear that’s my parents’ internal mantra. But why all the smoke and mirrors? Talk to me. That’s all I really want. That’s all anyone really wants at the end of the day. To be seen. To be heard. Understood. What am I doing? I’m talking on the phone, laughing even, taking fucking pictures and sending them to someone I don’t like. I’ve emojied this shit to within an inch of its life and for who? The person who flirted with my boyfriend last night but if I called her on it she’d gasp and call me crazy? But does it really matter, for the boyfriend’s a real idiot at the end of the day? Neither one is equipped to ever know the real me. And so I’ll just keep moving forward, wedging myself into this little space the world has carved out just for me. I’ll play the part. Fine. I wish I were born a boy. Sometimes. Okay, maybe not. Man, that kid’s taking his first steps. Should I tell him it’s pointless? Crawl forever. Now that would be innovative. Don’t get involved in the spinning of the plates, kid. Part of me just wants to fast-forward to where they are — doing big, real-life, grown-up stuff that keeps you so busy you couldn’t check in if you wanted to — and the other part wants to back up and stay the little one’s age forever, complete with brain unable to process the extraneous. They don’t even see me. That’s how happy they are. So caught up in their ‘happy family’ thing they don’t see me. I have no voice to latch onto in this world. No one’s out there speaking up for me and my tiny, little faction. There’s a lot of talking but where’s my voice? Since I can’t speak for myself, where’s my voice?”
8. I hate you. What in the hell is going on in this park?
Listen. Let’s check in with the baby. I’m sure in true, baby fashion, he’ll slap a silver lining on this whole situation, “One foot, oooo-kay… now the other foot… Uh oh. I’m going down. I’m going down! Wait! I can do this! Fight it! Fight! It! Phew! Fought it! Man, that really did a number on my core. Okay, one foot… Now the other foot… That volleyball player’s looking at me in a mighty funny way. I wonder if she knows something I don’t. If you do, sister, keep it to yourself. I’m an innocent still basking in the glory of only being capable of living in the moment. My brains couldn’t look to the future or lament the past if it wanted to. And plus, whatever it is can’t be that bad! Life’s for the living! And what a great life it is! Finally! Dada’s arms! How I love this man! Yay! Mama’s here now! I love her more! And she’s kissing me! Now dada’s kissing me! Man, I love this thing we’ve built! I really, really do! Oh, and I can walk now! Whoo-hoo! I love my life!”
9. Did you just put words in that baby’s mouth because you want me to step away from the brink I’m on?
I’m a Birkenstock, the ultimate, non-threatening bastion of optimism, and so it’s possible.