Polly 1

25 Oct

So, okay. Here’s the deal I’m going to make with you. You need to put up with a few weeks of unreasonably maudlin bullshit from me, and then after that I’ll tell you a story about a tattooed alcoholic Indian girl who told me that my dick was stupid. Agreed?

All right then. There are two stories to tell, and at this point, I don’t know which happened first. I’m not sure why I don’t know that. Imagine that someone punches you. Now imagine that person punches you again, and again, and again. At some point the hitting stops, but the precise order of which punch landed where becomes unimportant. You press your tongue through the raw toothless gap between your loosened incisors, and it’s hard to think about anything else besides what used to be there. It’s also hard to remember it once it’s over. A few salient details, a few particular impacts remain with relative clarity, but that’s all. I know what I’m talking about.

At this point, maybe Polly and I had fucked, maybe we hadn’t. I can’t remember. Certainly unsatisfying near-sex had been going on systematically for some months. Polly spoke to me. Polly ignored me. Polly made sure to keep me minutely aware of precisely how sexless her marriage was, but she made equally sure to vocally reaffirm how much she liked to be married. I’d ask her why she stayed, intimating that perhaps I’d be more suitable as a lifelong partner. Certainly I felt more passion for her than her husband did (apparently, anyway. For all I know he was an insatiable stallion. Clearly I’d never asked him for his side, but it wouldn’t have mattered to me if I’d known it). Facing me, she’d shrug, kiss the corner of my mouth and say, “He’s my husband,” while looking at something in the distance past my left shoulder. I’d shove my hands into my pockets, wrapping my fingers reflexively around my thin wallet. “You’re my best friend,” she’d remind me. “You really are.”

As a title, she spoke it with special emphasis, floating audible and ridiculous capitalization to the B and F in lilting, open syllables. She’d use it on those occasions when she introduced me to her other friends, her less-best ones. I’d flush, embarrassed and pleased that my special role had been established to the rest of her life, which nonetheless composed itself entirely of people in positions of greater importance to her than mine. Integration past the lacquered suburban shell of her modestly posh Dayton neighborhood was her unstated, unquestioned goal. Invitations for her and playdates for her daughter remained necessary. I was replaceable, and I knew it.

So did she. She expected our affair to remain utterly clandestine as a condition of its continuing. I agreed to this and other conditions, spoken and unspoken, because I didn’t have any choice (if I wanted to keep getting approximately laid. I wanted to keep getting approximately laid. Undoubtedly it’s hard to understand why I put up with her, but I did it for the same reason a hungry drunk will order and consume a sack of White Castle sliders, regardless of the near-guaranteed physical remorse correlated with that decision. I wanted what I wanted, and I didn’t care how demonstrably poorly I’d chosen). Consequently, Polly was the only person I could legitimately talk to about my relationship. So I did.

No topic could have bored her more completely.

My emails became more insecure (and pauses between her correspondence became longer), and I began to construct a nearly complete narrative of our relationship for myself. I’d ask her about some facet of her behavior, conceive a motive for and suggest it, asking for her feedback on my analysis and creating long echo-chambers of confusion that ignored the most basic and obvious of motives: She just wasn’t that into me.

As an attempt to derail any future progress down that specific line of inquiry, she sent a rare reply to one of my emails. In it, she suggested that we perform a private commitment ceremony to confirm the depth and quality of our friendship. Immediately I sent her a sweating, nervous agreement, full with desire and absurd, helpless gratitude.


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