Some of My Parts
The voices in my head are body-shaming douchebags.
Stiff, silent, scared, I lie on my back beside you as you undress me for the first time. You unfasten the button at my waist, pull down the zipper and slide my jeans down over my pudgy stomach and dimpled thighs…
Her thighs look like cottage cheese, it’s disgusting.
…now my carefully shaved calves, and finally my toes, gleaming with the fresh just-for-you pedicure I told myself was just-for-me. My tummy flattening jeans hit the floor…
Those leggings make her look like a busted can of biscuits.
…and my heart follows, as you reach for my low-cut tank top; the one that clings nicely to my breasts, enhances cleavage, but fits more loosely around my stomach so my fat doesn’t bulge out in rolls when I sit down.
Just roll her in flour and look for the wet spot.
I raise my back a bit to assist, then raise my arms above my head like a little kid as you peel it off, and it drops to the floor with my jeans. I arch my back a little as your hands slide around beneath to unclasp the underwire bra that lifts and separates my large, saggy breasts, creating an illusion of buoyancy and cleavage…
Her tits looked like tennis balls stuffed in stretched-out gym socks.
You remove the bra, drop it to the floor, and they sprawl out, nipples gravitating in the direction of my armpits. I try not to wince, I fail. You don’t notice or perhaps don’t acknowledge my discomfort; you have moved on to my lacy, black boyshorts, chosen for how they ride up my ass, showing off my nice, round cheeks, but sit high enough to cover my stretchmark-riddled stomach…
It looks like a wrinkled up grocery bag.
You pull them off so very slowly, gently, and top off the pile of my armor you’ve made on the floor. This is the moment: the lights are on. Full disclosure. I wait for your reaction to my nakedness, watch your face for any number of expressions I have seen before, all variations on the same theme: disappointment and disgust.
I want to say something in the way of apology or something funny to break the tension I feel, but my lips won’t move, and I am holding my breath. I wonder if you wish you could put my clothes back on, like a rewind sequence where everything moves backwards in double time until we reach the point when you first said you wanted to see me after all these years.
You see me now. After all these years. You see how two decades have eroded the landscape of my body; replaced the smooth plains with wrinkles and creases and bulges and scars: a relief map of my life carved into my flesh.
What you can’t see is how these years have italicized the script of our lovemaking. Italics to emphasize a narrative that refuses to be ignored. These are just the shallow thoughts, surface thoughts; other peoples’ voices I hear in my head. Friends, family, co-workers, strangers overheard at the gym. These phrases and others play like a cassette tape on auto-flip in my head. The one about the busted can of biscuits made me laugh because it was so apt and colorful a description, but I still hear it blaring in my head over the cheery dressing room elevator music when I try on clothes and get that “muffin top” effect, fat bulging over the top of jeans that fit tight enough to make my ass look good. I sometimes wish I could just grab a scalpel and excise the offending flab. Literally cut pieces off of my body so I can fit into a pair of jeans made for someone else.
I still hear this script any time I think about my body, or when I am being undressed for the first time by someone who has fallen for my pretty face, my wit, my intelligence, my sense of humor… but has yet to see me without the smoke and mirrors of my well-chosen wardrobe. I wear dresses cut low in the cleavage, tight to the upper ribcage, but flowy beneath, as if to say look HERE, not here. Jeans with double-button waistbands for extra support to battle rolls of abdominal fat while still fitting tight to the more desirable curves. I wear T-shirts that fit snugly on my breasts but avoid words across the chest because I hate how much of a joke it is that you can’t read them stretched over my Double D’s. I wear uncomfortable bras a size too small because the ones made for tits this big are always full coverage and ruin any chance of cleavage. Cleavage and a pretty face are what “allow” me to feel some semblance of physical beauty when I am carrying 50 extra pounds.
Physical shit can almost always be addressed, but a beautiful spirit you can’t manufacture.
These are the words, your words, that first gave me a little bit of hope when I told you I was “crazy out of shape.” They were only words, typed in a text message, and of these kinds of words I have long been leery. Men have said many sweet things to me that they didn’t mean in this way because there is no eye contact, no body language to betray the lie. But I believed you, or I wanted to believe that my pretty face and big tits weren’t all you found beautiful about me.
Maybe I underestimate you, but how could I not? I still hate my body, and that hatred has been reinforced by the men who came before you; the men who always came before me. Like that SoCal douchebag bassist named Todd. Plenty of men have shown disappointment in my body, but Todd is the one who keeps coming back to mind, all the sweet things he said to me when we were getting to know each other superimposed over the sweet things you’ve said to me and when you pull off my tank top, I remember his revulsion as he lifted my t-shirt… and promptly pushed it back down. I never saw him or heard from him again after that, but the next day, he was talking shit with some other chick about fat girls, and that was nine years, forty pounds, and two kids ago.
Todd wasn’t the first, the last, or even the worst. He’s just the most vivid image, like some poster boy to validate my self-loathing. He’s the reason I am searching your face for that deer-in-the-headlights look, but you give me no time to worry about that. You brush my hair away from my forehead, where it’s plastered by static cling, so I feel an electric crackle. Your blue eyes meet my brown ones and you smile, that grin of yours I love, the one that crinkles up the corners of your eyes. I exhale and the tension takes leave of my body. The breath I gulp is fresh and free of italics. I don’t wait for you to act; I pull you down for a kiss.
You kiss me back. You take off your shirt and lean down to kiss me on the forehead. Now each temple. The nose and cheeks and chin. And the throat, God the throat, where you pause for a taste of my pounding pulse, and whether it’s fear or desire you taste, I don’t know. Perhaps the two are synonymous in me. You trail kisses across my collarbone and shoulders, and I shiver as the breeze from the open window touches the trail you leave. You find a nipple, kiss it, now my breastbone, now the other nipple. You kiss the beauty mark below my right breast, now down towards my tummy, a kiss for my navel and now… now you begin to kiss the places on my stomach that are puckered with iridescent, white skin, kissing all around my stomach, the places others have neglected, ignored, avoided, and I swear my blood turns to smoke as you kiss my caesarean scar and look directly into my eyes. Your message is as clear:
I see you. All of you. And I want you.
I want to believe you, I really do. But I can’t. I won’t do this to myself again.
The men in my life only want certain pieces of me. They want the physical parts: tits, ass, mouth, vagina; or they want the emotional parts: understanding, comfort, friendship, loyalty – but never both at the same time. I’m a scrapyard, where men are free to pick the parts they want and leave the rest. Like, “Hey, that chassis is in great shape, but the entire front end needs to be replaced.” Or, “I really just want those headlights.” And I allow it. I let men come at me like Doctor Fucking Frankenstein building the perfect patchwork pussy. Whether they’re looking for a mouth for their pleasure or a shoulder to cry on or hands to hold them through the heartbreak of some other, more perfect woman, I let them. I don’t know why I do. Because I am lonely, starved for affection? Is it because I hope it will evolve into something more? Or is it because I know it won’t and so then it will hurt just a little less when they leave me for someone with nicer parts?