“You know he’s the kind of guy who free-balls to the grocery store”, I could almost picture him as I said this, standing within my arm’s reach in a pool of pulsating sex-vibes, “… straight out of the tennis court, with a modest intimation of sweat and pheromones but nothing too overwhelming; clean but also dirty, composed but also holding back something you want to get hold of; with a gym bag and a big headphone; his hair short, soft and prickly to touch; his chin sharp as a ledge dotted with a stubble that’d drive you insane if it brushes against your neck like this…” I rubbed her neck with my wrist but regretted almost immediately for it was wet with the grime of a long summer day, “…his arms smooth and supple, and his eyes big and eager but also deep and contemplative, looking both outwards and…” a swarm of goose-bumps whipped the left side of my back, “inwards.” I beamed at Toni but she was scrutinizing the menu with squinted eyes in this dim-lit hell-hole of a place she had dragged me into. “Did you hear what I just said? He looks both outwards and inwards. Isn’t that deep?”
“Wait a minute, is this place legit vegan? What do they make their cheeses out of? I don’t want to eat this seductively cheesy pizza only to have my heart wrenched for the rest of my life for having tormented a beautiful mammal’s bosom – for like twenty minutes of gooey cheese in my mouth? No way.” She rolled her eyes and twisted her beautiful body, with her ass firmly on her seat, towards the waitress in a pastel-coloured silk onesie. “Excuse me, excuse me, miss?”
The waitress carried with her a look of a cool disapproval and I imagined getting aroused with a look like that and attempted to behold a similar expression myself, looking around the room to see if anyone noticed me – there was barely anyone in there – a morbidly quiet group of guys (probably from ‘Plot Hole’ – the sad gay club just down the street where literature majors with profound daddy issues met to scoff each others’ tastes) – no-one who’d be interested in what I had to offer. Not even the waitress who, on second glance, I was convinced had her vagina filled with a fistful of sawdust.
“Miss, is the cheese vegan here?” Toni’s voice was loud and shrill like a tropical bird in heat cooing aggressively at her sexual competitor perched on an adjacent tree-top.
“Yes, of course.” The waitress seemed to keep a count of her words before she uttered them. She leaned towards Toni and whispered, in a whisper technically too loud to be called a whisper, “We prefer to be called by gender-neutral titles.”
Toni’s eyes widened as if she’d drunk a pint of child-vomit. She sputtered in affirmative until the waitress disappeared behind the kitchen counter. “Of course, yes, yes, of course, of course?”
“Such a stuck-up bitch!” I said and Toni agreed.
The pizza arrived before we could bitch about the unisex onesie bitch.
“This molten cheese looks exactly like fresh semen.” I choked on my pizza slice whose size I had gravely under-estimated before shoving it in my mouth in a porcine frenzy.
I’m no expert but she couldn’t have been right about this. “Have you even?” I snorted.
“Yeah, I had this friend in college – no – this was after I became a corporate slut – so this was the guy I went on the summer road-trip with.”
“That was a solo road-trip Toni. I wanted to join you but you wouldn’t me let me in your car.”
“Oh, yes, yes, in fact, I met this dude there, he was a personal yoga trainer, totally stoked my kundalini – and then we went on another road-trip.”
I couldn’t tell if she was narrating an anecdote or writing one, with her eyes dripping ink on the dim walls that she gazed aimlessly as she talked.
“You never told me about this.” I said this as accusingly as I could, inviting a sorrow singed with anger in my chest, folding my legs and sighing passionately. (This is what heartbreak feels like, I told myself.)
Toni’s eyes wandered in silence for a while before she concluded, “But the point is I know what it looks like, it looks like molten cheese, not regular cheese but vegan cheese made by a stuck-up gender-neutral bitch day-dreaming about a steaming orgy with five men with unquestionably conspicuous gender.” She slammed her left hand on the table and one of the guys behind us sniggered audibly.
As cheese oozed out of the warm crumbly crust and entered into the dark depths of my warm maw, I revisited the grocery store down the lane where I stayed, that I walked into in my yellow slippers and red pyjamas on that clearest of nights when the air held a certain expectant chill and the AC in the grocery store hummed over ripe fruits and bottles of packaged milk in a small microcosm reverberating with his heaving chest under his shirt and him free-balling, blind to a raging angst that drove me down the cereal aisle to catch my breath and count the calories in 100 gms of oat cereal.
“Does it taste like this?”
“Tastes like what?”
“The cheese!” I hissed. “The fucking vegan cheese!”
Later, as I would walk past the group of gays, I would consider asking them the same question. Does it taste like vegan cheese? The drive home would take hours, long stifling hours stretching from the first speck of purple in the sky to the first chirping bird in the trees and I would walk in my yellow slippers up the stairs to my apartment where the other girls would be in their bed, snoring or pretending to be snoring, and I’d collapse beside the one who snored the least, and I would wake up much later in the day (to a bowl of hakka noodles and oreo shake) and forget about cheese – vegan or otherwise – as I plan my next visit to the grocery store.