(c) Tamara K Walker
It’s 3am and I have no idea what I’m doing here.
The couple walks in inconspicuously, the lean, dark-haired guy closely muttering something to his girlfriend that I can’t hear and that I suspect is also inaudible to her. My first thought is objectifying: the guy isn’t stunning, but he’s attractive in a physically immature, serious sort of way. He looks like the idea of me but he doesn’t. The girl is like so many other girls her age in this city, in an increasing number of cities, in that I don’t know if I want to hold and touch her sensuously or be her, as if that’s a mutually exclusive choice. The couple—I want them both.
At some point I did. I sauntered in with the most perspicuous of intentions, shaping my interpersonal space with the mental olfactory drift that everyone was wafting immoderately above social miasma. I sought company, and voraciously, I sought validation.
The girl, who looks small and squishy in all the right places, speaks to the man behind the cash register as if to order, but when the woman by his side returns from the kitchen, she hands the couple an unpeeled clove of garlic. The guy shakes his head when she hands it to him and I can tell that he’s snorting: No, this won’t do at all. The girl looks like she’s about to cry from exasperation. I like him considerably less now.
Validation of the intellectual, of the thoughts coursing through my neural networks letting me pretend that what I felt lucidly in the half-abandoned coffee-pots of my introspection was miraculously fielded by the unsacred application of logic. Validation of my worthiness to ponder these issues at all. Validation unsaid, unchained from the omnipresent glass statue of personal obligation, the one that adorns the air of every foyer with an aesthetic no one really enthuses when it comes down to it.
Garlic is good but I have the inkling that their purpose isn’t entirely culinary in nature. The guy tentatively places his nicotine-stained hand in the small of her back and nuzzles her.
I impatiently flick the condiment tray by the window and crave azuki. I want men but I distrust them. The prominent white rooster on the sriracha sauce glares fondly back at me, reminding me of my need to have my cuisine hot hot hot to a colorful deep intensity. Some tastes are acquired, aren’t they? Like garlic.
Because my imagination works this way at this time, I get the idea that maybe he intends to peel the segments and slide them inside her. Idly I wonder if garlic would have a detrimental effect on the pH of her vagina, then I realize I’ve assumed she has one.
Food and sex, food and sex and water and sleep. We lack the conscious sensitivity to body feelings, Julia Serano said in a successfully pedagogical non-cliché.
No, they probably do want to eat it. The guy is pantomiming putting it in his mouth to cheer her up.
At the core we eat for nourishment, layering the base need with compressed spectra revealing infinite richness of want. Culinary consumption is a dynamic multidimensional exercise in coordinating the internal equilibria of intrapersonal desire with interpersonal function. We eat to socialize, eat to romance, eat to connect on a slew of levels.
Still standing by the counter, the girl enigmatically smiles and peels the garlic in her hand. She asks the guy, loudly enough for everyone to hear, “Are you ready for this?” The guy says no and she rubs the garlic into his forehead and all over his face. His body rapidly dissolves into little blue dots of light like aperture ghosts, which ascend instantly as if pulled by a fan into nowhere. The girl seems very satisfied with herself. He isn’t coming back.
Silent applause is an odd thing. Almost tangible. I want to be her with every breath, every bite of my garlic-heavy dish, instead of the guy who only exists now in my snapshot memory. Hence I sit eviscerated of clearheaded parochial purpose in a 24-7 Asian restaurant, gasping thirstily for air as invisible gnats hover below the ceiling fan.
Tamara K. Walker is a writer of various forms who resides in Colorado with her primary partner. Her writing has previously appeared or is forthcoming in Gay Flash Fiction, Apocrypha and Abstractions, nin: a journal of erotic poetics, LYNX: A Journal of Linking Poets, and Scifaikuest. She blogs irregularly about writing and literature.