Late last year I was one of 18 writers to participate in the ATYP National Studio. Across a week we were tasked to write a 7-8 minute monologue for a young actor to perform around the theme of “food”. This here is mine.
It’s always ‘babe’ with these guys.
Like; “oh-em-gee babe, how you going?”
Or, “baaabe, it’s been too long!”
In this case: “hey, babe. Wanna come back to mine?”
We’re down in some club and there’s this Madonna-Gaga-Ke$ha bullshit playing. My shirt is off ‘cause it’s hot under all the neon and
‘cause my friends’ shirts are off it seems more acceptable somehow; like their own chiselled torsos will distract from my lack thereof.
This guy has sidled up to me, oiled and bulbous arms sinuating ‘round the bones in my hips and that’s when he says it. Hisses it; right into my ear.
Hey. Babe. Want to come back to mine.
And it’s not that he’s not hot
but that he’s talking to me at all;
that he’s somehow walked straight past these preening schools of men
to talk to me, to ask of me.
And I am alone, here:
My friends are winking and doing that fucking annoying thing; like this guy and I have had some thing the whole night and they’ve just been waiting for it all to finally erupt.
Only there is no thing.
On the way over I stop off at 7/11 and buy:
Four packs of Krispy Kremes,
two meat pies,
two blocks of Cadbury’s
one pack of frozen chips and
one bottle of Coke, two litres.
It’s only 12. He’ll still be up.
He had taken me out, his shout: breakfast, then lunch, then dinner across one drawn out day. Finally? Sex and dessert.
I hadn’t been interested; not at first. But I soon remembered my classmates; clinging to their hunger and their independence, and weirdly that spurred me on, like: kids in Comparative Literature are starving, so you will finish this date.
The thing that struck me was that he was wholly a man, not a boy. He was confident. Secure. He had a nice smile and a nice wage and didn’t walk so much as strut and I was genuinely surprised to find that that was far more attractive than brute muscle. Insecurity is tedious. Guys my age are tedious. Every 20-year-old knows the world, don’t they? It’s like, “great, you’re majoring in Human Rights.” Nobody cares how big your Marxism is if you’re so modest you can’t fuck with the lights on.
I suppose it was something I could sense. Like how you can tell if a guy’s a top or a bottom; it was something I could just sense he wanted me to do. We were both kneeling on his bed, making out, full and heavy from this day-long buffet.
And the weight of his body is bearing down against mine and there’s this plate of cookies on the bed, and the ferocity of his mouth placed wet against mine knocks them onto the duvet. In a moment of daring I reach down and grab him.
It’s different to how I imagined; this heat and weight pressed foreign in my hand. My hand, that had held pens and spoons and doorknobs and other hands, sure, but never that. It feels… bad. Not in a sexual way; not ‘filthy’ or ‘dirty’ or ‘naughty’, just wrong.
I can see these errant black hairs squiggling like inchworms up his chest and neck, and his hot breath is slapping me in the face and I want to scream:
it’s a trick,
this is my first time.
The moment passes but my heart is pounding, pounding and I search for something, anything else to grab as if this will somehow solve the problem in hand.
And then I see it.
And I reach down.
I grab a cookie.
Raise it to his mouth.
His eyes weaken, mouth parts. A beat, and I cram the cookie in. No romance here, thanks.
And then I think that I can do this. And I think: each time he chews, give it a squeeze. And then I reach down for another cookie.
Later. We’re lying, side-by-side, and his hand stretches out and curls round mine. Then, his voice, soft and cool through midnight air:
“I’d like to reach 400 pounds, one day. If I can.”
And for the first time, with him, I feel protection and shelter.
I think he can sense my smile.
Key in door, bolt slides open, bags in hall.
The smell hits first,
sweet and thick.
Lolly wrappers and chip packets;
preservatives and chemicals and
all that good shit.
He eats exactly how my housemates eat.
Same pale yellow messes,
sugared and fried en masse.
This smell mixes with the tinny music still ringing in my ears; the scent of sweat and beer and –
Dim light. His key burns red-hot against my thigh as it’s
And folded neatly in my jeans pocket, half disintegrated from the
sweat and heat of bodies is a bar-coaster.
On it: written neatly, hilariously, the word
And below that,
a phone number.
Lights flick on.
And his breath,
I’ve fallen already
down the hall
and into his orbit:
ample face, chest and arms, soft and amorphous in the alien
light of the Home Shopping Channel.
He leans back, looks me in the eye.
It’s only then that I realise
I am drunk.
Above our heads
bulbs crackle and splatter,
and in staccato shadow
his face slims and expands,
slims and expands;
the human yo-yo diet in effect
before my very eyes.
“Got your shopping.”
“How was your night?”
Shit. He’s smiling at me, not at the food
and he’s genuinely asking: eyes lighting up,
those dull and trusting eyes of a slaughterhouse sow
pale buttons pressed into his face crinkling like wet tissue paper
and I can see
on the TV
this docile woman
selling mobility scooters
and I can see
his credit card
clutched tight in hand
and a voice on loudspeaker –
god let it be phone sex
phone anything, but:
“to confirm your purchase with mister mobility
please press the hash key”
and I can see
his total surrender
that this is sick
that I might throw up, not vomit but actively chunder over the
destruction of his apartment floor.
And I say: I love you.
And I say: here’s your key.
And I say: isn’t it funny, we’re the wrong way around: you should be
looking after me.
And I say: I’m twenty-one, it’s been a year.
And I say: I feel fifty.
And I say that we went too far.
And I say that it doesn’t turn me on anymore.
And I say: how dare you.
And I say: you betrayed me. You were supposed to look after me, protect me, show me a good time, we were supposed to go out and love and fight and try and make-up, but you fucked it up.
And I say: I hate you.
And I say: I’m just putting your chips in the oven.
But I say nothing.
But I say nothing.
But I say nothing,
and I leave the room
Up and out
out of the bedroom.
His hand stretches and
curls round cold air,
but I skirt
through the door.
The phone, then,
dialling numbers from that crumpled bar-coaster
and his voice, soft and cool through midnight air:
“Hey. Babe. Want to come back to mine?”
It’s silent, and dark, but I think he can sense I’m coming.