“Well, what do you think?” She looks at him expectantly, a huge smile on her face. She thinks that she’s done something spectacular for him, and he doesn’t want to risk hurting her feelings by telling her the truth.
“It’s wonderful,” he says, looking at the bedroom. His bedroom. What used to be his bedroom. It has been redecorated, but that seems like an understatement. Calling it redecorated is like saying World War II was a fight. He doesn’t know where all this stuff came from, but he knows that it isn’t his—he has no idea where all of his stuff went.
“Do you really like it?”
“Yeah,” he says, and then catches the uncertainty in his voice and says it again with more enthusiasm. “Yeah, I do! I wasn’t expecting this at all, but yeah, I really like it.”
“Oh, I knew you would! I knew you would! I asked Tyler about it, he said it might be a little too much, but I knew he didn’t know.”
Tyler is the roommate. He’s been saying be careful for months. “Be careful, Jeffrey, this one has it. Mark my words.”
But Jeffrey didn’t mark his words. Sure, he sensed it, but maybe it wasn’t as bad as all that. Maybe she just had a touch of it. He knew he was probably lying to himself, but this girl. “This girl, Tyler, in the sack…she’s…I don’t even think I have the words to describe it.”
“Yeah, you have the words to describe it, dude—you’re a writer. That’s not the point, though. The point is, she’s got it, and if you’re not careful, you’ll be a victim of it.”
And of course Tyler was right. On all counts. Jeffrey did have the words to describe it, which he promptly used to describe every detail—after which Tyler said to be extra careful and then called up the closest hollaback girl in his little black book. And she did have it. Looking at the bedroom, there’s no denying that. And Jeffrey wasn’t careful, and now he is a victim of it.
There is no definite definition of it. In fact, it’s too subtle to even be a capitalized pronoun. But that doesn’t make it any less dangerous. Tyler and Jeffrey have discussed it over many a beer, they have analyzed it, feared it, and tried with no avail to understand and defeat it. It’s what chicks do to sneak into your life, what they do to change it, what they do to change you. A million little things. A million little things that grow into a billion bigger things.
“Did you know that when you eat hamburgers with onions, it makes your breath stink?”
“Yeah, babe—everyone knows that.”
“But, like, I don’t, you know, want to make out with everyone. Just you.”
And you stop eating onions because that’s how mind-boggling outstanding she is at making out. And besides, it’s onions. They aren’t so great.
“Did you go out drinking with your friends last night?”
“Yeah—remember, I told you.”
“Yeah, it’s just….oh, nothing.”
“Come on, babe, what?”
“Well, it’s just that when you drink a lot of beer, like you do with your friends, it makes it taste kinda gross when I…oh, it’s too embarrassing.”
“What? What are you talking about?”
“Well, when I suck your…you know…and then your stuff tastes kind of gross. I don’t like it in my mouth. It makes me not want to do it, you know?”
Your friends give you shit because you’re skipping more parties than you’re going to, but it’s cool. You chuckle condescendingly, like it’s an inside joke that they can never be a part of.
A million little things that grow into a billion bigger things, until you are no longer you, but rather “us.” You don’t think for yourself, you don’t make your own decisions, no matter how much it may seem like it. You aren’t going to keg parties with your buddies on Saturday night, you’re going to Bed Bath and Beyond on Sunday morning.
You tell yourself that it’s for a good cause, and it is—getting laid is the best cause. But you’re more a married man now than a college kid, no matter age you are, and you’ve been infected by it. The worst part is, you can’t see it, and no matter how hard your friends try, they can’t show it to you.
But standing here in this bedroom, in this place that used to be his bedroom, Jeffrey suddenly realizes that he has fallen prey to it.
Everything is forest green—her favorite color, and the color that she has convinced herself is his favorite color as well. He hates forest green, and has told her so on several occasions. Everything is forest green. The trashcan, the curtains, the blankets. The blankets. Man, he doesn’t even use blankets, really—the sheets, and maybe a throw when it gets really cold. She loves blankets, though. She always complains that it’s too cold for her to sleep over, which is sort of how he likes it.
“Yeah…um, I think that Tyler and I were supposed to hang out tonight.” He has to find his friend, he has to figure out a way to get out of this. Holy shit.
“Oh,” she whines. “I thought we could, you know, break in the new sheets. You know what I love to do on new sheets?” She leans over and whispers into his ear, careful to let her tongue flick out a little too much at one point, to let it come in contact with the bottom of his earlobe, and when she finally finishes telling him what she loves to do on new sheets, there is no way he could possibly do anything but agree with her.
“Are you even listening to me?’
“Yeah. I uh, yeah I was.”
“What did I just say?”
He opens his eyes, and they’re slow to open. The strange dream-beginnings that were about to swallow him into sleep still seduce him. “What you said was,” he begins, and realizes that he has been dozing, that he has no idea what she’s been talking about. Instead of getting caught, he just stares at her, then lets his body flinch a little.
“What?” she asks.
“I just…wow, I know how corny this sounds, but I just realized that when I see you in the moonlight, you look just like….oh, it’s too embarrassing. So, what you were saying was-”
“No, wait. I want to know what you were talking about.”
“I was talking about what you were talking about.”
“No, about when you see me in the moonlight.”
“Oh, baby, it makes me feel dumb.”
“Oh, come on. Please?” She snuggles against him, letting her hand brush his crotch as she reaches to put it on his chest. He wonders briefly how she manages to do stuff like that, considering that one of those body parts is in an entirely different area than the other.
“You look like a goddess or something,” he tells her. “Like one of those women that men have spent centuries trying to write the perfect poem about.”
“Oh, you’re so suh-weet!” Her hand has somehow managed to find that lower area again, and he doesn’t feel as tired as he did a minute ago. They commence to re-break in the sheets.