There were film majors in my bed—they talked about film. There were poets, coxswains, guys trying to grow beards.
“Kids get really scared when their dad grows a beard,” I said. Finally, I had an audience. I helped a pitcher understand the implications of his team’s hazing ritual. I encouraged in- decisive dancer-anthropologists to double major. When a guy apologized for being sweaty, I got him a small towel. I made people feel good.
Then I took a break. Then I forgot that I was taking a break. Spring was here. Jake was here. Also Josh. One dancer- anthropologist dropped anthropology, just did dance. He danced with honors.
“Mazel tov,” I said.
The bed moved. Movers moved it. Movers asked what my dad did, why he wasn’t moving the bed.
New guys came to the bed. New guys had been in the Gulf War, had been bisexual, had taken out teeth, had taken out ads. Musical types left CDs with their names markered on—I kept a pile. I was careful not to smudge them, scratch them. (Scratch that, I wasn’t careful.)
“So many musicians in this city,” I observed, topless.
Boxer shorts were like laundry even on their bodies. Guys burrowed down for not long enough, popped up, smiled.
Did I have something? Did I have anything?
Something, anything, went in the trash, except one, which didn’t. One hadn’t gone on in the first place.
After, cell phones jingled: Be Bop, Mariachi Medley, Chicken
Dance, Die Alone.
Nervous, I felt nervous. There was mariachi in the trains, or else it was just one guy playing “La Bamba.” I slow-danced into clinic waiting rooms. Receptionists told me to relax and try to enjoy the weekend, since we wouldn’t know anything till Monday. Sunday I lost it, banged my face against the bed. Be easy, girl, I thought. Be bop. Something was definitely wrong with me—I never called myself “girl.” I played CDs, but CDs by artists who had already succeeded. They had succeeded for a reason. They weren’t wasting time in my bed. One did pass through the bed, to brag. He had been divorced, had met Madonna.
He asked, “Is this what women are like now?”
*From the book (1) by Rebecca Schiff, copyright © 2016 by Rebecca Schiff. Published by arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.*