The Audrey Me by Frankie Drayus
I’m the person with mumps sitting behind you at the matinee on Tuesday. All the swelling in my neck went away over the weekend so you really can’t tell. In fact I look thin, attractive. The sort of girl you want to work up your nerve to say hello to when the lights come up, because I look too shy to say hello first.
I’m contagious until Wednesday but I don’t know that. Or that’s what I’ll tell you later. Mumps is passed through saliva so that means you can get it if somebody sneezes on you. Or kisses you. Or shares your fork over dessert in a café.
I couldn’t eat for the first several days because it was too painful to swallow. Actually it wasn’t the act of swallowing per se, but the act of salivating. Since mumps makes your parotid gland swell to the size of a small, scary fruit, and your saliva comes from your parotid gland, even thinking about food was excruciating until today.
It’s the first time in a week I feel like getting out of the apartment, so I go to the movies. And I’m ravenous, too – I’ve got days of skipped meals to make up for.
You ask me what I thought of the movie, which is a reasonable opening line, and you actually listen to my answer. So when you say coffee I say sure and I’m already imagining the six desserts I’m going to order if you take me to the sort of place that’s too chic to have real food.
Guys always think it’s appealing when skinny girls chow down. It’s in every Audrey Hepburn film. Think about it—she’s a waif with a jaw line so sharp you could cut diamonds on it but she always has a scene where she helplessly stuffs her face and then looks sort of cute and abashed all at the same time. Also important is that this is the scene where the male lead begins to fall in love with her.
Playing Audrey Hepburn usually gets me laid and always gets me invited out to another meal because apparent starvation is apparently so damn charming.
I am not charming. Not the real me. But my Audrey persona sure seems to be.
So there we are at Café Something-or-Other and you’re watching me tuck into the second pastry – it has gold foil on top and three layers of three different shades of chocolate. It’s a fucking work of tiny edible art I’m demolishing here, and you say, “Hey—mind if I have a little taste of that?”
And I don’t want to be rude. I mean, you invited me so I am your guest, you are my host, we have this obligation to take care of one another. So I gently push the delicate little porcelain plate towards you. And then you look at me – oh how you give me this look – and you pick up my fork, and you slice into this little piece of chocolate art heaven and then, while holding my gaze in a way that tells me what else I can have if I want it, you slide my fork into your beautiful mouth. You close your lips around it. Swallow.
It’s all terribly sexy, except for the fact that I’m worried now, worried sick that I’ve just contaminated you. So fuckfuckfuck what the hell do I do now?
“Delicious,” you say, which is appropriate because it is. And then you raise your left eyebrow and ask, “What else do you think might be this tasty?”
“On the menu. Here. You’ve obviously got quite an appetite.” You look like you approve of this. “Would you like to order something else?”
And I would. This is all A-1 food foreplay. Or it would be if I weren’t beginning to feel so guilty and legitimately abashed, not actor-abashed, which only adds to my faux-Audrey H. charm even more.
We order the Sachertorte, complete with the drenching of half-whipped heavy whipping cream they recommend.
Then tarte tatin, because you point out we shouldn’t neglect our fruits and vegetables. And also, you volunteer, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Really this is all just for our health.”
And I want to ask you how you do that– say something so utterly dorky and cliché and make me want to sleep with you anyway because you seem so original. I rack my brains for who your persona might be – which actor are you doing to be this good? Not Bogart or Grant, not Brando or James Dean.
I think instead it is just you. Wonderful you.
You are going to die of this horrible disease you should have been vaccinated against back in childhood but your parents decided not too because they thought no one got it anymore, like measles. Or they were too poor. Or they were just too busy and they forgot. It will be all my miserable fault and I will mourn you every day at the graveyard where you will have a large and elaborate headstone.
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