“This Has Mammary Sex In It,” by Zak Block

Apr 15th, 2015 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

(I overheard what I think was a three-person writing group in a coffee shop the other day. There was a woman talking about all of the interesting things that had happened to her in her past, and how whenever she tried to write them down, the “voice” was wrong; it came out all wrong and it wasn’t any good. I thought, why didn’t she just write that down instead of saying it to her friends: that was, the way she told the story, just then, was surely as good as the story was ever going to be, so why not write it down, or record herself telling it and transcribe it later, and look at it to see if it’s a good story, or nearly as good as it would have been if, when you’d written it down, the voice had been right and it had been good. I felt very proud of myself for making this observation, safe as I was in the knowledge that, as a fiction writer, this elaborated process, of telling a story and transcribing it to see if there weren’t some way of improving upon what had actually happened, was more like something I had, for many years, been able to do in my head in a matter of seconds; and I must have thought: that, if wanted to actually tell a story about something that had happened in me, in real life, I could very easily do that. But, until then/now, in my fiction writing, I’ve only woven bits and pieces of real life experiences through things I had imagined, culled from dreams I could remember or invented solely to provide support for some structural inadequacy in a narrative I was in the process of constructing.)

I had moved into a new apartment, and all I knew yet of my roommates’ social lives was what I had overheard: for example, the roommate, who was effectually my next-door neighbor, was, one evening, very loudly fucking some girl for about forty-five minutes.

I could not help but overhear this event, as the walls are very thin; and then wondered if he had considered this reasonable inability on my part to not overhear. And let’s say he had considered this, but decided to think no further of it. He was, I’m sure, aware of my presence at the time, and of the thinness of the walls, and also of the likelihood that I would hear something. So it’s very likely that he had considered it. But, say he had considered it, and considered it no more, as I said: well, that still put me in a very embarrassed position, so from that moment I began to hope that I would soon loudly fuck a girl in my room, while he was sitting alone in his room uncomfortably failing to not overhear, and that this would obviate any feelings of awkwardness on the part of either of us regarding this previous incident.

A few days later I had agreed to meet, in person, a woman with whom I first began to communicate on the online dating website OkCupid. She was to be the eighty-ninth I’d met off of that website,—the eightieth over the past nineteen months alone. I won’t give her name, since this actually happened and she’s a real person: so she will be #89. This name will persist throughout the following piece, so I apologize if it is regarded by any reader as tending towards, or typical of, in any way, the objectification of women on a global scale: I have chosen to refer to this woman as #89 simply because I believe it would legally ill-advised to give her real name, and I dislike the literary convention of false-naming. I’ve used it before in one or two short pieces, one of which was published in in print, in and/or, and online in Quail Bell magazine; and another which is forthcoming in Reunion: The Dallas Review, the literary magazine of the University of Texas at Austin. But those were fictional pieces, and this is a non-fictional piece, so to give a false name would be even more preposterous and embarrassing.

#89 lived with family in Kew Gardens, and had agreed to my proposal that we meet in Forest Hills, on Austin Street and 70 Rd. I don’t exactly know what 70 Rd. means, I’ve only been living in Queens for six weeks, and Ridgewood is only on the border of Queens and Brooklyn. I also don’t understand a lot of the street naming conventions in Brooklyn, such as the numbered streets with directions: N6, N7, &c. But then again, I hadn’t lived in Brooklyn for very long when I did, so it remains that the only street-naming conventions that I fully understand are those associated with Manhattan.

The point of bringing #89 up here is that, later that night we ended up in my apartment, nakedly cuddling and kissing, among other activities, so that it seemed highly possible to me that I would have the opportunity to loudly fuck someone in my room and therefore put an end to my next door neighbor-roommate’s and my social discomfort—so to get to that I’ll try to explain as much of what happened as is interesting, even if it doesn’t serve to explain how we ended up naked in my room; the reason being that some of that stuff might be very shitty to hear about and even not interesting at all. (Right now I’m reading through this entire piece and editing it and I’ve noticed the internet went out a second time. Sorry, the first time hasn’t happened yet, it’s in the next paragraph.)

The date or meeting or whatever it was began in a Pasticceria on Austin street whose name I’m not going to advertise for free. After that we went to a bookstore. I wanted to say the truth, which was that we went to Barnes and Noble, because that’s all there is there, and there are no bookstores in Queens, and Barnes and Noble isn’t a bookstore because I think it’s technically a department store or a mega-store, something along those lines,—but bookstore sounded better, like something you’d hear in a story in a book. We walked around the book-department, the “bookstore,” what have you, looking at various titles: she, trying to locate a book whose name she didn’t know, by an author whose name she didn’t know either. She was twenty-three; I’m twenty-nine. I wouldn’t consider this an age-gap, but some might. I don’t believe that what I do can be considered participating in age-gap dating, so there’s no need to nitpick, I suppose. More of the women I meet these days are twenty-four to twenty-six. Anyway, she found the book, somehow, and we discussed her buying it: it was a very expensive book, right now I’m forgetting the title but J.J. Abrams had something to do with it. I should Google it. Internet seems to be stalled. I think I’ll smoke a cigarette while I wait for it to work again. I hope my occasional smoking doesn’t bother my next door neighbor-roommate.

Right, S it’s called, co-written by Doug Dorst; according to Wikipedia it is: “unusual in its format, presented as a story within a story, [comprised] of the fictional novel Ship of Theseus by a fictional author, and hand-written notes filling the book’s margins as a dialogue between two college students hoping to uncover the author’s mysterious identity and the novel’s secret plus loose supplementary materials tucked in between pages.” I suppose I could have paraphrased it and left out the whole me Googling J.J. Abrams and smoking a cigarette to recall specific details of the book, but I’m not sure I see what the point would have been. So she debated whether to buy the book because it was expensive, being as it was an elaborate physical object wrapped in cellophane with a novel of some kind inside or whatever; so then, in line with my strategy, employed throughout the date, of trying to be funny, I made some joke about my being reluctant to buy the book for her because it was a first date and I didn’t know if we would be married soon *blah blah* and she ended up not buying it, because I guess she wasn’t really that interested in it despite the effort made in finding it; we went downstairs and kissed for the first time sitting in a window casing in front of some people eating at a T.G.I. Friday’s or something, then decided to hang out in a nearby billiards hall slash bar, and there the petting and kissing continued.

At one point she expressed the sentiment that we were doing more petting than actual talking and getting to know each other. So I suppose we did some of that, and continued petting and kissing, thenceforth maintaining a petting and kissing to talking ratio sufficient for me to get her back to my place. (Still doing the read through/edit: the first draft said “lure her back” but when I reread that it sort of even creeped me out a bit.) So at some point, she had revealed, walking around the bookstore, that she was a virgin—at twenty-three years old.

And of course I knew from that moment that regardless of whether I brought her home or not, we would not sleep together that night—and it turned out we never would:—but that didn’t preclude the possibility of our doing something noisy and sexual to put my roommate at his ease. (Still editing, I just realized that I’m reading this all for a third time, but I’m not sure how that’s possible when I haven’t yet reread what follows.)

So the whole reason I wanted to write this was, I was lying in bed (a few hours ago, now) fantasizing about her and my “outer-course” of that night, which included mammary sex, which was very exciting for me. But of course sex-writing is awful and no one wants to read that and it’s very uncomfortable but still it was great, really; and she was preternaturally gifted with her hands. Having been brought to a climax or whatever, made to ejaculate, two times by #89, I offered—these things might not have happened in this exact order, but just trust in that they happened and all will be fine—offered to perform oral sex upon her, at which point she revealed,—though, as I say, it might have been earlier in the naked part of the evening that she revealed this to me,—revealed that she had never achieved an orgasm through oral sex, nor even through masturbation on her own, which is very unfortunate.

I had only met one woman like this before, this was when I was twenty-one, the girl was nineteen: nevertheless I offered to try, as this would have been my only opportunity that night to do something noisy and sexual that my roommate might uncomfortably overhear in order to put him at his ease, you know, but of course all he ended up hearing, if he could hear or cared to hear, was “Umm?”—“maybe higher?”—“lower?”—“harder?”—“faster?” &c.—and none of which were to any avail. So obviously my attempt to resolve the unspoken conflict with my roommate, or whatever it was, had, like my attempt to resolve her climactic conflict, failed. The next morning she put my penis in her mouth for a few seconds before leaving for work, and we had a second date a few days later but things didn’t work out with #89, though that’s not the part of the story that’s interesting. (Still doing the edit: realizing, it is kind of interesting because what happened was this: we had a second date at the end of which she didn’t come home with me and revealed that she wanted to take things slowly, and, in a fit of frustration at her total abnegation of everything that had happened the night we met, on the evening after our second date, I sent her a litany of text messages about how life was too short to sit around pining and waiting deeper and deeper into her ridiculous twenties to find some perfect soul mate to whom to lose her meaningless virginity *blah blah* and all of that pretty much ensured I wouldn’t see her again—of course, I did like her and would have been content to wait, but I had not thought of this at the time because I was, I suppose, deeply sexually frustrated.

In rereading this I can’t believe that what follows is the actual ending of the story instead of a more profusely detailed version of the previous paragraph. I guess it’s best to stick with my initial impulse in this situation.)

In subsequent days I began to wonder if I had somehow made the situation with my roommate even more uncomfortable: quite possibly he knew precisely what he was overhearing, which was bad enough, but perhaps he thought he was listening to—I don’t know why on earth he would be listening but bear with me—to some kind of very ineffectual attempt to make love? What if he pictured some tiny penis penetrating her and she “Umm”ing and suggesting I stick it higher or lower, or thrust harder and faster, harder and faster then I even thought I was! And in the right direction, at that. So that was pretty embarrassing but I’ll probably get over it. (The other thing was more interesting.)

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Defenestration-Zak BlockZak Block’s short fiction appears in Gadfly, Paper Darts, and/or, the Santa Fe Writers Project Journal, and Quail Bell Magazine, and is forthcoming in Reunion: The Dallas Review. He is the founder, editor-in-chief, and illustrator of (the) Squawk Back, a semi-weekly online literary journal of transgression and alienation, baptized by fire in May of 2011.

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