She was explaining about her “God Shaped hole”.
She leaned forward in a gesture which a less ample woman might use to create a cleavage crease between her breasts. She did not need to try as creases formed and moved like viscous ripples all over her body whenever she moved.
She rested what looked like five gallon bags filled to busting with a chunky mixture of cauliflower and mayonnaise on the table. It looked like they were tied to her arms with purple yarn.
“I used to try and fill that hole with food, and shopping, and sex.” She said.
She looked at me with an earnestness only used by those who cannot see well. Perhaps the prescription on her shocking-blue contacts was old.
“sex..?” I replied with a quavering uncertainty.
“Yes! Sex!” she exclaimed “Lots of Sex!”.
She was able to talk without opening her mouth enough to show her teeth. I began to wonder if she had teeth. I was staring at her face and noticing the places where her makeup had soaked up some skin moisture and crackled on re-drying. She had a speck of oatmeal cookie on her cheek that would have passed for a growth if there wasn’t a plate of oatmeal cookies nearby.
“I used to be an atheist like you” she said “but I couldn’t get nothin to fill that god-shaped hole”
I wanted to retort with some question about why the sex wasn’t working, but I was picturing her naked.
“Then I found God. The God of the Bible. I had my hole filled. I didn’t need no Sex, no shopping, no food” She reached for a cookie and giggled “I like a cookie every once in a while”
“God doesn’t want you to have sex?” I asked.
She swallowed most of the half-chewed cookie in her mouth “Not before marriage he don’t”
“I guess it is too late for me to worry about having sex before marriage” I replied
This Saturday would have been my 22nd wedding anniversary, but the divorce and rapid re-marriage of the woman I would have theoretically celebrated it with rained on that parade a bit. She did drive her new husband’s Mitsubishi Galant over to pick up a few things in lieu of a celebration. She looked well. She smiled at the kids, but her smile soured when she turned her face towards me.
I had begun to think the morose thoughts reserved for those suddenly facing the prospect of living alone after decades.
“How long after I die will the cat go before it begins to feed on my corpse? Probably longer than if I owned a dog….”
Kept inside my head such lovely thoughts bounce around like the ball bearing in a can of spray paint. Sometimes I open my mouth and the thoughts spray out. In public the effect is similar to spray painting the words “Pathetic Loser” in huge neon pink script on a blank white wall.
I had just opened my mouth in a large gathering of friends and acquaintances. That is why the mayonnaise madam was talking to me about sex and holes.
“Yoooou knooow what I mean” she cooed “You are only supposed to have sex to the person you are married to”
“Especially if you are married” I replied before peeping into that pit where I keep the images of my ex’s years long affair; into my jealousy for the grace with which she simply transitioned into another marriage. I guess we all have holes; at least one of mine is already filled with sex.
“No hon” she says, and makes the comforting gesture of reaching out to place her hand on mine.
I quickly reach for a cookie, and her hand oozes onto the table in the space where mine had been a moment before. I look at her face, and the growth/crumb on her cheek. I realize that I don’t want the cookie anymore.
I also realize that she is a fabulously nice person. I knew this before, but the sincerity on her face is stunning. She is not trying to ambush me with Jesus because I’m particularly vulnerable. She is giving me a solution she thinks will work. The fact that she so completely believes what she is saying about God Shaped Holes only makes it more annoying to me.
“I’m not really thinking about sex these days” I lie.
In truth I’ve been thinking about sex in every imaginable way; going out of my way to imagine new ways to think about it. I’ve simultaneously thought that I am too old for a real sex life, and that I am old enough to have sex with women less than half my age without being a pedophile; that sex would interfere with my ability to form meaningful friendships with women, and that attempting any conversation while wearing pants would be a waste of time.
I’ve also been thinking about sex with everyone. I’m sure I thought about having sex with this well-meaning bible pushing obese woman. Not just a casual grunting wave to repressed sexuality, but some full-on role-playing fantasy. She would comfort me while we prayed. Down on our knees together the comforting hand on my shoulder becomes a casual embrace. We look up and our eyes meet. Our kisses become fumbling for buttons, and clasps, and zippers. We laugh about how she got the bible-shaped bruise on her thigh over morning coffee.
Right now, however, I am not thinking about sex. I am watching her talk and imagining the color of her teeth; if she has any. I am imagining the puckered folds of her white skin, and the smell of yeast. I am imagining vats of mayonnaise with bits of unrecognizable material floating in it. Whistler’s mother is rocking back and forth knitting a scarf from a skein of varicose vein she has in a little portable Styrofoam cooler. Two Pomeranians lay curled together in a cute little doggie bed waiting for her to die.
I don’t know if I should thank her for defusing the obsession smoldering in my loins or cry for the death of the little pathetic optimism which I held against the future.
And I get to go back to work tomorrow; it is Monday.