Girl (Black and) Blue Balls

Dearest Carla Fran,

You’re not kidding about the difference between the self-pitying stories we make and the events that require no framing. They come along, clobber you and transform you into someone else. The trick, sometimes, is telling the difference, because I don’t think one knows until there’s hindsight.

Until getting your note last night I was feeling clobbered. My self-pitying story was that there’s a sous-chef in the universe toughening me up with a special magical mallet that’s the exact opposite of a meat tenderizer.

1. Remember Lessing’s Fifth Child? He’s in my classroom. He’s taken to e-mailing me about how ridiculous I am and how it is imperative that he destroy my assignments. But, he writes, he wants full credit. And pities the class and all students who might have me punishing them for original thought in the future. Sometimes the hysteria is funny; other times it hits me in a spot that feels like it can’t take punches. It’s like having your very own little schizophrenia-machine, feeding you bad things you fear. In this case it is he and not I who’s little crazy, but I can’t say the effect is pleasant.

I’ll interrupt this with three great pleasures that were immediately frustrated and so became painful. Girl blue balls, I call ’em:

2. I saw an almost-cousin, male, a relation of that adopted grandmother I’ve mentioned to you in the past. He lives in San Francisco and drove out for lunch. Lunch was nice. Really nice. But the kind of nice where it would never work. He’s simple, straightforward, likes me. I like him too. BUT: As I have known him for, oh, 25 years, casualness would not, I think, be appropriate.

3. Got home, and some friends invited me out. There was an Italian guy there, curly-haired, very good-looking who spoke virtually no English. This last struck me as an extraordinary virtue. It was lovely and restful, and I found myself wanting–in a way I don’t often want–to have my way with him. However, the little English he speaks revealed that he is interested in David Foster Wallace, Delillo, Pynchon, etc. Oh well, I thought. He’s here for three months. Casualness works! I jotted him down for future reference.

4. The last great pleasure/pain is talking to the crush, who’s back in full force and taking up more of my mental real estate than I can bear or spare.

Back to pure displeasure:

5. Last night, a friend came over and we ate chocolate chips and talked. (This is in the pleasure category, though we were both mopey). While chatting I received a disagreeable and extremely formal message from a certain individual, male, whose shirts I am strongly in favor of. I’d said that sexytimes were off the table for now, given recent developments, and hadn’t heard back. He called offering me money to take a test for his business in which he has invested “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” so he hopes I’ll do it, and again, I can probably be compensated for doing it, and here are the times.


Casualness does not work. At all at all at all. Goodbye, Italian guy.

And I have blisters.

That is the end of my self-pitying tale, and I would be ashamed to indulge in it after hearing of what your dear friend has had to endure, were it not for the fact that I’m thinking of her now—not knowing who she is—as a sort of martyr, to whom one might confess and offer.

It’s conventional to offer prayers, I know, but I guess I’m making an offering to her story instead. Here’s my pocketful of grumbles, a votive candle of bickers and gripes, burned up humbly in deference to her conflagration of pain.

She is lucky to have you.



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