This is what we are reading in class: “The zipless fuck was more than a fuck. It was an ideal. Zipless because when you came together zippers fell away like rose petals, underwear blew off in one breath like dandelion fluff. Tongues intertwined and turned liquid.”
Soft core porn dressed up as Feminist Literary Criticism??? Oh my God! I love Grad school. It’s the 80’s. I listen to Blondie, wear parachute pants and my hair is focused on one simple concept – volume. Aids does not exist and you could eat sugar, fat and deep fried everything without walking into the Valley of Death. I’m young, I am tan and I am aware, even as it’s happening that I should be living the perfect summer.
“Listen to this part”, I say. I’m on duty and talking to the nice guy I work with in the dorms. It was our job to enforce quiet hours and make sure the students didn’t do anything stupid like throw a burning couch out of the window. Which they did- twice.
“This book says “zipless” is defined as a sexual encounter for its own sake, without emotional involvement.”
He smiles, Where do you get this stuff?
“It’s literature- Erica Jong. She’s a fabulous feminist and very famous. She believes that the zipless trumpets unfettered freedom as women’s birthright”
“I am in the wrong major” He sighs
I tell him, “You know what would make this a great summer for me? Having a Zipless. It could be my feminist statement in support of all the women who have suffered under the tyranny of the patriarchal double standard”.
“Oh Christ” he says, You are insane.
The truth was- I was lonely, bone crushingly lonely. Only a few months before I had been plopped into the middle of the Midwest from Jersey to go to grad school. I knew Malls an big hair and NYC not this tiny collegetown that had a Farm and Fleet and a “Flying Ear of Corn” as a mascot. But the school had offered me a full-ride, a stipend and a parking space (which really sealed the deal). My old roommate was moving out to California and I just couldn’t be bothered to find someone else to live with, so Grad school looked like a good alternative. It was the bookish girls version of the army. But that summer was hard on me and I thought “If I’m going to be lonesome I ain’t doin’ it alone”.
For my Zipless endeavor I decided stick to my tried and true menu of bad boys. The older, sophisticated, Mr IBM was perfectly appointed in a navy blazer, Izod with the collar popped and the bulge in his khakis indicated that he was a human torpedo. We meet at a Ramada Inn hotel bar in the afternoon. He is suave, he lights my cigs his fingers lingering on mine. We drink our Manhattans, he caresses my knee but seems incapable of forming a sentence without the words me, my or I in it. It crosses my mind that If his conversation style is any indication of his zipless style- UCK! So I go to my Data Analysis and Regression class even though attendance is not mandatory.
The long days continue to melt by like peach ice cream in the afternoon sun and I hang out with the nice guy constantly. We eat together; we go out drinking, he cleans my apartment. “OK”, I say to him, one night as we scrape the vomit from the elevator.” I’ve eye lured 3 zipless candidates”.
“What is the eye lure?” he asks.
“I learned it from an article in Cosmo magazine called “How to Be a Man Magnet”.
#1. Make eye contact and smile. #2. Avert your gaze. Then #3. Look back and hold for a count of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. I once did it accidently to a blind guy in the quad and if it worked on him it will work on anybody.
“Anyway”- I continue, “here’s the Zipless update: The torpedo is too self absorbed so I’ve moved onto the Brazilian painter”.
“The one who lives out of his car for artistic integrity?” the nice guy asks,
“Yes, he says he wants to sketch me.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” He says.
“I’m going to lie on a chaise and say- “Yo quiero su carne. Su carne es muy caliente”. Which means I want your meat. Your meat is hot. You can really learn a lot from a Taco Belle menu”.
The nice guy locks his eyes on mine. “Why are you wasting your time with these assholes?”
That’s when I see it- he doesn’t want to be my friend. He wants to be my boyfriend. I don’t want a boyfriend- let alone him. You see, he was 2 ½ inches shorter than me and I had 20 pounds on him which meant my ass would always look fat next to his. We’d look like Sasquach and Stewy from “Family Guy”. Besides he wasn’t my type. He was nice. I didn’t like them nice. I liked them Italian and dangerous and from Brooklyn if possible. He was was dangerous as thread.
I decide not to spend as much time with the nice guy and I definitely do not tell him about the hot bartender from TGIF who was studying for his GED on the side. Then one morning the nice guy corners me as we’re dumping the dorm because some idiot has pulled the fire alarm at 3:00am. “Lets go out to dinner”. He sounds happy and hopeful. There is nothing is worse than a happy, hopeful nice guy moon-pieing over you. Then the nice guy gives me the eye lure.
Oh Christ, Now I’m going to have to give him- “the I’m really flattered-but I don’t want to ruin our friendship” talk. Why do you nice guys always do that? Why do you ruin everything by being so nice? For dinner he decides on TGIF, which truthfully was fine dining in the town of the “Flying Ear of Corn”. We go to dinner on a Tuesday night. Not a date night. I order ribs with extra BBQ sauce. Not a date food. I eat my entire plate and some of his. Not date behavior. We talk and laugh until I am snorting. Not the right time for the “It’s me not you talk”.
As the nice guy goes to pay the bill. (My one concession to the no date rule because I wanted to him feel good.) I see the hot bartender tossing bottles, literally throwing bottles of alcohol in the air- like Tom Cruise in that horrible movie. I think “with talent like that who needs a GED?” I don’t want my bartender to think I’m with-with nice guy I so strut up to him, a woman ablaze with defiance and purr “I’ll meet you at close”. I give him the eye lure, He eye lures me back. God it really works!
Later the nice guy and I sit on the loading dock behind the dorm. The night air is hot and humid. My skin glows in the shallow yellow streetlight. We’re silent, too silent. The “talk” is coming and we both know it. As he idly plays with my hair, shivers start to pass through my body igniting a thousand goosebumps. I can feel us breathing together. I start to. .. . No, No, No ! He’s the nice guy. You don’t do nice guys. But my heart is racing and that irresistible pull is tugging.
As I as turn my face towards him I think “If I kiss him now will I ever get him off my back”. He pulls me close and it is all sweet mouths and hot, salty necks. Just as I am about to sigh “ give me a minute to shave my legs” he pulls away. I can hardly catch my breath. What? What are you you doing my body screams? But instead the nice guy puts his hands into his pockets, brushes past me and quietly murmurs “I’m the happiest man in the world” and continues down the stairs, past the dumpster and disappears. It was the sexiest night of my life.
I often think about that nice guy and wonder. I wonder what time he’ll get home from work and what we’re going to eat for supper.