“I can’t speak for all men,” I said, slipping a piece of pastrami between her lips, “but I think it’s not uncommon. I think better than half of all men have this fear.”
She watched me, half-lidded but unblinking, while she chewed. “Really? More than getting shot?”
“I think that’s a fear for, you know, parts of the country where education isn’t an emphasis.”
“More than… getting hit by a car?”
I shrugged. “I haven’t heard people talk about that like it’s a constant concern of theirs.”
“More than getting stepped on or chewed in half?” Her off-white teeth glinted in the candlelight, her lips parted in a striking smile that sent a tingle up my spine to my cheeks.
“My fears aren’t in the same context as most guys’s fears, I think.” I sliced off another piece of pastrami, dragged it from the bamboo cutting board to where her jaw rested on the edge of the table.
Her huge eyes crossed to focus on me as I walked up to her broad face, until she closed them and opened her mouth wide. I hurled the thin-sliced, cured meat like a Frisbee into her pink and glistening cavern. It landed on her tongue, which twitched and swayed with micro-muscles, despite her attempt to hold it still and display the pink and puce flesh resting on it. She grinned and politely closed her mouth to mash it up. I could smell smoked beef wafting from her nostrils, and I dared to rest my palm upon her massive upper lip: the impact of her molars rumbled through her flesh and up my arm. Just amazing.
“Are you afraid I’ll get rid of you for… what did you call it?”
“An upgrade.” I pulled a large sheet of provolone from the pile. “Men have an unshakable fear of being discarded for someone better, and the reason it sits so well in them is because they can relate to it. They understand upgrading, they value it, they look forward to it.”
She stuck out her tongue, gushing out over her incisors and lip like a flood of ocean… pink, soft, textured ocean… or lava. I hustled the dense chunk of salt and dairy over to her, upending it upon the tip of her tongue. I saw a thin rivulet of saliva slip out over the edge of her lower lip, and she must’ve felt it immediately because she sucked the cheese into her mouth, reared her massive head back and wiped her mouth on her wrist, thoughtlessly, gracelessly. Her vast and towering façade darkened when she withdrew from the candles on the table, imbuing her with a cinematic glower that, out of context, would have looked threatening. To reassure myself, I laughed at her blush affectionately, and she wrinkled her nose at me.
“Not all women think like that,” she said, stroking her cheek.
I laughed again and sat on the edge of the cutting board. “Men have long conflated women’s motivations with their own. That’s why there’s dick-pics: men want women to send them pictures of their tits, so they believe women will become aroused if they send them pictures of their penis.”
“That’s disgusting. That’s the last thing I want to see.”
“And that’s why you get other tiny men begging to worship women like you.”
Her brow furrowed. “Because they want to be worshiped?”
I paused. “Huh, that didn’t work out. It’s what they think women want, because they don’t ask or even wonder what women really want… And that… comes from how poorly we’re taught to communicate as children and teens, which is related to conflating our motivations…” My head felt knotted, suddenly. I was talking too fast, trying too hard, getting distracted.
Her huge arm swung through darkened space. Her index finger unfurled, and her fingertip thudded me in the center of my chest. No more than a centimeter’s gesture to her, but enough to send me sprawling into the provolone. Her sharp smile shone in the dark, and her fingers splayed to grip the sides of the cheese, wrapping it snugly around my chest, and she slowly lifted me off the cutting board.
I called her by name, as the living room’s warm and smoky air drifted lazily over my body. “There’s more pastrami down there if you’re looking for meat.”
She shook her head, sending her long, looping waves of hair sliding over her shoulders. “You sure have a lot of opinions in that tiny little head of yours, especially for someone who doesn’t get out so much.”
I shrugged, my nonchalance hampered by cheese. “Audible and iTunes University. I can still work a touchscreen and I’ve got nothing else to do when you’re at work.” My heart started pounding in its chest, the closer I floated toward her lovely grin. My pulse nudged insistently in my neck and thighs. The candlelight reflected as mottled pinpricks in the corners of her eyes.
“Do you think I’ll absorb your knowledge?” Her tongue throbbed with laughter as her incisors spread. Her thumb and index finger released me, and the provolone unpeeled and fell to her blouse. I, however, took the short tumble directly into her mouth. I may have sworn. I just remember going spread-eagled, trying to catch myself on her lips, but taking a bad spin and falling in sideways, like so much pastrami, and scrambling to bear-hug her tongue.
Her lips closed over me promptly. In the perfect darkness I felt her throat seal up below my feet, at least. Gravity slowly rolled until I was lying upon the mattress of her tongue, so I supposed she was sitting up on the couch and leveling her head out to…
Yes. Through the dense flesh of her lips I heard Hulu come up, and then the ukulele intro to Bob’s Burgers. I sighed and tried to calm my heart down while she hummed along and massaged my chest with the thick, blunt tip of her tongue.
Over the years, I’ve learned this subtle cue meant the conversation was over.
After a minute, she even parted her lips a little so I could watch TV too. Deposited the cheese slice that had missed the mark earlier. My jeans were soaked through, but at least I had a snack. Such largess.