Watch You Don’t Swallow

Simon brushed his teeth as he entered the bedroom. Too enthusiastic to wait, he tried to keep the toothpaste in his mouth and not swallow as he spoke. “I’m just saying, Lydia, I think I found my club! I want you to see it tomorrow night. If Kizzy hadn’t been such a cooze, I’d invite her to see it, too.”

It had been a couple of weeks since Kizzy and Simon got into it. They were both still super pissed. Kizzy was fed up with the way Simon bossed Lydia around and insulted her behind her back. Simon was hella pissed at Kizzy for questioning his diva propensities and sexual proclivities. Lydia, attempting to play peacemaker, had been trying to get them to bury their grievances. She felt like a wildflower growing on the border of Israel and Palestine.

“Kizzy, he was being obnoxious, but you did cross a line,” she said over the phone.

“You wouldn’t think I crossed a line if you heard the trash he talked about you,” thought Kizzy. “He pushed me all night, Lyd.”

“You were kind of offensive, Simon,” Lydia softened his actions, telling him as gingerly as possible over morning coffee.

“You think I was offensive, Lydia?! She tried to emasculate me because she’s jealous of us. How fucking offended do you think I am?!”  

Simon wasn’t the introspective type of human to ponder why someone would tell him that he’s gay, or to wonder why so many times over the course of his life other people had asked if he was gay, or told him that he was. He was cultured, he told himself, without examining how often he fantasized about having sex with guys, or checked out men at the club or while walking around the City, or jerked off recalling the way his college lover, Stan, used to taste in his mouth, and how it felt to be stretched out beneath him on their bed.

Instead, he’d rebranded Kizzy’s callout as “Kizzy’s meltdown”. He claimed she’d “gone crazy that night.” Then he twisted his own complete unwillingness, to be honest with himself, into Lydia’s issue. He’d been doing this for half a month now.

Tonight, he stood in his bathrobe, toothbrush in hand, and again he asked Lydia, “Why are you so drawn to a woman who obviously hates men, Lydia? I understand Kizzy hates men. She’s a lesbian. That’s what they do. Her misandry is par for the course, but why are you so into a woman who hates men?”

“Kizzy doesn’t hate men,” Lydia said for the umpteenth time.

“She must hate men to speak to me like that, Babe. You just don’t see it because you love her,” he said as he walked back into the bathroom to rinse out his mouth.

“No, Simon,” Lydia made sure to say loud enough for him to hear as he walked from the room. “Kizzy doesn’t hate anyone. It’s not in her nature. She’s deep like that. She doesn’t have it in her.” This time she added, “Baby, I am sorry for what happened between you guys that night, but Kizzy’s not a hater. She loves her dad and brothers too much to hate guys. Most of her college friends are guys. Cody is her best friend; he’s a guy.”

“Gay dudes don’t count.”

“She has lots of close straight and gay guy friends, Simon.”

“She hates men,” he said returning to the bedroom. “You don’t want to see it, Babe. Okay, fine. Whatever. I can accept you do not want to acknowledge how hateful she is toward men. Maybe one day you will see it,” he said, kissing her on the forehead as she sat at her desk. “In the meantime, I am going to forget about all the horrible shit she said. I am done discussing it, and I do not want it brought up again.”

He slid into bed.

“I feel sorry for her. I have you, and she doesn’t.”

“Simon…”

“Shhhhh. It’s getting late. I don’t want to talk about this anymore. I want to talk about the club.”

“Honey, I can’t go with you tomorrow night. I have a couple sets.”

“We’ll go in the day then. There’s a woman who answers the phones. She’ll be there. I’ll call in the morning.”

And with that, Simon opened his nightstand drawer and retrieved his special wooden box.

“I bought you some sangria, Babe. It’s in the fridge,” he said without looking up at her. He opened his box, took out his pipe, and started rifling through plastic canisters.

Simon had a nightly ritual: if he didn’t make Lydia a drink, he intimated what she should drink. He liked to smoke himself to sleep. And he preferred Lydia stay awake until he’d smoked his fill. Sometimes he would chatter for hours, urging her to have a second or third drink so that he could continue talking until he was ready for silence. Simon was completely in love with the sound of his voice. Especially when a captive audience was involved.

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