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The Bar for Men’s Behavior is So Low, it’s a Tavern in Hell.

Yesterday I got glutened, despite my best efforts at due diligence. It’s the most gluten I have consumed since my diagnosis, and I was upset. I had been having a lovely day, and when I found a gluten-free cake pop I was just about nuclear with joy. But, after eating it, I realized it was too good to be true, and called the bakery to find out I was right. Oops.

I miss New York sometimes, but especially when I find myself crying in public. When a perfectly delightful treat has ruined what was about to be a perfectly lovely weekend. I miss being able to cry on public transit, without so much as a glance in my direction. Or, on the opposite end of the New-York-subway-manners-spectrum: a crumpled tissue and hug from a complete stranger,
“That’s right honey, you just cry it out.”

New York is a great place for mad public sobbing, everything there is both open and shut. The subway is a living room and a locked closet. Public and private, a woman applying her make-up, the mascara wand hovers in her hand while she waits for the train to stop.

I’ve done my fair share of sobbing in Vienna. It’s a cleaner sidewalk to crumble on, I’ll give it that.

On Saturday morning, I languished in bed with a new lover, discussing, as one does these days, the current plague,

“Yeah I had it last year, I got it in the hospital.”

“Wow, you just have everything, asthma, and your knees don’t bend. You’re a wreck.”

It’s not like I had a choice in the matter? I don’t know, it’s fine, it was just an aside. I am just annoyed he was right.

Well, I left Mr. Honesty’s place and made my way to a market in search of new artwork for my apartment. I took down the wedding photos, a long while ago, but there are still hooks hanging on the wall, like the empty frames in the Gardner Museum. Evidence of a robbery. I pushed the thoughts away, about the wreck of my body, and bounced about the market, enjoying my newfound health. And a delightful lunch: french fries in a dedicated fryer! Then a fucking cake pop proved to be my Achilles heel.

I’ve dated rather ferociously the past few months, as evidenced here in my various posts of Sunday night sex poetry. I keep a few handsome playthings in rotation for when my wreck of a body wants to be warm for an evening. They all have their nicknames: The Hunk, the Kid, The Chef. I rarely keep someone around long enough to warrant my friends learning their names. That’s not true, I rarely let someone close enough for my friends to learn their name.

I was furious at the bakery that told me the cake pop was gluten-free, and I posted about it on Instagram. How glamorous, how sexy, to announce to the world news of my poisoning. I am sure that anyone reading it could connect the dots of precisely how my evening turned out, and it’s not exactly glamorous. My stomach was so bloated, the boudoir shoot I planned for Monday would have looked more like a maternity shoot. Welcome to the world, baby Gluten

But, I was surprised by the outpouring of support I got. All the men I have dated who saw the post reached out to me with kind messages, Really kind. Even the ones I don’t talk to anymore, the Professor and such. What a delightful thing, to be surprised by a man’s compassion. Of course, my friends all sent me messages as well. The bar for men’s behavior is so low it’s a tavern in hell.

After what happened a few weeks ago with A., and the IUD, I was jarred. Hurt. It stopped feeling like fun. I tried to laugh it off, but I was furious and scared. I deeply questioned my taste in men. My doctor counseled me that the IUD isn’t 100% effective and I could still be pregnant. “Don’t worry, I’m one of those liberal Boston girls who get abortions” I had told him. It’s not true, and it’s a decision I am grateful I didn’t have to make.

When I was recovering from the procedure, everyone reached out to me, except him. God, what a fucking Saturday that was. Kind messages from my ex-husband and not a whisper from A. Then he dumped me over text on Sunday, with nary an “I hope you’re doing okay” or, I don’t know, “Let me know if you’re pregnant”. I would have settled for “I hope your okay”, a grammatical error befitting him: a mistake.

But, for now, it feels like A. was more an exception than a rule. Even if none of the nicknames has turned into a love story, perhaps my taste in men isn’t quite as terrible as I imagined. They all passed the “basic human decency” test with flying colors. Even Mr. H managed the feat, texting to say he was sorry. I admit it made me smile. I should know better by now. Here I am, seated at the Tavern in hell, drinking watered-down gin, convincing myself I am having a good time.

I won’t wait around long, sustained on bread crumbs. Your girl is hungry.

Perhaps I am unfair to these men, sometimes. Perhaps. It seems a fair exchange though, come over and use my body, and I will use your body: I’ll make you hang Christmas lights. I have somehow accrued a harem of giants. I should buy more high heels.

I know I should have stopped calling F. “The Kid'” a while ago, but when I do it makes me feel a bit like Humphrey Bogart. Say what I will about the Kid, who is unreliable for a rendezvous, he is the most reliably sweet thing to me. Always greeting the day with a “how are you?”, and such. Always rooting for me to find the right one.

“What are you doing tomorrow morning?”

Coffee with Mr. H, it seems. Followed by a mild poisoning.

“You should have come over, I’m certified Gluten-Free.”

Standard

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