MONDAY: “All Hands On Deck” by Tinashe
You have asked him three times already if it’s actually his name, because everyone knows “Ralph” is some bullshit you’d call a cat, not a grown-ass person. You slur that line into his ear as you stagger together towards the door at last call and he looks at you with the artless incredulity of an infant encountering “peek-a-boo” for the first time. That makes you the cooing aunt, the crinkled adult face promised to emerge from hiding with a grin each round. Good. He’s laughing, because you’re funny maybe, probably because you’ve let him put his arms around your waist and he doesn’t really have to convince you to duck into the cab he’s already called to Cambridge. You careen on hot, loose legs in the general direction of a parked Uber, “Ralph” in tow. “Ralph” smells like the first floor of a JC Penny. Ralph might be thirty-seven. “Ralph’s” hands feel weightless, like they could be hollow, but you’re quick to credit any upper thigh numbness to the liquid ton of gin you’ve consumed over the last three hours. You wonder what you’d have to stuff his fingers with to make them heavy enough for your skin to respond. Steel? Conversation? Cigarettes? “Ralph” doesn’t smoke, you asked already. He won’t taste the way you want him to. He’s talking to you about the things drunk men talk to potential one-night-stands about: how he misses hiking in Australia, how he’s only in law school so he doesn’t disappoint his dad, how badly he wants to drop out and become a rock-climbing instructor. You reassure him blandly and fiddle with your false lashes and wonder if he could ever grip you tight enough to leave a bruise.
TUESDAY: “Turn It Up” by Kelly Rowland
His apartment might be cute if he didn’t decorate with faux-Buddhist head shop tapestries. Dorm-room remnants, probably. There’s already a host of reasons you should stop having sex with Philosophy graduate students (e.g. rampant condescension, uneven beard growth, clinginess) but the fact that they all seem to live with ex-partners of one form or another features prominently in the top five. This one’s moving out, at least. Boxes of her shit crowd every spare inch of the kitchen he’s stumbling around in service of your cider. You’re too drunk to identify the metaphor. She is (was? is?) also a painter, you learn—a bad one, alarmingly bad, and prolific in the effortless way that seems exclusive to bad painters. You imagine how you’d critique the six-foot collaged city-scape of Boston on his bedroom wall while he tries to navigate the zipper on your miniskirt. You wonder what makes her laugh. Later, when he’s finished availing himself of your least interesting secrets, you ask him how it ended, why she’s leaving. If you are going to get fucked while staring at another woman’s closet, you deserve a little background. He starts to cry, because of course he does, and you hold him against your breasts and tell him he is perfect while his snot runs down your sternum. Two weeks later he will try to rip your dress off at a train station in Brighton after you make it clear you should stop seeing each other. A cabby on his way to Tremont for closing time spots the struggle, slows down without stopping, swings open the passenger’s door and pulls you in by the elbow. He delivers you silently back to your mother’s house without asking any questions.
WEDNESDAY: “Ghost” by Ella Henderson
The moment Andrew’s door latches shut you are overcome by a thick wave of loathing, but the truth is that you loathed him from the moment he bought you your first shot of Patron. You wouldn’t have gotten in the car if you didn’t want him to hurt. You hate his five o’clock shadow and his ice-blue button down and how he’s trying to find a way to get you into his bedroom without acknowledging that he wants to get you into his bedroom. He would never, ever date you, of course. Real estate Southie guys like girls who jog, you’re guessing, girls with planners and blithe, effortless motor control, not cackling barflies who pick up and move north to make bad art and vomit in public and prick their hearts on self-made spindles. You don’t know this for sure, but tequila has no time for criticality, or for undoing the ripe adolescent taxonomies that prevent you from approaching men like him when you’re sober. Oh, you approached him, by the way. Don’t forget. That’s another reason you hate him. He fell for it.
“Do you want a drink?”
“The fuck do you think?”
You toss your purse onto his faux-leather ottoman. You bare your teeth in the shape of a smile.
“I think you need another drink, is what I think!”
“You’re a prince. Thank you, sir.”
He taps his index finger on the highest point of your knee every time he makes a point. The point he is currently making concerns his timeshare in Cape Cod. He’s pressed his lean body into the softness of yours on a creaking Craigslist couch with an urgency that numbs you further. He’s telling you how beautiful you are, which more or less equates to telling himself he is beautiful. His breath is hot and sticky. You kiss him to make him stop talking.
THURSDAY: “Cruel” by the Veronicas
You accidentally leave your copy of Irreality by Max Blecher at a fourth date’s condo in Ferndale, Michigan, and when he texts you to confirm how attentive and dull he was after you bounce in an Uber, he confesses to leafing through the first chapter. He likes having your book in his kitchen, he says—it makes him feels like the prince in a nerdy version of Cinderella. You call him from your cab and tell him sharply to stop. That’s your property, after all. He can’t just change it to mean something. The next time you see him he slides the book across the table to you in a Ziplock bag while you try to explain why you can’t get drinks next week.
FRIDAY: “Little White Lies” by One Direction
The same day your shrink suggests that maybe this abiding interest in casual sex falls a little short of productive, you book a plane ticket to Brooklyn to see a guy you have only known in person for about ten hours total. The distance makes you far more interesting to him than proximity ever could. He is short and bright but not difficult and defines himself through things and the rituals he ascribes to those things, a characteristic painters shouldn’t be averse to, theoretically. He lights candles as a preamble to sex. He loves Maggie Nelson but does not want to talk about feminism because he feels ill-equipped to talk about feminism because he is. You drop your dress to the floor when he asks you if you’ve seen Lethal Weapon, but he ignores the bait and persists in playing you the clip where Mel Gibson tries to commit suicide on Christmas Eve. He laughs at Mel’s accent. You have no idea what to do with your face.
SATURDAY: “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” by Adele
The government worker from Walpole with a recently dead mother and nervous fingers has asked you to write him a letter. He likes the way you talk, he says. You want badly for the epistolary impulse you reserve for men you love to stretch in his direction, but disappointment has left you mean, and you can’t think of anything helpful to say. You could tell him that, of course. You could tell him that he clogs your pores in choking weaves of noun-ness, of slippery experience slicked to slide over purpose. You could let him know he’s just another bearded signifier feeding his own flesh back second-to-second in endless, stake-free loops of multiple choice. You sometimes wonder if you molded him from scraps of rage and breathed air into his dick so he could blush and lie like a real man. That’s not what comes out, of course. You put pen to vellum and call him beautiful like a good girl. That is what straight men want to hear, you have learned, especially from you, since your particular breed of beauty seems to swallow viewers whole against their better judgment. An art critic would call that quality “immersive.”A painter would call it “maximal” without actually knowing what the term meant.
SUNDAY: “Don’t” by Bryson Tiller (Sevyn Streeter Remix)
You know full well that your memories lie, in the same way a photograph lies mimetically, in the same way a painting of that photograph tries to lie less. Socrates thought all human knowledge was recollection, since Hades more or less recycled its tenants after feeding them liquid amnesia. So, if learning is recovery, then forgetting should feel like home, not like bereavement, right? You split a plate of poutine with a Literature PhD candidate who tells you how shocked he was that MFA kids so often proved such lazy readers—their responses were always based on taste, not analysis. Creatives are scavengers, you argue. Your kind doesn’t read; you comb rocky shores for gold. You need meaning to shine so badly you forgo scrutiny to grab transcendence faster. You crave sublimation. And you bite his neck because that’s how you recall intimacy now, in negatives. The men you fuck form the contours of an empty space exactly the depth of your divestment, and their absence inhabits your skin beyond a haunting. You’d kill to be lonely. If you aren’t trying to shed shadows, you’re desperately salvaging details you didn’t even know you coveted before they began to fade. The sex is fine. He texts you the night before he moves to Wisconsin to see if you want to come watch Blackadder reruns on his couch. You put your phone on silent.
Torey is an east-coast gin enthusiast currently wrapping up her painting MFA somewhere needlessly far from the ocean. More grown men have caught her eating ham out of a bag than she is comfortable reporting. Her mom is way, way funnier than she is.