"Interests"

"Interests" is such a frivolous word -- it brings to mind a picture of women twitting each other over who has the best soprano, or the skirl of skirts in a ballroom dance class, where there's always one woman who doesn't quite know what to do with her feet. One woman who isn't arch enough to collect "interests". Maybe she writes, maybe she keeps a quiet boyfriend who doesn't get her braying laugh. Maybe she flaunts a collection of sugar pink petticoats and deco rhinestones. These things don't deign to be her "interests". They're her lovers, her loves.

I'm like that rather common woman you all know. I have that boyfriend. I practice witchcraft, I wear bright mating male-bird colors. I flaunt what I don't got. When people demand my interests at the door like some kind of ID, I smile and trill: "I do art, I do theater, I write, I am fascinated by psychology and women's studies, I design costumes, I sing soprano Handel solos when people will listen, I adore science fiction and fantasy and all things fanciful, and felines subsume me." And they smile and nod, and say, "ah, Ivy League. I see how it is. Note the New England accent she wasn't born with (and how she is the kind of person who takes on the accent of where she is). Note the careful, calculated smile. Surely this one has pure confidence in self, family, God, and country." And they shunt me on through, scared and comforted at once by this false list. Sometimes I want to say instead, "Let me pull you into a corner here so we can talk quietly and I can say things I'd only say to a stranger.

"I possess an odd lover, one my daytime boyfriend doesn't imagine -- an incubus who comes and sucks out my insides every night. He pounds the rhumba and the cha-cha-cha on my belly with heavy feet. He is black, and tall, and has scratchings of words all over him, very faint, where I've used his back for my thoughts. He has close-cut greenish-black hair like oil and feathers, and his toenails are uncut, so that when he cradles his legs round either side of my wide mountainous hips he leaves little indents that look like paw-marks or bird-talon tracks. Everything he says fucks my body and soul ecstatically in a blue streak of thought and saliva. He grumbles about places he's been, spots he's danced, and parties he's refrained from crashing out of politeness. It makes me laugh when he blurts blatant lies like these, and I finger his small hard penis and then we giggle for hours and my fingers scratch graffiti on his dark, dark skin -- the kind of marks that come off only in the shower, but of course he never showers. Do you possess an incubus who comes to you every night?"

But I'm afraid. My incubus sucks all breath out of me, and vanishes in the eyes of morning. He is my angel of the unspeakable, the one beyond interest or polite query. Instead of betraying his presence, and his voracious desire to live strongly, I dole out a little list to justify my existence.

And it works admirably -- only, it's lonely and a little too safe. I want to kiss other people's incubi and succubi -- I want to understand their possessions and their loves.

Copyright Francesca Myman 1996.

maga@aya.yale.edu

La Quinta Essentia