We were on our fifteen-minute break before we had to start rolling out the carts for the shelvers, jackassing around the dumpster and loud conversation as usual, when you came rolling out the door with a dolly full of empty boxes.
You tossed them in the recycle bin without breaking them down, just like you always do, so I muttered something about how it’s gonna overflow like that since they’re not coming to empty the dumpster until next Wednesday. You ignored me, so me and the guys got back into it. And before long, you were rolling over my feet in a huff, having gotten an earful of something you didn’t like.
You must have told someone. Then another someone. Then a third someone must have squealed to the management because someone else came back to tell me gleefully that I’d been told on. If this sounds like a lot of “someones,” it should. In less than fifteen minutes, our boss dragged you back out to hear exactly what I’d said, warning me in front of everyone that if I really said that shit, this would be my last day.
I looked you up and down. Don’t think I don’t know how you see us, I thought. The whistling burly bastards in orange hardhats, straining against the invisible dog-collar border of our worksites, tongues swelling from the effort of these songs, filling our mouths more and more each day, teeth marks eventually cutting into dead, tobacco-stained tastebuds as our weary tongues curl and spit and dance for you, you, the female of the species. How do you think we feel with our tongues useless against the yellow picket fence of our own grins until that muscle grows to finally cover our throats completely?
I see it on your face, and you’re right. You’re absolutely right. What a goddamn waste.
So I told her. And you. Everything. I explained it all again, but without all the whistling this time, just as I’d explained it to these other assholes, and I let the two of you smile in recognition at the kind of shit men talk always around a dumpster, knowing I was fucking finished right then and there.
I explained to you that if I was eating your ass, I would not really be eating anything. I went on to say, again, that it didn’t really matter what I would be doing back there behind you. What would be important is that I would be closer to your ass than you could ever get without an industrial accident. So close you’d have to actually back up to see anything at all. And that’s why I had to describe it for you. What did that late, great comedian call it? A red rabbit nostril? A balloon knot? Close. I explained to you and my boss that talking about these things at work, by a dumpster, was exactly like talking about a first kiss. This was not casual vulgarity or dirty limericks. This was commitment. This was true love I had described, right there the fuck in front of everybody, where only the serious apply.
I told you, our boss, and every asshole at the dumpster how you would wash your feet but never brush your teeth. How you would turn the alarm clock over because even the green glow was too much light in the room. How, if I did my job, if I punched that timecard and went to work and got it done, you would get on your hands and knees, almost defiantly, crossing your feet at your ankles, and invite me onto your back and into the winner’s circle. How even when you got tired, you would still keep your ass so high while you slept it was like your feet were stuck in snow skis. I told everyone out there in the middle of the goddamn day how sometimes you would need noise in the room, ceiling fan on high, static between stations. How you would even turn on the shower, comforted that the roar would cover up the sounds of whatever we would do.
I told everyone with the smell of garbage boiling in the sun that no matter what you would do to remove our senses from the room, there was nothing you would do about the last one. Taste. This is why I would punch a time clock at home but never at work and put in hours on my knees behind you. Taste. Amplified so high I would feel like I might overdose before we got a chance to fuck.
That’s right about when our boss stopped caring whether I had been talking about something we did or I just wanted to do. But I kept going.
Doesn’t anyone know what I’m talking about? I asked you, her, the assholes around the dumpster. Don’t worry. You’ll know it when you see it, I said. Trust me. If you ever get two handfuls of ass and she’s comfortable on her elbows with wherever you’re going to do back there, let go with one hand for a second and pat yourself on the back because you’re finally in a real relationship, son. And she’ll always remember you behind her like that, even when you see her in the grocery store one day buying olives and you both pretend like you’re just shooting the shit about who saw who and who said what and who did who back in the day. The whole time, you’ll be thinking about something else.
You’ll both be thinking about you behind her on your hands and knees, your tongue painting the perfect line that divides her body in half, the line that makes humans geometrically perfect, the line that makes two of every part of you, the line that held her up all her life, just like when you saw her straddling that swing on the playground when you both were kids, turning that block of wood on its side when she thought no one was looking.
Do all of you finally hear what I’m saying? How many times do I have to fucking say this? I was not trying to disgust any of you with details like the half-moon scratch I would leave on your ass from a fingernail, when my tongue would lose track of that perfect line and my body slipped fast to your side.
And it doesn’t matter if we would or we would.
Just know that if today would be the last time you let me do this, it would be the only real thing I ever had. And no one will be real to me until I can do it again.