“I want to do like a predicament scene with clothespins.”
“I have clothespins.”
“A few hundred of them.”
“Want to get your toybag?”
“Wait, did we just negotiate?”
“Not yet. Who’s topping?”
“Uh, me. Remind me about your limits? No knives, and..?”
“Don’t fuck with my head, don’t hit my feet. No knives.”
We fumble briefly, decide to lay out a grappling mat. It takes only a minute to turn a vague idea of clothespin predicament into a plan. Four lines of pegs attached to a cross, me on tiptoe with arms stretched wide.
“So you move, you rip them off.” She’s grinning hugely.
“It will be a tense 43 seconds.” I move a lot.
“43 seconds? C’mon, you can do better than that.” She hits me before I can answer. Just slapping, bare handed. I relax into it, waiting for heavy pain. She throws a punch, hard enough to make me wobble. Two pegs snap off my hip, and I giggle.
“What happened to 43 seconds?”
“This standing thing isn’t working for me, you’re too tall.”
“Okay.” I spin to face her, clothespins snapping all at once. She’s closer than I thought, holding a wide stance with her face an inch from my chest. “Oh! Hi!”
She looks up. “Hi. You watch pro wrestling right?” She grabs me under the arm and by the back of the knee, half-tosses half-drops me across the mat. “That’s some WCW shit right there.”
“William Carlos Williams?”
She pauses. I’m balanced on clawed hands and one knee. She’s dragging my body up by the other leg, hauling it up above my head. “What?”
The poet. WCW. You know, ‘so much depends-‘”
“‘On a red wheel barrow–‘ yeah. The hell is wrong with you, girl?”
“How long you got?”
“Until you start screaming.” She slams me down with a thump to the shoulder blade. I see Spouse hand her a wooden spoon. She applies it fast and hard to my inner thighs. I’m sweating, which makes it sting worse. I do scream. Well, yell. “Ow!” and “fuck!” and “fucking ow!”
“Aww, does it hurt?”
“Fucking stinging fucking goddamn fucking spoon! I hate that thing.”
“Guess you should go to your cave.” She starts hitting again, improbably loud slaps that have me punching the mat.
“What are you on about?”
“Your cave.” Slap. “Find your power animal.” Slap. “You know.”
“It’s a goddamn penguin!” We’re both giggling hard.
“Okay okay, be serious. I forget, have we tried this before?” She grabs my chest and lifts. She has tried if before. Attempt to induce a spasm in one of the pectoral nerves, I think. “Yeah. It doesn’t work.”
She frowns. “TMJ?”
“Nope, sorry. I mean you can try.” She applies pressure, and I take a moment to pop my jaw.
“Actually feels better now, thanks.”
“No problem.” She punches me in the chest, hard. It’s unexpected. I make a sound when I exhale. “What was that? He-?”
“No, just–hur” she punches again, forces air out.
“Definitely an “H”. Hmm. Hell? Hi? Henry?” We’re back to slapping, apparently. I start laughing, a hand over my mouth doing nothing to hold it in. “What?”
“I’m Henry the eighth, I am…” There is no excuse for singing Herman’s Hermits (hell, I shouldn’t be allowed to sing at all) but I’m committed. At least through the end of the chorus. I can’t remember the rest.
“Oh my fucking God. Turn over. I don’t even want to look at you.” She’s laughing. I hear her rummaging in my bag, focus on my balance rather than looking over. Too much weight on my left knee, pins and needles ascending on that side. She waits while I flex.
There’s no talking after that. She’s found everything that stings and she’s using them hard. I glance up: we have an audience, no one else is playing. Fuck it. I scream. Cuss. Shout. Shriek. Pain turns into energy, needs an outlet. I’m punching the mats in rhythmless staccato, balancing on the fingertips of my left hand while the right slams into the ground.
She stops, hands resting on my thighs. “You good?”
“‘Yup’? Then what was all that noise about?” A two handed slap, with all her weight behind it. Ow. “Just having a tantrum?”
I giggle. “Hysterics. You know how it is with women; we just have fits over nothing.”
“Ugh, I know.” She pauses, as though she has more to say. Laughs instead. She drags me to my knees, prods everywhere she’s hit. “You’re really warm.” She leans across me to pick up the Sandman. Copper rolls over my skin.
“It’s cold.” I want to bite her smirk right off. “You don’t like the cold?”
“I am a lizard and I’m going to die!”
The whole room laughs at that one. She laughs loudest. “So go to your cave!”
“It’s cold there too!”
We’re both breathless with laughing. I can’t meet her eyes without making it worse.
“Okay, we good? We done?”
“We good.” I grab her in a bear hug. “Thanks. I needed that.”
“Bet you did, girl.” She helps me clean and pick up–unusual, that.
I’ve had quiet scenes. Play where the loudest sound is a quick breath or a clink of glass. They’re pleasant, calming. Nothing like this. Two people come together not in silent understanding that may or may not be all imagined, but in conversation. We’re raucous and vulgar and laugh too much. We have fun.
Some folks hold back. Don’t joke; it’s disrespectful. Don’t scream; it’s weak. Don’t speak; it’s not the time.
To hell with that. I’m not here to skate the surface of you, I’m here to dive in. Let all those words and sounds and all the rest of it break the surface.
Talk to me.