Good Sex, Bad Sex

Read it here, or below:

https://bendinggenres.com/2018/02/09/good-sex-bad-sex

 

One

In my teens, it grossed me out, people having sex past thirty. In my twenties, I couldn’t imagine the elderly doing it.
Sex as a teenager. Back seat gropings. Steamed up windows. Crazy hot desire.

Two

He knew where I worked. He sent roses. He wasn’t my boyfriend. He followed me to the bus stop. I began seeing him. I was young.

I couldn’t afford the rent. We had bad sex.

Three

Gino liked my body. He wasn’t selfish. He put me first.

Four

M says good sex starts before the sex act. She says BQ knew how to make everything romantic. He wrote poetry. He was gentle and sweet. Neither of them knew how to have a healthy relationship. It didn’t last.

SL was her most boring lover. He wouldn’t dance. He wanted sex in bed or on the couch.

JG was adventurous. They had sex in a pick-up truck under the stars, in a storage room, in the bathtub.

Five

Panda says her worst sexual experiences were a little over twenty years ago when she was hanging out at lesbian bars like Maud’s and Amelia’s. She’d pick up hot women and go home with them. She’d make love to them but they didn’t return the favor. This happened fifteen times. I asked if she thought this was because she was butch, and she said yes.

Her best experience was with an attorney. She was good to her in bed. They saw each other regularly. She went down on Panda any time she wanted. Panda fell in love with her but the woman was in a relationship with someone on the East Coast.

Six

Bee says good sex means feeling comfortable in her body around her lover. That she can walk around naked in front of him and not feel embarrassed. It means knowing he will take care of her in bed. That they know how to please her and do whatever it takes to bring her to orgasm. Good sex has nothing to do with penis size or a guy’s stamina or that they have six pack abs. It has nothing to do with how handsome they are. It has to do with their humanity, their respect for women. It has to do with whether or not they like women.

If a guy thinks that sex equals what he wants to do in bed without considering what his partner wants, this is bad sex. If a guy thinks he can disparage a woman’s body, then this is bad sex because it carries over into bed. If a guy thinks he doesn’t have to work very hard in bed because he has a big dick, this is bad sex.

Seven

When I was thirty I dated someone who liked seeing more than one person at a time. I tried this. I couldn’t do it.

Eight

When a guy listens to you it’s sexy.

When a guy sticks up for you it’s sexy.

When a guy hears what you need it’s sexy.

When a guy lets you in it’s sexy.

 

 

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Read Old Woman on the Bus, a short short story I wrote at:

eunoiareview.wordpress.com/tag/eliza-mimski/

Transgender

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Below is a poem I wrote in response to Trump telling the CDC they were not allowed to use seven specific words in their budget proposal: fetus, diversity, entitlement, transgender, science-based, evidence-based, vulnerability. Published by Social Justice Poetry…

https://www.socialjusticepoetry.com/?s=eliza+mimski

 

I am a transgender fetus.
I am vulnerable.
My vulnerability is evidence-based.
There is no entitlement here.
I am a diversity fetus.
I have no entitlement.
My transgender is science-based.

Transgender transgender transgender transgender
Vulnerable vulnerable vulnerable vulnerable
Evidence-based, science-based
Evidence-based, science-based

You are not allowed to talk about me.
Do not speak of my vulnerability.
I am entitled to nothing.
Vulnerable diversity.

I am an evidence-based fetus.
Diversity is science-based.
I am a vulnerable transgender.
Evidence-based fetus.

 

The Bizarre Dating Ritual of Two Urban Geographical Nuts

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Story published by: Literary Yard, November 17th, 2017

https://literaryyard.com/?s=Eliza+Mimski&submit=Search

 

What happens when two San Francisco geographical trivia nuts start dating? Read my story…

     I met my partner at a Fourth of July party given by a friend. He was tall and good-looking and we enjoyed talking to each other. Both of us got off on knowing little factoids about our city of San Francisco and its urban geography, things most people wouldn’t give a care about. I was hoping he’d ask for my number, but instead he asked for my email address. These were the days before text messaging.

Do you know the longest numbered street in San Francisco?” he asked me that day over barbecue. “Not avenue, but street.”

Indeed, I did, for these were the kinds of things I thought about late at night when I couldn’t sleep. “Third Street,” I rattled off, which impressed him to no end. I mean, his eyes widened and he gave me a closer, speculative look.

Do you know the location of Wetmore Street?” I asked, hoping this didn’t sound too suggestive. I mean, we’d just met.

Chinatown,” he retorted. Now I speculatively looked at him.

We developed a quirky pattern of asking each other out through emails, trying to see how many places we could think of that would geographically challenge the other. We both liked trivia, collected useless facts, and yes, were both weird in the same way.

A week after our initial meeting I received his first email asking if I wanted to get together. If so, meet him at the corner of 14th Avenue and 15th Avenue at two o’clock on Sunday afternoon. I read his email twice. Was this a joke or something? I wrote back saying no such intersection existed. Those streets ran parallel, dummy. I deleted the dummy part and hit send. He emailed me back, saying: be there or be square.

Hmm… Okay, so 14th Avenue began at Lake Street in the Richmond and ran through the Sunset, but where did it end? That Sunday, for my hectic work week kept me from checking this out beforehand, I left an hour early and followed 14th Avenue up a windy hill that led to Golden Gate Heights, a neighborhood I wasn’t too familiar with. After many twists and turns and adventures in getting lost, I finally came to a stop at, you guessed it, 14th and 15th Avenue. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

There he was standing at the bottom of the hill waiting for me, a big smile on his face. Gosh, he was cute. Whether or not the smile was generated from his happiness in seeing see me or by his belief in putting me through mental twists and turns in finding the location I could not tell. Either way, I’d take it. He was hot and I was lonely. I’d been single for over two years, going through a series of false starts. I was weary of dating, sick of getting to know people only to have it fizzle out. So here we were, and I had no idea where our adventures would take us.

The hill rose to a pyramid-like structure with steps leading to the top. We hiked up the strenuous incline, looked out at the view, and had a great time. He was easy to talk to as long as we kept our conversation trivia-based. I got the sense that he was a shy guy, thus confirmed when no talk surfaced about our seeing each other again. That was okay, for I had a challenge I would aim his way.

A few days later I emailed him, saying I’d had a nice time. I asked if he’d like to get together again. If so, meet me at the corner of Q______ and Q________Streets on Sunday at two o’clock. He wrote back: I’ll be there or I’ll be square.

I was happy he accepted my invitation. It showed he was interested in me. Maybe I was jumping the gun but I wanted him as my partner. I move fast. It’s this feeling I get when I sense things are right, no matter how little I know someone.

In terms of the location, I wanted to really challenge him and not throw out some easy peasy address. I have long had this passion for intersecting streets that begin with the same letter. I find them terribly exciting – Fell and Fillmore, Scott and Sacramento, Admiral and Alemany. Most people might not marvel at such things, but I did. I often wondered if the city hired a poet to help them plan out street names.

At least four streets in San Francisco began with the letter Q, and as far as I knew not more than two of them intersected. Would he know that Quint ran into Quesada? I hoped not. I preferred that he suffered through some detective work before meeting me.

Whereas our first meeting took place in the cushy neighborhood of Golden Gate Heights, the Q and Q intersection was located in a working class neighborhood on the east side of the city. That Sunday afternoon I arrived early, found parking and walked down to Quesada and Quint. As I approached the sign, my mood plummeted. It was my dating crazies.

Did he like me? Would this be just another fizzly romance? I wanted my search to be over, hoped that he’d hold my hand or say something flattering about my appearance to let me know he thought of me as partner potential. I told myself to knock it off as I crossed the street, but a DEAD END sign on the corner didn’t help any.

I stood at the Q and Q signpost. The houses on the block were painted in pastel yellow, pink, aqua, blue. It was a sleepy little neighborhood with nobody about, just an occasional car and an occasional dog walker. My dating angst churned. What if he didn’t show? What if he’d changed his mind? I leaned against the sign and closed my eyes.

I took a deep breath. I opened my eyes. When I did, I saw him walking down the street in a navy blue pea coat. He looked so handsome. I yelled out, “Hey, you found it.”

For all my dating angst, we had a great afternoon. We walked up Quint Street toward McLaren Park, which we somehow never managed to enter. On the way up the hill we passed the double R intersection of Robblee and Revere. Wow, that seemed magical, especially since it was so close to Q and Q, its alphabetical neighbors. We climbed super-steep hills while getting lost, amazed to find that Scotia came to an end on two separate blocks, once on Bridgeview and also on Thornton. To top it off, we discovered the intersection of Venus and Williams, as in Venus Williams, the street so named before she was born.

After this afternoon’s outing, the relationship heated up. We began emailing each other several times during the week. He’d send me a challenge like this:

Name a street that has four words in it besides the word street. The first word is a military title. One of the words is an initial.

I leaned back in my computer chair and had a good laugh. No problem. I flashed on Rev. Cecil Williams Way, named after San Francisco’s famous Glide pastor. This would be in the Tenderloin, near Ellis and Taylor. Except when I stopped laughing, I noticed there was no initial in his name, plus the word reverend wasn’t exactly a military title.

I racked my brain. The street must be named after a corporal or a colonel or a sergeant or something, perhaps in the Presidio, the old Army base. But I didn’t recall any such streets. I did what I had to do. I called the police department. They’d have to know. Alas, within a few minutes I had my answer. Sergeant John V. Young Street. It led into the police station near Balboa Park, right off of San Jose Avenue near Ocean Boulevard.

Full of myself, I responded, adding:

I’m a buffoon and the sun is setting. Which two intersecting streets am I? We both begin with the letter S.

Gloating, I figured he couldn’t decode this and had my back-up clue ready:

Think of one street as I am a stupid man and the intersecting street with a season in its name. Additional hint: The streets are off Silver Avenue.

However, this didn’t throw him. Within an hour he’d written back: Silliman and Somerset Streets. Damn. This was such a turn on!

By this time I was thinking of our little games as geographical foreplay. The more answers he got right the more turned on I became, and so far he was an A+ student. His knack for city geography amazed me. I loved how his brain moved quickly, making connections.

He came up with the challenge the next time we got together. “Meet me on the Northwest corner of the numbered street closest to a numbered avenue.” This stopped me in my tracks. What exactly was he asking? So, he was saying that the numbered streets didn’t intersect the numbered avenues, but at some point two of them came closer to each other than all the rest? Okay, so thirty numbered streets and forty-seven numbered avenues existed in San Francisco. Which two were the closest?

Once I put on my thinking cap I figured it out in no time. In the Castro, 17th Street advanced up the hill toward Twin Peaks, leaving the other numbered streets behind. Voila! The avenues started just over the hill.

During the following weeks, we continued to meet each other but had as yet to go out on a real date, like to a movie or out to dinner. I started wondering if this would ever happen. Of course I could ask him out, but I needed it to come from him.

Or did I? I’d dated a shy guy before. Waiting for them to make the first move was similar to waiting for molasses to pour onto a stack of pancakes. Maybe I needed to give him a whack and get him going.

I didn’t want to be too forward. That might scare him off. So I wrote him an email with innuendos, you might say. And this is what I came up with.

Hi back. I just wanted you to know that I’m the kind of person who likes romantic street names. (This was true). I fall in love with them. Have you ever noticed Roddeck and Still in the Glen Park area? I was wondering this. It’s one of my romantic favorites. Is it just me, or does the name of that intersection make you feel romantic too? Have you ever seen that funky old boarded up Victorian on the corner setting off the sign? Do you have any favorite romantic street names? PS I miss you.

When I hadn’t heard back from him by the next morning I’d almost given up. I didn’t have it in me to play any more of what I now considered to be these silly trivia games. I imagined us a year from now still doing the same ole thing. If he wrote back and wanted to meet at some stupid place, I’d give him one more chance, but only one. If he didn’t make some kind of move, at least holding my hand, then that was it. I didn’t care if he was shy or what. Too bad.

It was two days later when I heard from him. I opened the email not expecting much. I took on the attitude of here goes nothing. I scanned the lines, and my eyes widened. My hand touched my heart. I smiled as I read:

I would like to hug and Kissling you. Meet me at six o’clock. Be there or be square.

Kissling Street. I knew that street. It was near the freeway overpass near Rainbow Grocery, between Folsom and Howard. If I remembered correctly, Rainbow had a sign out front of their building, advertising additional parking on Kissling.

He wanted to hug and Kissling me. I wanted to be hugged. I wanted to be Kissled.

I changed into my sexy sweater. I grabbed my car keys and I was off.

Dead Speak

Exit

… a poem I wrote after reading about a Michigan funeral home where decomposing bodies alerted people to horrific conditions…

http://www.wxyz.com/news/local-news/investigations/state-of-michigan-long-aware-of-horrific-complaints-at-flint-funeral-home

They were wrong.

The dead can speak.

Rotting flesh with pulse,

A maggot’s breath,

They rise and point a finger,

Corpses brush against cardboard.

You cannot do this to us.

You cannot do this to us.

The dead speak the only way they can.

Entrusted bodies to the funeral home

That betrayed them.

The History of My Bladder, Or: The Salad Bowl / The Toilet Bowl

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Every 70-year-old woman has a story about her bladder. Here’s mine, or read it at:

eunoiareview.wordpress.com/tag/eliza-mimski

If you’re squeamish about urine, you might not want to read this. Otherwise, proceed. This is the story of my bladder. I am seventy years old. Every woman my age has a bladder story.

I never had chronic bladder problems until I reached my mid-fifties. As a child, of course I had that one humiliating story like most people do. It happened when I was in first grade. The shame was overwhelming.

One day then, when I was six, pee began trickling down my inner thighs while I played dodge ball after school. The knowledge of this horrified me and I tore across the playground and headed for the lavatory – the 1950s word for bathroom. By the time I got there, however, my underpants were soaked. I wasn’t as concerned about losing control of my bladder as much as of someone finding out. I couldn’t risk being laughed at and being made fun of.

Normally, I walked home from school with a group of neighborhood kids but on this particular day I took off up the hill in a trail of embarrassment (before publicized kidnappings, kids did such things). By the time I reached my house my inner thighs were rubbed raw. I dreaded my mother discovering my secret. When she did, I hung my head in shame, even though she didn’t make a big deal about it.

Fast-forward to my early twenties to another incident, one I now see as an omen of what was to come. During a modern dance class at San Francisco State, the routine required us to slide across the floor and jump into the air. Each time I landed, pee squirted into my underpants. It took me by surprise. This had never happened before.

Next up was pregnancy, which wreaked havoc on my bladder. A month before giving birth I spent a good portion of the time on the toilet. I always had to go, even if only a tiny drop came out.

One day, while out doing errands, the urgency hit. I knew I would pee my pants right then and there if I didn’t find a bathroom, and quick. Locating a public restroom was out of the question. I searched for a secluded area and spotted an alleyway that would have to do. Hurrying down it, I collapsed next to a garage, yanked down my underpants and peed, little rivers of urine speading out in all directions. When finished I pulled myself up, held my head high, tried to give the appearance of walking calmly to my car. At least I had the pregnancy excuse.

After giving birth, my bladder returned to normal. All was well until I reached those mid-fifties I spoke of. That was when I started leaking urine. My incontinence – and I hate that word – grew worse and worse. Peeing in the morning when first waking up became my biggest challenge (not that I didn’t wake up several times each night and get up to go) – as I’d run down the hall, praying I’d make it to the bathroom, tugging my underwear down and plopping down on the toilet seat hopefully before the dam broke. Sometimes I made it. Other times I didn’t, cleaning the floor and toilet seat, washing myself off and sprinkling powder on my inner thighs.

You know you have a problem when you scout out the bathroom as soon as you arrive somewhere. Or you make your way to the ladies room in the middle of a movie to avoid waiting in line once it ends. Or you refrain from drinking water before going for a walk with a friend, or choose to wear pants with elastic waistbands so you can get them down more quickly. Inevitably, your favorite times become those you spend at home. That way, you have easy access to the toilet.

All the above rang true for me. I became a slave to my bladder. It determined what I did and didn’t do, where I went and didn’t go, this hurried, frenzied rush to the toilet taking over my life. I decided to see a doctor and was referred to a urogynecologist. She had me keep a chart of every time I went to the bathroom. I kept it near the toilet along with a pencil, prepared for my research. What my research showed was that it was difficult for me to go for more than a half hour without a trip to the toilet. When I reported this to her on my next visit, she had me put my bladder on a schedule in order to retrain it. Eventually I got so I was only going every hour or so. This temporarily boosted my spirits and my confidence returned, except that all bets were off if I drank water before leaving my home. She suggested I combine my new schedule with bladder medications, but I had no luck with them. With grim determination, I tried one pill after the other, but they either didn’t work or they dried me up so much I couldn’t produce enough saliva to push my food down my throat.

My next step was to take drastic measures as I became increasingly depressed about my limited activity. The event that spurred me into action occurred when walking home from the bus stop on Geary Boulevard one day, which is about four blocks from where I live in San Francisco. I felt the urgency to pee and tried to hold it. When it started raining, I hurried down the street, hoping to reach my place and climb the stairs in time. I know this sounds strange, but it was as if the rain started my own waterworks. By the time I opened the front door, I was drenched in both rain and pee, my pants completely soaked. Okay, I told myself, I surrender.

Shortly thereafter I went to see my urogyneclogist again, confessing that my bladder was ruling every aspect of my life. We decided on urinary incontinence surgery where tissue would be removed from one part of my body to make a sling to support my bladder. It wouldn’t be a permanent solution, she said, but would help with the incontinence for around five years.

I had the operation, stayed in the hospital for a few days and came home to recuperate. For awhile, my outlook brightened. I have to say that it definitely helped although it was by no means a magic cure. I had more bladder control, but still had trouble making it to the toilet in the morning, and still felt it necessary to made a plan of where the closest bathrooms were when going out. The problem, however, wasn’t quite as dire. And just like the urogynecologist predicted, by the time five years elapsed I was back from where I’d started. It seemed so long ago, that time in the distant past when the simple act of peeing was a natural part of my life and not stressing me the hell out. I yearned to go back to that point in time, but it wasn’t going to happen. The worst part of the situation was that it made me feel so very old.

Maybe you are wondering why I didn’t just wear a maxi-pad or buy a box of Depends. Wouldn’t that have solved the problem? That, of course, would be a really big step. Nobody wants to start wearing a pad or using diapers anymore than they want to lean on a cane or order hearing aids, much less get excited about going to the old folks home. Just because I needed something didn’t mean I was ready to give up what I perceived as my independence.

The thing was, I knew that once I went the maxi-pad/diaper route there would be no going back. You don’t stop wearing your bifocals or decide one day you no longer need your cane or suddenly stop using your hearing aids. My woman friend Panda has knee and back problems that keep her homebound a good portion of the time. The simple use of a cane could greatly help her with mobility. When I asked her why she didn’t use one, she looked at me blankly and uttered four simple words: I’m not ready yet.
And so I fought against losing what I perceived as my independence.
I didn’t see it the other way around, that wearing a pad or a diaper would give me more independence as I could go out and about with less worry. You have to understand, though, that there were already so many things that I was losing the older I got. My hair was falling out, my mobility became so limited I finally gave into the dreaded hip replacement, and I’d had cataract surgery to remove the gummy plugs from my eyes.

I wasn’t anywhere near wearing diapers, but I did finally give in and wear a maxi-pad. I started with an overnight pad which helped me when I didn’t make it to the bathroom in the morning, and it wasn’t even a week before I started wearing one all the time, asking myself why I hadn’t done this sooner. I felt more confident although I didn’t like how I looked in clothes. I wear tight yoga pants and the bulky pad made me self-conscious, certain that people could see it, that the outline showed through my clothing. Plus, I felt as if I had a little tail wagging behind me when I walked.

The pads brought with them other problems. At times they rode up the back of my underwear and worked themselves free of my pants, landing on the floor. The first time this happened I discovered the pad in my hallway, a quick check of my privates telling me that I was no longer in possession of it. It happened shortly thereafter at the post office. Upon leaving, I spied a pad in the middle of the floor, realizing with dread that it belonged to me. Needless to say, I swiped it up off the floor, bowed my head and flew out the door while never looking back. The third time occurred at my son’s house. I walked into the kitchen to find the dog with it in his mouth.

And then this occurred. One day when I was out and had the strong urge to pee, waiting in the car to pick my grandson up from school, I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold it in until I made it inside of the school building. The residential neighborhood offered no deserted alleyways or trees to hide behind while I relieved myself, not that I really considered this.

A week before I’d gone to a pot luck dinner at a friend’s house and I’d left a wooden salad bowl on the floor of the front seat. I looked at it now with sudden interest. Hmm… I glanced out the car windows and no one was about. I inhaled deeply and as a precaution I closed the sunroof just in case anyone was looking down on me with a pair of binoculars from their second-story window – this was actually going through my paranoid mind. I paused, then slid down my pants while lifting my butt, positioning the salad bowl (the toilet bowl) beneath my hips, closing my eyes and letting er rip.

It was a tense few moments. I felt so exposed, for lack of a better word, as if the entire world knew what I was up to. What if someone I knew walked up to my car to say hi, catching me in the act? What would I do?

Peeing completed, I wiped myself with a Kleenex from my purse, lifted my butt and carefully placed the salad bowl on the floor, pulling up my pants. Done. I felt bad about pouring my pee into the street, but not bad enough to keep me from opening the car door and pouring it onto the pavement. I was a public health menace, that’s what I was, but I no longer had to pee and the relief was amazing.

This was my first incident with the salad bowl. It was not to be my last. It became my trusty companion for those times when I had no other way out. I’d found a solution, albeit an unconventional one. The salad bowl provided me with the freedom I was searching for, allowing me to go places in my car and not have to hunt down a public bathroom.

A few years have passed since my discovery of the salad bowl and it’s still working for me. I’ve developed a sense of humor about it, having told my close friends, who I was surprised to find out either had their own comparable stories or knew people who did. Sharing my embarrassing secret has created a space where it’s not embarrassing anymore.

I feel sorry for that little girl – me – who fled her classmates on the playground that day so long ago. In our unforgiving culture we’re not supposed to lose control. Control our tempers. Control our finances. Control our relationships. Control our bladders. Shame reigns upon us if we don’t.

Four Poems Published by Five:2:One

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http://five2onemagazine.com/4-poems-eliza-mimski-micro-poetry-thesideshow/

These were a lot of fun to write…

Poetry Reading

She is large blue eyes
Gumdrop hair

Her mouth is a tomato…

Gripping the microphone she reads

Paradise Extravaganza!

Her words are small ugly dolls

 

Her second poem is called Fluent in Bullshit

Her third poem is called Fuck Feathers

Her fourth poem is called Who is the bae? I am the bae!

Her fifth poem is called Dude, You’re Not Gorgeous

Her sixth poem is called Hashtag Hag

Her seventh poem is called Go Fuck your IPhone

 

The crowd claps

She throws her shoes at them

She takes off her blouse and swings it over her head

It lands on the greasy floor

 

 

Alesia

Amid the chartreuse chaos

City yellow Urban red

The air is music

She lets her hair down

Blue ethereal

The clouds are slow white syllables

 

Marie

Her face is a freeway, red artery.

She sees the world through barricades.

Her eyes are heavy.

There’s furniture in her teeth.

She’ll devour you like the government.

 

Lilah

 

That was the time when her hair became a lagoon.

We sailed on it in a slender boat.

A boat shaped like an ear.

The water was affectionate.

Celia, Sex, and the Laundromat

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http://queenmobs.com/2017/09/celia-sex-laundromat/

The following is a quirky story I wrote about a woman reflecting upon her sex life while she does her laundry at the neighborhood laundromat. I always liked this story but no one seemed to want to publish it. I sent it out to many many literary magazines and received many many rejections. Finally, Queen Mob’s Tea House accepted it. This renewed my faith, showing me that you just have to keep on submitting your work until you find a match.

Dirty socks. There was something erotic about the way the cotton picked up the smell. They reminded Celia of sex.

She threw the dirty socks into the hamper, gathered the towels,wash rags, bathmat, her slacks hung over the back of the rocking chair, a bra slung over a lampshade, and stuffed the laundry down into the wicker hamper with her fists. She grabbed her detergent, her purse and her car keys and was off to the laundromat three blocks away. Once there, she fiddled with the damn change machine, creasing the dollar bills so the finicky slot wouldn’t reject them, but finally cough up quarters she’d fit into the metal hand of the washing machine. She deposited the whites together, darks together, her laundry agitating. She sat down in the sunny window seat and leaned back against the wall. She looked across the street at a child riding a skateboard, a heavyset man walking a dog stuffed inside a red plaid sweater. Celia felt really lonely. She was looking to be filled up like the washing machines, to have someone put money in her slot, to get her agitating.

Her thoughts spun. She’d left Steve behind. She’d walked away after six years of living together. She’d done his dirty laundry how many times? Hundreds? She’d smelled his perspiration rings, sniffed his socks, gulped in the wide expanse of the shirt backs, her muscular wide-backed Steve, big and stocky, good and smelly. She’d enjoyed his dirty laundry, the scent of his cologne. His manhood she found charming. It was the real live Steve she had problems with.

Men baffled Celia. She liked their maleness, their scents, their energy consuming her, but when it came to simple everyday talk, she felt far away from them.

Celia waited for her laundry, rummaging through old newspapers. She wondered if either of the men folding their clothes were meant for her. Could they fill her up? She was sure they couldn’t.

She picked up the pink pages and acted interested in current movies. She waited twenty minutes and went to check on her laundry. One of the loads had a light on that read: Unbalanced Load.

Was this supposed to be some kind of message about her life? She opened the lid and balanced the bathmat. She slammed the lid and the machine started its spin cycle. She dragged the other clothes out of the washers and threw them into dryers, stuck quarters in each, turned the knob and watched her clothes fly in a circle of colors, flopping around, limbs dancing. She felt giddy.

Giddy and angry. That was her all right. She was happy and sad, depressed and elated, clear and confused. She was an unbalanced load, needing someone to come and unbunch her and straighten her out. To figure out her loneliness, show her true love without the difficulties of reality stepping in with its big foot of pain and mess.

Steve made emotional messes and left them for her to clean up. He failed to relate, as her therapist said. He analyzed a problem, never communicating so they could have good sex afterward.

The clothes dryers mesmerized her. The circling heat slapped her clothes dry. She would fold them, put them away so she could wear them all over again. Trek back to the laundromat and stand here again. The circling colors matched her own spinning thoughts, the endless tumbling that kept her feet from planting themselves on the ground. Celia was an unbalanced load.

She watched the dryers, the clothes taking on an odd sexual look. They tossed and tumbled, thrown together, encircled by heat, pant legs slapping, clothes entwined until the dryer stopped, clothes on top of each other in an exhausted heap, a pile of burning zippers and unbuttoned blouses, her bra twisted, the metal hooks burning her fingers as she dragged it out and unwound it, trying to make sense out of its shape.

Celia scooped her clothes out of the tumblers and placed them in the laundry basket. She wheeled it over to the folding table. A bachelor stuffed his clothes into a pillowcase, a teenager outside smoking a cigarette. Celia halved her bathmat. She shoved it into the bottom of her hamper.

Evening awaited her. She folded her underwear, a menstrual stain like a Rorschach test on a pair of her white cotton panties. Should she take them to her therapist, have them read for clues? She caught herself smiling. Her arm circled her hamper as she made her way out to her car.