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  LIFE AS A LOSER #159: "THE BREAKTHROUGH."  
   
   
 

The first woman who ever told me she wanted to have sex with me was Elle McPherson. She was in my room, hanging out on the wall, wearing a swimsuit with a plunging neckline that revealed three-quarters breast, which was just enough, perfect really.

She had recently been frolicking on the beach, and she had just the right amount of sand sprinkled all over her, strategically placed for maximum impact. She did that for me. She did everything for me. She was perfection, and she was perfection consistently. Every time I came home from school, before dinner but after playing basketball with J.P. and Cory down the road, she would welcome me home with the same fierce gaze. She wasn’t happy to see me; she was starving to see me. She was always starving to see me.

 

 
 

Her desires were so powerful that sound could not contain them. She could only convey her hunger through a thought balloon sprouting from her ripe lips, in plain English that, fittingly, resembled my own handwriting. "I WANT you, Will," she said. "You are SO sexy!" Occasionally, with a little help from me and my Sharpie, she would say other things, like "I want to be your girlfriend" and "Let me sleep with you PLEASE." But she was always just talking to me. And it was always her first, for a while it was her only.

She, and Kathy Ireland, and Naomi Campbell, and other conquests had only recently made a habit of hanging out in my room. I hadn’t even noticed them until about a month earlier; it seemed strange they could float around undetected for so long. It was an accident they even showed up in the first place. I was reading my Sports Illustrated, studying my baseball statistics, reading about a hot prospect for the New York Mets, when I turned the page to an advertisement for next week’s issue. And there they were. All of them, all with the same look, as if they had just been tapped on the shoulder in the middle of a deep thought and whipped their heads around to see what the fuss was about.

I hadn’t realized it, as I stared at them, mostly Elle, entirely Elle, actually, that I was feeling fidgety. I was tapping the bed, tapping my knee, tapping a lot of things really. It was difficult to nail down exactly why I was staring, and tapping, and fidgeting, but I was, I was doing them all, and I was doing them all with a precision of purpose that was unfamiliar, and a little frightening. What exactly was it? I tilted my head. Curious. Why would I not turn from this page? There’s a story about Cardinals outfielder Felix Jose on page 59, but still I am stuck here, mesmerized. I began to feel unsettled, and fidgeted even further. Look at her neck. Have I ever noticed a neck before? And the way her suit is slightly unspooled, like I caught her in the midst of something, changing maybe, with the strap hanging aimlessly across her shoulder and brushing her elbow, and her boobies, that’s what they are, why do they seem so monstrous all of a sudden? Is that some sort of deformity? It can’t be; they look so fresh, so full of life and flesh and muscle—is that muscle?--and they’re just right there and they’re the only thing on the page and where am I really and wasn’t I just reading a magazine a minute ago and my God why am I fidgeting so violently?

And in a rush, in a split second, as if the world spread out before me, as if I had been carrying a large rock on my shoulders for years and years and someone mercifully relieved me of it, as if the earth had suddenly flattened out into a serene and bountiful marsh, as if I was sliding across it at blinding speed on my back, WHOOSH … I realized that something had changed, something had happened, and that it was very possible that what just occurred meant I was going to die.

It took a few moments, and I collected myself, and I realized that I was still alive, and feeling ashamed, yes, but good, good, good, quite good, yes. It was shortly after this point that Elle and her friends started making regular appearances in my room.

A week later, my Sports Illustrated came, and Elle was everywhere. I had to release her from her chains. All it required where a pair of scissors, some notebook paper and that Sharpie. I locked the door to my room and went to work. Snip, snip, scratch, scratch, fidget, fidget, and hours later, I shut off the light and went to sleep. I woke up the next morning, showered and returned to my room, where my mother was waiting.

"Will … what have you done to your room?"

Didn’t she see? Elle and her friend were there. They were all over my walls, like the formulas of mad scientist, all carved out of their paper prisons and free to be with the boy they loved, who loved them. They were everywhere, every picture traced with scissors to precise, exacting dimensions, all with their own words, speaking only to me. I had taken down all vestiges of the past, the perfect attendance awards, the baseball posters, the newspaper clippings. My wall was covered with Elle and her friends, dressed for the occasion, always happy to see me, always hungry.

Didn’t she understand? Wasn’t it obvious? I feared it wasn’t. "Nothin’," I said. "Jeez, mom! Get out of here!"

They stayed there for another month or so, and then I let them go, once I realized their presence was causing my parents to start talking to me about matters I had no interest in discussing. I tried putting them in a folder at first, but that seemed undignified, so dark it was, so I eventually just took them to school with me and buried them in the trash can next to Mr. Mercer’s desk. I feared I would be discovered, but I was not, and then it was over, and then the newspaper clippings and perfect attendance went back on the walls, and I discovered new Elles, and then I met real, live, talking ones, and they were tougher to crack but better somehow, more complicated but more fun, more exciting. I never mentioned their presence to anyone, and, mercifully, my parents never mentioned them to me either.

It has been 15 years since Elle and her cohorts began speaking to me, letting me know that they were waiting. Letting me know that I was not to forget them. I am still listening, Elle. It has never been the same since you showed up. I still haven’t turned the page; you’re still far more fascinating to me than Felix Jose.

 

*BT*

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