What Kind of Body
What kind of body does a winner have? Is it bronze and beautiful, like an athlete’s? Is it wheel-chair bound yet dignified in its own way, like Stephen Hawking’s? Is it Photoshopped and proud, like the ones you see in advertisements? Or is it warm, maternal, and honest, like Oprah’s? At any rate, it doesn’t look like mine. Mine is bronzed in all the wrong places, such as my teeth. It sags. It does appalling things behind my back, like belch and fart and cry. This isn’t the body of a fuck-up, however. It’s relatively healthy, and it can still turn a few heads in the right dress.
While we’re on the subject, “fuck-up” is a glorious word, and I crave having it the way some people crave having fine wines or a second set of dinnerware. Being permanently attached to the word has overtones of other people’s constant affection, resignation, or even respect. “Fuck-up” is how you describe an obese uncle living alone in the woods with seventeen cats, but whom you secretly revere and enjoy seeing every other Christmas. It’s like the terms “curmudgeon,” or “geezer.” It’s something to aspire to.
I, alas, am not what you might call a “fuck-up.” I pay my taxes—late, but I still pay them. I have a decent job. People think I’m pretty okay. The best I can hope for is being called “scatterbrained” or “slow-witted,” which doesn’t have quite the same punch.
This is not to say, however, that I have my all shit together or a type-A personality. The furthest I’ve ever gotten was second place. My undergraduate GPA was .005 away from Magna Cum Laude. My job promoted five people; I’m pretty sure I was the sixth-best candidate. I always pull the Community Chest card in Monopoly that reads “You’ve Won Second Place in a Beauty Contest.” When getting dumped, it always begins with “You’re really special and nice and pretty and smart and special, but…” It’s depressing.
The best way to become a legitimate fuck-up and make everyone just leave me alone is to hit bottom. That’s something I’ve learned from watching Fight Club. Hitting bottom involves vandalism and violence and shirtless men. It’s very romantic and tempting, but are you really going to take advice from someone with Dissociated Personality Disorder? Not to mention STDs. I know they used condoms, but anything from Marla would find a way. She’s a survivor.
I tried going the opposite way, too, and go for the gold. You know the type. The over-achiever. Over-eager like an Irish terrier. In my head, she’s always blonde and thin and with great tits and wears a suit. I try doing this every time I get a new job. It never lasts long. I’ll show up late and have food stains all-over my ill-fitting clothes within a week.
Once, I tried to convincing myself that I really, truly am not a fuck-up or even close, and that’s a good thing. I used this fact to comfort myself when my body refuses to sleep. My therapist tells me that about a third of women who orgasm when raped attempt suicide within the next year. I didn’t. This doesn’t make me extraordinary in any way, and I know this; it’s just statistically likely. My therapist also tells me that the rape still counts as rape—that orgasm is a completely involuntary reaction—but when she said this, she got red in the face, which is also an involuntary reaction.
Perhaps she knows what she’s talking about—my therapist, I mean. She has her shit together and speaks in soothing, confident tones. She dresses really well, as if she knows what kind of body she has—apple, pear, hourglass, or that other one.
I see all these kinds of bodies, but still have trouble telling which one’s which, which is surprising given the amount of television I watch (but not too much television). I work pretty hard all day, go home and eat dinner with the TV on and try not to think too much. I watch whatever my boyfriend’s watching and sit on the floor with my back against the couch. Occasionally, he’ll reach over and pat my knee to let me know he thinks I’m okay. I’ll reach over and pat his knee back to let him know that I think he’s okay too.