Today I am Perishable

The Story

The evening was still, the type of summer-still that makes lonely hearts roll out of bed and stand on the porch in their pajamas. They look up into the stars, standing in solitude, unaware that by doing so, they’ve made themselves part of humanity’s largest association.

But that wouldn’t do for me tonight. Sometimes it was enough, but not now.

“For an English teacher, you sure don’t use a lot of words.”

“Why don’t you wait ’til the blood rushes back to my head for me to be poetic?”

It was nice. He was nice. He was warm.

That’s even more than I asked for earlier that night at the bar across from my favorite coffee shop. He’d been leaning over a lanky blond with legs longer than my student debt loan. But he was my type and smiled easy, so I chugged the rest of my Long Island Ice Tea and put a hand on his shoulder, “Look hun, she’s a 9 and a maybe. I’m an 8.5 and a sure thing. Your place or mine?”

It wasn’t anything like the words that normally come out of my mouth. But when you have anxiety as badly as I do, you’re willing to commit just about any social crime to either be alone all the time or never be alone ever even a tiny bit. I am the latter, and when my roommate took off to  Montreal to visit her girlfriend this weekend, I knew I needed a solution. Quick.

Usually I would call Geoff to meet me for mini-golf, but he had found his most recent soulmate so I was doing my best not to barge in on the honeymoon period. School had started back for MacKenzie so she was too far away, and my sisters have always had a limit of how much of me they can handle at a time (this is mutual).

So there I was in the apartment hyperventilating on the kitchen floor when the most brilliant idea I have ever had came to me: I was going to fuck a stranger.

No really, it’s the greatest plan: To find a stranger to fuck, you have to go to a bar. To be at a bar, you need to hold a drink. When you hold a drink, you look weird if you don’t sip it. When you sip alcohol, you get a bit tipsy, and don’t hyperventilate because that’s how biology works. When you don’t hyperventilate, and with the assistance of said alcohol, you can talk to strangers. Strangers at bars want sex. Sex means touching. Touching keeps the anxiety away. And who knows- the stranger could be a cuddler and then you’re golden for a night’s sleep without thinking your world is imploding or forgetting how to breathe properly. Brilliant plan.

And I had totally nailed it. With 9/10ths of the plan complete, I was feeling pretty brilliant myself.

“How about now?”

“For a lawyer, you talk an awful lot.”

“I do litigation.”

“Of course you do.”

These are the things I knew about him:

  • His name was Chad (ew)
  • He was an English teacher for high school students (honorable)
  • There was a scar along the front of his left shoulder that looked vaguely like the state of Tennessee (cute)

These are the things he knew about me:

  • My name is Terra (lie)
  • I am a criminal lawyer (half-lie, patent attorney)
  • I have exactly 23 freckles (oddly true)
  • I have severe anxiety (too true)

Yeah, I told him about the anxiety. Why? Because one night stands looooove freaks! The more horrifying backstory, the better. Freaks are weird, we do weird things, and we make for great stories at hangover-brunch the next morning. Bonus: he probably knows he won’t have to deal with too many repercussions because seriously, who is named Chad anymore? We are both liars, clearly, and won’t see each other ever again. A flawless deception.

“So, Terra The Litigator, what valiant fight for those wrongly accused have you fought?”

I opened my eyes against the chest where I had curled up. Peaking through my smudged mascara to see if he was joking, I found he was not. Apparently we would do this small talk thing.

“Ummm, I’m not supposed to talk about cases.”

“I see. So what do you really do for a living?”

Damn. Maybe I’m not the slinky lady of the night I thought I was.

“I am a lawyer…” I said to the Tennessee scar.

“Mmhhmm. What kind?”

“Copyright. I love it.”

“Then why say criminal?”

“It sounded sexier… in my head.”

“You think being surrounded by dirty murders is sexier than being surrounded by books and notaries? You said this to an English teacher?”

Ah, truths and lies between strangers who will part happily. Nothing like it.

“So… you’re actually an English teacher?”

“I feel like you’re new at this. Should we start over?”

He sat up on his elbow, causing me to roll down into his lap. My pulse started to quicken, but I refused to give up on the last bits of anxiety-relief an orgasm brings, so I stayed there.

“I’m Chad.” He held out his hand.

I sat up straight then. “Your REAL name is Chad?!”

He threw his head back laughing, and I noticed how nice the auburn trail of eleven-oclock-shadow looked parading down his chin. When he got his breath back, he looked at me with eyes much brighter than a few hours ago. Apparently my accidental hilarity was quite sobering against a couple whiskey sours.

“That is a first! Why would I give you a fake na- wait.”

Damn. Damn damn damn what a stupid idea. To sleep with a complete stranger! Just to get rid of anxiety! I should have just gotten drunk and passed out in the middle of a panic attack like a responsible adult! What had I done?? Was I CRAZY?

“Soooo Terra my dear,” he chortled, “Or should I say….?”

I bit my bottom lip. Not in a cute way; in a shit I’m caught and it’s not cute at all way.


“Well, it has some of the same letters.”

“Yes… yes it does.”

And then he wrapped his arms around me. I squealed when he fell back against his pillows, pulling me down with him. Was this man going to crush me for my lies? Who would know where to look for me? I don’t normally do this- no one will even know to check with the local bartenders! I’d left none of the clues behind that’d I’d seen on Law & Order and my roommate was going to put that on my tombstone: Watched too much daytime TV for us to not know what happened. Loser.

But then instead of strangling the air from my lungs, he tucked me into the curve of his shoulder, and with his free arm clicked off the bed side lamp.

“I like Audrey better,” he mumbled into my hair.

“Thank you. Me too.”

“Why tell a lie to someone you probably won’t see again?”

“I saw it differently.”

He chortled again, “Clearly.”

“You’re not mad?”

“I’m looking forward to telling my friends about the crazy hot lawyer I slept with.”

“See- that I was right about that part.”

His breathing slowed. Was he falling asleep? Was this conversation over? No no- I have to fall asleep first or this doesn’t work. I bucked my hip against him, scrounging up the last of my sexy confidence.

“Yes, Terra-Audrey?”

“I’m not done with you,” I purred.

“Yes you are. You’re trying to seduce me through yawns.”

“Am not.”

“You’re very tired. And you want to rest up for morning sex, so don’t sneak your clothes on and leave before I wake up. Would you like a really boring story about my students?”

I stared at him through the dark. His eyes were closed, one hand wrapped protectively around my waist and the other cradling the back of his head casually.

“Yes, actually. I would love that.”

“Alright. So there’s this kid who has trouble with Greek mythology. Recently I tried to get him hooked on the Hunter but he never brings his book so I sent him to the library and he said she wasn’t in any of those books and so I made him do all of the history stories that led to her quote unquote ‘birth’, and you know with all the legends that covers. So first there’s the…”

Out like a light. I was right- a brilliant plan.

The Word

Perishable (adjective): Especially of food, likely to decay or go bad quickly.
(noun): Things likely to decay or go bad quickly.
Some of my favorite things in the world are perishable: Blackberries, lemon-arugula, pound cake, shallow crushes… etc! When they’re fresh and bright and new, they are absolutely delicious. Part of the joy is catching them at that perfect moment, capturing the sweet moment at peak.
So many authors have spoken of barely-there moments in fancier terms*. All I have to say is they’re precious not in spite of their short lives, but more because of it. A rose may smell as sweet by any other name, sure, but it’s more precious to see bloom, because come Fall, the rose has withered and you have to wait for Spring to see it again. Moments require both patience and spontaneity. Most importantly, they require the appreciation for both their beginning and ending, which are so very close together.
Upbeat, right? Haha, what I mean to say is- it’s fine to have moments of joy, moments of being okay. Sure sometimes the day or whole week is lost, but we can give ourselves to those perishable good moments without fault or expectation, and I’d say most of the time, we are better for it!
So go out, dear loyal listener, go out and enjoy your moments!

P.S. Doing my best to make stand alone-stories again, but if this gal sounded a little familiar, please check out Today I am Passion 😉


*“Tomorrow, your job is to change the world into a better place. Today, my job is to see that everyone gets there.”
Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

“A moment’s beginning ends in a moment”
Munia Khan

“It was a delightful visit;—perfect in being much too short.” —Jane Austen

“Be sincere, Be brief, Be seated.” —Franklin Delano Roosevelt