My friend Jenny drove that night, your buddy up front with her, pawing at her, her pawing him away, and us whooping loudly in the back of her little Honda Civic, headed out beyond the city lights, through fields of soybeans and Farm Bureau reports, radio waves through the dark, dark sky.
You craved authenticity, you said, wanted to be with your people. Your people, my ass, Guggenheim fellow, you not common folk, not like the cheap beer and mariachi accordions and war stories that seep out of these sorts of places, rented out for an evening like so many rooms I have shared with you, peeling wallpaper authentic enough, I am sure.
No one knew us there, true, and I danced with the short dark man who asked me, until you returned from the bar and saw me there with him, in the middle of a sparsely populated dance floor, that little man with the slicked back hair, pressed pants, aftershave, the one who insisted te quiero over and over and over, ay Corona, I have a boyfriend. This man worked in the fields when he first came here, now works at the plant and I don’t know this sort of Spanish. These are not your people, love, no, these people roasting pigs in the parking lot and dancing polka-style. You don’t even know. They hate people like you, people who remind them that they are just getting by. They are like my people back in the city, the car factory workers, the construction union men like my daddy. I never wanted that, you know.
I wanted you, the scholar, wanted to run away with you. But you want this? you do not, you can always go back home, safe and sound. You want my ass in your hands while you pull me close and possess me in the moonlight, pull my hips into yours while we dance here, even here, everywhere, through cornfields and discotheques and grocery stores and stairwells. I try to run, but melt when I feel your cock pressed up against my ass when you finally catch me, in my short skirt, in my bikini panties, panties round my ankles while you bend me over, spread me open, make me a true believer. You, your bourgeois upbringing fucking my blue collar cunt. This is new for you, this authenticity, authentic makes me want to scream if it means you want me the way I am.
Stillness, you sigh. My heart slows at last. And now what? Now. What?
It’s funny I say I loved you then. Funny I think back to that night when you told me that there was no one in the world you loved more than me, the best part of me, right? I wanted your mind, your promise, your hand in mine. You wanted me down, dirty, Johnny Cash late night whiskey checked shirt grit.
I was your exotic. I thought you wanted the me I dreamed I could be.
I hate my bitterness sometimes, hate to think back and realize that you never cared really about what I cared about, or that I did not know how to care for you. You showed me my place, put me back where I belonged, not where I wanted to go. Thrilling, perverse, brilliant, but it was never love. Liberation? Oh, if only to be liberated from that life. No, not even that. We both craved something deeper, but we would only destroy one another if we got it. Love is all I ever wanted. Love will set you free, they said. They probably were right.
It was all so long ago, though, those foreign wars so faraway, and yet my stories stare me down, reflected in a beer glass late at night. Oh, but no one wants to hear about unrequited love anymore, not even me. Best to forget. Best to move on. Best not to think of what might have been, of what never was.