Friday, October 4, 2013


Adventures in the Clearance Section

There you are, late for the pool party, in the wrong dressing room cube, beside the woman whose son keeps peeking under the divider—“Caleb, you goofball!” Phosphors are fluorescing. Mocha latte gas bubbles are playing hide and seek around your reproductives. In the mirror your hair looks brittle and greenish, like a long-forgotten spinach leaf that fell between the counter and fridge. Is this how I always look? Is this me? you ask yourself. You tilt your head, listening for the faint screams of a village mob rounding the espadrilles display, torches aflame, resolved to find and kill you, the beast.

You jump. What was that?!  Your peripheral vision caught an albino cockroach in the cube’s corner. No, it’s just a waffle fry. Caleb’s flotsam. Your stomach growls like a Gabor sister shaking an empty benzo bottle at her maid, but you stay calm. The stygian ferrywoman dressing room attendant wheezes her way over to your cube and groans, “Need anything? Another size?” The salmon cami is, in fact, too small. You know it. She knows it.

Don’t run from the truth, you think before slapping an invisible mosquito from atop your tit. A bead of radishy sweat runs down your lip. “Um, yeah. Can I please have one size larger? Whenever it’s convenient, you know. No rush.”

That was obsequious, even for you.

Your swimsuits are piled on the dressing room’s tiny tortilla chip seat, which is insufficient to the task of your ass. The red and white polka dot number might work. It’s “old timey,” covers lots of real estate. Its skirtlet produces a charming little canopy for the surplus thickness topping each thigh. This suit will produce the illusion of a “fashion” point of view, rather than an attempt to gild the girthy lily. On it goes, tugging your skin as it moves. The small vaginal guard sticker in the crotch cowers as it’s consumed by your shadow (as if it didn’t have enough to contend with: abuse, neglect, existential confusion. [“They’re just trading bacteria through me! Don’t you see? I have no purpose!” the sticker screamed to an indifferent coat hanger one night after closing]).

You rip it out, channeling the beast. Fuck it, you think. It’s Hanes MY WAY.

You are not Kathy Ireland. You’re a woman old enough to remember Kathy Ireland, and so you’ve resigned yourself to occasionally turning stomachs instead of heads. Really, you don’t look half bad. But it’s the celebration of relief, rather than genuine excitement, that makes you want to pull the dressing room door off its hinge like a paper doll arm.

You give the mirror your Radiant Pool Party Guest Holding Court With a Riveting Anecdote pose. The ladies feign happiness while their gums bleed with envy. “My, you’re looking slim. Krill enemas? Spill it.” Audience delight is peaking. You pooch out your lips, casually enlighten them, and gesture with bemused certitude. “Who is that vixen in the polka dot swimsuit? ” asks some tall man with a downtown condo in escrow.

Refusing to sully the fantasy with a moment of real reflection, you dress, grab the swimsuit and a couple tops, and head for the cashier. “The bathing suit’s on sale, ma’am. It’s your lucky day. No refunds, though.”

Locked in, you make your way to the car.

In traffic, the growl of your stomach is so loud you feel the desire to make love to pedestrians simply for the distraction from hunger. You shouldn’t eat anything right before a pool party, but the malnourishment crazies are setting in. Maybe just a nugget, a kid’s size fry.

Something catches your eye through the heat waves. Indigo and magenta, a screaming proposal. The Hanna-Barbera of foods. Taco Bell® will soothe.

Two BBs and a DP. Add sour cream and onion. “Lots of mild sauce, please.” You thank a slamming window. A grackle shit-lined parking spot is open and you snag it. You're in a hurry but driving and eating is for cretins, so you only do it on weekdays. Just eat really fast, go home, and start in on that new pinot grigio, you think. A little drink 'n dress before the party. You sigh happily as one burrito disappears, then the next.

You look to your left. Beside your Honda in a colorless Ford, a man quietly applies his own bean salve. Your eyes meet.


The reflected defeat in those eyes draws you in. The sour cream dot on his chin keeps you there. In a flash you see your whole life together: wine tasting, syncopated sex to Celine Dion, kids, pools, parties, pool parties for kids, gluten-free brunch menus, movies with “really great special effects,” black hole boredom, that thing where he can only come if you call him “Mother,” failed and embarrassing forays into “spicing things up,” twice-told jokes in one night at the Cloptons’, clenched tolerance lapping genuine appreciation, a once-acceptable partnership transformed into a Ben Hur battle of finances, laziness and lies.

Cellmates. Criminally bored by the inertia of simply living. Bunkmates awaiting your allotted serving of entropy. A bean-laden decline, graph-traceable from the fatigue of could-be to the tragic romance of never-was. He holds a half-empty packet of Taco Bell® Mild Sauce™ up to the window like a lonesome titty in a Turkish prison’s visitation booth. You follow suit, showing him yours. You sit there staring for just a few moments, reaching out into the field of shared awareness: predicting love, heartburn. Maybe that’s all you need. Sure, you’ll try him on.

You blow him a kiss, gently raise your left hip, and emit a compliant whine from below.

Teighlor Darr lives and writes in Austin, tweets @yesquite, and isn't like this normally, honest.
Photo via apalapala/Flickr

25 Comments / Post A Comment

apples and oranges

I had to come down here and just make one comment before finishing:
The small vaginal guard sticker in the crotch cowers as it’s consumed by your shadow (as if it didn’t have enough to contend with: abuse, neglect, existential confusion. [“They’re just trading bacteria through me! Don’t you see? I have no purpose!” the sticker screamed to an indifferent coat hanger one night after closing]).

Ladies, we're keeping on our underwear trying on bathing suit bottoms RIGHT?!?!?!? PLEASE TELL ME YES. That sticker isn't the only barrier here!

Ok back to reading just scarred for life that some people may have been ignoring the signs asking you to not strip down to try on suits.


@apples and oranges this is absolutely terrifying!


@yourcherrydarling Vietnam Heritage Tour 12 day 11 night,


Wonderful Loved it so much! @v


[“They’re just trading bacteria through me! Don’t you see? I have no purpose!” the sticker screamed to an indifferent coat hanger one night after closing.]

aaaaaand now i'm dead. this is amazing


oh my god, this all had me clawing the edge of my desk in horror. noooooooo

(but that just means it was really well written, though.)


Beautiful. I love the complaint whine.

I thought I knew Taco Bell, but was is a BB and what is a DP? I only eat Crunchwrap Supremes and tacos. And drink Baja Blast.


@PrettyNicola Bean Burritos and a Diet Pepsi?


@PrettyNicola super kinky sex stuff prob


@adorable-eggplant I thought Dr. Pepper but bean burrito. If it had been Taco Bueno it could have been a BOB (big ol' burrito.)


@PrettyNicola Taco Bell has been killing me lately (more so than usual, as in the food is killing me.) Spicy Chicken Crunchwrap Supreme was my go-to then they got rid of it (I just can't with the ground beef there for some reason.) So I converted to the chicken burrito. But they changed the chicken! It tastes so weird no! And so I have nothing "main course" to eat there and one cannot live on Cheesy Fiesta Potatos alone (or can they?)


@shantasybaby Taco Bell always reminds me of wandering around Penn Station drunk at midnight waiting for the 12:11 train (because I lived in Jersey where the rent was cheaper). It's great for not remembering eating it.


"bean salve" ahahaha. ohhh I did not like where this was going at the start but i loved the meeting of souls at the end.


I loved this.

jaimebee tho

yeah, no, this is spectacular.


Delight. Profound gift for absurd metaphor!

Miss Maszkerádi

Some of the best writing I've seen on here in a while.


@shantasybaby Crispy Potato Soft Tacos!! Fiesta potatoes, lettuce, cheese, and baja sauce.

Casanova Frankenstein

Why would you ever want mild sauce?

Scott Sessions@twitter

I snorted/spat rice when I read "if you call him 'Mother'", so well done. I'll be cleaning up, now.


Incredible how all it takes to identify Austin are the words "grackle shit-lined parking lot" in reference to Taco Bell. This is maybe the weirdest bout of homesickness I've ever had.


"...dressing room’s tiny tortilla chip seat" this was hilarious and well done. thank you


This was amazing, reminiscent of the old Hairpin.

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