Monday, May 16, 2011

Michael A. Tashjian

Of Women's Wiles and Underwear
Wiles and Underwear
Fiction by Michael A. Tashjian

First off, I want to inform you that I am not gay. I like girls—a lot—which is exactly what compelled me to pick up the magazine. I was at the doctor’s. Lately, my mom had been puking and getting dizzy, so she set up an appointment and made me go with her. I thought that was stupid, since all I did was sit in the waiting room the whole time. I was looking through a pile of Time, People, and Readers’ Digest when I spotted a picture of Jessica Alba peeking at me from underneath the out-dated issues. It was one of those teen girls’ magazines. Printed on the cover were things like, “This Year’s Trendiest Back-to-School Outfits,” “New Workout for Your Abs,” and one shout-out in bold letters: “How to Get His Attention.” That’s interesting. I scanned the room first—there were only old people around—so I picked up the magazine and flipped to the indicated page.
                It wasn’t at all what I expected. There were three paragraphs filled with little secret tricks for girls to use. The first one was entitled “At the Laundromat.” Specific steps followed. “When unloading delicates from the dryers, lift lingerie and scrutinize at eye level, as if examining…” How stupid. What kind of girl would use this? The next paragraph was entitled “At School,” and detailed techniques were listed on how to smile, giggle, “bat the eyes,” and other weird stuff. The last trick was some kind of “hallway glance” and I was just getting into that when my mom reappeared and said it was time to go.
                She announced at dinner that she was pregnant. My dad and I had suspected for a while, so we weren’t too shocked. By five months, though, my mom was at the point where she had to waddle everywhere she went, so we decided to sell some of her clothes that didn’t fit anymore. It was Garage Sale Day in the neighborhood, and I was helping her carry some stuff out to the drive way when in one box, I noticed some small, lacy underwear. “You have got to be kidding me,” I said.
                “You’re going to sell your underwear at a garage sale?”
                “Well, why not? They’re perfectly good panties.” She obviously saw no problem with it.
                “Mom! That’s gross! Nobody around here is going to buy your old underwear!”
                “We’ll see about that,” she retorted. “Five dollars?” She had a weird way of ending arguments. Kind of immature, I thought, but whatever. I took on the deal.
                It’d been three hours since I’d set up the tables, and no one had come even close to buying the underwear. I was looking forward to the five bucks with confidence when a girl I’d never seen before showed up. She had straight brown hair that sort of covered her eyes and a slim figure. I took the opportunity to stare while Mom was inside. Taking no notice of me, she skimmed the tables, coming dangerously close to my mom’s abominable lingerie. No, no, no, no, no! It quickly caught her attention, and she smirked as if amused. Good. She thought they were ridiculous too. Mom came outside then, and saw my jaw drop as the girl picked up the lacy thing and inspected it at eye level where it dangled from her manicured fingers. What shocked me even more than her interest was—could she possibly be using the “laundromat technique” on me? Did it count at a garage sale?
                I tried not to look when the girl said, “How much for these?” Mom hobbled over to the table all too quickly, and said, “Twenty-five cents.” The girl took out the money, paid, and left.
                With a triumphant smile, my mom waited next to my lawn chair, hand outstretched. I sighed, and dug around in my pocket for a while until I came up with five dollars. She chuckled, taking the cash, then pointing out haughtily, “I’ve already earned back twice of what I paid for those,” she shuffled away with her hand on her globular belly.
                I couldn’t believe my luck a week later when freshman year started. That girl had English class with me and, even better, we ended up being partners for some big project. Every day we sat across from each other and plenty of “eye-batting” and radiant smiles took place. I couldn’t believe it. She liked me.
                On Friday, when the bell rang to end sixth period, all of the classmates pushed through the door and swarmed into the hallway like bees. She passed me. She always does, but this time, she looked back, shot me a mysterious glance and with a mischievous smirk, and turned around the corner. It was perfect. Did she practice in the mirror or something? It’s so weird—the steps girls take to get a dude’s attention…but they work. I’m fascinated.
But there’s just one thing, whenever I’m with her...I can never help wondering if she’s wearing my mom’s underwear.

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