Last year, my hallucination arrived late and sat in the empty chair at a meeting. She was decked out in a mesh bodysuit, manacles and spikes and sat with her legs spread apart on the table. No one but one other could see her all the times. He mostly saw her as self-destructive and attention seeking, when I insisted it was just healthy playfulness. I tried to whisper to him the story I’m going to tell you all but he always felt brevity is an art I’m unfamiliar with. I had to read his face because he didn’t entertain my quiet speech. I would blame him, but I shouldn’t. I imagined these words hanging above his head:
even the most feral animal can be taught to utilize sense
and social knack to exist among the human race.”
On some workdays, I shuffled through posters depicting sensual flowers at work, scoffing a little. O’Keeffe’s got it down, I suppose. Whether in rosebuds or fig leaves, sometimes I still covet brazen dishabille. Brevity is not for those whose passions are seen as excess.
I haven’t conquered subtlety, yet.
As something I’ve been battling with since my pimply art-kid times of high school, it’s not always easy to achieve. Those days, my lunch break consisted of scribbling shock-value into pieces of used printer-paper. When the bell rang, I would accidentally leave doodles of men and women in various forms of undress on the table. Oops. I wasn’t completely oblivious that the special education class following mine could discover my pornographic scraps. It was amusing that in result, they drove my teacher crazy with anatomy questions. It wasn’t quite the rebellion he claimed I was committing. But just a curious puck-like humor that I sometimes have trouble getting across. I guess I didn’t see the dilemma. I just forgot my dirty pictures sometimes. I also didn’t see the dilemma when the security guard told me my thigh-highs weren’t school-appropriate, and I had to wear gym shorts over them because they were too distracting.
The catholic college I eventually went to didn’t require uniforms and liked my portfolio. They told me they had a liberal university art program that didn’t censor work, and would love to have me. At the time, I couldn’t tell if they were pretending to be blissfully unaware for the sake of trying to convert me or if they were in denial, and in need of students. I quickly began to realize it was the latter. In my first year there, I was working on a painting depicting two women I found in the lower circles of kink.com that appeared to be enjoying themselves. My professor asked me why their faces held no love. She blanched when I told her the scene was purely about sex- not making love, as I fashioned one of the women’s lower parts with purple pubic hair in a flurry of carefree brush-strokes. I had to take it off the walls mid-process. They weren’t the classical nudes my scholarship was paying for.
Today, I walk out of my home occasionally dressed in a button-down and blazer that covers my tattoos, pretending to be an adult. The older city folk know little of my erotic art hobbies. No one wise advises me in hushed voices to “tone it down a notch,” anymore. Not even him. I leave the controversially smug teenager back at home, oversleeping in twisted bed sheets.
But there are moments, during the most lackluster meetings, where I sit in my chair, feeling a bit feral, scribbling grotesque phalluses into the margins of the agenda, looking ahead and nodding from time to time. The papers were going into recycling, anyway, living brief lives told only to those in search of a lack of subtlety.