For being a writer, I kinda dislike words. Basically, they’re all just sounds that our brains direct our bodies to make and then we agree that these sounds have meaning. A lot of people dislike the word ‘moist.’ Why? I dunno. I can say it over and over again. Is it the strong ‘st’ noise at the end? Is it the meaning? The feeling of moisture that is so repellant? Couldn’t tell you.
The word ‘puce’ never did me any favors. First of all, the color itself is gross.
Second of all, the ‘pee-ū’ at the beginning followed by the sibilant ‘suh’ just makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.
Some words, I can’t stand merely because they make my gag reflex engage. ‘Lover’ and ‘partner’ are the biggest offenders. Radiohead has a song that starts out:
I don’t wanna be your friend
I just wanna be your lover
Every time I put on In Rainbows, I forget and then remember those lyrics. Yuck. The word ‘lover’ reminds me of Holly Johnston in the fourth grade. Cute little blond girl was dating Michael at the time. She told me he was her lover and I swear to you I almost blew chunks. Apparently I am not the only one. The SNL skit with Cheri Oteri and Will Farrell always make me uncomfortable because that is exactly what I think of when I hear the word: hairy hippies who do it in hot tubs and are always trying to recruit other people into their mess.
When I was 17, I lived in a rented house up on Mt. Soledad in La Jolla, CA. The house had a lot of books. One of them was the original Joy of Sex. And as soon as I spotted it, I pulled the dust jacket off and swapped it for something much tamer, and hid the book under my mattress, to read under the cover of night in my room.
The book had lots of illustrations. Most of them were up close, but the full human illustrations had shaggy-haired hippies with lots of body hair.
Look at that dude! He belongs at the Natural History Museum on the UWS, but instead this proto-hipster was just a premonition of all the dudes you see in Brooklyn who are going around “making love” to “lovers” while extolling the many virtues of coconut oil.
I imagined them eating fondue, unwinding in a wooden hot tub, and talking about the key party they’d been to the night before. The sex stuff was intriguing. But the whole ‘lover’ dynamic always left me feeling like I had a hair in my mouth. I don’t know how else to describe it. It just felt gross.
The word ‘partner’ makes me want to vomit in my mouth for a different reason. “This is my partner, Mary.” Sometimes it is coupled with the word “primary” and my eyes roll so far back in my head so fast that my irises are replaced by cherries/lemons/grapes and I resemble a slot machine. The words sound clinical. Like some anthropology book from the 1950’s used to describe untouched Pygmy tribal rituals. It sounds devoid of feeling. It sounds like all the joy has drained from the relationship and these people sit around in turtlenecks and tweed jackets with suede patches, devoid of irony, discussing Proust.
The whole polyamory scene in Brooklyn grosses me out. I don’t want to meet your lovers. I just wanna meet your friends. I don’t want to be introduced to someone and later find out they were sizing me up. I don’t want to picture the other women you’re fucking when we’re not together. I don’t want to know their names. To me, they don’t exist and we are happy in our little bubble. And if this is going to be a whole thing, then let me exit stage left because I really don’t want to be anyone’s lover. Or partner.
I might never be someone’s everything, but I want to be special to just them. Antoine De Saint-Exupéry knew the deal. Just read The Little Prince and absorb the lesson of the Fox.
These aren’t great photos, but you get the idea.
My heart sees clearly past the words, past the sounds, all the way into the recesses of the mind and down into the heart. It sees the intent. I don’t want a word. I want to be owned.
As for words, I veer towards the antiquated. ‘Boyfriend’ is always lovely. I have a friend who calls her primary partner (barf) “Boy prime,” because of course my friends are nerds. I have a friend who talks about her ‘roster’ and her ‘hotation.’ I talk about my list. It’s a comprehensive list dating back to 1996 that lists everyone I’ve slept with chronologically, including ages and all relevant details. The guys I sleep with know the list exists. I believe in transparency in such things. It keeps unwanted feelings and ambiguity to a minimum. The more egocentric ones want to know how they will be memorialized. I can tell you with 100% certainty that if they’re asking, they’re the guys I’m never ever going to sleep with again.
‘Situationship’ is probably my favorite descriptor. It’s a portmanteau that easily conveys the idea of something that is happening but has yet to be defined. Here, I’ll give you an example:
💁🏼♀️: Hey Vene, I haven’t seen you around in a while, how’s it going with Mark (Ronson, obviously)?
💁🏻♀️: Oh, I dunno. It’s a whole situationship right now. He doesn’t play games, but he also isn’t rushing to lock anything down at the moment.
As a writer, I love words, too. The phrase ‘unrequited love’ has always held a tender place in my heart. But then again, you already knew that because you know about Mark (Ronson, right…you’ve been paying attention).
When it comes down to it, words all fail the magic prize, as the Violent Femmes proclaimed back in 1983. At the end of the day, there is only one word I want to describe me, and that is ‘his.’
“Whose?” you ask.
If I knew, you’d know, too. But to the right person, I will be tame. And I will be special. Polyamory is not for the roses and the foxes or even the little princes of this world. It is, I must conclude, very much for the birds.