When I woke up this morning, I worked on my campaign speech for Beefcake. It’s not easy. I have to write something that sounds superficially good—enough so Beefcake will accept it and deliver it as written—but also something that alerts listeners to the fact that the person delivering this drivel is an odious human being.
Though Beefcake is morally deficient, he isn’t an idiot. This makes this assignment problematic.
The other issue making me squirm is that I kind of let Beefcake fool around with me the other day. Just a little bit, I swear. Not a lot.
He smelled so perfect. Letting him get close to me, the way two people do when they make out a tiny bit but not an extremely large amount allowed me to undo the buttons on his shirt and to wallow more fully in his male aliveness.
Near the house where your dad lived for most of his life, and where I lived with him when we were first married, there was a prairie with mint plants growing in amongst all the tall grasses and yellow flowers. In mid-summer, when your dad and I walked through there, it wasn’t enough for me to brush against the mint and to have its smell wafting pleasantly around me. Always, I had to reach down to deliberately tear off a leaf so I could bring it directly to my nostrils. I had to make the mint smell sharp and concentrated. After the scent of that first leaf was exhausted, I’d pick another and then another, until eventually I’d deaden my senses to it and couldn’t smell much at all anymore. I couldn’t help it. I wanted to experience the full dose with no other olfactory distractions.
Your dad suggested I find a way to be content with what he called “opportunistic whiffs.” He didn’t try to manipulate the mint into providing him with a stronger, more intense sensation than what it already offered. He was happy just to enjoy the surprise of its occasional scent as he walked along, taking in the sensory experience of the whole prairie.
A person could learn a lot from your dad about how to live on this earth. If only I could remember his lessons in these times of personal weakness. If he were here, he wouldn’t mind my getting close to someone else, I’m pretty sure, but he’d be shaking his head in disappointment over Beefcake.
Jill Riddell is a writer in Chicago. She teaches at the School of the Art Institute and has a weakness for nature, magic, and pennies abandoned in sidewalk cracks.