.0 Morag Provides Context.

Remember that you are alone.

My grandmother has had that taped on a note above the oven since my granddad died five years ago. That way, she doesn't make dinner for two, she takes the trash out on time and reminds a surly neighbor boy to mow the lawn and scoop the poop.

My mother was livid the first time she saw it, anger rolling off her like snow in a hard wind. She took it personally; reminded her mother that we were only a short drive away and she was never alone. Like she had some kind of Big Brother, totalitarian love. My grandmother just looked at her and went back to chopping peppers for a pasta salad, and that was it. You could hear the reproach in every clunk of the knife on wet wood, see it in the soft blue stretch of her knuckles over bone: she had been married to my grandfather longer than my mother had even been alive. Which is one long hell of a time.

I ignore the note, personally, won't even go within feet of it if I didn't have to: it's embarrassing to see, like the time when I was sixteen and I walked in on my boss at the ice cream place taking a piss, willy on full display.

And anyway, unlike her, I'd use it as a goddamn battle cry. I can't imagine finding anyone I'd be willing to put up with for that long, let alone someone willing to put up with my shit. Witnessing long-term relationships in action (other people's) give me the same acid feeling as seeing drivers (I don't have a license) on the road: if those dumbshits can do it, so can I. Theoretically.

I'm not lonely, I just don't like losing. If the brainless fuckers in my old high school gym class could con someone into loving them, I know I can too. I'm no drip, and I don't look too much like I just waddled my way free of a TJ Maxx clearance sale.

But for now I'm just not interested. For months I haven't gotten any closer to any member of my family than Verizon Wireless can take me, so my sense of competition has gone a little flaccid. I'm safely ensconced in the City of Brotherly Love, which these days is more like the city of brotherly gang war. Romance is dead here. The night life is almost as bad. One of these days I'm going to quit my fancy damn university job and go move out to Buckfuck, Nowhere. I'll work at one of those public libraries that looks like it was built with the prison system in mind, one of the ones that smells like red rot and the collective cat pee stink of its octogenarian patrons, wresting each other in the aisles over the Chicken Soup books. I'll get a cat or ten and threaten neighborhood children with gardening implements and the neighbors won't speak to me because I'll reject the cream of mushroom casserole they'll bring over when I move in, and they'll make their kids check my Halloween candy for razor blades. I'll finally get a car and my road rage as I make my way back and forth from the Wal-Mart will be like the fucking Second Coming. That's better than sex.


Let me give you some context. I am so adverse to—what—couplehood, is that a word?—that I can't even stand them fucking up my general field of vision. At least when I'm in a relationship, I'm considerate enough not to rub PDA all over the unwilling faces of the entire city. It's not their sensibilities I'm worried about offending-- if I were dating the manliest man to ever inflict his armpit stink on the world, I still wouldn't. I have compassion for the innocent bystanders. Romance, bullshit. Chances are half the people forced to watch me and whoever cuddle like we've mistaken each other for winter coats are single, or in a relationship but miserable. Most people in relationships are miserable, except during the part where they have sex, and sometimes even then. I have this on empirical evidence. Unfortunately, the people I date usually take this as a lack of compassion towards them, but I can't be all things to all people.

I just wish the same charitable sentiment could be reciprocated. Inconsiderate couples are everywhere, flaunting themselves like baboons in heat. Especially when you have the misfortune to work on a college campus, like I do, and everywhere you look people barely old enough to buy porn are dry humping each other in the second floor library stacks. But even chasing them out the front door with a World Atlas is far from winning the battle. The entire world's out there. Take the Dykey Dykes. (And yes, I can use the word; I'm in the friggen club. For the small membership fee of getting royally screwed over by my state and federal government, the church of my forefathers, and every podunk yokel with an opinion, you too can use it. What a deal. Join today.) The two of them are on the same bus route as me every morning, and I just want to smear their faces into the Plexiglas windows. They're so goddamn happy it makes me dry retch all the way from my apartment to the bus stop. I could take the subway, but that would be letting them win.

You know the type. They're such a couple-couple it's disgusting. All touchy-feely like they just invented hands. There's no possible way they like each other that much and are able to sustain it day after day; I suspect they're mainly trying to provoke the rest of us. One of these days they'll realize that it's the 21st century and people have better things to do on their morning commute than harass them. I can't wait for the day they get their first Subaru station wagon and finally leave my bus—my bus, I took it first— the hell alone. I'll buy them a parting gift: a bumper sticker with MY CAT IS SMARTER THAN YOUR HONORS STUDENT. I'd bet my titties they have a cat. They'd think it's smart, too.

Every morning they sit there holding hands, looking like army commandos who got smacked in the head by one too many bits of shrapnel and accidentally wandered off into downtown Philadelphia. All goo-goo eyed like they have a brain injury, too. They appear to put a thoughtful effort into covering all the lesbian stereotypes they can dredge out of their soggy brains in the morning, for the educational benefit of anyone who gives a damn. Dykey Dyke Number One's got the shaved head and piercings covered, barrel chest with an oxford shirt stretched over it like a bad seat cover, cargo shorts she could only have stolen off a fourteen year old boy or construction worker, combat boots. Probably works at an animal rescue center or something. Two has hair pulled back so tight from her face she looks like she's trying to give herself a free facelift, and usually some formless sweatshirt and jeans that only accentuate her woeful lack of ass. I am almost positive she is a gym teacher.

I smiled at them the first day they rode the bus with me, I honestly did in an honest show of support, and Number One gave me a look like she was going to ram her industrial piecing into my eye socket. I knew that challenging look. I'd given it myself when I felt threatened, judged. Gay men can get away with the coy look, and once I saw a transvestite chase some teenage girls up and down a subway car with a hairbrush, but lesbians know nothing more subtle or effective than the glare of death. Tweenage children can glare. Rabid dogs can do it. There is no finesse. It is the social equivalent of pieing people in the face. Splat. You wanna piece of me?

I actually gagged on my granola bar. I was suddenly embarrassed to be caught out in a skirt with my hair down, like I'd been spotted pole dancing on the bus handrails. They had no right to make me feel like shit this early in the morning. It wasn't like I'd come waltzing into Sisters on Lesbian Jell-O Wrestling Night dressed up as Slutty Snow White with a football player on either arm. First I had to sit there and watch them visually hump my singleton status into my poor tired brain, and then I was supposed to suffer the indignity of being dismissed as just some straight chick? Oh, bitch, no. It wasn't my fault their gaydar is so primitive that they'd need me to be sitting there macraméing my leg hair to catch on. I didn't deserve that look, the look a dog gives a stranger intruding on its turf. Fuck them. This is not a battle I intend to lose.

So I glare like hell at them every morning. They don't understand why. I think they like it. It makes them feel self-righteous. Dumb bitches.

God, I need to get laid.

And— on second thought—next time I do, I'll plant myself right in front of their window seat and play a good unsportsmanlike game of tonsil hockey. I'll say, my name is Morag Cormac, and you can stop staring anytime you like.