My Lover's Moods
by David Winner
Mood 5: Here's an example of it. I'm scrubbing the blue-green wineglasses with the sponge that has soap coming right from it when from behind me—out of nowhere it seems—she grabs my ass.
"Funny bunny," she laughs, delirious with rhyme, running her hands through her short hair recently dyed black, "you funny bunny."
Putting the sponge down on the counter, I caress her arms as provocatively as I can. But she's not in mood 3 at all. No intercourse in sight.
"Bad bunny," she says burying her head under my shirt. Her lips on my naval puff hilarious (to her) air like she wants to inflate me.
"Bunny's belly makes a funny sound," but she's had no chance to get stoned.
What will I call this type of mood? "Aggressive silly?" "Tough girl funny?" I'm not sure yet.
Mood 1: Angry Fucking (My second favorite mood): We're alone in the afternoon or evening in our apartment when she appears to glare. If my ability to read people were off—the kind of man who calls 911 when teenagers roughhouse on the street—I would think her angry, imagine that she were about to throw her wine glass at me, spit in my face even. It's much better than that. Her three favorite ways to initiate angry fucking are as follows:
1, Ripping my shirt off, she swirls her tongue around my nipple before biting so it "hurts so good," like the song I never liked in high school.
2, Shouting, "Yo, follow me," and marching up the duplex stairs towards the bedroom.
3, Simply pulling her pants down, underwear too, just far enough. No kissing, no foreplay. Right to it like we're so pissed off with each other we can't wait to get our fists out but use our genitals instead.
Battered by it afterwards, we usually slink off to opposite ends of the apartment.
Mood 2: Reassurance: (My favorite mood): It's the middle of the winter night, and I'm suddenly awake. The spurts of wind, however melodramatic, can't quite get in through the window. The cold wants in too in order to zap the heat duct bashing alarmingly next to the bed.
The next burst of wind leaves her awake too and discombobulated. She forgets but quickly remembers all that's wrong: mom dead, dad an asshole, job dissatisfying. When it all comes back, my lover jumps on top of me to burrow her head into my chest, pulling as many blankets as she can on top of us.
"You won't ever leave me, will you, will you?"
"Never," I resolutely declare, none of my calculations evident in my voice. You can't dump a guy you've just begged not to leave you for at least x weeks, months, years. The x depends on several factors: how often you demand reassurance on cold windy nights for one.
And I swear I've never done it on purpose, never banged on the window with my hand, never opened it a crack to allow in a painful wisp of cold, never encouraged the disruptive outside to wake my lover in order for her to beg for the reassurance that's so reassuring.
Mood 9-A: "Go west young man and woman." So after we've been together for six months or so, we take a weekend upstate, a town that's supposed to be quaint not far from where she grew up. We have a decent time. Though she slips into mood seven towards the end of Saturday, she's back up to mood ten by the time we leave.
Anyway, we get into traffic coming back into the city. Bumper to bumper and the smoggy exhaust creeps in through the windows. It's a humid late May afternoon, cloudy and constipated. It just can't rain. She should have let me drive because of her headache.
Soon she's talking about San Francisco, the summer she spent there before she dropped out of college. Her description is clichéd: sunsets, mountain drives, Chardonnay.
"We've got to get out of here." Her left hand leaves the wheel to pounce on the crook of my elbow.
"Definitely," I say.
"I don't know. The Bay Area's too expensive, but there's Santa Cruz. We've got to get out."
Then she points to the dreary landscape: some sort of factory puffing out pollution, one of those grungy urban McDonald's just off the highway. That's before someone behind us beeps indignantly, as we have not taken immediate advantage of the few feet of driving room available for us to move forward.
I like the sound of "we."
"I hate it here," I lie, "it's like we're trapped animals."
"Yeah," she says, "you got it."
Mood 9-B: ("Go West, Young Woman.")
But I'm not always included.
She has to stay late at her job on a day I took off from work. Her subway gets stuck in the tunnel; outside above her, the sky is dreary.
Inside our apartment, she finds me napping in torn, gray boxers. Everything is in disarray: bed unmade, clothes strewn every which way.
Downstairs is a dustbowl. As the clumps of it roll across the floor, they collect fur from the previous tenant's Persian. Dishes, too, are still left over from breakfast; egg remnants congeal. To top it off, there's the overripe melon smell from the garbage, nauseating if you're prone to nausea.
A note in my defense. She had left that morning in singularly sunny mood 4, the kind of mood that disappears dust and garbage, that sweeps her up in its delirious rhythms. She'd grabbed my hand to joke-dance to "Waterloo," and "Dancing Queen," "Mamma-mia-ing" her way out the door.
If I had sensed mood ten's imminent arrival, I would have changed into sweats and a tee shirt, had a strong cup of cinnamon-flavored coffee and cleaned. Instead —stupid and lazy—I have slept and watched TV, wallowing in filth.
The door opens. My lover enters. She smells the garbage, sees the cat-hair- infused dust, glances towards the dishes, climbs the stairs to witness a bed unmade at seven in the evening.
This is what she says to me, and I paraphrase.
Get me the fuck out. The northern California of that college summer, the Hudson, New York of my growing up, Paris, where I once studied for a month. Of all places, to be, n'est ce pas,??? why am I here?
Alone she swears she'll flee, not explicitly saying "without you," but surely implying it in her use of the word "me," in the absence of the word "we."
Bust #11 (Though I don't really count them.)
But first, a summary of some previous busts. The cartoons of my father with shit literally drawn coming from his mouth, hidden in the top drawer of my desk, were discovered by my mom when I went away to camp the summer after my freshman year of high school. The envelope full of carefully computer-generated fake IDs was located by my shit-mouth dad himself sometime during my junior year of college after I was finally of legal drinking age. The handwritten, numbered descriptions in code of the first several times I had had sex with my first college girlfriend were found, once again in a drawer, by my second college girlfriend to her vast, relationship-ending disapproval: "4. Opportunity when roommate at West Civ. Over too quickly."
You'd think I'd have learned to code more complexly after that incident, to obscure what I didn't want discovered, but no, the moods I had catalogued were saved to a file called "Brian's (my name) expenses" and left as they were. My lover had apparently brought it up by accident. I was right to think she would never nose into my personal finances but still terribly, terribly wrong just to have it on the hard-drive of the computer we shared.
"I wasn't interested in your fucking 'expenses.' I didn't know I was one."
"I was just trying to get to the file next to it and ended up with it by mistake."
"And then to be assaulted by that weird, psycho shit."
"To be codified, quantified, analyzed like I wasn't even human."
It's a helluva bust.
The thing about mood 27 is that you only get to experience it once. (Unless, of course, you manage to win her back only to have her get sick of you again and leave.)
There are very few of the ebbs and flows, the joys and sorrows that are typical of her moods. My former lover simply takes her clothes from the dresser and folds them into her suitcase. It's been two days since the great bust, one day since her irrevocable decision to leave. She smiles distantly, plaintively. When the occasional tear drips sweetly down her cheek, she brushes it cruelly away.
If she were more like me, she could choose from the numerology of my moods to find the perfect one: 12, 14, maybe 17. "Apologetic," yet "firm," "loving," yet "contrite." A changed man's mood, an anti-codifier, a non-quantifier, a never analyzer, the mood that would make my former lover take everything out of her bags and fold them back into her dresser drawers.
Copyright©2003 David Winner