An X-Rated Valentine
To keep up my tradition of posting something on somewhat major holidays (I forgot Groundhog Day and MLK Jr. Day) here’s a scene taking place on Valentine’s Day. It’s from the ill-conceived Changing Seasons (2005 version) that is really smutty. At the start of this our narrator Harry is working at Starbuck’s and picks up a girl for Valentine’s Day. Maybe it’ll help put you in the mood. Cue the Barry White music!
At work as I serve up heart-shaped cookies, I’m reminded this is the first Valentine’s Day in six years I don’t have romance on my mind. Last year, I celebrated the holiday by taking home a girl appropriately named Val. We fucked three times, in three different positions, before midnight. What I remember most is she wouldn’t come until I squeezed her nipples; by the end of the night they were bleeding and my fingers were cramping. When I suggested she invest in a vise, she stormed out in a huff. Some people don’t like constructive criticism.
“Excuse me,” a girl says to me. “I think this is the wrong order.”
I’m about to argue, until I see her. She’s built like some kind of beginner art student’s drawing exercise. Two circular breasts beneath a perfect circle of a face with a pair of smaller circles for cheeks holding up two circular lenses, all surrounded by tiny circles of hair forming their own circle. There’s something alluring about such symmetrical design. “Let me fix that for you,” I say. Her order is about as complex as the space shuttle. I’m still pretty new to the coffee game, but I brazen it out. She takes a cautious sip of the concoction and smiles.
“This is what I ordered,” she says.
As compensation for wasting her time—and to curry some favor—I give her a heart-shaped cookie. “Happy Valentine’s Day,” I say.
She squints behind her round-framed glasses at my nametag. “Thank you, Harry.” When she looks down at the floor, I know she’s working up the courage to ask me out. She better do it soon, before my fat, evil manager Nancy catches us and warns me again not to hit on customers. As if I have to hit on them. “I suppose you probably have plans for tonight.”
“No, I don’t,” I say before remembering Brooke is going out tonight to mope over Todd’s loss or whatever she’s planning to do. “Actually, I have to babysit my niece tonight. Maybe I could get a rain check?”
“Oh, how old is your niece?”
“How adorable. I love babies.” I see people come through the door, heading to the counter. If Miss Symmetrical is going to make her move, she better do it soon. “Well, look, maybe you could use a little company. I’m great with kids. I could give you a hand with your niece.”
“Sure, a little company would be nice.” I make sure Nancy is still gorging herself on pastries in the back before I write my address down for Miss Symmetrical. She writes down her name and number on a napkin. Gina Zil—I can’t read the rest. Zilinksy? Zilwicky? Doesn’t matter. “See you tonight,” I say.
When I get home later, I find Brooke emptying a can of hair spray onto her head. “Much more of that and you’ll be able to run your head through a brick wall without hurting yourself,” I tease. She looks stricken by this remark. “Shit, I’m sorry. I was just kidding.”
“It’s all right. I’m so nervous. It’s been so long since I’ve been anywhere—” She breaks off before she can say, “without Todd.” She does a pirouette so I can inspect how her white blouse, ankle-length denim skirt, and fringed leather jacket fit. “Do I look like I just had a baby?”
She is still carrying an extra twenty pounds from the baby, most of it centered in her midsection, which is straining against the blouse. Unless she holds her breath the entire night, she’s probably going to shoot off a couple buttons. Saying any of that is a sure invitation for a kick to the balls. “No, you look fine.”
I should hug her or pat her on the shoulder or make some other reassuring gesture, but I don’t. We’re not really family, just two people sharing a house and caring for a baby together. She pats her hair one more time and then leans down to kiss Diana on the forehead. I wait for Di to choke from the hair spray fumes. “I guess I better get going,” Brooke says.
After she’s gone, I get on the phone to order some Chinese takeout. Not the most romantic Valentine’s Day dinner, but it’ll have to do this year. Dinner is beside the point anyway. I’m more focused on the desert. I bet Gina’s nipples and areola will be perfect circles, just like the rest of her. I wonder if that trend will extend to her clit as well. There’s only one way to find out.
She arrives at seven in a beat-up Oldsmobile. I’m sure from the slight lines around her eyes she’s a few years older than I am, so she’s either still in graduate school or else still paying off her student loans. Or she might be poor, but likes to splurge on the occasional over-priced coffee. It’s not important.
I bought some flowers after work to give her. It’s a tacky gesture, but expected on Valentine’s Day. “They’re lovely,” she says. I put the flowers in a vase to serve as the centerpiece on the dining room table. “So where’s your niece?” she asks.
We go back to the nursery, where Gina scoops Diana from the crib. The way Gina holds Di is like an elderly person struggling with a heavy sack. I step forward with my arms out, just in case she drops Diana. “She’s so cute,” Gina says too loudly, waking up Di. Gina tries to comfort the baby, but her soft words and rough pats on the back only make Diana cry more.
I finally take Diana, rocking her in my arms until she goes back to sleep. Then I set her back in the crib and not very gently tug Gina from the nursery. I lead her back to the dining room, holding out her chair like a gentleman. “I’m sorry about the baby,” she says. “That always works with my nephew.”
“She’s just not used to you,” I say. I try to think of some way to steer the conversation away from Diana. Out of desperation, I ramble on about the batch of napkins that came in with “Starbunks” printed on them. As I’m talking, I think back to those first dates with Susie, when I needed a crowbar to pry anything out of her. She was so shy back then. Only after she lost her virginity did she come out of her shell a little. I wonder what she’s doing tonight?
When I stop talking, Gina tells me about herself. Appropriately enough, she’s a geometry teacher at the high school. She used to live in Kalamazoo, where she went to some college. I start to tune out her words, keeping one ear tuned for any sounds from Diana. My cashew chicken is getting cold, but I’m not hungry.
After dinner, Gina says, “You know, I didn’t have the wrong order this morning. I just thought that would get your attention.”
“It sure did.”
“I’ve been in a few other times, but I don’t think you saw me before today.”
“I’m sure I would have remembered if I had,” I say. Her round cheeks blush at this compliment. Now I’ve got her lined up in my crosshairs.
She doesn’t need a lot of convincing to get into bed with me. I unbutton her blouse and am disappointed at the raggedness of her areola and the ovular shape of her nipples. So much for symmetry.
Gina turns out to be a banger. She keeps banging her head against the headboard. I wonder how much protection her thick halo of curls gives her, which makes me think of Brooke. Where did she go tonight? Probably to a club to look for Todd’s replacement. I stop pumping Gina at the thought of Brooke bringing home someone even worse than Todd. I should have gone with her to screen her dates. Anyone she brings home could wind up being Diana’s stepfather; you can’t be too careful.
Gina’s headbanging gains momentum until I’m certain she’s about to come. If she doesn’t soon, she’ll knock herself out. Then I hear Diana start to cry. The sound freezes me in an awkward position. “Harry,” Gina whines. “You’re almost there.”
Diana’s crying becomes more plaintive. I remember that horrible day when she had the ear infection. What if she’s coming down with something again? I start to pull out of Gina. “What are you doing?” she says.
“I’ll be back in a few minutes,” I say. I run across the hall into the nursery, naked and still hard. It’s a good thing Diana is too young to understand these things or else she might be traumatized. She flails her tiny limbs in the air, her crying growing more intense. I can smell why she’s so upset. The stench coming from her diaper is worse than a pile of corpses left to rot in the sun. “Christ, how did you manage that?” I ask her, but she has no answer.
“Harry? Are you almost done?” Gina calls from the bedroom.
“Sorry, I got to give her a bath now,” I say. To get rid of a stink like that requires more than a baby wipe and some talcum powder. I might to get out some steel wool and a can of air freshener.
“A bath? How long is that going to take?”
I stomp back into the bedroom and open the bottom drawer of my dresser. I rummage around various toys I’ve collected over the years to find a hot pink vibrator. “Here. If you’re really desperate, use this.”
She throws the vibrator back at my head. I duck in time for it to strike the dresser and shatter. She starts to gather up her clothes, mercifully concealing her ugly breasts. Looking at her now, I’m not sure what I saw in her. I must be getting desperate. That’s what happens when you haven’t gotten laid in well over a month. “Creep,” she says to me before leaving.
I pick up the vase of flowers to hurl in the direction of her car. The vase shatters on the driveway, spraying roses in every direction. “Whore!” I shout after her.
I stomp back to the nursery to pick up Diana and take her to the bathroom. She’s still too small for the bathtub, so I wash her rear in the sink. She makes a gurgling sound that is almost like a laugh. At least one of us is happy.
I’m drying Diana off when Brooke appears in the doorway. She’s not crying yet, but she looks ready to at any moment. I’m afraid to hear the answer when I ask, “How’d it go?”
“Rotten. I feel so…old,” she says. “Old and fat.”
“It’s going to take some getting used to,” I say. “You just have to give it time.”
“Why don’t you go change and take a little nap? I can handle this.” Brooke looks at me a moment as if about to argue, but then shuffles towards her bedroom. I set Diana on the counter next to the sink to put a fresh diaper on her. “The first thing you need to know is to never give in to weakness and desperation. You always have to be in control,” I tell her. If only I had taken my own advice with Susie, things would be better off right now. For both of us.
Was that good for you?