TESS

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Tess’s novella-in-progress

Opening Sentence (Round 1):

Don’t believe the sugarcoated fiction that a girl should sit back and wait for the right boy to traipse along, because the hard truth (and if any place will teach you this it’s merciless Manhattan) is that if you don’t hunt for your man, you’ll end up with a sewer rat, not a golden stag.

Opening paragraph about interactions on the Web – 300 words (Round 2):

Quality guys are like four-leaf clovers: you may find one by accident, but you probably won’t. I used to hunt with my girlfriends at bars, house parties, gallery openings, etc. but that always led to dead-ends. I’d bag what seemed like a nice boy but then some trashy Facebook-related quarrel would ensue (now it’s Twitter) or I’d discover his romantic side was crippled from too much online porn or he’d claim his life was “complicated” and he was “too confused to commit” (as if he were the only one with doubts) or he’d spring an “I haven’t gotten over her yet” cliché when things got intimate, or it’d be apparent he only wanted an easy lay with an easy way out, which is what all boys’ excuses amount to. (You may as well know this now: My name is Trisha, I’m 23, and I’m a virgin. I’ll do everything else—you almost have to nowadays—but only the right guy gets to plant his flag into my South Pole. I’ve heard it 1000 times: “It’s twisted,” “You’re giving boys access to the wrong portal,” blahblah, but I just have my way of doing things. Some things are sacred, others aren’t. And, no, I don’t have Christian hang-ups about preserving premarital virginity. I’m just quirky :) ). In 2008 I thought I’d try the online scene. Soon I was virtually dating a dozen boys (ego boost) though I had to weed out some freaks who’d start instant messaging about their penises after the first ten minutes. It was mostly platonic but some included webcam stripteases (firsthand advice: ensure your head is off-screen unless you want to come across your face on an amateur site). But it wasn’t until early 2009 that I finally decided to go real world with a virtual boy.

Incorporate the death of a dog – 400 words (Round 3):

If you want my personal opinion, lesbians have it better than us straight girls. I wasn’t expecting ‘virtual boy’ Ashton to be any Kutcher in person, but he managed to limbo under even my lowest expectations.

We met at Yoshi. We’d chatted previously over Skype so at least there was no sad blind date awkwardness like in the Stars song “Personal” (those lyrics kill me every time). He hogged most of the table, leaning on it as if those eighties wannabe elbow pads were dinner cushions. His beard, which once seemed rugged, soon became a storehouse for nori and rice.

Though he’d invited me out and ordered twice the sushi I did, he expected us to split the bill. It was no better when we went to meet my girlfriends Liz and Deb at Lolita. He said hi, saw that their drinks were empty, and scurried off to the bathroom. God forbid he buy a round. If he hadn’t vanished to the bathroom, he probably would have “realized” he needed to go to the ATM.

I shouldn’t have gone to his place afterwards but I was curious to see his room. It was small and sad. You can’t tell over webcam.

Now that he didn’t have to pay, he was all about plying me with vodka tonics. Then he started telling me about how his parents’ Basset hound, Hunter, had just died and how “devastating” it was for him.

It was such a transparent sob story. He was trying the death-of-the-family-pet line just to get pity sex out of me or a consolation bj or something. Sure, I overreacted. It didn’t help that I was drunk or that I was slightly PMSey or that Liz and Ashton had been flirting openly at Lolita, right after I’d bought them drinks.

Whatever it was, I went off. I told him he was a sleazebag who was just using Hunter’s death to get me naked and that he should just go to a whorehouse but, oh, I forgot, he’s too stingy for that. I don’t remember what else I said but I pretty much tore him to shreds. Then I grabbed my purse, downed my vodka to show him what I was made of, and stormed out.

By the time I got home he had already unfriended, unfollowed, and blocked me. Amen.

Weave an element of Fyor’s story into your passage – 450 words (Round 4)

Liz called me the next day to ask if I’d go with her to a “classy sex toy shop” in SoHo called Kiki de Montparnasse. She wasn’t kidding about the classy part. It had a dimly lit mansionesque interior hung with original Richard Avedon and Man Ray photos. Even the dressing room was velvet-draped. The place had style. Style with a price tag. One of their titanium “dilettos” went for almost $4000 (dildos had been renamed “dilettos” and sex toys “instruments of pleasure”).

I knew Liz wanted lingerie to jumpstart her boyfriend, who had zero sex drive. They did it like once a week. Maybe that’s normal if you’re married with kids but she was 22 and ready to spend half her waking hours spread-eagle. She was always going on about it.

From inside the changing booth, Liz said, “So how did it go with Ashton last night?”

“I told him he was a stingy prick who only wanted a cheap lay.”

“Are you crazy? I liked him.”

“Yeah, I noticed at the bar.”

Liz parted the velvet curtains and popped her head out. “You’re kidding right? I hopeyou’re kidding.”

I said, “Come on, nobody said flirting with your friend’s date was illegal.” I was this close to saying I’d give her his number since he, unlike her boyfriend, might actually get it on with her.

“Yeah, and nobody said wanting to have sex was illegal either. You should have gone for it.”

“I’m waiting for the right guy.”

“Waiting! Waiting! I haven’t even tried any backdoor action yet and you’re saying you’rethe one waiting!” Liz broke into laughter. “You’re the weirdest girl I’ve ever known, Trisha. God bless you.”

“I’m straight as an arrow compared to the boys I’ve found on the Internet. I’m done hunting boys online.”

Liz said, “I just read about some guy in an Internet cult who stuck his dog in the washing machine.”

“See what I mean? Freakoids.”

Liz stepped out of the booth in a black lacy bodysuit. “What do you think? It’s $200 off.”

“Turn around.” She did and wiggled her hips. “Makes your bum look nice.”

“How about my boobs?” she said, turning to the side and cupping them from below. They projected, that’s how big they were. Like 99.99 percent of big-boobed girls, Liz always wore low cut blouses so boys could gape at them. It was annoying but I tried to remember she didn’t have much else to work with.

So I said, “They say come and get me.”

She forked up $185 and bought it. Nothing changed in her sex life. She should have taken my advice and gone for a diletto instead.

Fourth Fiction Challenge 5Incorporate this image into your next passage – 500 words (Round 5)

It’s lame how relationships only go so far anymore. Liz’s asexual boyfriend broke up with her. He needed “space to figure out his life,” which was such a teenage breakup lie that I laughed over the phone when she told me. That didn’t help. I felt bad so I took the F-train to Fort Greene to see her.

It was the usual post-breakup healing session of red wine, red eyes and ragging on boys. I told Liz to be choosier. I said, “Your first mistake was picking a younger boy. Always go older.”

I barely ever visited Brooklyn so the next morning I went for a stroll. The brownstones reminded me of the Upper West Side but hipper and less upscale. I found a cozy coffee shop called Tillie’s where I started reading the *must read* Liz gave me, Female Brain.

A tall brownhaired boy came in and sat on the stool beside me. He had the latest Time Out, the sex issue: “your guide to getting off, in every borough.” Please.

He smiled when he saw me looking at the cover. So sleazy. I was wearing my red skirt and he kept glancing from his Macbook down at my legs. That and at every girl’s bum who walked by. He tried to be subtle but it was so obvious.

Finally, he leaned towards me and with this cocksure grin said, “Female Brain… Sounds like complicated reading.” You could tell he thought the world of himself.

I said, dryly, “Very.”

“Maybe you’ll share one of its enigmas with my uncomplicated male brain?”

I was so fed up with these self-assured outgoing alpha boys. They were always only after one thing.

After a pause, I said, “Women have a larger hippocampus, which is responsible for emotion and reading expressions…”

He was staring at me and nodding earnestly, like I’d said something riveting. It was so transparent.

“…Our brains evolved that way to help us detect danger from larger, more aggressive cavemen. For example, my female brain is telling me to sit somewhere else.” I grabbed my latte and purse and relocated to a table at the far wall.

Our neighbors had witnessed the diss so he didn’t stick around long. I didn’t feel bad. I watched his bum on the way out.

I returned to my reading. When I looked up, a man was sitting opposite me at the table beside mine. He was cupping his coffee, staring into space.

He must have been ten or fifteen years older than me. There was a brooding contemplation about him, a combination of intensity, sorrow, intelligence, worldliness and despair. He had a slight lazy eye, which accentuated his haunted expression. The eye seemed to look right at me, or more like through me, but he was so consumed in his thoughts he didn’t notice me. I couldn’t tear my gaze away. This was no boy. This was a man.

In that moment my hippocampus knew it. He was the one.

Incorporate a White Russian and the words “over the line” into your next passage – 500 words (Round 6)

My god was he hot in a dark-and-dangerous way (even being white). His cell phone went off, one of those bottom-of-the-line ones without Internet. It was so 90s technology, on him a total turn-on because it showed he had deeper things on his mind.

He answered, “Hi Trish.” Talk about finding something to start chatting him up on! Not that I ended up needing it.

By his businesslike tone I could tell my namesake wasn’t a girlfriend or anything. She was blabbing on. Finally he said, “It’s not your fault. Let me talk to her.” After a pause, his deep voice softened. “Anna, love, it’s daddy, what’s wrong…”

Oh. My. God. My heart melted right there. Literally. Nothing is sexier than a grown man talking sweetly to a child.

He said, “I know you did, love. It’s okay to go over the line. That’s why we have lines. To cross them. No more crying, okay, sweetheart? Good. I love you, banana. I know you do, honey. Be nice to Trish. She wasn’t being mean. See you in an itsy-bitsy bit.”

By now I was going all tingly. When he hung up I took the chance. I said, “Strife in the household?”

When he looked over at me, his lazy eye confused me. I wasn’t sure which eye to look at. It was a total faux pas but I ended up alternating between them.

He said, “My daughter got upset because the babysitter asked why she was crayoning outside the borders.”

I knew it would sound forced, but I had to find out. I said, “She sounds like my sort of girl. You and your wife must be so proud.”

He looked down at his coffee. “I’m divorced.”

Jackpot. The more he told me, the more the sexiness factor went through the roof. Not only was he older (experienced) a dad (provider) and single (available) but he was also an assistant professor at the LIU Brooklyn Campus (smart) in African-American literature (open-minded). Hotness.

He was more interested in hearing about me than talking. Unlike boys my age, he didn’t think he was the hottest thing since iCupcakes. I asked if I could sit in on his class. He said on a lecture, yes. He gave me the place and time and even wrote his number. Ka-ching!

He had to prepare for class so he excused himself. I didn’t want to sit there staring so I stood up to go. “So what’s my homework, professor? I wouldn’t want to come to class unprepared.”

He pulled from his leather bag a photocopied poem, Black Cop and White Russian, by Bobby Byrd. I flashed my eyes at him and said, “Sounds transgressive…” I hardly ever come up with lines like that on the spot.

On the way out, I swung my hips. It’s a cheap trick, but let’s face it girls, it works and it feels good. I could see his reflection in the glass door as I walked out. He was looking.

Incorporate a Homicidal Clown– (taken from Omar’s story) – 600 words – Round 7

I’ve never been one for the poet type of boy, at least not the stereotypical kind who wants to discuss “Rimbaud and Verlaine” over absinthe (not because he likes their poetry but because he likes the thought of liking it) (and same goes for the absinthe) and who doesn’t know how to dress up or dress down for occasions because all he wears is shabby old brown jackets because that’s what he thinks poets should wear because that’s what they wore a century ago, which is only because that was their best clothing back then.

Not that we girls are any better. Whether it’s Amy Winehouse with her silly beehive hairdo or the burlesque comeback or whatever, it’s all about copying the past. Our only cultural contribution is tattoos on our lower back (and even tramp stamps have been passé for a decade). Either my generation is really insecure or really boring or really unimaginative because we’ve got nothing of our own. It’s sad.

Though I was rearing to hear Ryan, I didn’t expect a poetry lecture to do much for me. Boys had tried explaining poetry to me before but I never got it, probably because they didn’t get it themselves. Reading poetry made me feel just as dumb as when I couldn’t get a “smart” joke. But Ryan was so eloquent and clear that he gave the poetry legs. As he stood at the lectern with his lazy eye reciting lines I felt that *he* was the poem.

After class his fan club of undergrad girls (of course) bum rushed his desk. He fended them off one by one until the two of us were left talking alone in the lecture hall. I pulled a bright red apple from my sling bag and put it on his desk. I said, “Thanks professor” and winked.

He said, “Trisha, have you ever read IT?”

I nodded.

He said, “I don’t know how you feel about Pennywise, but there’s an off-Broadway play performing this week called ‘Deconstructing Psycho Killer Clowns.’ It’s based on the cultural critic Mark Dery’s theories on the archetype of the Evil Clown and has received great reviews from reliable critics. I was thinking of going Friday. Interested in joining me for some carnivalesque Friday night evil?”

So just like that I had a date with the prof in four days (which still ended up not being enough time to read IT…). Double exclamation mark.

The red apple was key. Passivity gets you nowhere. Guys might have gone for that Goodie Too Shoes type who stands shyly in the corner with blinking eyelashes back in our grandparent’s day but that’s all gone now. If we girls all stood around waiting, the species would die off. Back then you didn’t have to hunt. Boys did the hunting.

Now it’s the boys who stand around, lacking confidence, not even opening a door for you, mumbling at their feet about the equality of the sexes and how there’s no differences between them, etc. They’ve turned generosity and gallantry into a women’s rights issue. Until they start shaving their legs and wearing lacy thongs with pink hearts they should lay off their penny-pinching excuses about the lack of differences.

Not that Ryan was like that. He opened doors for me, paid for dinner, paid for the play, paid for drinks, and paid for the cab ride back to his place afterwards. After that, it was my treat.

Incorporate betrayal (given by Tony) – 600 words  – Round 8

“Favorite things” by John Coltrane was playing as I snuggled up to Ryan and caressed his bare chest. I normally never do that because it gives boys the impression that they’re manly protectors and that we’re frightened little schoolgirls who need comforting or something. I know some girls love it but I can’t stand it when the first thing that a boy does when you lie with him is put his arm out and expect you to just crawl up into his embrace and start purring. Not that they ever do it if you extend your arm for them. I’ve tried that tons of times. One boy did, but it was totally awkward for him. Not that Ryan ever put his arm out. I’m the one who asked if I could lie on him.

I loved how he had a bare chest. Not that I don’t like hairy chests. I totally don’t mind them. I’m just so tired of all the girls that once whined about boys that had even the thinnest coat of fuzz (not that it ever stopped them from giving it up on the first date) and now go on about how boys with hairy chests are the sexiest thing around just because they started watching Mad Men and they’ve gone all girly over Jon Hamm. What a bunch of total sheep we are.

That’s what I loved about Ryan. He wasn’t like other boys that I dated. No nervous awkwardness or any smug I’m Such A Studboy self-consciousness about him. There was something mysteriously alone and self-contained about him.

It’s like he recognized just how hideously lonely our times are even though we’re constantly texting and calling and IMing and tweeting and friending and whatevering. Because, let’s face it, these are all impersonal short lived interactions. So not only are we never connected in any meaningful way but we also no longer have time alone so that we don’t even know who we are anymore. DIY Internet may have turned us all into self absorbed, self promoters, but we’ve lost our selves in the process. It’s totally ironical.

He never pushed his luck like some guys do when they drink a lot. I’m the one who made all the moves and told him to just close his eyes and lean back and enjoy it. But after that I told him I wouldn’t respect myself anymore if I broke my personal principles on waiting for the right one (I didn’t hint that it was him). He just smiled and said, “You’re a quirky girl.” It’s like he *understood* me. Not that I couldn’t still surprise him. I totally caught him off guard when I told him we could do something else instead. He didn’t foresee that coming. I was quirkier than he realized.

Afterwards he was lying and staring at the ceiling, or more like staring at both the ceiling and the wall because his lazy eye had gone unhinged again. Total hotness. I loved it because I’d noticed that the more something was on his mind, the more his eye strayed. It was like the outward expression of his inner turmoil.

I said, “A bj for your thoughts.”

His good eye looked over at me. He said, “I need to tell you something.” He looked away for a second and then looked back. Then, as calmly as if he were stating that he was vegan or a fruitarian or something, he said, “I’m married.”

*TESS WAS ELIMINATED AT THE END OF ROUND 8

Tess’s Farewell Statement

Sayonara, everybody. My intuitions *knew* I was getting the royal flush. It was totally 100 percent my fault. You were so right, Jodi. I could have been more devious with my betrayal challenge :(

I ran out of words last time but this is how the part with Ryan would have ended:

“I’ll spare you the drama of the broken glass and yelling. But if my initial reaction surprised him, when he went to school two days later he had the shock of his life. I plastered photocopies everywhere on campus saying “MWM professor looking for SILFs for after school extra credit” over an iPhone photo I took of him in his apartment.

He resigned and left town. Apparently he tried playing it off as a hoax but finally the humiliation tore him to pieces. Too bad.”

I know it’s mean but I didn’t want you thinking Trisha forgives and forgets. It’s so wrong when that happens. You probably thought Trisha was autobiographical. I do share tons in common with her but really her story was a warning. Sometimes the person you *know* is the one just isn’t.

I wonder if the real hunt isn’t finding the “right” boy but winning *unconditional* love and loyalty. Not that there’s much of that anymore with every escapist fantasy and online bride and “one night friend” just one click away. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll flee New York and run off Into The Wild and live off the land and hunt animals instead of boys (though I hate guns so maybe I’ll use a slingshot or bow and arrow lol). That’s *my* escapist fantasy.

I’m so going to miss all of you guys. I almost got teary eyed when I found out it was me. Thanks for all the great advice about weaving in dialogue and showing not telling and not overusing “that.” I know it sometimes looked like the advice went through one ear and out the other (without passing through anything in between lol) but trust me I remember ALL of it.

Host, you rock for doing Fourth Fiction. Get your motorcycle fixed and take me for a ride! And no, that wasn’t innuendo! (at least not intentional) roflmao

I so *heart* Colbert. I totally think he’s the smartest man alive. And how sexy is he in camouflage? Total hotness.

Too bad I don’t get to do this challenge round.

Ciao ciao. Tess.

P.S. Trick not Treat! My farewell (p.s. included) is 444 words. Just wanted to *reveal* that I incorporated all four challenges 😉 (emoticons count as one word each). See you all in a blue moon! (next one is in December lol) :)