Thighs and Thunder

by by by Edward Friedman

Sometimes when he was lonely and tired and depressed his gigantic thighs would talk to him, whisper sweet nothings into his ears and softly knead his genitals. When it was a girl he would throw on Janis Joplin and mourn his loss and sing along about taking another piece of his heart— he would really belt. All the while his big, soft, forgiving, faithful thighs would comfort him. Once he spent many days in this sort of state of terrible anguish. He listened to the Joplin song nearly twenty five hundred times. And then the anguish and torment faded slowly into inertia. He didn’t get up because he hadn’t been getting up. Janis kept singing and his thighs were still loving. Finally, he got bored of being bored and got up.

His muscles had lost much of their facility, except in the thighs, which had remained active during the long sulk. But his calves, feet, arms, abdominals, etc, wobbled, and he had a hard time getting out of the bedroom. Instead of being sinewy, he was unsinewy. He was jello-y and sore. He stumbled, staggered through his bedroom, out into the hallway. He went to the bathroom and threw up a little and peed. Then, with no semblance of grace or ease, he lowered his head to the mouth of the faucet and drank capriciously—gulping, feeling his thighs throb and seethe with pleasure. Like he’d read in a young-adult fiction about a guy in a plane crash who finally found water in the form of a fetid lake in the woods in which the one-passenger prop plane had crashed, and drank so much water and threw up— he drank so much water he threw up. He drank more water.

He recalled narratives of Allied soldiers liberating Auschwitz, Buchenwald, etc—soldiers giving sliced ham to prisoners fed only on cabbage soup for months. Their stomachs couldn’t handle the substance of the hardy, proteinaceous nutrients and some died. He didn’t want that to happen to him. But he’d only been moping for seven days in his bed, not dying in a concentration camp, so he felt bad and guilty for making that association. He heated up some tomato soup and ate it with a spoon and some stale bread.

What had her words been exactly? You need to lose weight. I slept with your [little] brother. I’ll take you back or rather let you take me back if you want, but come on— have some self-respect. Something like that.

He shaved, cut his nails, took a shower. Naked, he looked in the mirror. He’d lost a little definition in his week of inactivity, but he’d also definitely lost weight. This was some sort of consolation.

“Gaunt heroin chic” his thighs told him, and he smiled. They were gigantic as ever. Donning a soft jacket over a tee shirt and above cotton pants he went outside. Something had been purged of him and her to him. The beauty of her eyes and hair, stomach and bellybutton, breasts and ass no longer held him enchanted. Objectively appreciable, of course, but emotionally poisonous and deformed like an old photograph that has warped and faded, not into something interesting and vintage-y, but rather something dull, irrelevant and maybe even sinister,  a photograph that reminded you that you had lost a long time ago the most important thing you would ever have in your life and you wouldn’t be happy again.

But unlike a real old photograph, this photograph-analog seemed to have spread its deformation and dullness to all the other photographs— like a blight (but with pictures), disseminating an air of danger and disinterest.

He bought some coffee. “She’s cute,” his thighs whispered of the barista, and she smiled. He returned her smile coyly, but his heart wasn’t in it. Motor control still not up to capacity, he spilled a little coffee while adding milk to it and looked around, embarrassed. No one saw, and his thighs sighed with relief and pity. Outside with the less-than-all-the-way-full coffee. He sat on a bench and watched people walk by. “Look at her,” they said, and tugged at and tickled his scrotum. She was pretty: not-too-blond, not-too-wavy hair tucked behind nice ears. Yet, he was unmoved.

He sat and drank his coffee, watched and waited while his thighs softly wept