...a black hole of virtuality.
A man is balancing himself on some bedroom furniture in order to hang a shade on one of her windows. She appreciates his help since she has been unable to get that shade to stay up by her own efforts. Since her husband moved out, many small things have gone unattended, although she did replace some sewage pipes in the basement. The man has spread his legs at an odd angle in order to keep his balance. He is naked, and as she doesn’t know him very well and his back is turned, she lies in bed and watches him with interest. How did he get there? You could say she imagined him into existence, and it’s true that she did hope, after her husband was gone, that someone else would show up to help. But she did not imagine this particular man with his springy-muscled, dark-furred thighs, who has materialized out of the miasma of the online dating world, taken off his clothes, and now in the morning climbed on her couch to hang her shade. And at some level she did not imagine that any particular man could emerge from that swamp. It seemed a place of clashing, overheated fantasies, of infinite regression and disappearances, a black hole of virtuality. But here is something the opposite of virtual. The couch he is climbing on dates from the beginning of her marriage, which it has now outlasted, and was re-upholstered when she and her husband moved to their new house. In the old house her husband used to lie on it with their cats. The marriage and the couch went on so long that many tiny animals died in its interstices, which perhaps accounted for the way her husband used to sneeze, scattering the Sunday papers and the cats. He wanted to buy a new couch and move to a new house; in general he favored newness while she liked familiar things. This was a source of quarrels between them. Ultimately they did buy a new house and couch, but it didn’t help. Now someone who doesn’t know that her green corduroy couch used to be blue or which cat lived and which got tragically run over is clambering around on the couch’s back, hanging a shade—without a quarrel in the world to pick with her. She wonders if her husband might have been right after all about new things. This man’s legs, for instance. The endless years of being married, the long-lived cat, the good old couch: was any of it more interesting than this man’s thighs? Springy-muscled to the touch. Something new on earth.
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