You Can't Touch Me

by Lisa Solod

Kim Farmer has seen Jesus. He has been between her legs. How he got there God only knows. But there he was, sucking and pulling and chewing and licking, trying to burrow himself a place back from whence he came. Kim's Jesus was really an actor from the Baptist college down the highway, who had spent most of his life playing The Great One in the Passion Play, but he looked like all of His pictures.

*

First love is like a light bulb. At least it was for Kim. At twelve, she watched a boy change the bulb in the living room of the small rented cabin she was sharing with her family on the sands of Cape Cod, and when the boy put the spent bulb down to go and get another, she quickly pocketed it. That rattly piece of frosted glass sat on her bookshelf at home until she went to college. Love, once switched on, never quite completely burns out, even if the filament seems damaged beyond repair.

*

Kim once met a man who had a couple of teeth missing. All Kim wanted to do every time she looked at him was to put her tongue in those blank spaces in his mouth.

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Kim finds herself often attracted to men who don't bathe regularly. A few months after she marries her husband Marc she says to him: Don't you think you should shower every day? Then she wonders why she no longer wants to burrow in his armpit.

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Kim slept with a man once, just because he was famous. The experience was as expected: his work had already brought all the available pleasure.

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Kim's son Matthew comes running into the house screaming Na Na Na Boo Boo, You Can't Catch Me. Kim says: That's not Nice. Matthew says with clear incredulity: Then don't listen, Mommy.

*

Ostriches are probably completely happy animals.

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There is an artist Kim meets who moves his art around all the time. Each day it is different. Kim thinks: If I loved him, I could love a different man each day.

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The first time Kim saw the man who would be her husband she thought he was the most beautiful man she had ever seen, or would ever see. She was right about the first part of that sentence.

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Here's how you know you are starting to turn into your mother. When you go out on a walk, you pick the flowers in the field. When your child cries for no good reason, you say: You want something to cry about, I will give you something to cry about.

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Matthew spends a lot of time hurling himself down the porch stairs. Kim says: Matthew! That's dangerous. Matthew says: Just don't watch, Mommy.

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Kim often reads stories about women who abandon their children, so that she can feel superior to them.

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Then she begins to wonder: Could I leave my child?

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Could she take him with her?

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How much does she wish to know about herself? Can Kim imagine being all alone with the object of her affections, the man of her attractions... just all alone, no child, no other life to live but his: a life with him, for him, always in contact with him? Can she imagine always touching him somehow--a hand flat out on a thigh, a fingertip pressed into the fleshy part of the arm, shoulders barely nuzzling each other's--or even a less obvious kind of touch: maybe love just taking up all the space between you so that it feels like you are touching?

*

Beauty is skin deep only when you don't know someone.

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Here's how you know you are turning into your mother: When you think about leaving all the time.

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How you know you are turning into your mother. When you stay.

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How you know you'll never be your mother. When you don't regret the decision to stay. When you don't give your child something to cry about.

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Outside Kim's kitchen window one morning a convention of what she thinks are wasps circle, circle. They may be mud daubers. One or other won't hurt you; one will. But how do you know which is evil and which benign? Someone told her once of a six-foot long snake that hung from a tree like a movie version of itself. It was harmless, he said; it's only a larger version of a black snake, a brother to the ones that run through her garden, the kind the cat picks up in his mouth and plays with--like Wild Bill Hickock with a rope. But how do you know? How can you discern which winged beasts, which slithering reptiles, will hurt you and which won't? How do you learn?

*

You learn.

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You learn that even the spaces between teeth can bite.

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Then you find you can banish the wasp, the mud dauber, the black snake yourself. Or you can get someone else to do it. But either way, the demon can be got rid of. He can be made gone. Made to rest in space.

*

Kim's husband laughs as he bangs away the nests, sprays more chemicals against the invading hoards. They will have to have their destructive convention elsewhere. Marc says: Do you think this will affect my karma in any bad way? Kim says: Not with me, baby. Not with me.

*

Matthew comes running at the fleeing wasps, teasing them, getting close, backing off. Kim wants to say Careful, They Will Sting You. But she watches instead. Matthew yells: Na Na Na Boo Boo, You Can't Catch Me. And Kim thinks: If you believe, Matthew, you're right. She goes out to taunt the winged beasts with her son.


Copyright 1995
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