The Lisa Diaries

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The Lisa Diaries by Lisa Carver  


Under the Table

March 22, 2001

“I felt Liz’s leg at breakfast,” Dave said, and I became very still. We were in our living room doing a post-party wrap-up, and it was a noisy, happy affair like gossip always is — right up until this. I probably turned white or purple or maybe yellow.


“At breakfast,” I said finally.


Dave nodded. He looked scared. “I thought you’d be proud of me.”


“You really can’t blame him,” said Ari, who had no reason to look scared, but he did. “These open relationships are always confusing.”


“Oh, I can blame him,” I said. “I can blame him for interpreting, ‘My feelings are hurt, I changed my mind, stop pursuing her’ as, ‘Grope her thigh at breakfast.'”


“You have all these rules, Leese,” Dave said, stronger now with Ari on his side, “and you think they make sense, but they make no sense at all. And they change all the time.”


“That one’s obvious though, Dave,” Rachel weighed in. “Groping thighs in broad daylight while your wife chews on an omelet is just plain revolting.”


Dave decided to go to the bathroom, his head hung low, and Ari revealed in a whisper that he’d gotten an erection over our squabble — he liked how Dave’s voice shook and dragged when he told me the bad thing he’d done.


“Aw, baby, I was just trying to do what you wanted. I didn’t know,” Dave said when I followed him into the bathroom, and then he told me how pretty I am. A former choirboy, Dave mistakes himself for a mercenary or maybe that insane guy that Dracula hypnotized — he awaits commands. “He’s so blank,” is how Ari put it, reverently. Dave lurks in the basement and no matter what he does when he’s above ground, he claims he thought that was what I wanted. He always gets it wrong, and then I start crying and he gets a hard-on. He had one in the bathroom, and I suddenly got the thought that maybe he’s not so blank after all. Maybe he arranges these things, he even arranges me to think I’m arranging, so that he can keep doing wrong things and I’ll keep crying and he can have a perpetual hard-on. I’m probably just paranoid, but then why is it that when I told Dave he could do something with Liz, he didn’t, and when I told him he couldn’t, that’s when he did?


I know things get confusing when they’re sexy — and I know I encourage states of confusion (I’d left the bathroom door ajar when I went in there to hiss at Dave because I thought Ari would like it). Liz does the same thing — she gets people and motives and desires they don’t even know they have all tangled up in each other. She boasted to me that she’d pulled my hair at the party — she told me how I’d spun around and there were so many people crowded on the stairs that I didn’t know who’d done it. Moonchild, Liz and GrantI can see the humor: “I’m going to take all your husband’s attention and hurt your scalp.” I could tell a joke like that. But all the party-goers were that way.


My step-grandpa was a bad man with a great boat. He’d take me and my mom out on the boat, and I could sleep inside the movement, unattached to the land, unattached to the possibility of accomplishing something. That’s how I felt at the party. In the middle of a sea of schemers, what could I do? I was just happy and oblivious. Apparently, Grant was at third base with someone named Moonchild while I yapped away to him through a beaded curtain, unaware. And at breakfast, I didn’t note that I hadn’t seen Dave’s right hand above the table for twenty minutes.


Our friends pity Dave — they think he’s a good-natured victim of my whims. Even Rachel defends him: “You’re testing Dave over and over, but there’s no way for him to win.” I have no right to be jealous, they tell me, as if once you open the door in a relationship, you should expect your

partner to jump out the window instead, and knock over your things on the sill. Admittedly, one (long) thigh-grope and two meals shared is not a lot compared to fucking a transvestite up the ass or getting jerked off by a six-foot-tall black woman in a bikini, and those things didn’t upset me at all. But this time Dave kept a secret. He lied, saying the pasta he got for Liz was for him, and then he didn’t tell me about the thigh till six hours later, and might never have mentioned it if not for the peer pressure of everyone confessing everything.


He fed her in the night and in the morning . . . the pasta and then that guacamole thing he had for breakfast. Food is really important to Dave, in the way it is to all dreamers. I’ve always liked action, I could never comprehend the subtleties of decorations or clothes or food. I was a bread and water kind of woman when Dave met me. I would have been happy going off to war. In our courtship, when my Weltanschauung was weakened by having sex all the time, Dave convinced me to try new things. Pleasure had always looked dangerous — an interruption in work. And food was the drippiest of pleasures. But I let him drag me all over the city, getting a hot-dog doughnut, a broiled peppers ball an hour’s drive away, and so on until the whole day was gone. It’s the only time he held the reins. I started dreaming about food, and thinking about it when I woke up. When you’re concentrated on by somebody, it makes mundane things esoteric. It sticks secrets into bowls of pasta, and they taste better. To see him feeding someone else, it was like we were apes and he’d broken the hierarchy. I was happy with the hierarchy. How can my friends think they know what’s right — Dave and I have concocted our delicate ape rules, they look like nothing but frowns and inane gestures, but that is our love.

Lisa Carver is the author of the books Dancing Queen, Rollerderby, The Lisa Diaries and Drugs Are Nice. She’s written for Hustler, Index, Icon, Feed, Newsday and Playboy, among others. She lives in New Hampshire.


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