The Lisa Diaries

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The Lisa Diaries by Lisa Carver  

Think of Me Under the Butterdish

June 3, 1999

“I think you can get anything you want, from anyone. When we met, I was repulsed by you. I didn’t even want to take you out, and here I am marrying you. Now I’m going to have say to Matt, ‘Lisa wants me to give you a blowjob. I don’t want to do it, and I know you don’t want to, but Lisa wants it to happen so it’s going to happen.'”


We were in a parking garage in New York City beneath Matt’s apartment complex. I’d never met this Matt before. I had no idea if Dave meant it, if we could really engage in sexual activity with this person, or if this was part of Dave’s elaborate, ongoing punishment plan. But even if he thinks he’s just teasing me, I thought, there’s always the possibility the joke will go too far. This night could go in any direction.


We were nervous, and staying in the car seemed the safest thing to do. We exchanged worst one-night-stand stories, then I told him my favorite prostitution tale, where the coked-out big man tried to rape me and I punched him in the nose and Carl my pimp came sauntering out with a pearl-handled revolver and the other prostitutes and I (in babydoll nighties and spangled bras and feather panties and heels) chased the guy away, and then Carl got his guitar and closed the lounge early and we all sang country songs together.


“What?” Dave said. “Wait! You were a prostitute?!”


“Oh my goodness, I can’t believe I never told you. It was a long time ago. I try to always mention it on the first date, but I guess you and I never had a real first date . . . Do you mind?”


“No, I like it. It’s mysterious. I wonder what else I don’t know about you.”


I started to answer, then screamed — a man in a suit was thrusting his head through my open window. “I wonder too,” he said.


“Lisa, this is my friend Matt. Matt, Lisa.”


“How long have you been standing there?” I asked.


“Sorry about the suit,” said Matt, “I’m coming from work.”


No wonder these two are friends, I thought, they’re both congenitally incapable of answering a question.

* * *  

Dave and I followed Matt into his apartment, which had hardwood floors, high ceilings, arched entryways, and a decor which I believe is called minimalist industrial. I really love that look (and men who wear ties around the house too), but an extreme tension had sprung up immediately between me and Matt — a hostility and competitiveness totally uncalled for — and I’d be damned if I’d give him a compliment, or anything at all but a hard time.


“Your light cover on the ceiling looks exactly like an upside-down butter dish,” I said. “Doesn’t that drive you crazy, knowing it’s up there, looking exactly like a butter dish about to fall down?”


“I’m barely ever home, so I don’t have a chance to notice it,” Matt rejoined. “I only sleep here. Work fourteen-hour days. Eat take-out. Haven’t had time to cook in over a year. Can’t take vacations to Italy like you and Dave — the council pretends the whole company would fall apart without me. It’s a ridiculous way to live. I should be more like you.”


What a braggart! And what was with the no-pronouns? Were we to understand he was so busy he didn’t have time to say “I” at the start of his sentences? Anyway — I wasn’t about to let him shift the conversation off that butterdish and onto his prestigious position.


“Still,” I said, staring intently at the offending item, “when you’re lying in your bed at night, you know it’s out here, waiting, looking like that . . .” I hoped he’d start thinking about it late one night, and then start thinking about me. I hoped both of us would annoy him: the butterdish and me.


“If you ever stayed here,” he said, “I’d unscrew it for you.”


A come-on? In front of my fiancé? How dare he! He even used the word “screw.” I didn’t know how much, if at all, Dave had “set things up” beforehand. But no matter how much Matt had been led to believe he had rights to my body and time, the fact was, upon meeting him, I instantly hated him. It wasn’t just the butterdish light cover I was opposed to — it was his entire existence. If Matt wanted to put me in a good mood, he’d have to unscrew not only the light cover for me, but his whole personality . . .


I interrupted myself mid-silent rant: he was pretty good-looking, wasn’t he? He looked as if he’d ordered all his features from GQ — except for those funny little ears sticking straight out of his correctly-cropped hair. They made him seem very alert in a kind of silly way. In fact, those ridiculous appendages were endearing, and I did not wish to be endeared.


Currently he was trying to impress me and Dave with his knowledge of economics. I happened to have read a book on economics the week before, which gave me just enough information to disagree with him. I didn’t actually know what I was talking about, but my suspicion was neither did he. We were just two arrogant people trying to determine who was the most arrogant of all. Dave was smiling a little, not saying anything. I asked how he and Matt met (fifteen years ago!).


“Oh, I don’t want to tell that story again. You make it up,” Dave said. He was on one side of the couch and Matt on the other. I was in the middle. The couch wasn’t very big. There were other chairs in the room — there was no need for Matt to have taken the spot next to me. I’d picked up a magazine to flip through to look like I was ignoring Matt when he talked to me. It lay on my lap, open to a spread of bear traps. I pointed to a small trap and said, “When you were boys, Dave set this trap out in the woods and Matt walked into it.” The men laughed. Then I pointed to a big, evil bear trap with all different-sized teeth. “Then once he had you, he used this one on you!”


Matt said he had something to show me. It was his Leatherman — seemingly a pair of pliers, but actually a very tricky Swiss army knife. There’s nothing that gets me going more than a slyly concealed set of tools. I took my own credit-card Swiss army knife out of my purse and demonstrated its functions. I told my trapped-in-an-elevator- and-I-save-everyone-with-my-flat-miniature-tools fantasy, and in telling it so animatedly, my thigh somehow got to touching Matt’s. Dave was up against my other thigh. I couldn’t stop playing with my shirt buttons, getting so worked up I had to go to the bathroom. Dave told me later that when I left the room, Matt just slumped down, exhaled hugely and said, “Damn!” Then said something complimentary about my ass.


Upon regaining my composure in the bathroom, I tiptoed down the hall to spy on the men in their natural state. Dave was slouching and easy like always, and I felt an undulation of love like I do every single time I see him. Matt was sitting bolt-straight, running his hands through his hair hard. With me out of the room, he let his nervousness show, and I realized he wasn’t GQ at all. He had taken his suit jacket off, and with the gray shiny pants, pressed white shirt and tie and those ears, he looked exactly like a Catholic schoolboy. Except he wasn’t a boy, he was a man, a really rich man, with thirty men under him on the job — men who had to do what he said. And he wanted to unscrew his butterdish light cover for me. I seethed in my hiding spot. I was just supposed to fool around with him, not want him. What a mess.


“What did you think of the decorating scheme in there?” he asked upon my return. He sounded genuinely interested in my opinion on the bathroom.


“Either stick with the black ’40s art deco or go all the way with the wussy lilac,” I said. “You end up with half of both and none of either when you mix them up.” (Meanwhile, I grew up in trailer parks and still had a Dokken poster hanging in my bedroom at the age of twenty-nine.)


“I knew I should’ve never painted the window frames lilac! If I paint them black, will you come help?”


“I don’t want to help you, but I’d watch you do the work.”


“That’ll be great! I’ll buy you that Bruno chair you said you liked in the magazine — you can sit on that and watch me.”


Matt had wrapped himself up and handed the package to me when threesome etiquette required at least one more hour of power struggles and insurrection. For the big-city man to be so thoroughly tamed by eight o’clock didn’t leave us with that much to do for the rest of the evening but have sex. If all I wanted was good, easy sex, I would’ve stayed home with Dave. The men on either side of my thighs were looking all too certain about what would happen next. So I stood up abruptly and said to Matt it was very nice to have met him and to Dave I said, Let’s go. Then I marched to the door.


Handsome, professional, lithe, urbane — I got the impression Matt hasn’t had to wait much in life. I was prepared to teach him what it felt like, even if it meant I had to suffer through my own lesson too. All games aside, though, this had turned out by surprise to be a dangerous situation. I sensed a threat to my relationship with Dave, and for perhaps the first time in my life I thought inaction might be the best route to take.


Matt shook my hand goodbye, and when he didn’t linger over it like I was sure he would, I almost said, “Nevermind everything — let’s just go to your bedroom right now.” Instead, I said his name — Matthew, not Matt. I fully intended to make a sharp exit, but could not keep my hips from making a “want it now, hard, on the floor” figure-eight as I walked away.


Lisa Carver and