The Biggest Sausage
June 2, 2000
Lately my whole body feels rubbery, like my lips when I try to blow up a ninety-nine-cent beach ball. I’m in a chair, alone all day, typing, practically fleshless. I try to picture what’s between my legs, under my pants. Is it a comma? A spiral? A Spanish exclamation point? No it’s just negative space. I don’t want Dave to find out I lost my flesh. When he grabs me I say, “Get out of there!” I think he must be thinking of someone else’s crotch, since I don’t have one. The light goes off and I sink into the bedding that hasn’t been changed in a while. Dave bravely makes a second attempt and I say: “Get off me, you ape!” I’d rather look mean than pathetic.
I yank off one of the blankets and go watch TV. It’s a Reba McEntire special. At one a.m., Reba seems enviable. She barrel jumps; she acts with Kenny Rogers; she’s pretty. She sings that song about a friend with AIDS that everyone in the country community said was “taking a chance.” I feel absolutely certain that Reba McEntire never misplaced her body. I am the only, lonely one. I can’t wait to leave.
I step off the plane, and the ladies look like they’re coated with hairspray from head to toe. Airport lights pick up the microscopic metals in their face powder. Gold earrings, gold necklaces, gold bracelets (emerald and diamond accents), anklets if they’re young enough, and rings. As if you could pile on attraction. Or maybe they, too, feel like they have balloons for bones, and the jewelry is there to hold them down. The black ladies are fine. Attitude is a ramrod in their spine. They are thin; their necks are long. Sharp teeth under soft lips.
I step out of the airport and into the humidity to find my shuttle bus. I am helpless under this enormous weather. It’s a body-sized tulip petal enfolding me. No, it’s a fat landlord in a wifebeater . . . sweat drops off his forehead onto mine . . . the jarring scent of his cologne . . . I shake off the landlord as the bus arrives. Down south, I think I could learn to luxuriate, to wait.
One of the tight black ladies boards the bus first. She must be a model. Or a TV weathergirl. She’s wearing a black skirt that goes to the floor, but it has slits so high she might as well have on a bikini I know her legs that well. She spills orange juice in her pocketbook and her cellphone stops working, so she demands to use the driver’s phone. She is very annoyed when he says no. I stare straight ahead, keeping (I think) a vaguely friendly expression on my face. “Hello,” I venture. Silence. Finally she answers, not looking at me: “It’s freezing in here.” It is. Going from the air-conditioned airport to the heavy outdoors to the freezing shuttle bus, I feel sick. The driver makes a turn and I smell sweat rising from under his arms.
Last time I was in Atlanta, ten years ago, I saw the biggest sausage in the world. Right there on the deli counter for sale; it must’ve been forty feet long, all coiled up. When I told people about it, they didn’t believe me. I’m here on a writing assignment, but at one a.m. I decide to take my new friends on a Sausage Hunt. One of my fellow hunters keeps doing coke off a key. I call Dave on Coke Guy’s cell phone to ask for permission to take a little jaunt on the white pony (Dave says no). I call back to keep him updated on the Sausage Search, then to talk about how wide open the sky looks here. I hold the phone out so he can hear the whippoorwill. It’s more than I’ve talked to Dave the entire last week. Coke Guy’s car is a convertible; I pull the humid night into my mouth. Dave tells me he reached a new level in Donkey Kong and had pasta for dinner. Hearing about my old life over the crackly line that keeps going dead, I am filled with such a longing.
Lisa Carver and Nerve.com, Inc.