The Lisa Diaries

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The Lisa Diaries by Lisa Carver  


June 11, 2001

How Antelopes Do It

I took Bernadette to Carabella’s, my favorite bar — the one where all the
roofers go. I ordered two Jack and Cokes and made her drink both (I was
driving). She said, “I knew you’d take me somewhere. I was going to ask you
to, but I knew you would anyway.” I thought, Well she is cocky, isn’t she?
When a tired, carless woman at my party wanted to go home, I was elected to
drive her, being the most sober. I’m not sure if I asked Bernadette to come
along for the ride or she somehow made it happen. She looked so hopeful,
with her round eyes and her way of always leaning forward. A couple of
months ago, Bernadette sent me one of her paintings. I think it’s me
and Dave, only my arms are very long and so are Dave’s buttocks. I wrote to
thank her, and then we started writing every day or so, but I write to a lot
of people and I didn’t think much about it. But now here she was, in her
proper chignon and ruffly white shirt, telling me about when she lived in
Guam. She was standing on a dock, she said, looking into the water
when a barracuda leapt out and bit the tip of her finger off. She kept lying
— or not really lying, just making things up — and then she’d do this thing
with her hands in front of her face as if she was erasing all the stories so
she’d have a fresh start to make up more. I knew I should be returning to my party, but I’m a dutiful and prompt person — it’s so rare that anything makes me want to be rude, I think that when I do want to, I should. So I kept sitting next to this strange creature who made no sense,
waiting for what would happen next. “You have a halo around your whole
body,” I said. “Oh, that’s from living near Three Mile Island in the late
seventies,” she answered.


Suddenly we heard: “John, don’t take your coat off! No, John, no!” John
was a very large, very drunk man. Apparently when he takes his coat off,
that’s when trouble starts. John bumped someone with his stomach into the
next room; there he threw him into a table and broke it in two. Everyone was
screaming and running. Men and women together dragged John back into our
room and tried to get his coat on him. “Goddam it,” wailed John’s skinny,
haggard woman, “when is the nightmare going to end?” But her heartbreak
moment ended as soon as it began, and she realized that the violence had
made her amorous. She and John started humping against
the bar. “Oh no,” said the barkeep, who hadn’t bothered to help break up
the fight, “that’s not happening on my bar,” and he joined in the efforts
to get John in his leather coat. Everyone pushed John and his woman
out the door like they were a gargantuan couch to be moved.


Bernadette sees portents in everything, and magnetic strings between
people and events. She thought I’d arranged the fight for her; she thought
John and the rest of the patrons were actors. On our way back to the
car I struck up a conversation with a wobbling man; he turned his head while
walking away to tell us, “Life is good” and he walked right into an
oncoming truck. Luckily both truck and man were going about one mile per
hour and the man was unhurt, but a few minutes later a squirrel ran straight
for another truck and was not so lucky. Bernadette claimed I’d made both of
them do it.


I turned the car engine on, then I turned it off. I turned the radio on. “Do
you like Journey?” I said.


“That’s a really funny question,” she said, and I realized it was the kind
of thing a boy asks someone he’s scared to kiss. Every second felt like
the moment I’d do it — I knew just how I would — but it kept not being
that second.


Then, when I didn’t think I would, I did it. I pushed her shoulders
against the seat like I’d imagined doing forty times in the last half-hour,
and her shoulders yielded as if they were made of water, and so did her
mouth. She kept putting her chin down like antelopes do when they’re ready
to fight, down almost to her chest. I’d go down below her head and push her
back up with my lips pushing hers — it must have felt like very bossy
kissing — and then her head would dip again. I knew I was about to move
down her body — I could picture it — but without intending to, I pulled
away into my own seat.


I took my first really good look at her. The shape of her mouth, her nose. I
had no idea about her breasts, in her bank teller blouse. I could have felt
them now if I wanted to, but I didn’t want to grope her in the half-dark.
They, and all of her, are going to be — in some way, from time to time (not
all the way, because she loves someone else and so do I) — mine. I knew it
as well as she’d known I wouldn’t take her straight back to the party.


I was expecting the party to be as rowdy upon our return as it was when we
left, but only a few guests remained and they were quiet and
worried. “Where were you?” they said. “Dave’s out looking for you two — we
all thought you were dead.”


I thought Dave knew what I was doing. “That girl’s trouble,” he kept saying
all evening, in reference to Bernadette. And since he’s always trying to get
me to run off with a lady and I never have in our three years together (not
alone, anyway) and since he loves trouble, I thought “That girl’s trouble”
meant, “I wish you’d run off with Bernadette.” But Rachel told us
the other night about her third grade teacher, who never married until she
was fifty-five, and finally she stopped being a “Miss” and became “Mrs.
Halley.” Life was good. Only a few months after the wedding, Mr. Halley was out driving and some reinforcement beams slid off the truck in front of him
and went through Mr. Halley’s windshield and through Mr. Halley’s head, and
he was dead. Even though this story is twenty-five years old, and even
though we are thirty-two, not fifty-five, it really scared Dave,
who, like Bernadette, feels buffeted by omens and hidden forces. He was sure
I’d been killed by a truck tonight, but I told him no, it wasn’t me this

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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