Notes From A Boner

I wrote this to maybe read at last night’s (EPIC!) Story Club, but the name-draw for open mic slots did not go my way. Still, I didn’t want it to go to waste. So here, without ado (and without comments enabled , b/c it’s a performance piece, not a discussion piece) you go.

Notes From A Boner

They pop up from time to time on Facebook. Time-stamp 3 AM, from an old friend I used to mess around with in college. “Hey, what’s new? I was just thinking about you.”

I bet you were, buddy!

Sometimes they show up in the film class that I teach. I play a clip from Soderbergh’s Out of Sight, to show how color temperature isn’t just a technical thing and you can manipulate it to create mood. “What did you see? What do you think?,” I ask the students.

Every time I do this, a freshman boy says something like “She’s sooooo hot” or better yet, “She used to be so hot,” referring to Jennifer Lopez, who frankly kills it in this role. The girls and gay boys don’t say anything about The Clooney, and I quickly change the topic to “What did you think ABOUT THE LIGHTING” while delivering my best over-the glasses disapproving mom look. The one that says “It is I, Queen Femicunt¹, First of her Name, Khaleesi of the Bitchrealms and the Isles of No Funnington.” I want that boner to slink away and think about what it did. But its presence still lingers. Every clip I show, I now have to think about from the point of view of a taunting, persistent boner.“You’re teaching cinema, I see. Did you know that nearly everything ever created in this medium was designed to make ME happy on some level? Muahahahahaha!

Sometimes the notes from boners get delivered on the street, or on the eL. “Smile!” “You should smile more!” “Hey baby, where’s that smile?” and if I don’t smile, or I smile like this (using two middle fingers to hold up the corners of my mouth),“Bitch!” “Fat bitch” “Ugly bitch” Here I was, walking around, grocery shopping, registering to vote, minding my business. I didn’t know I was making the boners sad. Fortunately The Committee for Boner Rescue and Repair was on the case to educate me. I imagine their letterhead, with Notes from a Boner! Stamped! at the top, ready to deliver humbling memos to grateful citizens everywhere.

Sometimes I write back back to the boners. Like, when I tried to sell my bike on Craigslist, and a guy sent me a dick pic from hisrealname@wherehereallyworks.com. Not wanting that boner to go to waste, I shared it with humanresources@wherehereallyworks.com. Boners are spontaneous. They live in the moment. They don’t always think things through.

Or, you know how sites like LinkedIn will try to get you to plug in your whole email address book when you sign up? Yeah, never do that. Because if you do, every single person you’ve ever emailed in your life will get a request to “connect” on LinkedIn. Like me, that girl you hooked up with one time six years ago. And if I get that request, I will write you recommendations. “Not a leader, but takes direction well.” “A workmanlike and thorough attention to detail.” “Extremely dedicated to his work! Goes above and beyond to close the deal!” That last one was for the guy who tried to sell me his TV the next morning while I was looking for my bra underneath it. “Do you like it? Come by Best Buy later, I can totally hook you up.

When I wrote the rec, he wrote back “Thank you!” and still displays it on his profile.

I’m thinking (hoping?) he has no memory of who I am.

Boners and I have had a pretty great relationship, at times. When I first met one in the wild, my high school boyfriend and I were pretending to watch David Lynch’s Dune. He’d just taken off my shirt AND my bra, the first time anyone had done that, and suddenly suddenly this boner, felt up gingerly through a pair of acid-washed overall jorts, was giving me a LOT of information like HELLO, YOU ARE GREAT, MAYBE THE GREATEST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN WHO HAS EVER LIVED LET’S STAY LIKE THIS FOREVER. It was a level of approval I was not used to. A mutual appreciation society I was happy to join.

I joined up for real in college. So many boners! So many that seemed to like…me! Some that were attached to people who also liked me (which is by far the best place to get one’s boner-supply), though figuring that out was pretty confusing for a while. Like, clearly your boner likes me more than it has ever liked anyone, how is that not translating into true and lasting love? Maybe if we just try that again it will work and you will become addicted to me, Jennifer, the human, and we can also talk about books and go to museums and fall asleep together holding hands? No? Maybe again? Once more time? Let’s check, just to be sure. The dick is not directly connected to the heart, you say? Okay. I get it. Are you really, REALLY sure, though?

Or sometimes the opposite could be true: We could like alllllll the same books and stay up all night talking and dancing and being kindred spirits like in Anne of Green Gables but the boner would be totally silent on the matter. Reluctant. Shy. Gay as (movie version) Gilbert Blythe.

Nowadays things are much less confusing, at least in my personal life. I’ve achieved Boner Congruence, where my favorite boner is attached to my favorite person, and that’s that. Or it should be. But I feel like I can’t escape from boners and their stupid bonepinions². In my class. On my commute. Being merrily stroked in my general direction on the corner outside The Green Mill. And in every. freaking. internet discussion, there they are. Fucking boners. Women can be discussing literally any topic, and dudes will come interrupt to tell us how it makes boners feel. Sometimes they want to reassure us, like, when we talk about being fat as a feminist issue, or the constrictions of conventional beauty standards, they chime into say “But I like bigger girls.” Well thanks, Internet Stranger-boner! That totally makes up for every bad thing women have ever experienced at the hands of the patriarchy, which definitely for sure does not include you. Other times women will be talking about particle physics or literature or their very responsible jobs, like, running the world and stuff, and the boners feel left out and confused, so they just say completely inane stuff. As if “I would/would not do her” is the one true standard on earth.

Sometimes the boners want to warn us, as in “Maybe that HitlerBieber³-looking dude out in California wouldn’t have shot so many people if some chick had just touched his boner. Guys get so lonely, you really don’t understand what it’s like.

Are you fucking serious, boner-owners? There is not a disapproving mom look IN THE UNIVERSE that is withering enough for this. Imagine being That Girl for a moment, the heroine who sacrifices herself so that others might live, delivering the sad lifesaving handy to the twisted boy with the guns in his murder van. Buffy the Boner-slayer. The Chosen One. Do you think it stops there? Do you think she gets to walk out of that van, out of that relationship, alive? Best case scenario she just postpones it for a little while, and then when the shooting starts, it starts with her.

I guess what I’m saying is that I need the boners to shut the hell up for a while. PEOPLE can speak, just, try to go like a month without letting your boner chime in to offer its thoughts on whether someone is sufficiently hot. Please. I beg you. Because everything that made boners lovable – your enthusiasm, your vulnerability, your indomitable spirit – is now just making me tired. Put the letterhead away. Stop telling me what I can do with my face, with my body, with my attention, with my time. Stop poking yourselves into every conversation, nook, and cranny. DEFINITELY take a seat during all future elections or serious discussions of grownup things that actually affect the way we live our lives. Come out singly, one by one, with your tiny invisible boner-hands in an attitude of surrender, when and only when you’re specifically invited to contribute. Until then, go sit in the corner and think about what you did.

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1 Credit: Cliff Pervocracy

2 An opinion that hijacks a conversation (or a person’s day) to offer inane and irrelevant commentary on appearance and sexual attractiveness. For example, catcalls, every article ever about a woman politician that discusses her clothes and hair, this science reporter’s “fan” mail. I imagine, whenever I encounter these, that the speaker or writer has delivered the comment a piece of paper with “Notes From A Boner” stamped proudly at the top.

3 Credit: Robin “Miss Conduct” Abrahams

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