Tsipi Keller
Spiders


Arachnologists tell us that for most species in nature, a husband's place is in the digestive tract of his wife. I know very little about nature, let alone spiders, but I do know about husbands (three so far) and stomachs. As a little girl of five, I said to my mother: “If you put a dime in my palm every time you tell me a way to a man's heart is his stomach, when I'm eighteen I'll have a nice dowry to catch him with.” My mother laughed and stroked my hair and said I'd grow up to be a bookkeeper. And she was right! I work for Lilinbaum & Lilinbaum and make a good enough living, and with moneys collected from my exes and wisely invested, I'm not poor.
As an aside, let me provide a short and relevant history: my first two exes perished under my care.The third, a mistake and a virtual cliché,eloped with a cleaning lady from Guatemala.
Still, I am not content. At moments of respite like now, I sit in the cafeteria of L&L and, over a modest lunch of greens, ponder when and how we veered off nature's path. I watch my fellow-workers (yes, most of them are fellows) in their suits and brown shoes and eat my heart out. It's silly and futile, but I can't help it. In my own small way I'm a scientist, a kind of an investigator (instigator!). I watch them and conclude: They don't look it, but they must be clever. Or, more clever than us females. For, excluding my own quite satisfying record, if anyone ends up in the digestive tract of the other, it is usually the female in the male's.

Then, just like that, it hit me: God exists! And, since He made man in His own image, He was naturally sympathetic to male issues, exhibiting a characteristic ambivalence toward females, whores and saints alike.

I sneaked a glance around me. Great revelations pulsed through me, and I wondered if their impact showed on my face. My boss was sitting at the next table, reading a pamphlet and cuddling his balls under the napkin. Ours was an open and tolerant firm, all creeds and religions were revered, and every Friday at 4pm, we gathered in the board room for a toast and a brief, open-ended prayer.
As an aside, let me admit right here lest I forget: If I had balls, I'd be cuddling them , too, for they are soft and bouncy and handy.
It was only Monday, and here I was, awash in religious awakenings. I wanted to stand up and reveal myself, share what I had just experienced, but common sense-the proverbial: “There's a time for everything”-prevailed. I finished my salad, then joined my boss for an exploratory chat. He had just divorced his wife (no one knew why), and I thought I might as well get started on number four.





Tight Schedules


1. Privacy
“Sunday, July 19, slept, awoke, slept, awoke, miserable life” - Kafka in private diary.

2. Sashimi
She slept in intervals of two hours. She went to bed at one, woke up at three, then at five, and rose at seven. One night, at the 3am awakening, she woke with the notion that she was in fact a Socialist, if not in ideology, then in strict discipline. She was regular, perfunctory, persnickety, her extravagant needs checked in at the nearest vacant registry. Her best friend called her Sashimi. Did she seem raw to others? Fishy? Often, her breasts ached, her nipples stood high and dry; her eyes, in contrast, felt moist and soggy, her lids drooped with excess skin à la aging Charlotte Rampling. A plastic surgeon stepped forward, offering a hand, a scalpel, and a “Let me help you,” but she waved him away, politely. There was nothing to do but endure-without fail, this centuries-old axiomatic wisdom always rose at seven with her. They had coffee together, shared a couple of non-menthol puffs, and went about their day. It wasn't an especially good day, and it wasn't an especially bad day. It was a day like the rest of days, L'écume des jours, so to speak, and so on.

3. Character Assassination
She had a reputation, some people thought her nice, some people thought her not-so-nice, aside from which she knew herself to be fiercely territorial, and over what? A square of dirty pavement? She sniffed her own piss, but the pissing of others brought on nausea and primitive/aggressive tendencies. She didn't loathe them per se, or for long, after all they were human, maybe even in shorthand “decent people,” but their constant comings and goings, the noise of their cheerful everyday was more than she could bear. Often, behind the attractive door of her shut bedroom, she stuffed her mouth with a fist, thrilled and maybe appalled by her mad vehemence. Boris Vian stood by her, Kafka stood by her, even Dorothy Parker conceded a nod. What the heck? she thought. Might as well fill in the blanks.




Liver


She was on a crusade to save his liver. He said, Careful there with CRUSADE — remember Bush?
Later he said: Don't worry about my liver, there's more of me, you know, touch other parts.
So she did.
Most often, it felt good to touch his other parts.
Sometimes his other parts revolted and shrank.
She shrank, too.
Feeling inadequate, lacking, even though he kept insisting it wasn't her fault, but his. Something to do with enlarged prostrates and shrinking libidos.
So she concentrated on other parts of his immense body.
Usually, the middle of it, which was hard “as a rock.”
Hallelujah! - she chanted.
Ditto! - he echoed.
God Bless America! - they chanted together while watching baseball.




Post-Op


Post-op she is laid out on a white pillowed bed, so pure, says the nurse, so virgin-like, maybe a corpse, though breathing.
The patient lies between them. Like a shroud, she wants to add, but lacks the need. She knows there are two of them, two nurses, hovering over her bed like…angels? She wonders why they discuss her like this, possibly aware that she is awake.
Even her feces, the nurse whispers. So delicate, so beige-like, like a puppy's, or a newborn's.
Finally-the patient thinks. Nearly good enough to eat.