You are a plum, she said, ripe for the picking.
As if on cue my cheeks start glowing, flaring, pale becoming pink, flushing – and I imagine my cheeks turning into plums on a bush and her hands reaching out to grab them and the mutated plum flesh slipping down her throat going into her stomach and her stomach turning plum.
She thinks that I am reacting to her compliment because I am happy with what she said and because we are playing the flirting game.
I let my mind go like a yo-yo to think about plums and how much I like the fruit.
I think about the barista who served me this morning, the way his cheeks glowed pink too, and the way mine did when I saw his, and we did not have to exchange words but began the dizzy dance of delight – taking turns to blush. Every time I go in and I pay for my coffee, he stamps my coffee card not once but three times, we say something stupid about the weather or about burlesque, and he puts way too much chocolate sprinkles on my usual large cappuccino and I run dizzily down the street to work, my cheeks still glowing pink.
And then Cathy the receptionist sees me and thinks I am blushing because I am once again talking to her, the beauty she is. She thinks I am a darling boy and she’s the mother and I’m the son; she thinks that I am someone to conquer, she the tiger on fire and I the mouse in need of cheese.
But I like boys, I finally tell her. I like boys! Only boys! I’ve always only liked boys!
Oh! Oh! she says. Her lips open in a wide O, a chute for all the plums, the outline of the plum seed, a hula hoop of humour.
My cheeks are aflame with a bounty of plums.
* * *
For Justin, with love and boysenberries
3 April 2013