1001 Dates

Polly Duff Bresnick


I'd like to go on one thousand and one dates. That would be two thousand and two breasts. Two thousand and four including my mother's. I'll go on a first date and tell the girl my mother was the first lady. And the girl will say, Your father's the president? And I'll say, No. I mean something different. I'll try to explain and then I'll understand that even if the girl doesn't get the joke, I won't hold it against her. And then I'll ask her, in earnest, "If I told you you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?" And she'll blush, and I'll admit, in earnest, that someone once did hold it against me, roughed me up against the broad side of a paint-chipped old barn. I'll say her aim was terrible. Couldn't hit the broad side of a paint-chipped old barn that we all imagined falling over if anything ever did manage to hit it. If I can get a first date with one of the cashier girls at Dress Barn, I'll ask her if she was raised in a barn.

I'll tell a girl on a date that looks aren't everything; that it's who you know that really counts, because I know this is how to get into a real woman's pantyhose. I'll say, Who does a guy gotta tickle to get some service around here? I'll turn to a girl and say, You?

I like to sashay through aisles of nylon and rayon and polyester at Dress Barn. I like to smell the bosomy perfumes of one thousand and one scarves and then stuff one down the front of my jeans to present to a girl I'm courting.

On the second date I'll confess that my mother is deeply involved in her Wiccan practices. That I grew up in the church of darkness with a kitchen full of frogs in jars and incantations. Inappropriate ablutions in the bathrooms of my childhood were said to protect me from unwanted spirits.  Incense smog souped over the port-o-potty stench of all the stewed hair-of-dog and pickled fingernails and weed-green tinctures. I'll admit it all with slurred consonants against her ear.

I'll wait till the third date to invite myself in. We'll sit on her stained couch and I'll move my hand from my dark and humid saxophone to her pale taut timpani. I'll wink and brag forth about my musical talents. I'll bore her with my ornothological pursuits. Tell her I'd like to take a peek through her binoculars if she knows what I mean, and she does. I tell her to watch the birdie and then I take her picture again and again and again and again. I'm hoping to capture soul language in stop-motion, but her face stays still, and the fleet of frames, later, look like a corpse repeated or one thousand and one blind-from-birth dolls.

Our penultimate date falls on my mother's birthday, which falls on the Autumnal Equinox, which falls on Halloween. "Wouldn't it be nice," I sing to her in the broad side of daylight, "To be joined in holy mortality? Is the pageant of love so different from the pageant of death? Will you marry me, my dear, and be my gibbeted bride?" She mewls with feline aspirations. "Quit quoting Shakespeare!" She shimmies her flesh to punctuate the first syllable. Instead of correcting her, I trace the trail of a blade around my neck, then stab the finger towards her. I call my love a downy virgin. She cackles in the unflattering light of the moon. I wish we were wolves.