MATING RITUALS

“I don’t like the way I acted towards Barbara last night. I was experiencing her as a very attractive woman, yet the whole time I acted like a single-celled, lower-level asexual organism. When I feel like a man, I want to act like one and not like a polite eunuch.”

“When you say you didn’t act like a man, do you mean to say you were not comfortable being yourself?”

“No, what I mean to say is she makes it impossible. This is our third date and I’m starting to believe she does it intentionally. She emanates superfluous amounts of sexual energy, but it’s as though she has a shield and I’ll get electrocuted if I as much as touch a finger of hers or even lean in too close as I speak. I mean I can actually feel this sort of energy shield – I can’t see it but it’s there and it’s scary.”

“We both know that is unlikely Benjamin.  I do register a high level of anxiety on your part. Do you know what it is you are afraid of? Rejection?”

“That’s the least of it, rejection ha, if only it were so simple. When was the last time you dated Doctor Thompson?

“What about the other woman you are seeing, Emma?”

“She’s getting married soon and that won’t be with me. It’s just great sex between us. We don’t even like each other, I mean she dislikes me a whole lot more than I do her. She hates absolutely everything about me, the way I look, especially my ears, she told me, my drinking, smoking, the music I listen to, everything. But the sex is, was great. I imagine it will be over soon, at least I think so, we never really discussed it.”

“I see. How do you feel about it?

“How am I supposed to feel? Feels like summer is over, you know. Time to buckle down again. Women, so much work really and for what? I mean it’s as though I have to clean up all of Disneyland for 1 free ride.”

“So you’re saying that the women you meet are not inclined to invest any real-time or energy, leaving you to do all the work for just a bit of fleeting joy, why do you think that is Benjamin ?”

“How am I supposed to know that? You would have to ask them.”

“Have you thought that perhaps it is you who chooses these women, for exactly those reasons? I want you to reflect on that Benjamin and I want you to try something.  With women, try not to have any expectations, especially of a sexual nature. Try to get to know the other person and be yourself. Try doing simple things together like going for a walk in the park.”

“What? You mean instead of doing shooters at Hooters?”

“I’ll see you next week Benjamin .”

Benjamin leaves the doctor’s office and heads outside where his friend Tony is waiting for him in a convertible lemon yellow Mustang. He hops in.

Perhaps the saying that the greatest friendship is that created of opposites, might explain Benjamin and Tony’s friendship. Two men made of entirely different cloth and weave. Benjamin is a tight weave, like expensive Egyptian cotton compared to Tony’s weave, which is as loose as a fishnet made for catching big fish.

“How did it go with the shrink?

“There are no immediate solutions.”

Listen to me, Benjamin. What is your objective? Getting chicks?

“It’s not like that.”

“Ok maybe I’m not a gymnast with words  like your shrink, but if you want to score with women you need a dog.”

“Are you kidding me? What would I do with a dog?

“ It’s the easiest way to meet women.”

“While I’m picking up my dog’s excrement. Huge dollops of stink,  that is how I’m going to meet women?”

“Trust me, a cute little puppy will open a lot of doors for you. A shrink can’t do that for you but a little furry puppy, with floppy ears and big doe eyes, can make miracles happen. Besides, if you get a small dog, one that won’t grow too big, they poop like rabbits, small stuff, easy to handle.”

The Mustang pulls up in front of a store window with a large sign that reads, ‘Adopt don’t Shop’.

“ Let’s go in and get you a miracle worker.”

“ An Animal Shelter, Tony? Are you sure? I mean aren’t these all abandoned, mistreated, traumatized, dying, or dysfunctional?

“They have puppies, come on let’s have a look.”

They enter the animal shelter. “See, what did I tell you, there’s a cute pup.”

Benjamin leans down to take a closer look at the dog Tony is pointing out.

“How much do you actually know about dogs, Tony? Just because a dog is small does not make it a puppy. Look at it. It’s so old its eyes look like soft boiled eggs.”

“How about that little guy over there?” Tony is looking at a cage where a perky Jack Russell Terrier is housed.

“See what did I tell you, floppy ears, furry and small, chick magnet.”

Tony is referring to the red-haired young woman standing next to the cage housing the Jack Terrier.

“At least this one is still standing. I’m referring to the puppy,” says Benjamin.

The puppy is wagging its tail, executing little jumps while circling the cage.

“Hello and welcome to our shelter, I’m Wendy, This is Jackie Chan. We named him after the actor, Jackie Chan for his agility. How can I help you today?

“Hello, Wendy. Hello Jackie. My friend Benjamin here is looking to adopt. He wants a dog that won’t grow too big.”

“This breed tends to reach their full-sized framework between six and eight months old, and they typically fill out to their full weight by 12 months old.  Jackie is almost two years old.”

“Right, well I would need to give it some thought. I’m not very good at keeping things alive like plants and so on.”  Benjamin turns on his heels heading for the door when Tony grabs him by the forearm.

“Always kidding around, he can’t help it, he’s a natural-born comedian. Excuse us just a moment.” Tony leads Benjamin away from Wendy’s earshot.

“This one is perfect, think about it. Women won’t be able to resist the colossal amount of cuteness that little furry fella can generate. You won’t regret it.”

3 DAYS LATER:

“There you are, what took you so long.” Benjamin almost pounces on Tony entering his apartment.

“Whoa, take it, easy buddy.” Tony shuts the door behind him with his foot. He is holding a box.

“In this box is everything you’ll need to get a handle on your situation.”

“My situation is your doing Tony. Why did I listen to you? My home can be officially classified as a disaster area. Look, just look around. There is nothing that the dog hasn’t chewed on. That’s not the least of it. I have  been scooping up dog feces and urine off of my floors for 3 days now.”

“Don’t you take him out to do his business?”

“How am I supposed to know when he needs to do his business? It’s not as though he says “Hey Benjamin, I’ve really got to go to the loo!”

“You’re doing that funny voice, Benjamin .” Benjamin’s voice rises 3 octaves when he’s stressed.

“Fuck that Tony. You take the dog, I can’t deal with it, him, whatever. I’ll have you know that I did take him to the park, once. He was dragging me the whole way, pulling on the leash like some big Ox.”

“You just need to let him know who’s boss Benjamin. Dogs can be trained to be obedient.”

“Tony, this dog is possessed. I actually think he is the reincarnation of an old pervert. He pissed on a woman who was napping on a blanket in the park. It was horrific! She was furious at me. I was not the one who urinated on her!”

“He’s your dog, your responsibility.”

3 WEEKS LATER:

Benjamin is in the park attempting to walk his puppy, Jackie Chan. To anyone walking past, it appears Jackie is walking Benjamin.

“What a beautiful puppy.” says a young woman walking past. She stops and crouches as Jackie takes a flying leap towards her. Benjamin loses his balance and trips as the leash violently tugs at him unexpectedly.

“Spirited puppy as well, what’s you’re name? She asks Jackie as she rubs his ears.

“Jackie Chan, on account of his superior agility. He is, you know, more of a monkey than a dog. In that sense. If that makes any sense.” Benjamin is recovering from his fall, dusting himself off.

“The name suits him. I am Chloe, nice to meet you, Jackie.” Jackie jumps up placing his two front paws on her thighs and Chloe leans over to kiss him.

Benjamin can see Jackie is getting aroused. He tugs at the leash and jerks the dog back.

“We really need to get going. Nice meeting you Chloe.”

“Maybe I’ll see you around Jackie. Well goodbye then.”

Benjamin is pulling at the leash and it’s a tug of war.  Jackie barks and cries at the same time, he wants to follow Chloe.

“Well, this is embarrassing.” Benjamin takes a step back as Jackie growls at him.

“Is it your first?” Chloe is amused, Benjamin seems out of his element.

“Is it that obvious?” I had no idea what I was getting myself into. My friend Tony convinced me. But I’m not so sure anymore. It’s as though we speak different languages.” Benjamin is still pulling tight on the leash.

“Just give it some time and you’ll be best friends.”

“You really think so?”

“Having a puppy is like having a toddler, I had 2 dogs growing up. Why don’t I walk with you and Jackie, that is if you don’t mind.”

Benjamin loosens his grip on the leash, his jaw drops by 4cm as he tries to believe his good fortune. Jackie practically jumps into Chloe’s arms.

“Well, that settles it then. Jackie is seriously smitten by you Chloe  and he’s made it quite clear he won’t move unless you come along.”

Published by Maddalena Di Gregorio

“I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in” Robert L. Stevenson

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