June 28, 2002

Bookmark

I stumbled on some of photographs on the Internet of my ex-girlfriend having sex. This was on a porn site. Naturally I hadn’t expected to find photos of her there, and certainly wasn’t looking for any. But even if I had been looking, I wouldn’t have found these particular photos because she used a pseudonym.

Jennifer Joy.

Lord knows how she came up with that. I find it embarrassing. There are photographs on the Internet of my ex-girlfriend fucking some guy with dyed blond hair and a tattoo of a chain around his bicep and she’s calling herself Jennifer Joy. Probably the name was someone else’s idea, but even so she agreed to it. Besides agreeing to the photos.

Sadly – and this I noticed immediately – she wasn’t aroused. Not to pull rank, but I happen to know how she looks when aroused. She gets splotches. I wouldn’t have known I knew this, but as soon as I saw the photos, I found myself searching for the splotches.

A few years after we broke up, I spotted her on the street, a good two hundred feet ahead of me. I recognized her by her walk, which I didn’t know I knew. The splotches are the same. You know certain things without knowing you know them.

The worst part was her pubis. I mean the hair. She had shaved everything but this tiny vertical strip above her labia. That’s the style these days, to shave everything but this little landing strip.

After we broke up, the first thing she did was buy a flank steak and grill it on our neighbor’s grill. When we were together she was a vegetarian – we both were – but as soon as I walked out the door she became a carnivore. The same day. A mutual friend told me about the flank steak. It turns out that she had been a vegetarian because I was a vegetarian – to please me, I suppose. I had no idea. Once I learned this I began to wonder how else she had fooled me. It’s a terrible thing to wonder about your ex-girlfriend, because of course there’s no limit. Which words, which moments, were lies? Which may have been lies but hopefully weren’t? Which probably weren’t but hopefully were?

Seeing that landing strip made me think of the flank steak, because it struck me that perhaps the man in the photos, who I presume to be her boyfriend, wanted her to shave that way. On the other hand maybe she chose the landing strip herself, having seen it on other women. But even this depresses me. How many women shave their pubic hair this way in order to appear desirable to men whose idea of what is desirable comes from photos of women who have shaved their pubic hair this way?

Doubtless I’m lamenting the loss of something that never was. It wouldn’t be the first time.

They used the doctor’s office bit. In the early shots he wore a lab coat and had one of those round strap-on mirrors on his head. The office (it was a real office) had diplomas on the wall and an examination table. All the action revolved around the table. Sometimes she was on it, sometimes he was, and in a few shots they were on it together – precariously, it seemed.

I found myself fixating on the fact that I had done these same things with her, although never on a table and never with a photographer circling us. Strangely, though, I couldn’t remember any of it. That is, I could but I couldn’t. She was there – under me, over me, in front of me – but I couldn’t feel her there. It was like watching a film shot from my perspective but with her removed, just an empty space where she had been. Except that what was missing wasn’t her but my feelings for her.

I’ve made her into a ridiculous character with flank steaks and landing strips. It’s unkind. And it’s only possible because I’ve forgotten her. As I knew I would.

There were these moments when we together – moments of closeness, of feeling connected and happy. Whenever it happened, I would recognize it and tell myself to remember it, because even as it was happening it was slipping away. And now it’s gone and all I remember is trying to remember it – an effort I knew would come to nothing, as it has.

There’s more to say, I’m just not sure right now what it is. I’ll probably go back and look again. I bookmarked the page.