Pat was telling me that maybe he should stick his ass over the fence so his neighbor could inject him with testosterone.
"I'm sorry. What?"
I was in the bathroom with Pat. Pat sat on the edge of the bathtub and I was on the toilet, the flimsy plastic lid concaving under my ampleness, and I waited semi-patiently for Pat to shoot himself up. He needed to give himself his weekly testosterone shot, something he hated to do because of that Requiem for a Dream marathon on TCM last week, and he wanted me there for moral support. The bathroom in his small house was very small. He sat two feet from me. On the toilet shelf was a plastic lion that held cotton pads (?) in its paws. I found myself staring at it as Pat talked.
"My neighbor, Nancy, is a nurse. She could probably do this for me. I'll just stick my ass over the fence for her..."
"Just like that book you're reading."
"Sorry, what?" (I was having a lot of confusion, which I hope the reader is also having!)
"You know, where the women stick their asses through a hole in the wall so guys can fuck them?"
"Oh! Lightning Rods! Right, yes, that's what that's like. Mm."
I had told Pat about the weird novel, written in an affectless Asperger's style, about a sex machine that "fixes" sexual harassment in the nation's offices. Think of Bill Clinton, Anthony Weiner, Fred Rogers--what these men needed was a way to take care of their hardwired aggression and testosterone in a lavatory setting, and then they could go on to be productive, non-harrassing members of society! Ha, ha!
"That's fiction, you know. I told you that, right?"
Pat ignored me as he unwrapped the syringe and swabbed his thigh with alcohol. He looked ashen.
"I really hate doing this. But I have to. I just have to."
His judo instructor, a burly lesbian, could lift twice the weight he could.
"Whew. I hate needles. Okay, beveled edge up... It doesn't really hurt. I know it's dumb... But..."
Pat gripped a handful of upper thigh. He blew out a breath. The needle hovered above his feminine skin. I looked at the lion.
"Gregory, can you please tell me a story? It'll help, I think."
"Okay. Uh... There was once a man from Nantucket..."
"All right. Um, I saw my dad the other day. I had lunch with him while he was between meetings and overseeing his statue. He's on the search committee for the new regent of the architecture college. Apparently, the provost isn't getting along with the dean, and the regent hates the chancellor or the deacon or whoever. Right after, I had to go see Mom, who also wanted lunch with me, and so I brought her mac and cheese from Noodles. While she ate, she proceeded to tell me about her Bible study class. About the eight-hundred women, and the book of John. And the rites of baptism according to scripture... It was as if my parents were having some secret contest to see who could bore me more. And it was hard to say who was most tedious. They were running neck-and-neck..."
I glanced at the needle. "Getting there?"
"Almost." Pat blew out a breath. "Tell me another..."
"Uh... Let's see. Donovan, he's the custodian at the library, came up to me the other day and in his lilting Carolina accent told me there's something wrong when people are in the restroom and just making sounds. 'Laahke he down there just 'MmmmmMMMMMAAAHHGGGHHHmmmmmaaaaah! Just going on, 'MmmmmmMMMMMMM! Just sitting on the toilet and makin' those sounds. Isn't that wrong? If you ever hear me like that when I'm doing that, you tell to leave for the day. I mean, who does that?'"
"Three... two... one...!"
Pat pushed the needle in. He slowly depressed the plunger. I watched, mentally hurrying him along. Finally, minutes later, he gingerly pulled out the needle.
"Now you are a man," I said.
The lion winked at me.
"Thank, Gregory. On that topic, will you come to Milwaukee for my bottom surgery? For like a week-and-a-half?"
I opened my mouth to respond--but you'll have to tune in next week to find out what I said! (Spoiler alert: no.)