“You have the personality of a screen door.” That’s what my ex girlfriend said to me as she gathered her hairbrush and the photos of herself that she’d given me. They weren’t nudes, but they also weren’t the kind of pictures you’d send to your uncles.
When someone you’ve had sex with hundreds of times compares you to a flimsy, transparent mechanism made for stopping insects, you have to examine yourself. At first I thought about all the good qualities of a screen door: it’s light, it makes you think of summer, it’s got that metallic smell that some people like (not me, but some people.)
I walk by a park where a mother pushes her child on a swing with one hand. The only sound is the squeaking chain. I don’t want to stop and stare, but I can’t help wondering what she’s thinking. Her motion is monotonous. Sometimes I feel like a woman, alone, pushing a swing.
There are two types of people on this earth, those who are willing to wait in lines and those who aren’t: pushing a shopping cart, half turn of the squeaking wheel, staring down the magazine racks and the candy bars, muddled with color. I often envy essence that precedes existence. I wish I had the essence of a swing. What purpose–what clear purpose–even in name. Maybe every single person on that grocery line is purposeful. Without them there would be no order. Without delay, we would have immediate gratification, and if all gratification were instant it would no longer please us.
Maybe I’m the swing. I require body and hand, and without, I am nothing. I am a device without purpose. And even when I have all the components I need to function, to have worth, I squeak as if being a swing in a park wasn’t baseless enough.
Maybe I’m the little boy in the swing, and I’m being pushed monotonously into the air by a disembodied hand that no longer wants to push me. Am I sure the hand is still there? Maybe it’s been gone this whole time and I am alone, suspended.
Screen doors have plenty of uses. Before screen doors, people would have stuffy houses or else they’d have flies clonking their hairy bodies along the walls and rubbing their prickly pinecone hands together like tiny Bond villains. Maybe there are a lot worse things to be than a screen door.
I remember the last time I saw her. She had all her makeup off. It was in the morning. Her face was red from my prickly beard. Her blonde hair hung down, tangled. She was more beautiful that way somehow, squinting with her glasses off and the sun in the room.
I wish I knew her like that, when she could hardly see me, and I saw all of her. I wish I knew her like that when the sun blinded us both, and all we could hear were the faint squeals of metal grating on itself.