Art by Nisha (@nishaghani)
If I were powerful, carefree, and not a 20 year old woman of precisely 5 feet, I would have ground up his frail masculinity in a mortar and add it to my daily protein shake.
He was a big guy two years my senior with a big dick attitude and an excessive use of deodorant that fake-smelled like shampoo. He dated my pretty friend, a fact that he paraded around like his second greatest achievement next to winning first place at the national sports competition. Long story short, he was a major dick. It was the most humid summer in Japan in years. We were celebrating the end of an intense training camp with beers at the training facility’s cafeteria. He was a boisterous drinker that usually surrounded himself with likewise, I was not, but the devil played cards that resulted in me sitting right in front of his glazed eyes, sandwiched by his cronies. A sheep among wolves in the context of the seniority system and leery gazes. Rancid breaths. Bare arms plaster together like velcro as we sit crammed on a long stool, calves brush against mine like an accident. Explosive guffaws at a mimicry of an absent teammate that limps, lurid narrations of another’s romantic plight, approximately eight percent of the banter exaggerated into a scandal. I don’t speak the language but I sure do try to fake it. I go he-he-he and nod like the ticking of a clock. Damn these people are pro at spotting people that don’t belong. They probably took courses on Efficient Bullying: Picking the Right Prey in high school alongside algebra. I pray that my imitative art renders me as ‘one of them’ during this torturous ordeal but of course he notices.
“Hey,” he says after a long swig, eyes red from beer and slitted like Voldemort. “Why are you showing so much of your tits.” Shit, I think. This grey shirt I ordered online because I wanted something loose to lounge around in. I chose a larger size for comfort so the neckline must be too wide for my form. It was my first time wearing this after purchase, I should’ve tried it on before going public. Uh, I reply. I try to conjure up a smart self-deprecating remark about my lousy taste in clothes but the sudden silence at the table freezes my thought process.
“You tryna be sexy?” He snorts. “With that flat-ass body? Really?”
An explosion of laughter, fists banging the table in hilarity. My intestines thrusted into ice-cold water. I watch everything pass by in slow motion as I attempt to orchestrate my risorios, zygomaticus major and other face muscles to form a smile, he-he-he. No idea if it succeeded. You on the right snickering, I lent you train money when you forgot your purse at home! You at my diagonal front, I thought you were nice because you helped that granny cross the road! I am doused with the glare of a humiliating spotlight that seeps through my worn-out underwear, surrounded by suit-clad judges that points out every pores and neglected arm hair, too small chest and too short legs with too big thighs. Too much, too much, too little, too little. He-he-he. Their next procedure would be inviting a Victoria’s Secret model to stand beside me for clinical comparison.
If I were powerful, carefree and not a 20 year old woman of precisely 5 feet, I would have ground up his frail masculinity in a mortar and add it to my daily protein shake.
I would smash the brown beer bottle on the ground, pick up a tinted shard, dig it into his crotch and twist, twist, twist. His high wails of agony would be a lullaby for my ears, as the glass scratches against his dripping fly. What do you say now, I would taunt him. How does your inflated dependence on your dick feel now.
But the legacy of patriarchy, conformity, and toxic masculinity all joined shoulders and towered over me. So all I could do was to cower and curl up until they walked away in victory, satisfied with my defeat.
After the party ends I slip to the bathroom and check out my T-shirt’s goddamn neckline. Something I couldn’t recall earlier in the midst of panic was that it was actually a men’s T shirt. The typical neckline for men which did not even reveal a hint of my collarbone. When I got home I threw it right away.