Written By: Claire Grossman
graphic by greer mcgettrick
Break up with your boyfriend. Cut off your hair and sell it to be made into a wig. Tell your friends that you donated your hair to cancer patients. Use the cash to buy one gold coin and one lipstick. Apply the lipstick and put on a blue silk shirt. Button the shirt all the way to the collar.
Go to the grocery store. Fill your basket with oatmeal, milk, onions, popsicles, and seltzer. Smile at the cashier whose nametag says NED. Say to the cashier, “Did you know Nancy Drew’s boyfriend was named Ned?” This Ned will laugh. Learn that Ned drives a Honda Accord and is fluent in Portuguese. Make this Ned your boyfriend. Ned’s nickname for you is “Nancy”.
Think that this nickname is cute for about a month before you start to hate it. Learn that Ned loves “processing” and “being present”. Learn that Ned sucks at processing and hates being wrong. Ned will buy you earrings for Christmas: tiny studs with bezel-set green garnet stones. Be reminded of the earrings you see on Latina newborns.
Tell Ned that you’re a lesbian and you’re sorry. Take the baby-sized earrings to a pawnshop. The clerk will call you “baby” and offer you $400 for the earrings. Briefly consider robbing the pawnshop. Instead, pawn the gold coin you got from selling your hair along with the earrings from Ned. Use the cash to buy a cello.
Take the cello home. Learn to play the prelude from Bach’s First Suite in G major. Decide to name the cello Brent. This cello, Brent, is now your boyfriend. Spend all your free time with Brent. Learn to play Glazunov’s Song of the Minstrel Op. 71. “You know,” your cello boyfriend says, “Glazunov wrote all his best stuff while he was drunk.”
Invite all your friends over for dinner. Serve chicory salad and a Spanish torta with onion and potato. When you introduce your cello to your friends they say, “Nice to meet you, Brett.” “It’s Brent?” he replies, “with an N?”
Hear him say this many times before deciding to change your cello’s name to David. Hear David tell that stupid story about getting wasted with Yo-Yo Ma’s son in DC. Hear your friends laugh so hard they forget that your boyfriend is a cello. Get annoyed later when your cello doesn’t help you with the dishes.
Listen while your cello calls you are a “bad listener”. Nod sympathetically while your cello says he resents you for changing his name from Brent to David. Hate that your cello says every sentence like a question. “I just feel undervalued?” he says, “Like I’m not even a person?” Tell your cello that he is not, in fact, a person. Laugh when he calls you a “selfish hag”.
Get high and drive across the Rickenbacker Bridge while the sky changes from blue to pink. Turn on the radio. Hear Lil’ Kim’s voice on Power 96. Feel that Lil’ Kim is speaking directly to you: I aint with that frontin shit, I got my own Benz, I got my own ends, immediate friends. Watch the sky change again: pink to dark purple. Think about how Tyrian kings used to extract dark purple pigment from mollusks.
Tell your cello you’re a lesbian and you’re sorry. Take your cello to the pawnshop and sell him. Tell your friends the breakup was mutual. Buy a new lipstick and a ticket to the symphony.
Apply the lipstick in the parking lot of Symphony Hall. Go inside and find your seat in the balcony. Smile at the older man who is sitting next to you. Notice his navy suit and how he is also alone.
“You know,” the older man will whisper to you, “Rachmaninoff’s premiere of the First was a total disaster. Glazunov was conducting. Most likely drunk.” Pretend that you did not already know this.
After the performance, let this older man buy you a drink. Go home with him. Try not to laugh when, while you are fucking, he asks you to call him “Sally”. Try not to laugh when you oblige. “Almost there, Sally.” Laugh and grimace when he calls you a “dirty little girl”. In the morning, steal forty bucks from his wallet and take the bus home.
Walk to the bike shop on 12th St. and pick out an old Univega. The clerk will call you “miss”. Do not smile back at him. Pay with the forty bucks you stole and the cash you got for the cello.
Bike home through a sunshower, feeling the rain and sun on your arms and legs. Cut off your hair and think about donating it. Decide to name your new bike Sally.
Claire Grossman is from Miami, FL.