I’m backtracking a little. The next two days will be some poems (remember, this novel is titled “Love Poetry”) written by Jessica. The confrontation with Whitmore really had her rattled—when she answered the door for Bruce, she was all red-faced and puffy eyed. So what was going on in her head between the time Whitmore left, and 9pm, when Bruce picked her up to go dancing to some jazz music? Here’s a clue.
Jessica stared into her blurred reflection as the steam filled the bathroom and condensation accumulated on the mirror. She thought about something that Alex once told her:
“It’s the ‘nice guys’ you have to watch out for. They think that because they don’t curse, or drink or smoke or do drugs, or beat you, or cheat, or do whatever, they deserve special privileges. And when they don’t get those special privileges, when they don’t get the girl, when they don’t get the mind-blowing sex from the beautiful damsel that misogynist TV promised them, they go nuts. Whitmore is a ‘nice guy,’ and he’s going nuts right now because you won’t give him what he wants.”
Whitmore wasn’t a nice guy. He wouldn’t be so cruel as to make a woman feel guilty for not loving him. She did care for him in the beginning, but it was so hard to fall in love with a man who tried to make her become his personal savior, who would die if she weren’t near. Why put her under so much pressure? Why give her so much control? Why have his life and happiness so dependent on whether she loves him back?
“Nice guys always finish last,” Whitmore had told her when they were still getting to know each other. They were on their third date and had arrived to the movie theater half an hour early. Jessica had suggested they play in the small arcade in the lobby while they waited. Because that was the type of woman she was. She liked to dive back into her childhood whenever she could. She wanted to race, shoot hoops, play air hockey, battle in Mortal Kombat, swing her hips and jump on arrows while Dance Dance Revolution played “It’s Raining Men.” Whitmore was too serious. After she beaten him in a motorcycle race through the streets of Los Angeles, he wanted to talk about why all his past relationships failed.
“I think it’s because we go for the wrong kinds of women. The ones who can’t see how lucky they are. They’d rather chase the dirt they’ve been with most of their lives than cherish the good thing they have in us.”
Jessica turned around and unplugged the tub for the second time that night. At this rate, she would never take her bath, but she needed to write how she was feeling while it was still fresh on her mind. Maybe a poem could assuage her torment better than a hot, bubble bath.
Last in the Race
A poem by Jessica Ryan
And keeps running.
But there’s never a finish line.
Never a blonde, busty babe
Waving a checkered flag,
Indicating he’s won.
And why should there be?
Why should he expect the
Congratulatory kiss from
A woman who’s last love interest
Was his reciprocal?
A 6’5 delinquent who
Blanketed himself in tattoos,
Wore his hat cocked to the side,
Held his pants up by the crotch
Because he didn’t believe in belts,
Had a drawer full of wife beaters,
And become one himself.
Runs towards his unattainable dream girl
At the end of the tunnel.
A woman he believes he can
Save from all the heartbreaking, abusive
Cheaters of the world.
His heart driven only by
the smile on her face.
Until he realizes heartbreak and abuse
Are what she craves.
She jerks her hand away
When he leans to kiss it.
She speaks of feminism
When he opens doors,
Guides her through.
Chivalry is dead.
Chivalry is an excuse for men
To treat us as objects.
She breaks into hives
When he sends her daisies.
Why ask me what I want all the time?
Stop being so nice.
I can’t stand a Yes Man!
He runs blindly,
Chasing after an angel
With a devil’s attitude,
Not realizing her independence
Will drive him away,
Too desperate to have
Her lustful appearances
Strike jealousy in the hearts
Of the boys back home
Whose definitions for beauty
And booty are the same, and
Intelligence is of no relation.
He competes against able-bodied men
Who can hoist their conceited winnings
Above their heads
His only trophy is an hourglass.
Each grain of sand
Falling to the base,
Counting the hours, minutes, seconds
He runs in a race he’ll never finish.