I would give you back your Sex Pistols t-shirt, but there’s no way you’d trust me with your address. And besides, I’ve grown into it now. It is the only yellow thing I own, and I think you bought it at the mall before you were too cool for the kind of record stores they have at the mall. It’s boxy, not cut for girls with tits but that’s okay because punk rock shouldn’t make you feel too delicate or girly unless that is the point. There’s a giant pink swath across the front like a beauty pageant sash. Back when you still wore the shirt sometimes, your gut was a little more prominent than in other clothes. You’d bought a bottle of the off-brand cocoa butter body lotion designed to reduce the appearance of stretch marks you referred to as your beer stripes.
What goes with a bright yellow Sex Pistols t-shirt? I’ve only ever worn it to sleep in, so I paired it with elastic-waist underwear. Never the sexy kind. I didn’t want to feel like a package for you to unwrap.
We had the kind of sex that two plush My Little Ponies might have. It was tender and bouncy and full of innocent magic.
We were still together at that New Year’s Eve party where Alyssa brought a bottle of super-fancy champagne. I announced to everybody that I’d accepted that I would never be an exotic beauty. “I’m cute,” I said, waving my Dixie cup. “That’s what I am. I’m cute.”
One night, stoned and sunburned, I tried to make a flowchart of the things that might happen if I returned your Sex Pistols shirt to you. I used a jumbo black Sharpie to write out all the likely chains of events that could transpire. I thought you might miss me or at least act strange for a few days until your wife asked you why. It wasn’t until the high wore off that I realized I hadn’t accounted for maybe the most likely thing that would happen: nothing at all.
Q: How many Riot Grrrls does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Riot Grrrls can’t change a thing.
Sid and Nancy met in London, maybe at a Sex Pistols show, but you and I met at a working class bar in the American Midwest. The taps weren’t working right. I had a brown bottle of beer and was peeling off the label and shredding it on the bar out of boredom. I was so bored I thought you were boring. I watched a hockey game on the screen behind your head. What were you wearing? What was I wearing? I want us to be tender again.
I would give you back your Sex Pistols t-shirt, but there’s no way you’d trust me with your address. And you’d be right not to. Not because I would torch your place or even make you talk to me but because then I would know where you were. And your t-shirt would arrive, this polycotton hand from beyond our grave grabbing your ankle, trying to make you stumble.
Photo by Marc Wathieu, Painting by Charlotte Beaudry