Friday, May 1, 2009


"And that's the story of 'Honey Bear,'" I concluded, setting down the Murakami novel on the picnic blanket. We'd been dating for eight or nine months. I decided that we should have a picnic in Golden Gate park. The beginnings seemed ominous as we had to walk through a hoard of bums and pot smokers, not very romantic. We passed by a bunch of hippies playing drums on a hillside and a baseball park before we finally sat down. The area in which we were spread out was on a flat hillside. The hillside plateaued where we were. At the bottom of the hill was a group of young men playing soccer. The sky was blue with a few wispy white clouds gently pushed from west to east by a slight spring breeze. The ground was dry, the morning fog of San Francisco had burned off.

"That was really... enchanting," she said. "Its so cute that you brought that to read to me. Thank you." She smiled widely. Her lips parted so that I could see her teeth. The front two teeth were a little large for her small mouth, and her bottom row of teeth had never been straightened with braces. My cheeks lifted upwards with return, but my mouth was kept closed. I didn't want her to see my own teeth.

The day before our picnic I was reading a letter from my friend. She was telling me about how she recently cracked a tooth. Sadly she had no dental insurance. She worked as a waitress and she was given no benefits through employment, although she did get discounted meals. Her letter reminded me of a dream I had had that morning. In the dream I was seated at my kitchen table drinking a cup of coffee. I was reading the New Yorker. I still subscribe to the magazine even though most issues get quickly perused then put next to the toilet where they are ignored except during long bouts of constipation. As I drank the coffee my teeth began to feel brittle. I rubbed my forefinger on the front two and they chipped slightly. I spit out the broken bits onto the table and ran to the bathroom. My front two teeth were jagged shards. I touched them gingerly and they shattered even more, only stubs remained. The rest of my teeth were not brittle but gelatious. They melted in my mouth, sometimes in lumps. I tried to prevent from swallowing the large chunks of enamel that became a thick liquid on my tongue. I spit out my teeth. It came out like thick phlegm. Soon I was vomiting into the bathroom sink. As a mixture of enamel and bile poured from my throat I woke up. My skin was slightly covered in sweat. I tossed off the covers of my bed and went into the bathroom. Opening my mouth I was relieved to see that my teeth were intact. I touched them lightly. They were solid. I brushed my teeth and flossed. They stuck in my gums. I was relieved by that they were unbroken, and unblemished.

"I love you," she said softly. She kissed my cheeks. I leaned into her and put my arm around her. We laid down on the blanket. I looked up at the sky.

"Do you love me," she asked. I breathed deeply, the silence was pregnant.

"I don't want to say things automatically. I don't want to be in a rote relationship where when you say 'I love you,' my automatic response is 'I love you too.' That's just not how I want to work. My feelings for you aren't ones of reciprocity but of giving. I want to say things that I feel when I feel them, not because I feel obligated to say things."

"Oh," she said. She brushed my hair lightly. Her fingers ran through my thin hair tenderly massaging my scalp.

"What do you think that cloud up there looks like," I said pointing at a lone white pillow in the blue atmosphere.

"Uhh.... I don't know."

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