My boyfriend is very wise. Fair of beard, soft of sentence, he could be five or five hundred years of age. We go to all the finest restaurants, and the servers love him, and the bus bins love him, all the line cooks and chefs and sous Sarahs love him. All because he orders the Jaboodie. The chef will be pleased, the servers tell him, nodding at me cordially, in agreement with my appetite. At the end of our meal, chefs send chefs to our table to ask how the food put up its fight, and my boyfriend, prepared to show off his knowledge, points at each section of the clean plate saying Jaboodie, Jaboodie, Jaboodie.
Coffee made my anus itch, but it shouldn’t surprise. I spent most of my time in the sort of cafe so popular, where hard wooden benches populate lightly congregating, well-paid underdressed communities, imitating a public space. These places, despite hole-like size, were so maximized that only the baristas stood. While I was one, various incidents came to light that caused the founder to recede. Women came forward, names were named. You are tired of believing them now, though you must. I must believe them.
During the period of the secret, but informal settlement, a woman created a post. She ran a more thoroughly women run but similar establishment. The post, like most posts of its period, contained a photograph and a short text. But significantly longer than the president’s statements, which peppered our lives with an outrage so delicious. Her post was pepper. It depicted a photograph of her eyes, shocking white from the grey and black filter, and their surrounding tattoos. The text read, “they are afraid to look into the eyes of a woman like me. The eyes of a Rape Survivor.” What followed were skulls that showed in my phone as a series of boxes and x’s, serifed like bones.
Long after I sat down from being a barista, discovering in my seat the painful itch, I would confess through the espresso bar, looking longingly into the eyes of whichever woman tightened the portafilter (blue to brown, never the white so grinded into me), that I also happened to have been raped, as I dropped wads fleshy from my fist into the jar. Whether you believe a man like me, whose shoes are pointier than planned for, depends largely on whether I’m paying for what makes me itch or being compensated for surviving as long as I have without telling.
Maxwell Isaac Starr Oginz is a graduate of Concordia University's Creative Writing program. He was 2016 Tent: Creative Writing fellow at The Yiddish Book Center in Amherst. His work has appeared on Fanzine and Sleepingfish.