The Snake Charmer

November 6, 2013

This is a short essay inspired by Sylvia Plath’s essays and based on truth.

I danced for him. My naked body slithered like a snake with small nipples, stubbly legs and a face, which stared or moaned or both. Around men, naivety befalls me. Often I act as though I am an art piece of black and white swirls, one that hypnotizes. I cry to discover that I am not art and our dance was not an exhibition.

This particular man was ten years my senior. During a more desperate time in my 20’s I attended NA meetings almost every day, upon leaving a redundant day job in Chelsea. All over Manhattan I traveled via subway or foot to a large gathering of men and women, usually in a cafeteria or conference room, to discuss our nasty drug habits. The man ten years my senior spoke well at one of these meetings and I danced up to him in the way that I do, telling him I liked his speech, as aggressive and rather abruptly as I normally do. After a minute of introductions he tried explaining where the meetings in the LES were, but seemed to be a jumbled mess, and he could not spit out the words I suspected he wanted to tell me. His confusion made me smile (I enjoy messes – I was in NA after all). We exchanged numbers.

Before decreasing my drug use, and trying to stop for good, Sunday was my favorite day of the week. I had off from work with all the time in the world to do absolutely nothing — and easily copped by walking down the street. Nowadays, Sundays destroyed me. It was hard to keep myself busy and I often fell into a pit of depression and despair, a furious ball of angst excited to explode. I tried to aid my chi. I took long hot showers, attended AA meetings nearby, and went food shopping with my father. Four days after meeting him there was only one thing that would make me feel better, I was sure, and it was hanging out with the man from those Manhattan meetings. I confided in him my troubles and he asked me to come to his neighborhood, that we would walk around, talking, and that I would feel better once I came.

I danced with him in bed that night and my head played a pungi, which was only heard by me. He told me I am beautiful. “You’re sexy,” I reply. I never know what to say to a man in bed besides the usual dirty words. 

So it was done, the dance was here and then gone and that make-believe hypnosis only lasted a day or two afterwards, or perhaps was never really there. For weeks afterward I gave the friendship my all. Sending him flirty words, kissing smiley faces, a book or music recommendation. He always answered though not often right away, and never initiating conversations. My sense of importance took a plunge into the depths of my guts, my heart moved farther and farther down my torso, and the little voice in my head told me (again) to stop basing my worth on the actions of a man. Oh how I loathed the housewife inside of me, when my exterior tried so hard to scream FEMINISM!

I’d like to say I learned my lesson, but a lesson is never really learned. Like my own principles and values they surface long enough to write a poem or a story, and then they are carried away with wind, and I am left with my feet planted to dirt, wishing to be nothing but a water lilly. The men come and go and I dance forward, charming if for only a night, and always with a pungi in my head.


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