Sis amplexibus Amor alios mututa memini et amoris in mutationes memini.
May you be embraced by a love beyond recall that alters others
and a love within recall that alters you.
“But you found Mom.”
“Yeah, well, it was no thanks to me. Though when that happened it stopped. The curse was lifted. Your mother ended all that for me.”
“Does she know? That you were cursed.”
“I tried to explain it that time but I don’t think she accepted it. I just know I was happy that it had ended. That I didn’t always have this sense of wanting, getting, wanting again because I couldn’t remember what I had.”
Harris called his friend Trevor. They’d met in his first year at U of T and shared an apartment till he graduated. Trevor was always top of the class even when there was only pass or fail.
They were to meet at Story. He liked Cally, the manager because if she wasn’t too busy, he could always get her to bitch about the conflict she was having with her PhD panel that had already turned down her first two proposals: Spencer’s Faerie Quean and Animal Allegory, which they deemed essentially dull; and, The Feminization of Men in Elizabethan Drama, which they deemed too vague.
On the subway Harris was nervous. After what his Dad had told him he expected anyone, literarily anyone, to hit on him. He kept his hoodie zipped up and eyes fixed on his graphic novel.
If he didn’t make eye contact he’d be okay. Would he have to start wearing protective eye shields like the Cyclops in the X-men – eyes that shot bolts of uncontrollable sexual energy. Now that’s a superpower.
He nudged his sunglasses down and scanned the people around him. None of them seemed to notice him as he squinted. Well, if this was superpower he’d have to figure out to use it for good instead of sex.
As he stopped to talk with Cally Harris unzipped his hoodie with one hand, shook out his hair. When his hair felt this heavy he knew it was time to wash it.
“What’s the panel turing down this week?”
“Actually they’ve okayed my work on Eighteenth-Century Female Religious Novelists In Post-Reformation Germany.” She laughed. “As if . . . ”
Trevor was at their usual table. Chilled Sapporo’s already on their usual table.
“Okay Dog, what you barking at or is it some bitch barking at you again?” Trevor Daniels was of mixed-parentage, a mix that was a quarter this and a dash of that. Such a mix that Harris was never clear what, if any, were the main ingredients. Trevor would mention an Uncle Yegor, an Auntie Nilasha, a cousin Dijiro or a niece Rachel. If Toronto was a melting pot, Trevor was one of the prime products. He was tall, skinny with a bushy, almost Afro and facial hair that grew at an alarmingly fast rate, and also changed configuration regularly, often depending on how energetic Trevor felt when faced with having to shave three times a day if he wanted to remain clean-shaven. Tonight he had thin line along his jaw and up into his hair.
He got Cally’s eye and held up his half-finished bottle. He made an eating motion as well.
“My Dad rattled my cage.”
“Right the old folks get old, frail that sort of thing. I’m sure an old lawyer like him’s got benefits.”
“Not that simple.”
Cally took his empty and put a full bottle on the table. He forced himself to sip.
“No. Seems I’ve inherited the family …. curse.” He didn’t know what to call it or if he believed at all what his father had told him. He wasn’t sure how to explain it Trevor.
“Spill Dog.” Trevor waved for more beers. Cally brought them and a plate of sweet-potato fries with red pepper dip.
“Thanks Cally. We’ll have the double burgers.” Harris took a gulp of his beer. “Okay. It’s … when did you start calling me Dog?”
“Man when I first laid eyes on you. Admit it, you aren’t the best looking of guys. But that never seemed to get in the way though.”
“In the way of what?”
“You getting laid. Man, chicks was always eager for you. I used to think you had a kind of voodoo, the kind my Auntie Nilasha sells to suckers.”
“Could be, you know.” He finished off the fries and licked the salt off his fingers. Under the table he pushed his shoes off to let his feet cool.
“Yeah … wait … I think it was a little after we moved into that place in the Annex. Man that hole did reek. I was heading out one Friday for the weekend to wash my clothes at my folks. You were coming in with a sweet blond thing. You were the luckiest dude and ….” Trevor drained his bottle.
The busboy brought the beers and their burgers over but before he put them down he quickly wiped the table with his free hand. “Anything else gents?”
“No we’re fine for now.” Harris said and went back to his conversation with Trevor. “And.”
“And when I came back Sunday night you were taking a shower with some other chick. When she left I asked what happened to the blond and you were a blank.”
“Cold. man, cold. Yeah, as if you didn’t know who I was asking you about. It was as if she never existed. Man that was cold I thought then. Cold like a dog would be. You never played them though, I had to respect that. Never hounded them for money or stuff like most guys would. The guys called you the King of Forget ’em.”
“ ‘Scuse me.” The bus boy took the empties and wiped down the table. “Anyt’in else?”
“Time for onion rings.” Harris leaned back to let the bus boy could take his empty plate. “Forget ’em?”
“Yeah that thing the four ‘f’s. Find ’em, feel ’em, fuck’ em, forget ’em. You never bragged on them though like most guys did. It was almost a secret thing with you. Not that you hid it but at the same time you never boasted either. Never tried to make me feel bad cause I wasn’t getting as much you. I did resent that you never shared.”
“You kept asking me to line you up. I didn’t really know how to do that, you know.”
“One track mind Dog. You had a one track mind.”
“It was weird I never had to work at it. They always came at me, out of the blue.”
“Yeah, you had the gift.”
“Not a gift, a curse. According to my father it runs in the family.”
“What? A type of animal sex magnetism?”
The bus boy brought the onions rings with dip to the table. Smiled and left them.
“He seems to have taken a shine to you Harris. Brought you the spicy ranch without asking. Must be that animal magnetism in action.’
“Who?” Harris looked around.
“The busboy. Never had a table wiped that many times.”
“I guess.” Harris glanced at the busboy. Compact and muscular, the guy resemebled a bouncer more than a busboy. “My Dad says every day a random person will be irresistibly drawn to me and I won’t remember them and they won’t remember me after it’s over.”
“After they’ve forced you have sex with them?”
“I don’t know. Could be they do me a favor, such as bring me the right dip. I don’t know. He just told me today. I’m trying to figure it out. That’s why I called you. You’ve known me for long enough. Like I didn’t remember that blond from years ago.”
“Ha! If you’ve been doing it everyday with a different person since, I’m surprised you even remember your own self. What about Laura Sands.”
“Whoa, that calls for stronger measures.” He called Cally over and ordered a couple of green apple vodkas – the cocktails of the night.
Harris was flooded with memories of Laura. It had been years since he had thought of her. Yes, she was a woman he remembered very clearly. Did he still have that picture of her tucked away. The one he used to look at when he jacked off. Where had he put it.
“Dog, you were head over heels for that girl.”
“Don’t remind me. I’m almost ashamed of how I acted.” He could see her blank expression the next day when he showed up at the bookstore where she worked with roses for her.
“It was pretty funny. The guy who seemed to get any girl he wanted not being able take ‘no’ from this one.”
“I gotta take a leak.” Harris slipped his shoes back on and went to the washroom.
Laura Sands was a woman he had remembered. She had short bleached white, blond hair that framed her face severely and he found that captivating. Picturing her now he felt an ache for more of her that was never satisfied when he met her. She was friend of Trevor’s girlfriend at the time and as often happened she was totally drawn to Harris.
He washed the salt and oil off his hands and looked at himself in the mirror. No dip on his face. At least he remembered what he looked like.
He sat back at the table “I thought Laura was the best thing I’d ever met.”
“Yeah I know Dog, you told me all that over and over, along with why doesn’t she want to see me. You know we all asked her and she said the same thing. That you were great in bed but that was all she was interested in. After a while she had to be reminded of who you were. How much time did you spend mooning around her at her job.”
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