The Woman I Become

My whole life I’ve been obsessed with the woman I will become and have tried her on like costumes since I found those Playboy magazines in the 2nd grade in the bathroom of my Dad’s best friend’s house in the middle of nowhere Northern Idaho and I liked Cliff’s house because of the animals and Cliff was gregarious and kind and hefty and shared my love of stuffed animals except his were taxidermies and displayed on walls like art and mine were synthetic and fake like the silicone implants of those women’s breasts which were everywhere inside the glossy pages, but I was seven and didn’t know about plastic surgery and airbrushing and so I sat on the toilet of a stranger’s house who was not really a stranger and yet became strange at a moment when I felt strangeness descend upon me and I felt the excitement of being scared and naughty while being curious and confused and consumed by seeing something I’d never seen women doing before and these women looked like my mom and they were draped across chairs, landscapes, and beds, and I flushed the toilet and stuffed the Playboy back where I could remember even though I didn’t yet know about hiding or covering up your tracks or snooping inside the private lives of men and the women who love, care, manipulate, use, and wear costumes for them, but at that moment I was still seven and In the hallway I blushed with shame when I ran into his wife, a woman with gray curly hair in Mom jeans and a sweater, a woman light years away from squeezing into a satin Hefner bunny outfit with the cute cottontail and even in this first experience I look at her and I know in my gut, brain, and heart that men want one thing and get another and this must make them unhappy and dissatisfied because Cliff’s wife and most women don’t look like the women in the magazine, so then all the fighting must be because we are simply not beaming at them with glassy doe eyes and alluring them with coiffed fur and the promising gleam of our bodies.