I know that by the time you read this that whatever I say will be assumed to derive from the worst hate and prejudice. But I still must ask you, have you ever been afraid of the giant vagina?
I know about Oedipus. He penetrated his Mom by accident and then he penetrated his eyes. My fear is a bit different. I fear that I will be sucked back into the vagina. Back into the mother of all mothers: my mother. And, but — what? What’s so bad about returning to the uterus?
Back en utero. Again, for all of uternity. Warm it be, plush. Forever am I on the precipice of —
What happens when a giant vagina starts to beat-box?
Perhaps some of you don’t know what beat-boxing is; it’s when you press your lips together and make what white people say are farting sounds, as if the lips were actually an anus. (That’s what I feel like my voice is, one long tooting fart, but who am I? A yellow lamprey?)
I don’t want to confuse you. It is not I who is beat-boxing but the giant orifice from which I was coerced.
Anyhow, the giant vagina opens up just below the ceiling fan that does not work. It opens its mouth as I lie stiffly on the used yellow mattress that I took from the dumpster. All of my money goes to my pencils, brushes and ink, and 11 inches by 17 inches Bristol paper.
The giant vagina says, “I lent you out.”
I say, “To who?” No response. Tight lipped. “To whom?” I ask.
“Grammar ain’t squat,” says the giant vagina.
“Squat?” I ask.
It opens up. Breathes a long deep breath.
It feels like when I get up out of bed, the bed sticks to me, that it is still on my back. You’ve given me crutches, I say to someone, really no one, and no one who cares: you’ve given me crutches and I carry them with me, with a bed on my back, as I run a marathon backwards through the rain.
I play a message on my answering machine, and I am not sure when they called, why they keep calling, out of misguided hope — beep! I feel like I am being sucked in. Sucked back in. I am going back in, as if Hoover made vaginas. No, as if Kirby, no DYSON, made the vacuum from which I slide out of and return, my legs spinning like in some old cartoon, my limbs drunkenly coordinated as like doing some self-parodying American shuffle dance.
“Time for you to come home, Elmo,” says my mother through the answering machine. “Where are you hiding, Elmo?” asks my father. They might as well be in my room. On my mattress, the one I carry on my back, even as I lie here, they are there, two testes constantly testing me, as if I had failed the SAT again, and again; one of the two testes named Shame, and the other Honor, a word that I have, like most Americans, used to sum up all that is Chinese and necessary.
I wait until they quit speaking. And then I call Natasha. Natasha Vodka. That is the name I have given to her. And I believe I am correct. Why should I not be the object of desire and assasination of a Soviet agent who cannot stop agenting, even after the empire has collapsed. Are those not the best agents, after all? And I demand the best.
“I know about the orchiectomopolis,” she says. It is like she does not exist at all, that I made her hard, like I purposely dried out Play-Doh to give her turgidity. She is real though. I promise you.
“How do you know about the orchiectomopolis?” I ask.
“I understand your need for a fantastical utopia.”
Is she right? It was only supposed to be the setting of one chapter in my auto(porno)biography. I never dreamt that the world could actually embrace such a concept.
“You dream of a world without balls,” she says, and her voice sounds more and more distorted, as if our connection has been compromised.
“I don’t know why. I just do.”
“Do you want some theories?”
“I can come up with a million theories on my own. That’s not what I need from you.” Why did I say those last two words? Am I asking to be slammed down like a pro wrestler who has lost his story? Yes. Yes. Slam me.
“Do you know where I am?” she asks. She sounds more and more distant by the syllable. And simultaneously, her voice sounds more and more real, as if she were here, somewhere here, in my room.
My heart beats faster. A cold sweat breaks out, the likes of which James Brown himself could not imagine.
A small rat scampers somewhere in the pantry. The noise startles me. I jump. Out of bed! I feel nothing sticking to my backside. I stand. Is she in my pantry? Bolsheviks in the pantry? There was that Japanese man who fought for the Rising Sun empire for an extra decade not knowing that the atomic bombs had already ended the war. Is she a dreamwalking Commie? No. She cannot be that backwards. She looks too smart. Too far-sighted. I can tell by the way (I imagine) she looks at me when I am trying to avoid her gaze.
She has black hair. And the eyes. The eyes, comrade! Siberian. Almost extinct. A survivor. Natasha.
I don’t drink, so stop offering me, stupid.
“Can you see me?” I ask.
She pauses. Static crackles back and forth through the wire. “Is that all you want?” she asks. She hangs up. I hear a dial tone. Is that a major or a minor key?
And then the BUSY signal. I return the phone to its base. The rat softly eats rice in the darkness. My father. My mother. I stand like a totem of neuroses, stiffly, in the wind, held steady by anxiety against the sucking gusto of the lips of creation.
My parents live in a house. That house is in a largely friendly neighborhood completely lacking in self-awareness.
Here in this suburb, both the people who claim to love Asians and those who hate Asians are unaware that we are not human in their eyes; we are simply a throwaway category in their political-historical narrative-argument hybrid. And we only exist as partial-individuals even after they know one of us as an individual. Only then is the made-up race of “Asian” partially obliterated, the slant of our eyes slightly softened, the chinks absconded in the shadows of the castle until we ask them to borrow money or a fair shake at college admissions.
“How are you doing?” asks my father. He never asks, “How are you?” Only “How are you doing?”
“I’m doing okay,” I say. I never tell him how I am; I only tell them how I am performing. And most of the time, I lie because I am not progressing quickly enough at my comic book autopornobiography, and I cannot have them rushing me on something that may for the first time make people see beyond the three dimensions of their self-deception.
“Doing okay,” repeats my father. “What about the autopork-nopathy?” My father speaks from what he knows, and he knows pork. He’s Chinese.
“There’s no pork in my autopornobiography,” I say, “but you’ve got me thinking,”
We grab our chopsticks and pick up our bowls of rice. Dinner.
“It’s my life,” I remind them.
“Well, technically,” says my mother. “Life cannot be owned.”
My father turns to her as if this were the first interesting thing she has ever said in his presence. “Yes, yes,” he says as if he is terrified of losing momentum for this line of argument.
“Therefore,” says my mother, “You cannot own your life. Therefore it is not your life.”
I shake my head slowly. This philosophical clash of civilizations has taken a brilliant semantic turn.
“I own me,” I say. “because I am a slave. To me. To my art. And to my non-beliefs.”