I’m not an ideal reproductive partner. I’m on crutches.
I assumed the opposite sex would interpret my awkward cripple movements as a sign of genetic abnormality — nonviable ovaries and the like. I am the weak of the species. If a wild animal were to chase me, I would certainly not be able to run away with speed. Just like those kids who are allergic to peanuts and dairy and wheat and cat hair, if I had lived a couple of millennia ago, I would probably be dead.
“But your arms will get really ripped!” my friend consoled me. Awesome. Madonna-mountain-arms for tank-top season. “You’re getting a rigorous daily workout,” commented a friend as I sweated past her down Old Campus. Maybe, but a workout that will leave me with one calf of mammoth proportions and another of atrophied sponge-mush. “You move with the grace of a gazelle!” remarked my suitemate in awe. Yes, I have mastered the three-legged gallop, but I also have a month’s worth of dried skin trapped underneath a fiberglass sheath.
I’ve lost all my game. In social situations I rely on swift, smooth, well-timed exits. Now they are hobbly and cumbersome. When I have a few drinks I no longer become merry and charming. I’m that belligerent girl wielding her crutch like an Excalibur and challenging people to duels. When smoking a cigarette, I can no longer pretend it looks chic; I am the sad, addicted invalid.
At a naked party the other weekend, I realized not many people have seen, or want to see, a nude figure hunched over crutches. I looked like a fetish no one would admit to having or a character in an eastern European art film.
I also wear a fanny-pack for convenience.
I did not expect to attract many suitors in my present condition. This weekend, however, my assumptions proved disturbingly untrue. In the cattle market of a New York club, I was identified, by certain men, as the weak member of the herd. They marked me as their prey and pounced. Onto my face. One middle-aged man named Pedro thrust his tongue into my unsuspecting mouth. I pushed him away with all the might of my newly buffed triceps. “Hello, I’m Pedro,” said Pedro. My friends were at the bar and my crutches were perched six feet away. I was cornered by the most ferocious and determined of predators: the drunk tourist who found this club in a Lonely Planet Guide.
The best way to get rid of a guy, I thought, is to preempt his departure. So I shouted: “See you around, Pedro!!” The drunk tourist did not understand my subtle hint. He did not understand my language. But he did catch my forceful tone, which he interpreted as lust. He lunged. So I made a sound like a weeping injured animal. And Pedro was gone. The sound of a weeping, injured animal is, apparently, a universal signal for I don’t like your tongue in my mouth.
Later, when I was dancing on my knees on the sofa, a man wearing an Oakley T-shirt and a ponytail approached. He planted himself in front of my person and began to boogie. His belly grazed me a couple times. And his nipples were perfectly at level with my eyes.
When I braved the dance floor the next night, I invented a few new moves, always, of course, with my crutches firmly anchored under my armpits. I rotated by torso and bent and straightened my knees in a rhythmic fashion. Sometimes, after a few drinks, I would lean forward and back in a rocking motion or turn one of my crutches into a pivot and hop in a circle around it, in alternate clockwise and counter-clockwise rotations.
“You’re the best dancer I’ve ever seen,” said one slimy boy, with equal parts mockery and lechery, as he shimmied up next to me. Usually, I would be able to slip smoothly away with a curt “Getting a drink.” However, as an invalid, escaping a dance trap would involve very obvious and deliberate crutching in the other direction.
Perhaps men don’t lust after genetic perfection or intact human bodies. Maybe, above all else, men desire dependents. What else could explain my strange newfound allure? Men want to be providers and so seek out mates in need of protection. Feeble or smallish or broken mates. Lame mates. Wounded mates. Girls who want to be taken care of. It’s biology.
Or maybe, just maybe, creepy desperate guys are just super attracted to a girl’s inability to run away.
Claire Gordon is swift as a gazelle, fleet of foot.