“Sex of Food” by Jessie Carty

Jack makes Jill feel old. She agreed to rent American Pie for him because, as he put it, all of his friends had seen it and his parents (he always forgot they were also her parents) were just lame for not letting him watch it.

Jill was eight years older than Jack. Jack was a menopause baby. Jill was surprised at how protective her parents were of Jack given that most parents seemed to mellow with their “baby.”

Jack didn’t want Jill to watch the movie with him. She could tell he was annoyed in the way he let the remote almost fall out of his hand upon her entrance into the living room. Jack, however, held a good poker face. He said nothing as she walked into the room carrying a huge bowl of popcorn. It had taken her a good fifteen minutes at the microwave to cook enough (three bags), she thought, for his ever present hunger.

Jill ignored Jack’s somewhat hidden reaction to her presence because she wanted an excuse to watch the movie. A group of people from her dorm had gone to see the movie while it was still in the theater, but she had been at a low point in her finances. She had not wanted to go to a movie, especially one at night, without having enough cash for a treat of theater popcorn and a large ice cold drink.

“What do you want to drink?” Jill asked Jack as she set the popcorn down upon the middle cushion of the sectional. They would each be within reach of the snack without having to sit near each other. Apparently resigned to her presence Jack replied, “Coke no ice.” As Jill was pouring herself a Diet Coke with lots of ice, she couldn’t understand the “no ice” thing. A drink didn’t stay very cold without ice. She’d once asked Jack why he always ordered it that way and he said he didn’t like his drink watered down and, besides, you get more if you don’t have ice. More.

Jill and Jack settled in. Jill tried not to notice when Jack pulled the blanket from the back of the couch onto his lap. Jill tried not to think about how he wouldn’t look at her. Jill was just glad he was keeping his hands above the blanket. Jill wasn’t bothered by the thought of her brother having sexual interest, yet Jill didn’t want to have to witness it. It was bad enough that she, sleeping on the couch because her Mom waited to re-paint Jill’s bedroom until the day Jill was coming back from college, had seen Jack sprinting down the hallway—naked—from his bedroom to the kitchen in the middle of the night. Jill had been tempted to sneak into Jack’s room when it happened to see if he’d had a girl over. Jill would never have snuck anyone inside the house, but she wouldn’t have put it past Jack. Jill didn’t get up to check that night and instead thought “deniability” and “I wonder what he got to eat” as she had gone back to sleep.

Instead of watching Jack, or even much of the movie, Jill found herself comparing it to what she thought of as the borderline pornos that she had seen when she was a girl. Her parents had both worked full-time. Jill had been a latch-key kid, although she never told anyone she was. Her parents had gotten cable for her. Jill found herself, at Jack’s age, obsessed with Porky’s and then Porky’s II and even Porky’s Revenge. She tried to watch one of the movies on regular cable once but wondered how anyone could enjoy it with all the dirty parts cut out. Jill learned what she wanted her body to look like from that initial shower scene. Jill wanted guy friends like that. Crazy ones. She wanted to be the one who gave herself to them so they could boast about having lost their virginity. In this fantasy, Jill wanted to be called a slut.

Jill knew she would never be that kind of girl. She would never have those kinds if friends. Jill had walked in on her roommate and some guy from downstairs going at it, on top of the covers. They knew Jill had walked in but they didn’t stop. Jill waited in the library for an hour before she returned. She spent part of that time trying not to think about the sweat and wet of sex or of her parents.  Jill knew when her parents went at it: every Sunday they’d come home from church and say they were going to change. They would be behind their bedroom door for far longer than it took to change. Or even to change and shower.

Maybe change, shower and nap but her father always came out of the room a bit breathless and immediately headed for the kitchen for sweet tea and a sandwich. Jill wondered if Jack had figured it out.

What Jill really wondered was why so much of sex was tied up with food? Here was a boy fornicating with an apple pie, Porky’s had meat in its title (and a character named Meat) and even romantic comedies liked to show the man wooing the woman with champagne and strawberries. The act of eating is often portrayed as sensual yet Jill worried about food. Her brother, sure, he could eat whatever he wanted as most teenage boys could, but Jill had put on her freshmen fifteen twice during her years in college and with each gain the necessary weight loss became exponentially more difficult. She had to watch what she ate if she wanted to maintain that pseudo-50s era Playboy body of those girls in Porky’s or, heck, even the young starlets in American Pie. Not that anyone was seeing her body, but Jill felt the need to be prepared.

Jill, trying not to turn her head, took a peek at Jack. He had one hand shoveling popcorn into his mouth and the other hand had inched its way under the blanket. Jill felt her face flush. She wondered what it would feel like to have a penis, to have such an easy to access and easy to please sexual organ. She wished she could go back to eating with abandon. She wanted to bury herself in the popcorn until it hurt to move but most of all she felt the itch, with coupled by the fact that her brother was in the room, felt all kinds of wrong. As she stood up to leave, knowing she wasn’t heading for the kitchen to restock soda and snacks, she thought about her last semester of biology and how transfixed she became with the evolution of angiosperm plants; of flowers with stamen and pistil, plants that produced fruit, plants that could give and receive; of how inside fruit there is always seed.

Jessie Carty’s writing has appeared in publications such as, MARGIE, decomP and Connotation Press. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks At the A & P Meridiem (Pudding House 2009) and The Wait of Atom (Folded Word 2009) as well as a full length poetry collection, Paper House (Folded Word 2010). Jessie teaches at RCCC in Concord, NC. She is also the photographer and editor for Referential Magazine. She can be found around the web, especially at http://jessiecarty.com where she blogs about everything from housework to the act of blogging itself.