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Tat Which Cannot Be Efed

Spencer Williams IV
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The sun. All matter was illuminated by its relentless barrage
of particle waves. Every atom of every molecule refected a unique
heat signature. Two young men sat on a couch, taking in everything,
despite the sliver of a spectrum their optic nerves could make any
sense of. They gazed at enticing images on a 50-inch-wide liquid
crystal display, brightened by the light emitting diodes underneath.
Every curve, contour, shape, and color was more discernible than
anyone in their previous generations had ever been able to distin-
guish. This was the cutting edge.
Before their eyes was a makeup commercial on a white back-
ground. A Caucasian woman peered directly at them from over her
left shoulder. Her mouth was a ruby oval, the center of which was
pure black. The view zoomed out to show a horde of cameramen
clicking and fashing at seizure-inducing speed, but the main focus
was on the woman and her pristine face. The epitome of pulchri-
tude. Every second of the shufing images was an assertion on beau-
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ty, a demand to honor the agreed upon patterns humanity anchored
itself to in order to impose some kind of clarity. They were either
with them or against them. If this woman did not typify beauty,
then scandal was afoot.
Jared got of the couch and headed to the kitchen, where the
carpeted living room ended and the tile foor began. Michael re-
mained on the couch and could hear the ends of his friend’s shoe-
laces ticking across the foor. He opened the fridge and then imme-
diately slammed it closed.
“My God, man! What happened in there?” Nothing from Mi-
chael.
Jared covered his hand in his shirt sleeve, cupped it over his
nose and opened the fridge door again. He left it wide open and
rummaged around to fnd the culprit. Nothing appeared to be rot-
ten at frst glance. He opened the produce drawer at the bottom and
saw a tied bunch of carrots and a head of lettuce that were clearly
once fresher, but hardly rancid. On the center rack was a jug of milk,
maybe a quarter empty, and at frst glance appeared to refect all
light. At the top of the container was printed: “EXP MAR 21 10”
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“Good Jehovah, man. I think I found the problem.” He removed
the gallon jug, unscrewed the top and snifed.
“Aaaaaargh!”
He hurled it into the sink, splitting the jug open and splash-
ing rotten milk all over the metal basin and counter. The sound was
deafening and simply epic.
“We gotta tell Wes to check the damn expiration dates. I mean,
you could end a man’s life with shit like that.”
Michael still said nothing. The cameras kept clicking away. Jar-
ed walked back to the living room.
“Jesus, my fellow hominid, are you still watching—”
There was now an Asian woman posing on the screen, bask-
ing in an uninterrupted ficker and shutter fest. She sat on a pure
white foor in front of a pure white background, tilting back her
head, rolling over, and posing in perhaps every position the model-
ing aestheticians had a name for, sometimes sitting on her posterior,
sometimes lying on her back, sometimes on her side, always in some
diferent confguration of what appeared to strongly communicate
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sexual suggestion.
“My…” began Jared.
At frst, Jared thought Michael had not moved an inch since he
had gotten up, but he noticed the remote control in his hand. The
commercial slowly faded to black and the words “MAYBELLINE”
appeared in thin pink letters. At that point, red-haired Michael ex-
tended the remote towards the set and pushed the pause button.
“Dude…” Michael uttered.
“Where’s your car?”
“Where is my mind?”
Jared looked outside. The living room window’s thin silk-like
drapes obscured the view, but he could see the leaves of the apple
tree in the front yard fittering.
“Um… way out?”
“Why would they… why would they show that?”
Jared walked back into the kitchen. “To fuck with you. Specif-
cally, to fuck with you. Um, now… Don’t get too upset, but there’s a
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slight mess in here. I, like, barely averted an assassination attempt
and so sorry if I’m still a little—”
“Hey, when’s Mariah Carey coming back?”
“Um, she, like, gets of work around maybe a half hour ago, and
tends to head back here after visiting her lady-friend, what’s-her-
face.”
“Dude, I have to… I needs must…”
“You what? Oh man, don’t get all Shakespearean on me.”
“Did you see… I mean, were you looking… the colors, Duke…”
“The colors!”
“I mean… she was beautiful. She was absolutely… and maybe
some product of Photoshop… or Premiere… whatever. I mean, I can’t
be the only person looking at this and saying, ‘I want…’”
“Oh… well, um, I’m sure such an evocation of feelings is, you
know, exactly why they casted those angels—”
“For fuck’s sake, those are real people! These are other people
that they know I would want to… get to know at least. Have some
chance of understanding the inner-workings of, some chance to
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know on a human level, whatever the hell that means. I cannot look
at such a woman and just say, ‘Fuck it’. I want, sir! I desire, sir!”
“What in the Sam Hill are you fucking blathering about?”
Michael reached out to the screen with the remote and re-
wound the digital video recorder to the frst woman. He threw the
remote onto the couch and pointed towards the perfect tones and
forms before them.
“I want her.”
“Oh… well… I’ll… I shall fetch her for you, master.”
“Dude, I’m trying to have a serious conversation with you.”
“By pointing to women on TV commercials and saying, ‘Give me
her’?”
“I’m not the only one who thinks like this.” Michael buried his
head in his hands. “I’m not a monster.”
Jared returned to his place on the couch. He picked up the re-
mote and Michael snatched it away from him.
“What the—”
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“Tell me, why do I actually wish to possess this person?”
“Jesus… I… Maybe she’s born with it? Fuck if I know, man.”
“Is it not a sin, an actual sin, to possess another human being?”
“Oh, well… yeah. I do believe that, like, indentured servitude is
out this century.”
“Fuck debt remission. I’m talking about actually having some-
one to yourself.”
“Hey, you know, I don’t think either of us have been really dat-
ing anyone for a while, and so this is probably some kind of with-
drawal symptom or something you’re exhibiting here—”
“So women are like drugs, you’re saying?”
“I ain’t sayin’ nothin’, sir. I’m just trying to point out that… I
mean, stuf like this on TV… It’s fucking TV, man. It’s a 24-hour emo-
tion manipulation fest. I mean, I don’t know why you’re watching
stuf that disturbs you. I’m just waiting for last night’s South Park—”
“What am I to think about the people in that commercial? Ev-
eryone is there deliberately, of their own free will. They’ve read the
script, their familiar with the concept, they have a really good idea
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of what exactly they are producing, yet here are women objectifed.
I mean this is exactly what objectifcation is. I sit here as the viewer
watching someone purposefully captivate me, by way of a choreo-
graphed mating dance—”
“Mating dance? I don’t think… You know, it’s not like they’re go-
ing on camera thinking ‘Let’s have sex with everyone.’”
“Are you sure about that? Could not that very line have been
pushed as an anchor of motivation for these actresses? Do you not
fnd it very likely that the director could have prepped them by say-
ing ‘Pretend like you want to have sex with everyone?’”
The front door few open and a paying tenant wearing food ser-
vice garb walked in.
“Well, if it isn’t the famous R&B singer, Mariah Carey?” Jared
greeted.
“’Sup, guys?”
“Oh, you know. Just chillin’. Maxin’. Smelling rancid milk.
Ogling over the female form. You know, the usual.”
Their friend took a look at the giant television’s frozen image.
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The frst woman in the commercial faced them directly with daring
angry eyes.
“Oh my, is that right?”
Michael released a very long and loud sigh and reclined on the
couch’s fufy back.
“Mariah, I gotta ask you something and you have to be com-
pletely honest.”
Mariah removed her collared uniform to reveal a light under-
shirt and tossed the uniform and her backpack onto the rocking
chair next to the sofa. She then jumped onto the couch beside Jared,
bouncing all of them up and down, and laid herself across both of
their laps, resting her head on Michael’s thighs.
“Holy—” started Jared.
“Well, I’ll do what I can. I mean, we all have to lie a little, just to
survive…”
Michael pointed before them again. “Look at this lady.”
Mariah turned her head towards the screen while still lying
across two sets of legs. “I see your digitally produced lady, and I raise
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my eyebrows half an inch or so.”
“Look,” Michael continued, “please be really honest with me.
Do you think it’s wrong for me to look at such a person and want
to… you know…”
“Um…” Mariah reached down to hike her pants up a bit and re-
adjust her position, causing all of them to bob up and down on the
sensitive cushions. “…to take her out to Consuelo’s? To buy her a
pony? To ofer to teach her trigonometry? To…”
“Have sexual intercourse.”
Mariah sat up and settled next to Jared. She looked at the
screen, back to Michael, and then the screen again.
“Well… I think on a very core level, I could see why she would
stir such desires, yes.”
“And…” Michael began. Another very audible exhalation. “And
is this… is this some mistake on my part, do you think? Am I… I
guess I’m trying to ask, do you think I’m a victim or a provocateur?”
“Triple word score!” exclaimed Jared.
“Hmmm…” Mariah stood up. She took a few slow paces away
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from the monitor, looked down, and grasped her chin. “Well… I
think I know what you’re asking… I think. I guess, you know… stuf
like this, commercials like this, they’re meant to make you want
to be just like that girl. I mean, not exactly like this—or not you, I
mean other women, you know? They want women like me to buy
whatever they’re selling so I can be just like her, right? Make men
powerless to my unbreakable spell and devolve them into rambling
submissive playthings, right? Only if I wear the exact makeup she
does will I become the center of attention and every look I fing at
you and every pose I contort myself into will suck you further into
my spell.”
Jared and Michael continued staring at their good acquain-
tance. Mariah took steadied almost unconscious steps towards the
kitchen. “But little did they know these tactics would have no efect,
that is, impression, on me since I’m not after guys. Not that I haven’t
fallen short of the patriarchy’s relentless— Ew, what is that smell?
Oh my God, you guys! Get in here!”
The two gentlemen leaped out of the couch and joined Mariah,
her mouth agape as she stared at the spectacle of streams of milk
running down the upper and lower cabinets. A glob of congealed
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dairy sat in the middle of the sink like a bull’s-eye in some surreal-
ist’s recreation of a target inside jagged concentric circles.
The tenant’s arm shot out towards the mess and she pointed
with one long unpainted index fnger. “What… the hell, guys?”
Jared raised his hand. “This was… this was me.”
“What the hell were you thinking?”
“I… wasn’t. I was not thinking. But don’t you worry your sapphic
little—”
“Lysol and rags are under the counter. Please take care of this.”
Mariah stomped out of the kitchen, down the stairs, into her room,
and slammed the door.
Jared and Michael now stared at the explosion in silence.
“The violation of one’s personal space,” said Michael, “A great
tragedy.”
“Universal.”
The two boys found cleaning products, got down on their hands
and knees, and started scrubbing.