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Spencer Williams IV

That Which Cannot Be Effed

The sun. All matter was illuminated by its relentless barrage of parti-

cle waves. Every atom of every molecule reflected 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 en-

ticing 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 distinguish. This was the cutting edge.

Before their eyes was a makeup commercial on a white background.

A Caucasian woman peered directly at them from over her left shoul-

der. 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 flashing

at seizure-inducing speed, but the main focus was on the woman and
her pristine face. The epitome of pulchritude. Every second of the shuf-

fling images was an assertion on beauty, a demand to honor the agreed

upon patterns humanity anchored itself to in order to impose some kind

That Which Cannot Be Effed

of clarity. They were either with them or against them. If this woman did

not typify beauty, then scandal was afoot.

Jared got off the couch and headed to the kitchen, where the carpet-

ed living room ended and the tile floor began. Michael remained on the

couch and could hear the ends of his friend’s shoelaces ticking across the
floor. He opened the fridge and then immediately slammed it closed.

“My God, man! What happened in there?” Nothing from Michael.

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 find the culprit. Nothing appeared to be rotten at first 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 first glance appeared to reflect all light. At the top of the container was

printed: “EXP MAR 21 10”

“Good Jehovah, man. I think I found the problem.” He removed the

gallon jug, unscrewed the top and sniffed.

That Which Cannot Be Effed


He hurled it into the sink, splitting the jug open and splashing 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. Jared

walked back to the living room.

“Jesus, my fellow hominid, are you still watching—”

There was now an Asian woman posing on the screen, basking in

an uninterrupted flicker and shutter fest. She sat on a pure white floor in

front of a pure white background, tilting back her head, rolling over, and

posing in perhaps every position the modeling aestheticians had a name

for, sometimes sitting on her posterior, sometimes lying on her back,

sometimes on her side, always in some different configuration of what

appeared to strongly communicate sexual suggestion.

“My…” began Jared.

That Which Cannot Be Effed

At first, 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 extended the remote to-

wards 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 flittering.

“Um… way out?”

“Why would they… why would they show that?”

Jared walked back into the kitchen. “To fuck with you. Specifically,
to fuck with you. Um, now… Don’t get too upset, but there’s a slight mess

in here. I, like, barely averted an assassination attempt and so sorry if I’m

still a little—”
That Which Cannot Be Effed

“Hey, when’s Mariah Carey coming back?”

“Um, she, like, gets off 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 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!”

That Which Cannot Be Effed

“What in the Sam Hill are you fucking blathering about?”

Michael reached out to the screen with the remote and rewound the

digital video recorder to the first 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


“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 remote

and Michael snatched it away from him.

“What the—”

“Tell me, why do I actually wish to possess this person?”

“Jesus… I… Maybe she’s born with it? Fuck if I know, man.”

That Which Cannot Be Effed

“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 someone to


“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 withdrawal

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,

stuff like this on TV… It’s fucking TV, man. It’s a 24-hour emotion ma-

nipulation fest. I mean, I don’t know why you’re watching stuff that dis-

turbs you. I’m just waiting for last night’s South Park—”

“What am I to think about the people in that commercial? Everyone

is there deliberately, of their own free will. They’ve read the script, their
familiar with the concept, they have a really good idea of what exactly

they are producing, yet here are women objectified. I mean this is exactly

That Which Cannot Be Effed

what objectification is. I sit here as the viewer watching someone pur-

posefully captivate me, by way of a choreographed mating dance—”

“Mating dance? I don’t think… You know, it’s not like they’re going

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 find it very

likely that the director could have prepped them by saying ‘Pretend like

you want to have sex with everyone?’”

The front door flew open and a paying tenant wearing food service

garb walked in.

“Well, if it isn’t the famous R&B singer, Mariah Carey?” Jared greet-


“’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. The

first woman in the commercial faced them directly with daring angry
That Which Cannot Be Effed


“Oh my, is that right?”

Michael released a very long and loud sigh and reclined on the

couch’s fluffy back.

“Mariah, I gotta ask you something and you have to be completely


Mariah removed her collared uniform to reveal a light undershirt

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 sur-


Michael pointed before them again. “Look at this lady.”

Mariah turned her head towards the screen while still lying across

That Which Cannot Be Effed

two sets of legs. “I see your digitally produced lady, and I raise my eye-

brows 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


“Um…” Mariah reached down to hike her pants up a bit and read-

just 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 offer 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?”

That Which Cannot Be Effed

“Triple word score!” exclaimed Jared.

“Hmmm…” Mariah stood up. She took a few slow paces away from

the monitor, looked down, and grasped her chin. “Well… I think I know

what you’re asking… I think. I guess, you know… stuff like this, commer-

cials 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 ex-

act makeup she does will I become the center of attention and every look

I fling at you and every pose I contort myself into will suck you further

into my spell.”

Jared and Michael continued staring at their good acquaintance.

Mariah took steadied almost unconscious steps towards the kitchen. “But

little did they know these tactics would have no effect, that is, impression,

on me since I’m not after guys. Not that I haven’t fallen short of the patri-
archy’s relentless— Ew, what is that smell? Oh my God, you guys! Get in


That Which Cannot Be Effed

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 dairy sat in the

middle of the sink like a bull’s-eye in some surrealist’s recreation of a tar-

get inside jagged concentric circles.

The tenant’s arm shot out towards the mess and she pointed with

one long unpainted index finger. “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


“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 trag-


The two boys found cleaning products, got down on their hands and

knees, and started scrubbing.

13 © 2014 Spencer Williams IV

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