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A Critical Essay on Condomnairing by Chiedozie Ude.

Condoms, however basic and insignificant they may appear, are highly important when it comes to avoiding pregnancy and other sexual-related infections. Buying and using condoms may be quite tricky due to several factors. It is not uncommon for many a guy who wants to buy condoms to whisper silently to the seller because the buyer does not want other customers in the shop to view him with reproach. Well, if you are scared of buying condoms or you do not know how to properly wear one, this essay is for you.

Firstly, if you are underaged or if you are well known for decency, you might not want to buy condoms from a vendor that is in your area in order not to spoil your reputation. You never know, words may reach your parents or pastor. Now, that will make a juicy scandal. So, the solution to the fear or shame of buying condoms can be solved if you buy it from a place where you are not known. Better still, buy it from an aboki (trust me, these abokis sell everything sellable — that is, they are the true definition of a Jack of all trades) because an aboki will sell to you without asking questions. Do not ask me how I know this.

Having bought the condoms (I used the plural form because I do not think anyone will buy one, and rightly so.), the next issue will be how to keep them away from the wrong eyes. The wrong eyes include: younger siblings (Trust me, your younger ones cannot keep a secret to save their lives.); your parents (especially your mother); and your nosy elderly female neighbours who serve as CCTV for your mother etc. Rest assured that you are safe if you can avoid the set of people mentioned. Being caught by your parents, guardian or mentor is not ideal. Imagine how they will squeeze their faces, expressing their disgust in no uncertain terms, forgetting that they were once teenagers or youth who embarked on a plethora of erotic adventures. Trust me, African parents do not understand the concept of safe sex because total abstinence is their style. Therefore, do not be deceived by thinking they will understand why you keep condoms because they will never even try to understand; so, below are the ways to avoid being caught with the wonderful rubber:
1. Hide the goods in one of the hidden pockets of a standard wallet and never you let your wallet enter the hands of any of those classified as the wrong eyes.
2. Place the goods in an empty Milo container “pangolo” and bury it while facing the west. To be certain that you do it properly, do it while the sun is about to sink into its vest (Permit my floweriness, I mean sunset.). The essence of doing this is because burying a condom is a sacred festival that must be done with a mountain of sacredness.
3. Simply buy the condoms whenever you are about to use them. No need to keep incriminating evidence of your fornicating habit for your beloved and righteous parents to find.

No matter the precautions one may take, one may still be exposed. Little wonder the Pidgin English proverb states thus: “When breeze blow, fowl nyash go open.” Should you ever be caught with the contraband, here is a list of what you should do:
1. Admit to your parents that you are a “fuckaholic” so that they can conduct deliverance service for you. However, if your mother is a Yoruba woman who possesses the immanent or God-given ability to shape destinies with her resounding slaps, you may not apply this method. Do not say I did not warn you.
2. This rule is a tried and tested rule because it works every time. Whenever you are caught, just act casually by saying in an offhand manner that you attended a seminar on sex education and you were given condoms as souvenirs. After you say this, shake your head and say: “Silly me, I forgot to throw that shit out.” Then, you whistle loudly as you go out to discard the material. To appear more real — that is, to make them know it was an honest mistake — take out the trash can and empty it because doing this will remind your parents of how responsible you are. Applying this will save you from answering a lot of questions.

The previous paragraphs have dealt with the issues of buying and hiding condoms, and also the issue of escaping a scolding or a righteous sermon when you are caught with the goods-you-should-not-possess. Having learnt these, the next step will be to guide you on how to properly wear a condom. This stage is the most critical because if it is not done properly, you may end up becoming a father in the next nine months. As a student, you would not want that or would you? So, below are the things that should be done in order to ensure you are not violating the sacrosanct rules of condomnairing:
1. Do not wear the condom on your joystick the way you force your skinny jeans into your yam legs. Doing this may get it broken. Remember, you have to treat a condom with utmost respect and care — the kind of care you will give to a fragile baby.
2. Blow little air into it, place it on your Iroko tree and gently roll it towards your sack of coconuts (Pardon my use of euphemisms, my righteousness does not give room for sexual explicitness.).
3. Rule three is very important because it is where legends stand out. You may know how to wear a condom but are you a condomnairing legend? Read on to find out. Always leave a paragraph at the beginning of your Jack hammer when you put on a condom. This paragraph is important because it is going to store whatever you bring out during copulation. Remember, what separates the best from the rest is simply paragraphing.

In conclusion, you now know where you stand as a guy or where your boyfriends stand for the girls. Some of them are condomnairing legends while the rest need to up their game. Finally, it is believed that the unconventional methods suggested in this article will go a long way in ensuring that boys become legends.

ROMANCE REALITY: FIRST LOVE by Dave Lane | GBAMLOG.COM

Stretching out my legs in the sand with the afternoon sun shining down on me I could feel my entire body go limp. My head tilted back with my eyes shut, the sounds of the waves crashing along the beach, the warm breeze carried the sweet smell of the ocean, I was so happy to finally be in Myrtle Beach. Looking over at my friends, I witnessed Jay rubbing his eyes, Joe and Will yawning and Bob stretched out over his towel. I guess we were still feeling the effects of that long drive from Massachusetts to South Carolina. None of us got any sleep during the drive. Bob, Jay and I couldn’t stop fidgeting the entire ride. Joe and Will kept measuring the miles and counting down each mile to the next state border. When we finally arrive at the cottage the five of us never brought in our luggage or bags, we just crashed in the first bed or couch we saw. Today was peaceful, it was nice to just relax on the beach in the warm South Carolina sun. The day seem to escape us as we joked and reminisced about our high schools years. The more we talked, the more I realized that each of us was heading our separate ways. Joe and Will were heading off SMU, Bob and Jay were becoming electricians and I was heading to Dean College in September. There was that short moment of silence as I looked around at our little group, my lips tightened, this was probably the last time we would all be together. Realizing that, my mind was flooded with wonderful memories of high school, my friends, sports, parties, etc. My head drooped down, and I decided to listen to my walkman. As the music started my mind started to drift when Jay tapped me on the shoulder.
“We’re heading back, are you coming?” Jay asked as he stretched his arms out.
Placing my headphones around my neck I looked up and shielded my eyes from the sun light and said, “I am going to stay here for a little longer.”
Jay smiled and gave me a quick nod of approval before heading back to the cottage.
The brightness of the sun started to dim and turn to a more reddish color as it descended behind me. Dusk was a peaceful and beautiful time to be on the beach. It was less inhabited and a little cooler. The smell of the salt air was so soothing and you could hear the rhythm of the waves crashing along the shore. There was a warm offshore breeze flowing in and you could smell the sweet ocean as the tide headed out to sea. The breeze and the waves started to have a tranquilizing effect on me. I was enjoying watching people walk up and down the beach; kids running toward the water and then back trying to avoid the waves, an older couple walking holding hands and mother was holding her infant daughter playing in the water lifting her up when the waves came gliding in. The beach was far from crowded but still had good activity. This was a good time to put my headphones back on and listen to music. The sounds of the beach began to vanish as the music of Chicago took over. Stretching my legs and leaning back on my elbows I shut my eyes and began to hear the music. Slowly I took in a deep breath and opened my eyes. Suddenly something reached out and grabbed my attention. I was captivated by this girl in a red bathing suit. She was walking along the edge of the water glancing out at the ocean on a few occasions. Her sandy blonde hair had reached down just beyond her shoulders. She was about 50 yards in front of me and her stunning beauty had a grasp on me when she stopped for a moment to brush her hair back with both hands. You could see her feeling the warm breeze on her face as she tilted her head back. My heart was slowly pounded and my breath just escaped from my lungs. As she was walking by I could hear the next song start; “You know our love was meant to be, The kind of love that lasts forever”. I am not sure if this was love at first sight but I could not let this moment pass me by. Leaping to my feet I started to I started to walk toward her both shaky legs and nervousness. How am I going to initiate a conversation with her, I thought to myself. Maybe say Hi, how are you? Maybe smile and wave at her. Maybe accidently bump into her. I didn’t know, all I knew was I just had to meet her, or at least try. I waited until she took a few more steps and then I began walking towards the water. She moved at slow pace, so it was easy to keep my distance. The song continued to play; “And I want you here with me from tonight until the end of time”.
Trying to remain cool and calm, I kept my pace with hers as she dragged her feet in the water. She was about 40 yards ahead of me and I knew that she would be turning around to go back but I was not sure when that would happen. My mind went into overdrive trying to think of something witty or funny to say to her. I just wanted to catch her attention. The more I thought about it the more I thought of stupid pick-up lines.
“Damn It!” I whispered to myself.
All I could focus on was the way she was walking up the beach. So I decided to lower my eyes and look down as I continued. Thinking that maybe I should just nod my head at her or smile with a quick wink. Or maybe ask for directions to the docks. Each idea that I came up with seemed more pathetic than the last one. I was a loss for words. Every so often I would look up and making sure to keep my distance. She was still there walking in front of me. My hands began to sweat and my heart still pounded! I knew that she was going to turn around very shortly. My head continued to race to think of something to say. I took another look up and my mouth just dropped. She had stopped walking and was now standing there gazing out at the ocean.
Ok, ok. This is not bad, you still have a few moments to think of something, I said to myself and then noticed that she turned towards me and began her journey back.
“Oh Shit!”, I said quite loudly.
Now is the time! I needed to thinking of something to say. She was 30 yards and closing. My mouth was dry, my palms sweaty, and my heart jumping. Although her strides were slow, everything seem to be speeding up . 20 yards, 10 yards . . . Damn! This was it, I had to say something. I had to say it right now because she was within 5 yards of me. I looked up and saw her blue eyes glance over at me. She gave me a extremely adorable smile. Now was the time, my shining moment had come, I had to say something. I looked at her and our eyes met and I said, “What’s a cute girl like you walking all by herself for?” All that time I spent thinking about what to say and this is the best I can come up with. I blew it!
She gave a slight laugh and said to me, “Waiting for a cute guy to escort me back!” My heart felt like it was coming through my chest. That was it. I stopped right there and so did she! I was not sure what happened and how it happened but a conversation developed.
“Hi” she said in a southern accent, “ I’m Susan.”
I did everything to restrain my excitement and be cool. “Hi, I’m Dave.”
It was at that moment that I felt absolutely at ease with her and could talk freely. The conversation on the way back flowed. She was Susan from West Virginia and she was down here with her friend’s family. Susan was going to be a high school senior and I was a freshmen in college. My hands were absolutely sweaty and my mind was racing around but I never took my eyes off of her eyes. Her eyes! Her eyes were light blue and I melted when she looked at me. We made it back to the spot where I first saw her. We talked a little bit more, reluctantly we parted and I could not wait to get back to the cottage and tell my friends about her. Oh man! She is stunning!
I burst through the front door and saw Jay on the couch and Joe in the kitchen. I immediately began to tell Jay about her and our conversation. As Joe came walking into the living room he asked one question. “Did you get her number?’ I paused and my eyes widded. Jay then chimed in and said, “Do you know where she is staying?” My head just dropped into my right hand. “Shit!” quickly I turned towards the door and ran out. Heading back towards the beach I could hear laughter from the cottage .
I made it back to the beach but by this time Sue was nowhere to be found. I stayed there for a while, hoping that she might show up. After about an hour I went back to the cottage. This time everyone was at the dining room table hanging out. Joe was ready to give me a hard time but Jay saw the look on my face and quickly looked over at Joe. Joe got the hint and said that she will be around and it’s the beginning of the week. Not only did I feel like an idiot, but I felt my heart drop.
We had a few beers and got ready to go out for the night. We were going to hit the Strip and walk around. I just wanted stay in the cottage and wallow in my regrets, but Jay talked me into going. When we arrived Jay and I took off and went to a few stores. The Strip was crowded with people walking up and down and the cars were slowly trolling the main street. It was a warm summer night and the lights flooded the Strip. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. Although I thought I was putting up a good front smiling and laughing, Jay could see right through that and said me, “You want head back to the cottage and have a few more beers?” “Yea!”, I answered. We saw Will with Joe and told them we were heading back. There was silence for a moment and Joe said we can head back in about 15-20 minutes if you want. I told Jay that it was fine with me if waited. Jay and I started walking the strip again, at that moment I heard a voice to my left. “Hey didn’t I meet you on the beach today?” As I looked over I saw Susan in the passenger side of a small hatchback leaning out the window. She gave me a big smile. My eyes widded and I froze for just a second or two! I hit Jay on the shoulder and said”Jay! Jay! This is Susan the girl I told you about on the beach!” She laughed and introduced us to her friend. We were talking about a minute before two police officers came up to us and told us we were blocking traffic. “Either get in the car with them or move along!” Susan’s friend told us to get in the back. We drove around for a few minutes and asked them if they wanted to go to our cottage. They did! The whole ride back to the cottage Susan and I talked, and as we talked her blues eyes melted my heart.
She pulled the car onto the gravel driveway and Jay and I immediately paired up with the girls. I asked Susan to go down to the beach. She did and we continued our conversation from this afternoon. We both sat down on the cool sand and just talked. We talked about school, summer, music, etc. it was getting late. I got up and put my hand out to help her up. When I felt her hand grab my hand a sensation came over me. Butterflies were bouncing around in my stomach. I guided her up from the sand and held her hand in mine. I turned into her and held her other hand. That brief moment, at that point, I wish I could savor that feeling forever. We stood there and looked into each other’s eyes. Susan gave a slight smile and I lean into her for a kiss. She responded the same way. Her lips were soft and sweet. It was a light kiss filled with soft passion. She smiled again and said, “That was really sweet!” My heart was beating fast and my breath escaped me. Susan took one hand from my hand and placed it on the side of my face. She shut her eyes and moved her hand to the back of my neck and pulled me in for another kiss. I placed my free hand on her waist and began to pull her towards me. I moved my other hand onto her waist and she placed both her hands on each side of my face. As we kissed you could hear the waves crashing along the beach. It was a warm night and it was so romantic. This moment, this time, this feeling, I will never forget. Each kiss was better than the last. At one moment we stopped kissing and just looked into each other’s eyes. It seems like such a cliche but I was swept off my feet and it did not seem corny to me. I was taken over by this beautiful girl from West Virginia. My heart was hers. My soul was hers. In this short amount time I was falling for her, I wanted to spend every second together. I wanted to share every moment with her. Susan looked at me and said, “Are you ok?” I shook my head and kissed her on the forehead. I pulled her in closer and we hugged. She had moved her hands down onto my chest and felt my heart pound. I could hear Jay and Susan’s friend calling for us. They were approaching the beach. Susan never pulled away from me. She stayed holding me while they walked up to us. Jay smiled at me and gave me a nod. Her friend told us that they had to get going. Susan looked at me, smiled and told me she will stop by tomorrow morning. I asked her where they were staying. She pointed at a condo that was less than 1/10th of a mile away. God damn!
That next morning Susan had stopped by as promised. She looked as beautiful as she did the night before. We spent the day together and talked. We walked up the beach and as I reached for her hand to hold, she knew instantly and grabbed my hand. Our hands interlocked with each finger in between her fingers. At that moment a feeling came over me like a wave. The feelings were overwhelming, but the best feeling was the warmth in my heart that spread throughout my body. My mind was racing and could not believe that this girl, I was holding hands with, was actually with me. That day was a day that will always be with me. Even as I write this down I still feel that warmth in my heart and my soul. We did everything together that day. Most of the time we spent together we talked. We asked each other questions about our lives, where we grew up, what music we listen to, etc. The more I knew about her the more I was falling for her. Her West Virginia accent was so sweet to listen to, her blue eyes captivated me, her sandy-blond hair, and her tanned body didn’t hurt either. But her personality. Susan was funny, caring, lovable, sweet and interesting. We got along that day and the days that followed. While my friends went out to clubs and other places, Susan and spent time together. We would sit on the beach at night and talk. Yes we would kiss and hold each other. When we did kiss it was like the first kiss. Never wanting to end. I remember lying down next to her on the beach. I shifted around, lying on my stomach with my left arm reaching across her waist and as I looked down at her, she just softly closed her eyes. Her left arm was under me and reaching up my back. I reached across to her waist pulling her closer to me. She reached up and slid her hand up the front of my chest to the back of my neck and pulled me closer to her. We softly kissed and for a moment, as I shut my eyes, I was completely captivated in the passion of that kiss. At that moment, at that precise second, I realized that my feelings for her were strong. I knew I was falling in love with this girl. Even though we only spent a few days together, every moment we shared felt right.
That final day came, the day we had to say goodbye to each other. This was a day earlier than I expected, Susan had to leave on Thursday morning because of the drive back to West Virginia. She stopped by the cottage early, I was tired and depressed. I kept thinking about this moment the entire night. I hated this feeling, but the moment I saw her walking around the corner my mind flooded with emotions. God I was thrilled to see her again but quickly realized that this time was the last. We chatted for a little bit but most of the time we just held each other. My heart felt like it was being torn out. This sick feeling overwhelmed me. Sadness creeped in with every minute. I wanted time to stop, so I could catch my breath and keep this beautiful girl in my arms. My heart pounded but it was not like before. I was anticipating that dreaded moment that was about to happen. Finally, which seemed like only a few seconds, Susan looked at me and said, ‘I have to go!’ I could tell she was crying. God I wanted to comfort her and tell her how much I loved her. ‘I know you do,’ I replied. Tears were starting to fill up in my eyes. I could not hold it back much longer but I did not want her to see me like this. I kept my head down. She kissed me on the forehead. With my hand, I reached out and grabbed her hand. I pulled her close to me and kissed her. I held her as tight as I could. Then I whispered to her, ‘I love you! Don’t you ever forget about me!’ Susan whispered back into my ear, ‘I will never forget you!’ It was at that moment we both let go and she started walking away. My heart was torn out of my chest. This pain was too much. When I could not see her anymore I broke down and started to cry. This feeling of sadness took over me and came out all at once. Leaning against the front of the car I heard the front door to the cottage open. I did not turn around because I was such a mess. I felt a hand on back and Jay’s voice saying, ‘It’s hard and it sucks!’ those words don’t seem like much but they went a long way with me. Jay might not be a master of words, but he is a true friend and has always been there for me. We stayed outside not saying anything for a long time. Then I said, ‘Let’s get something to eat.’ We walked into the cottage and had breakfast.
All day long I could not help but think of Susan. I was wondering where she was at certain times during the day. Was she thinking of me on the ride home? How long would she remember me? At times I felt like crying. For the most part I kept it together, but when I was alone I would let it out. That night we went out but my heart was with Susan. I was not much fun and my friends knew why. We went to some local club and drank a few beers, but I did not want to be here anymore. I just wanted to go home.
The next morning we left Myrtle Beach. Jay and I drove together in his car on our way home. At times we would take turns driving. All I could think about was Susan. Certain songs on the radio would trigger a memory I had of her. I did not want to forget the short time we had together. When I was driving I would play the Chicago tape I was listening to when I first saw Susan walking along the beach.
After Myrtle Beach, I saw Susan one other time. Jay and I took a trip to Morgantown, WV during Labor Day Weekend. We recruited our friend Karl to go with us. The trip was about a 10 hour drive. Like driving down to Myrtle Beach we all took shifts driving.
I saw Susan for a couple days that weekend. The first night I saw Susan was at her high school football game. She was on the sideline cheerleading when I arrived. She looked so adorable, Susan looked as beautiful and stunning as the first time I saw her. That entire weekend was just as special as the time we spent down in Myrtle Beach. Jay and Karl were great. When the game was over Susan came up to me and gave me a huge tremendous adoring hug. Her embrace felt so affectionate! When I closed my eyes and held her close to me I caught a whiff of her aroma. The fragrance brought me back to Myrtle Beach. Funny we did not kiss but just held each other for a brief time. The moment we let go, I clutched her hand and walked her over to Jay and Karl. After I introduced her to them, Susan and I talked for a little longer. She had to go home tonight but we made plans for tomorrow. It was a little heartbreaking but I knew we would be together for the next couple of days.
Those two days rapidly flew by. Our last day together was just as hard as the last time we said goodbye. In the parking lot of the motel I had her in my arms. She embraced me with the same warmth and intensity as I had. We did not say anything for the longest time. Her arms started to squeeze me tighter and I knew it would be agonizing to let her go from my arms. To release our grasp that we had on each other would be to let go forever. Even in mind I was planning my next trip see her, in the back of my mind I knew this was the last time I would be with her again. I felt that Susan was thinking the same thing. Occasionally her embrace would get a little tighter. As we slowly released our hug my hands moved down to her waist. Her hands lowered down to my chest. I looked into her sensational blue eyes and saw a tear gently slide down her check. I pulled her in and tenderly kissed her on the forehead. When I pulled back I looked into her eyes. “I love you!” I said .
“I love you too.” she replied and put her head on my chest again.
The time came for us to let go and finally say ‘goodbye’. With my hands firmly holding onto hers, the sensation of tears formed in my eyes. As much as I tried to held back the tears the worse it got. Susan looked at and brushed the tears of my face. Her hand shifted to the back of my neck and she kissed me again. Susan looked up at me, there was a brief moment of silence and then we kissed for the last time. “I’ll write soon.” I said. She shook her head and then we parted. I watched her get into her car and drive off. I got myself together and headed back to the room.
I kept hanging on to the idea of a relationship with Susan, but as time went on the realization began to sink in. We wrote each other 2-3 times a week but as weeks turn into months the letters became less frequent. Soon the letters gradually stopped.
It has been 35 years since I last saw Susan but the memories are still strong. Although I fell in love again and now have a family, I never forgot about Susan. Over the years I have always wondered what she is doing, Where she was living?, What type of job she has?, Did she ever get married, have children? Is she happy? I never stopped caring for her.
No matter how old you are or how many years have gone by, you never forget your first experiences. Some are more memorable than others and there are some you would like to forget. Each memory I will always cherish, my first hit playing baseball as a kid, riding bike without training wheels, I walking into Fenway Park and seeing the Green Monster, my first date, etc. But the one that sticks out the most, as far as first experiences go, is the first time I fell in love.

MYSTERY CLASSICS:NOTES FROM A SPIDER by Camilla Grudova | GBAMLOG.COM

These notes were found in a leather binder, written on loose-leaf paper of good quality. The binder was stuffed in an old trunk, underneath a moth-eaten fox fur, small black records, many broken needles, tattered bits of sewn cloth and empty glass medicinal bottles, in a condemned building, the last of many to be torn down to make way for modern and sanitary housing.

I couldn’t have been born in any city but this one, a great European capital filled with beautiful, highly detailed architecture, a castle overlooking the river, the city a spread of gilded and copper garlic-like domes, gargoyles, steeples, trains, lampposts resembling moons entrapped by black vines, skylights like dew on buildings, factories, workshops, cabarets, a forest of iron, stone, glass. I certainly can’t imagine myself existing in an American or Siberian village, a desert, a valley. I have only seen such places in books, I have never left the city in which I was born. I’m given many invitations to visit villas in foreign countries, castles, the seaside, but I worry I would disappear as soon I stepped out of this city, like a cloud of smog.

I feel part wrought iron, part human and, I won’t lie, part vermin.

I have eight legs, and the upper body of a normal man. Black hair, elegant nose and melancholy green eyes, a good set of fake teeth made out of elephants’ tusks – I had my real ones removed, like so many gentlemen of my city, so I could enjoy rich food and drink without continual visits to a dentist. I had my fake ones designed to be sharper than my originals, more fang-like. The style has been emulated by many men, young and old.

I bring to mind a spider, an umbrella, a marionette.

The way I move I resemble a large hand with a few extra fingers. I only have one set of genitals – thank goodness! The delicacy and sensation of having a pair between each leg would be unbearable.

The spaces between my other legs resemble armpits, but slightly firmer. They are hairy. I have the hair removed with wax, so there will be less ambiguity when viewing my naked form. I take great care of my feet, each nail covered in clear, shiny polish, each sole dipped in scented powder.

My anus is directly underneath me, my buttocks a circle in the centre of my legs, much like a lavatory on which my torso permanently sits. A chamber pot is much easier for me to use than a modern toilet, and the cafés I patronize regularly provide me with one. Afterwards, I wipe myself with a wet cloth. I take great care with my appearance. I have suits especially made to fit the proportions of my body, though some, including my doctor, have suggested it would be more comfortable for me to wear a gown.

I never wear unmatching shoes, though some people would imagine I would want to, in order to show off my vast collection of footwear. I buy four pairs of each shoe I desire, and wear them all at once.

I could be a stone arabesque that crawled off a building, or a complex contraption belonging to a barber, a photographer or a mathematician. I could be one of many things that exist in the modern city, I play various roles in many fantasies.

It’s impossible to imagine my parents, I believe I simply rose out of the city, out of a steamy grate, like Venus out of the ocean. There are many men in the city, deformed by the guns and cannons of the last war, who have only one or two limbs left, or none at all – in a sense they are my fathers. If there is nothing shocking about a man with one limb, what is so shocking about a man with eight?

A soldier with one arm and no other limbs lives on a small wooden wagon outside the metro near my apartments. I always gave him coins until one day he asked if he could have two of my legs instead. He laughed, but his eyes looked so envious, so hungry, that I never stopped to give him anything again. I scurried away on my infinitely precious eight feet, an abundance of flesh.

From what I was told, I was left on a church doorstep, like a gargoyle that had fallen from its façade. I was brought to an orphanage, but I was too exceptional to stay in an orphanage long, news spread of me quickly. A handful of kind, curious patrons hired a nanny to raise me, tutors to educate me, a doctor to watch my health carefully. I was a particular favourite among wealthy women. No one person possessed me, I was considered a child of the city. Everyone important visited, brought me toys, books, musical instruments.

Though I wasn’t forced to learn a specific skill, or to heighten my difference with strange tricks, like the circus dwarf who is taught to juggle and dance, I played piano a little, had a fine voice, and knew arithmetic. But I knew from a young age that I would mainly devote myself to pleasures of less effort: to eating, drinking, reading, loving.

My legs are somewhat weak, long but childlike, despite exercises especially designed by my doctor. It is necessary that I walk with a cane. I have one with a silver spider on the handle.

With women, I often oblige them to sit astride me so that I won’t be overly weakened. I sleep the way a flower does, closed like an umbrella.

I have many women friends, and many woo me. One, a rich baron’s wife, had a coat made out of insects’ fur for me. She had hundreds of tarantulas and bees killed in order to make it, in order to appeal to me, but never have I been so repulsed. I care deeply for the creatures so many others despise: spiders, moths, rats, mice, all manners of bugs. They are my kind.

I have two pet rats, one white, one black, Odilon and Claude, whom I take with me everywhere in a leather and gold cage. I feed them candied almonds, bits of sausage and oranges. They are fond of me, they love to crawl across my many limbs, and I have my suits made with a few extra inches of loose fabric so that they can comfortably sit between my legs and the cloth. People often mistake their lumpish outlines for further deformations of my body, and are horrified when they move.

I am the city’s muse. Many artists have painted me, and there is a sculpture of my body, nude except for a bowler hat, in a public garden, upon a pedestal, with a poem, written in my honour, carved into it.

An architect designed a glass and steel pavilion full of palms where one can have tea, topped with a bronze model of my head, and a round theatre, made of black and white marble, the black marble designed in arches emulating my legs.

I also make a substantial amount doing advertisements for: absinthe, shaving lotion, wafers, sparkling water, brogues, bowties, soap, feather dusters, jewellery, truffles, silk, macaroons, liquorice, typewriters, photography studios, paint, thread, tea, perfume, coffee, Bergamot oil, sock garters, galoshes, tinned oysters, umbrellas, moustache wax, fishnet stockings, walking canes, bowler hats and nougat.

I refuse to do advertisements for insecticide, though I have been asked many times. How I hate those horrible shops with rats nailed to the façade, boxes of poison, traps for creatures of all sizes, some so large they might catch an unfortunate child.

How I love cockroaches, lice, fleas, pigeons, moths, rats, mice, spiders, sparrows and of course, cimex lectularius. It is thanks to me such dwellers in this city have a safe haven. Using my vast funds, I created a zoo where a selection of so-called vermin can exist in fascinating proliferation, in a closed-off area of the city, where glass tunnels have been built so that human citizens may walk through unmolested and unbitten. Visitors bring them rotten meat, stale bread, old clothes and bedding. Some find it relaxing, even addictive, to watch the creatures propagate, consume, die, to see them exist in a space where they can do each without restraint, without poison, brooms, traps, felines and dogs.

From a distance, my zoo resembles a great gallery or train station. It has many glass roofs, and grand pediments with friezes depicting rodents and insects. At the entrance, there is a bronze statue of me, a rat in one hand, a moth in the other.

I love the moth house, for those creatures consume everything. The moths were enclosed in a structure resembling a greenhouse. Every morning a man who wears an outfit similar to a beekeeper’s opens one of the glass panels and throws in a bag of stale bread and a pile of coats. In such profusion, the swarms of moths resemble swathes of brown fabric or vicious and strange tropical trees which sway to an unknown breeze.

Inside the rat house is a model in miniature of our city, the very same buildings and streets, so that one may watch the rats, so manlike with their hands and whiskers, go about their business of breeding, eating and digesting. The cockroaches and mice keep themselves hidden under old mattresses and couches. If one taps the glass of their cage with a cane or a fist, they move from one hiding place to another, storms of brown and grey. I always bring along a pair of opera glasses, to view the fleas and bed bugs.

The spider house is quiet. It has so many webs it resembles an arctic landscape in its whiteness. It is still except for the morning feeding, when flies and other small creatures are sacrificed. There is a great difference to me between a spider that needs blood, and so must kill, and the unnecessary crushing of spiders, simply because we do not like the sight of their webs in our windowsills. The spinning of webs in the zoo is barely perceptible to the viewer, but the spiders communicate with each other by playing their webs like string instruments, a harmonious music you can hear when all else is silent. They are common household spiders, from the windowsills and corners of my city. Some auspicious women visit the zoo specifically for the spiders, almost praying to them, telling them their secrets and their ailments, as if their words will be absorbed into the webs. I heard that some younger women bring, hidden in precious boxes, the pulp of their menstruation to give to the spiders, believing that doing so will bring them love, marriage, children, and even death. The zookeeper has shown me such boxes, like the ones rings are held in, but stained with blood. He keeps them in his office, after dropping the blood clots into the spiders’ home.

I also draw such attentions. Women unsatisfied with their husbands and unable to bear children come to my apartments begging. I sometimes oblige if their gifts for me are exquisite enough – a fur stole, or a crate of pomegranates or blood oranges, each fruit wrapped in gold foil, for example. The children that result all have my distinguished face, but none my multiple legs. Some women were too nervous and excitable when they saw me naked, my phallus extended like a ninth leg. The women most capable of dealing with an array of different bodies were prostitutes. They told me about the hundreds of deformities hidden under men’s clothing. They were never surprised nor shocked. Publicly, I spent most of my time with actresses and opera singers. I had my own box at all the theatres and opera houses in the city. I always wore a long black cape and sat in the back of my boxes, half hidden in the shadows so as not to draw attention away from the performances. I was the most famous man in my city, my face was everywhere. I was like a monument so large you could see it from wherever you were standing. There was even a ballet and an opera written about me. The ballet was titled Son of Arachne, the opera The Black Spider.

I have been asked to take to the stage myself, but my health would not permit it. It would be too exhausting on top of all my other activities.

It was after the premiere of Son of Arachne, however, that I fell into despair. For the pas de deux, a male and female wore tutus designed to look like multiple legs. (Ah, that female equivalent of me that doesn’t exist!) How they danced together, while I faced life alone! I bought a female tarantula from an exotic menagerie and kept her in a glass box shaped like a palace, I slept with four prostitutes all at once to immerse myself in a tangle of female legs, and later, I borrowed the costume from the ballet and made one of the women wear it, but nothing satisfied me. I went for long drives in my carriage at night, the carriage itself was spiderlike, I had its lace curtains designed to look like webs. I was searching, it seemed impossible that this city of factories, of specialist shops, this city that could produce everything in great quantities could only produce one of me. I stopped in front of Gothic cathedrals and ornate balconies, hoping for a mistress who resembled me to crawl down from their heights.

On one such night, driving across a shopping boulevard where the shop window lights were kept on all night, I spotted the most beautiful but inhuman thigh and told my driver to stop. It was a sewing machine shop. The machine in the window had four legs, like iron plants, a wooden body, a swanlike curved metal neck and a circular platform to run the fabric across, not unlike the plate on a gramophone where the record is placed, and a small mouth with one silver tooth. She was an unusual, modern creature. What beautiful music she must make! Florence was her name, it was stencilled on the shop window. florence. I sat there in my carriage until it was morning and the shop opened. I hastily purchased her, the one in the window. They asked if I wanted her taken apart for carrying, but I had her put, as is, in my carriage. I drove through the city, my legs entwined with hers, two of my feet placed on her sole-shaped pedals.

The shop owners gave me a catalogue of sewing machines, all the names tantalizing: Cleopatra, Countess, Dolly Varden, Daisy, Elsa, Alexandra, Diamond, Gloria, Little Gem, Godiva, Jennie June, Pearl, Victoria, Titania, Princess Beatrice, Penelope, Queen Mab, Empress, Anita, Bernina, Little Wonder, but none more than my Florence, sitting across from me.

Back at my apartments, I tried to bring her to life. I put a hankie from my pocket below her mouth, I fed her string, the very best, I pressed the pedal, but she was stubborn. She swore at me in large, uneven stitches, harsh lines on my kerchief. I wept. I embraced her desperately, kissing the metal body, but she was frigid and still.

Florence needed a woman to assist her, a lady in waiting, she was telling me. I asked one of my servants to call one of the prostitutes I saw regularly, and to bring her over in my carriage as soon as possible. Her name was Polina and her black, curly hair reminded me of Florence’s legs.

After she undressed, I told her to sit at the machine, and sew.

She pressed the pedal and laughed, blowing me a kiss. She got up and tried to join me on my chaise, but I demanded she sit down by Florence again. She pouted, and said what use did she have for knowing how to use a sewing machine? Her Madame fixed her underthings when they were torn. It wouldn’t do! I needed a professional, a seamstress. I told Polina to get out. I immediately wrote an ad for a newspaper and sent it by telegraph so it would appear the next morning.

WANTED

SEAMSTRESS

Oh those poor thin bespectacled things who lived in basements and attics, living off thin soup and dented cans of fish, their backs hunched, their fingers thin and calloused. Yes, there was something insect-like about them. I interviewed many, and settled on a young thing, not yet deformed by her profession. Her hair was the same chestnut colour as Florence’s wooden torso. I had her measured, and a dress made of black lace that followed the same pattern as Florence’s legs. I bought rolls of white, black and gold silk, for Florence to speak to me with.

The girl blushed when she changed into the dress, one could easily see her breasts and bottom through the pattern. I sat close by, and told her to sit down with Florence, and begin.

Ah, those stitches, like lipstick marks left on a paper napkin, sweet poems. The girl worked and worked, caressing Florence in a beautiful dance. I clutched the finished sheets of clothes to my chest. I didn’t want the girl to stop, I closed the curtains. We both became hypnotized, I don’t know how much time passed, but I watched and watched, telling the girl, ‘Do not stop, do not stop!’ in quick breaths until the girl collapsed, the cloth becoming tangled, Florence’s mouth slowing until it was still.

Florence, my mistress, had killed the seamstress. My stove was more decorative than utilitarian, a green and black box with as many ornamental figures and faces as an opera house. I had my meals in restaurants and didn’t use the stove for more than heating sugar, and it took all day to burn the remnants of the seamstress, whom I chopped up into little morsels no bigger than mussels, taking off the dress I had made for her first, of course, and draping it carefully over Florence, to whom it really belonged.

I was tempted, many times, to take the seamstress’s body to my zoo. Oh, how the rats, moths and fleas would consume her in a moment.

I had spent days, nights, in the company of Florence and the seamstress, unaware of time passing. After the seamstress’s body was burned, I was famished, greatly weakened. I kissed Florence and went to a restaurant. I ate my meal quickly, I was impatient to get back to Florence, but I needed another seamstress. I couldn’t use the same newspaper.

I waited near a clothing factory in my carriage and as the girls went home, I stopped and talked to one that appealed to me, the same chestnut hair, the same size as my first seamstress, so that I could reuse the dress I had. I gave the girl a meal delivered from a restaurant before she began, so that she would last longer, but not a meal heavy enough to make her lethargic.

I read the swathes of cloth, her fine, straight stitches, a mysterious and invigorating language, a great novel of love for me. I wrapped myself in them. I only left the apartment to eat, to find more seamstresses, to buy more cloth.

In Florence’s honour, I would open a sewing machine museum, which would also provide me with a steady stream of seamstresses. I would call it the Florentina Museum, an iron and glass building resembling a magnificent web. My patronesses loved the idea, though they had never sewn themselves. It would be recognition of women’s work, and they gave me the money I needed. The museum was planned under my direction, and sewing machine manufacturers donated models and further funds.

The seamstresses came to the museum on weekends in droves, either out of a strange curiosity to see machines unlike the ones they worked with or because they were scared of being away from their machines. No one would love them, so they pushed their affection towards the very machines that destroyed them. They didn’t have sewing machines at home, they couldn’t afford them. Simple needles and threads wouldn’t do, and so they came to my museum in their free hours, their lonely hearts longing to see a treadle, a wheel. The machines had disfigured the seamstresses, they put all their beauty and youth into dresses, curtains and suits. It was easy to spot them, the pale skin, the tired eyes with purple half-circles underneath like violent-tinted spectacles, the squinting, their fingers worn thin, almost needles themselves, hidden in cheap gloves, the shaking legs that would have been muscly from pumping had they had more meat to eat.

The museum had a café, where I now went every weekend for anise and pistachio éclairs and coffee in small black and gold cups. The seamstresses sat at the arabesque iron café tables, their legs moving up and down underneath. They wore hats and shoes made out of black cardboard and carried little pouches filled with iron pills or tonic, often given to them by their factories to keep them alive, and took them with their coffee.

‘If you could do a quick sewing job for me, I have a machine, some silk pyjamas that have ripped, what fine fingers you have, I will pay you of course, and give you dinner too, a fine steak, some roast chicken.’

They lost track of time, there were no clocks in my apartment for this purpose, the curtains were shut, the air was heavy from the stove and gas lamps. I worked them for days and they became hypnotized, as did I, watching the beautiful iron limbs of Florence move.

But the point came when, watching the girls wilt with exhaustion, watching the machine consume them, feeling the cloth covered in gold, black, green and red stitches wasn’t enough any longer. I wanted to be involved in the process, to be touched by Florence.

I cut open my leg with a penknife and said to the current seamstress sitting in front of Florence, a weak thing with a thin black braid, ‘Sew it, sew it up, my dear. No, there is no need to call a physician, just sew it up for me, dear, on the machine.’

Without wiping the blood away, I stuck one of my legs underneath, pale with black hairs, like a roll of cloth that had been slept on, and commanded the seamstress to sew, the cold metal of Florence’s flesh poised above me. What relief, what joy, what pain with the first stitch!

They were love bites, to me. They weren’t as legible or as even as the stitches on cloth, but just as beautiful.

Soon, all eight of my legs were covered in stitches and scars, like a ragdoll, Florence’s kisses. The loss of blood weakened me immensely. I started to walk with two canes instead of one, and I partook of iron pills and tonics, just as the seamstresses did. I barely had any appetite for food, I was too lovesick. For my visits to the zoo, I bought a wheeled chaise which one of my servants pushed me in, but otherwise I did not leave my apartments, I refused invitations, no longer did any modelling. Only my creatures in the zoo understood, I thought, my consuming desire for Florence, my endless hunger for cloth covered in her stitches, for her stitches in my flesh. I brought a bag of wigs for the moths, sausages for the rats, and a cage full of kittens for the fleas. I watched them eat, then returned home.

The few times I had visitors over between seamstresses, so as not to raise too many suspicions as I had previously been so sociable, I covered Florence with a cloth. I didn’t want them to see something so intimate to me.

Disposing of used seamstresses was exhausting. I bought a larger stove, saying I suffered more and more from the cold. I couldn’t even ask my servants for help. I let go all but one, who drove my carriage. Visiting my doctor, I was reluctant for him to see my legs. I told him I was attacked by the dog of a woman friend. My doctor told me I had to stop seeing her at once, and to stay away from dogs. I couldn’t afford to lose more blood, I needed more than the average person with my extra appendages; my heart was overworked.

Oh indeed it was, but he did not know how much. He was disgusted by my stitches. What awful, backdoor surgeon had I visited and why? Why did I not visit him, my trusted doctor since childhood? He gave me a bottle of antiseptic liquid to put on the wounds. I vowed never to visit him again.

I had piles of telegrams, invitations, letters, newspapers, but the only thing I read was Florence’s cloth, yes, and her love-bites, I think she is beginning to love me, I feed her, she writes she writes

The last page ends with an indeterminate smudge, whether blood, ink or alcohol, it is too aged for the naked eye to determine.