I think now’s the time for me to take a lover.

[A piece in which the writer employs the word odalisque eight times.]

Yesterday I finally got those skin tags removed. Yeah, those skin tags. Don’t tell me you didn’t notice them. There were well over 700 of them, most the size of a Kia Soul, stretching from my left eyelid down my face and neck and across my chest. People would point in that way so I couldn’t see them. And I think everyone knows the haunting taunts the neighbor children would sing: “Faggy, gaggy floppy skin taggy. The City’s gonna put your face in a garbage baggy!”

But today I am a butterfly emerging from his chrysalis. They are gone. Go ahead, run your fingers over the upper half of my body –all bumps you find will be the necessary ones.

Hello? No one’s running their fingers over the upper half of my body, much less the lower half.

To remedy this situation, I have decided to take a lover. I refuse to use any of your more base carnal terms. “Take a lover” sounds like something out of the society pages of old: “Marquis Christopher Ronald Bartholomew Fay of the Columbus Fays spent the season at Biarritz, where he was rumored to have taken several lovers hailing from prominent families. This periodical salutes his discretion, tenderness and virility”

The phrase “take a lover” also conjures visions of me reclining like an odalisque on an overstuffed 19th century chaise longue, resplendent in velvets and feathers. I really think this would be a good look for me. I look great in a La-Z-Boy, and male odalisque is not too much of a stretch after that.

Apologies to Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 1814.

Apologies to Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 1814.

I have other things going for me in the taking a lover department, too, beyond the lack of skin tags. My collection of abstruse t-shirts is at its apogee; I’ve lost like fifteen pounds; I’ve finally figured out a way to apply Just For Men that looks completely natural; I drive a Volvo station wagon that’s old enough to be interesting; and I’m relatively new meat here in Columbus.


There is much that conspires against me taking a proper lover at the present time. Remember, the inability to take a lover never has anything to do with the odalisque on the chaise longue, but everything to do with the outside world.

My bowling is inconsistent. No one wants a lover whose ball-handling is inconsistent. I am taking lessons, but until my hand steadies, I fear I must be alone.

People don’t appreciate tacky double-entendres. Like ball-handling. I think they’re the highest form of humor. I need a lover who gets my childlike, childish humor.

I’m living with my sister. Don’t get me wrong: I’m having a blast living with her. We have similar tastes in shows, and I love her neighborhood. Unfortunately, there’s no room in her place for a proper chaise longue. Besides, if I were able to wedge a chaise longue into her place, she would cover it with throw pillows in a second; she’s two pillows away starring in a TLC show about pillow hoarding.

Also, I’m living with my cat. The cat has, and will continue to, judge my taste in lovers. No one likes being judged.

Apparently, all lover-taking nowadays is done through location-based smartphone apps and textulation. I am an odalisque, not a microsurgeon; I can’t read the font on these things. Not that it matters because it seems all anyone responds to my amorous sonnets is LOL, or, if I’m lucky, ROFLMAO. Alas, I was born in the wrong century. I bet if I had a decent quill, I could be taking lovers at the rate of however long it takes carrier pigeons.

I’m not against modern conveniences, however. I am more than willing to woo and be wooed via the telephone. And I’m not talking something pedestrian like 1-900-MAN-LUAU and it’s ilk. Wouldn’t it be great just to kick back on the chaise longue and just chat, listening to the cadence of his voice and worming my way out of awkward silences? It should be pointed out that I am a master at changing the subject. Let me tell you about my cat; she dropped a pad of steel wool at my feet like it was dead mouse this morning. See? Now the subject is cats, and we can chat for twenty more minutes. [Hush… my obsession with my cat should be seen as belonging in the plus column. That I make t-shirts with my cat’s picture on them should be seen as a pleasant quirk by any potential lovers.]

Alas, no one wants to chat on the phone any more, and when they do, they are behind the wheel. I cannot be responsible for my potential lovers’ gruesome motorway deaths. All everyone wants to is textulate on their devices. This is what passes for conversation. This is not conversation; it is irregularly-spaced yawping. I could handle textulating if the textulations came at regular intervals, but units of conversation can come instantly, or they can come four hours later –with no explanation for the gap. With telephony, when one gets off the phone, one can be at least sure lunch plans have been firmed up. It is an odd feature of this modern life that lunch plans made via text are somehow fungible. They are almost always incomplete to this odalisque’s satisfaction. Great minds have called me intolerant because of my displeasure at texting. They say I should get with the times; that this is the new normal.

I want a lover who talks on the phone.

Bars in this town are fraught with pitfalls. On those occasions when I do venture out to try my luck at lover-taking at one of the local establishments in the Columbus area where men go for hot odalisque-on-odalisque action, I cannot meet anyone. I recently moved here from NYC, where, if a guy liked how you filled out a chaise longue, he politely approached you, or vice versa. Or at least made eye contact. I have come to feel that to make eye contact in the Midwest is to threaten someone with a flame-thrower. This town has devolved all the hard-won eye contact skills I learned in NYC back to those times when I had the floor tile pattern of every bar memorized.

Not that I get much chance to attempt eye contact at bars in Columbus owing to the lousy feng shui most of them exhibit. Back in NYC, real estate was at a premium. Therefore, the bars were necessarily smaller affairs. Here, in Columbus, the bars are all roughly the size of some gentry’s estate in Berkshire. This allows people to stand in little cliques, talking among themselves, and never facing out. I feel as if I am at a new school, and everyone else is sitting at the popular table. I’m back in ninth grade, hurriedly eating my Yoplait by the lockers, hoping someone, anyone, would say hi.

Unfortunately, those that do dare make eye contact are invariably rogues of the lowest order. Last night, I stopped by a local establishment for an adult beverage before heading home. I had one drink and headed to the parking lot. A man in a tweed jacket, obviously attracted by my quirky Volvo, approached me. He asked my name. Not wanting to be rude, I said, “Chris.” He shook my hand loosely, like a drunken fishmonger.

“So what do you like to do, Chris?” Then he touched me in a most inappropriate place. I shoved him away and shouted a string of epithets his directions of which I am not proud.

“Why do you have to be such a loser, Chris?” he muttered before stumbling away.

“What do you like to do, you sexy odalisque?” is a nice why to end an evening, not begin a conversation.

Something is obviously in retrograde. I’m gonna go with Umbriel, the darkest moon of Uranus.


Mark my word, a lover will be taken.


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