Does curly chest hair get any curlier when twisted around a forefinger? He’s stressed out again, and he’s doing it. It’s an automatic unbuttoning of his shirt’s top button, followed by a twisting of a bundle of curly chest hair pressed lightly between two fingertips. It’s a continuous twisting and untwisting. He once explained to me that the untwisting ensures a painless twisting. Two successive twistings, uninterrupted by a full untwisting, can result in excruciating pain, and on occasions, it can uproot precious chest hair. If only I could understand the mechanics of dealing with stress through chest hair. If there are no nerves connecting men’s chest hair directly to the part of the brain responsible for stress management, I don’t see how the twistability of chest hair can help reduce stress. Do men have to devise hairy solutions for dealing with their problems when they could just chew on their nails? There’s something absurd about curling the curled. Especially when there’s no hope of making it any curlier, and when there are no depilatory intentions involved.
I let him do it. I don’t complain. I don’t even reach for his shirt to button it up and forbid him to touch the button again. I eye him as he twists and then untwists. I don’t threaten that I’ll shave his chest in his sleep, and I don’t then explain that to avoid waking him up while trimming his carpeted chest, I could easily drug him, and I don’t have to assure him that of course I could drug him because wasn’t I the one making all the meals, and I don’t then have to warn him about my potential to do something as nasty as that however kind he takes my heart to be, and so I don’t get to look at the fear in his eyes, the fear of waking up to a hairless chest which he seems to view as a symbol of castration. I don’t even command him to stop playing with his chest hair or else I’ll have sex with the first hirsute man I meet on the street. He must think I’m silent because I can’t see him performing the ritual. He must think being a new driver I don’t dare to look at anything other than the steering wheel and the road in front. I let him rejoice in his fantasy.
There’s a red light again. I brake slowly and come to a smooth stop. That’s so unlike me. Usually, my braking at a red light or a stop sign coincides with some flying and floating and colliding and hitting activity in the car, as if suddenly everything unfastened with a belt decides to have some adventure in the vehicle. He’s so busy thinking his anxious thoughts that he doesn’t compliment me on my improved driving skills.
Is he thinking about the fight we had right before getting in the car? We’re still mad at each other. I know I am. He must be too. This is the fourth time I’ve caught him cheating. He hates it when I catch him cheating. How badly he wishes to beat me, and to beat me real hard. I bet he’s visualizing the moment he could grab me by the hair and drag me on the floor, swearing and kicking and spitting.
Does he wish me dead? He must be picturing me in a gory car accident, with the old car’s air bags having malfunctioned, unable to save my life, and the windows shattered in my face, with a tapered bar of iron grazing my guts after breaking through the front window, and me covered with blood taking my last breath, calling out his name, apologizing for having been a bitch all those years. Of course he’d rather have me dead than complaining about his inattentiveness, indifference and promiscuity.
Is he praying to God, asking Him to point his remote control my way and press the mute button? He must wish I were dumb. He once said he thought God should have never given Eve a tongue and He should have rendered all the female progeny of Adam and Eve genetically incapable of making any tongue-related evolutions, so that they could never grow tongues to frack men with. He must be trying to imagine the joy that would come with the tongueless me. He must be mentally bathing in that awesome fantasy. He could even be fantasizing about the subtlety of performing a surgery on my mouth to remove the tongue, that lethal female weapon only second to tears. He must be picturing himself in a green uniform, wearing a green mask, wielding a pair of tweezers and a long razor blade, ready to do the inevitable? I wonder whether in his fantasy he drugs me or leaves me conscious, tied to a bed, able to see the flash of joy in his eyes as he carefully and slowly rips my nagging device out.
He’s looking at me and his lips are parted. He’s about to talk. What is he about to say? Another excuse as to why he finds American women irresistibly different from me, with my olive skin, black curly hair and distinctly oriental looks, and why he can’t stop cheating on me?
He speaks, loudly: “Are you blind, woman? Don’t you see it’s green? Green means go, red means stay. Green, go, red, stay. GREEN GO RED STAY.”
Born and raised in a small southern town in Iran, Saeide Mirzaei received conservative education and grew up in a culturally cloistered environment, until she moved to Tehran to study English literature at the University of Tehran. When she finished her master’s degree in 2007, she found herself spending more and more time writing stories, a life-long passion that had shaped her choice of college studies, when against her father’s urges to study medicine, she had chosen English as a discipline. To study creative writing academically and to find an international audience to fulfill her dreams of becoming the voice of the unheard and underrepresented Iranian women, she applied to a number of MFA programs in the United States and out of four programs she was admitted to, she decided to join the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, in August, 2011. She finished her MFA degree in 2015, and she is currently in a PhD program at the University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis.