The first time Grapes met Sizz was at a dinner party. It was the kind of party that Grapes hated, because mostly everyone said stupid things, agreed and expounded further on the stupid things everyone else had said, and left feeling that they had proven that they were basically okay. Later everyone would go home and either talk shit about each other or say, "Well, that was nice." It was frustrating, and getting boring, and Grapes was sorry that it was a dinner party and not a cocktail party so it couldn't just exit early gracefully.
Someone was talking about Paris. It was a self-satisfied strand of pearls, obviously cultured and not naturally grown, with a newly added vintage clasp meant to give it an air of hipness. "Well, honestly, I just thought Paris was sort of...sleazy," Pearl said, stretching out the word to contain all of the disgust that Toledo, Ohio, could muster. This was the kind of talk that was exasperating, but that Grapes could never manage to do anything about.
Then Sizz spoke, its clear voice cutting across the room and carrying over the chitchat. "What. Are. You. Talking. About." It was a statement, not a question, and it contained within it all the scorn that Grapes was feeling.
"Well, you know..." said Pearl, "...like I saw some old beat up shoe with its tongue hanging out! Its laces were all undone, and one of them was broken...it had holes in its sole, for God's sake! " Middle class suburban sensibilities were outraged-after all wasn't this supposed to be Paris? Sizz leveled a silent stare at the pearls. "I don't know, maybe it was because I was living in Montmartre, right outside the red light district," said Pearl, breezily, trying to reposition itself as a sophisticated, cosmopolitan object, tough and sexy. Grapes was embarrassed for it.
Sizz let Pearl sit and stew for a moment and then said, with love for Paris and distain for Pearl, "It's just a big city, a lovely beautiful ancient big city full of lots of different kinds of objects and sometimes these things happen," and turned to continue a conversation with the sponge on its left.
Grapes was captivated.
Sizz was not nice. Sharp edges, biting wit, it cut into everything mercilessly. It would watch and listen, from a place of calm detachment, and interject only to correct what it saw as egregious wrongs. When Grapes approached Sizz at the party, it sized Grapes up, thinking to itself, "Wannabe, artsy fartsy type, no substance, all style," and was ready to subtly poke fun of Grapes, make double entendres that Grapes would never get.
But Grapes surprised Sizz. Not by not being all that Sizz had mentally accused Grapes of, but by being it, and knowing about it, and not minding. The small moment of someone pushing past Sizz's self satisfaction and asserting the reality of their presence was always humbling, evoking in Sizz a rare sense of shame. Grapes was the first object to remind Sizz of this gently, and without a look of hurt. Grapes was an object, just as Sizz was, with its own lifetime of experiences, thoughts and emotions. Every time Sizz had to remember this about someone fucked it up a little. Grapes seemed to see Sizz's objectness too, and to be kind about it, and soft about reminding Sizz that even a pearl necklace's feelings could get hurt, while at the same time acknowledging Pearl's vapidity.
So although Grapes was nothing like the objects Sizz usually dated, tough objects that couldn't be hurt and the strong silent ones, Sizz agreed to meet Grapes later that week. They talked for hours, Sizz doing most of the talking as Grapes just sat back and enjoyed it all. Sizz told Grapes about past relationships, the wrench and the razor, and the series of unfulfilling flings with flashlights, paperweights, doorknobs. Grapes listened without trying to put Sizz in its place, without contradicting Sizz, and somehow, without Sizz quite noticing, one light, air-filled grape at a time, made its way into Sizz's heart.
When they fucked Sizz pushed so hard and Grapes just held on, everywhere at once, inside and around, so that Sizz no longer felt any edges. There wasn't the abandon of the past, because Grapes would not have withstood it, flinched the first time Sizz bit into the soft flesh, but there was this instead: Grapes' body everywhere Sizz reached for it, the shared knowledge that Sizz could tear Grapes up and Grapes' willingness to show its soft underbelly anyway. Every inch of it was soft underbelly, every second the deliciousness of resisting the temptation to cut deep, to scratch, to just pull away too quickly and rip it to shreds.
Because Grapes was letting itself get all tangled up in Sizz, anyone could see that.
This is the kind of relationship your friends warn you about: "You're loosing it, you never hang out anymore, you are not your own person anymore."
Sizz sat back and watched it happen, too much inside of it to stop it.
They started having the stupid fights:
"Hey did you get my message?"
"So what?" Sizz didn't bother to hide the irritation in its voice.
"So why didn't you contact me?"
"It was late, I was tired. What's the big deal?"
"Nothing." Grapes could hear the petulance in its voice, but was too annoyed to stop it.
"So, are we having hanging out tonight?"
"Sure." Grapes could hear Sizz's total exasperation.
"Where do you want to meet?"
"Wherever," Sizz said, its voice breezy. This bothered Grapes even more than when Sizz sounded irritated. It showed that Sizz didn't care anymore. There is nothing worse than that feeling of loosing it when the other person just wishes you would shut up, when they don't even care enough to fight with you. Grapes wanted to throttle Sizz. Grapes wanted to tell Sizz to go fuck itself. Why was Sizz so cold and uncaring, couldn't it see what it was doing to Grapes? Grapes knew from experience that Sizz would just get colder if Grapes complained, so it let things drop.
Grapes felt, for the first time, totally useless. Sizz always had something to do, and it was always important, always significant. Sizz wasn't anything like Grapes, didn't sit around, looking pretty. Grapes started thinking that maybe it should get a real job, at the same time feeling unfit for anything except being decorative. Trapped inside its own feelings of inadequacy, Grapes barely had time to notice Sizz's feelings anymore.
"You're breaking my heart," Sizz said. "Please stop doing this. We're good, you know we are." Things would get better for a while, and they would both know that it was meant to be.
The fights got worse:
"Why are you being so mean?"
"I'm not. You are the one freaking out. I don't have time for this."
"You mean you don't have time for me!"
"Will you quit it? You're being unreasonable!"
"I'm leaving." And Sizz would. God, Grapes was pathetic. Sizz was still totally amazing and it still had the ability to make Grapes feel utterly beloved. When they weren't fighting, things were wonderful, better than they had ever been before. This, thought Grapes, was the cost of true love. You let yourself feel things, you become vulnerable, and sometimes you get hurt. It was still worth it.
Sometimes it happens this way when two objects that are so different try to make it work. Grapes never, anymore, felt like enough. Not for Sizz, and not for itself. And Grapes was smarter than that. Grapes wasn't some insecure fruit, a passing fancy, destined to rot. Grapes had permanence. But being with Sizz, being constantly exposed to such a completely different kind of selfhood, was making Grapes crazy. And it was not Sizz's fault.
They had made that easy mistake, the
one so many couples make, of growing too close too fast, so that suddenly
they were all confused, didn't know how to be themselves without getting
in each other's way. It felt like everything that made Grapes Grapes was
in danger of being hurt by Sizz's very presence, and Sizz felt it too,
and blamed Grapes for making it that way. Sizz just wanted the freedom
to move its arms without hitting someone.? But there Grapes
was, and there they were. And it was too much, way too much.