Some girls say, a part of me was missing until HE came
into my life lalala…but that’s not how it was with me and Will. It was more
like, the law of the jungle, or something; I bet lion kings and lion queens
know each other the way Will and I did.
It was Eli who told me about Will. They were friends
but they were complete opposites. Eli
was smart, but mostly, he was nice. He thought being nice made other people
wanna be nice too, but he should’ve known that wasn’t true from the way his
wife treated him. She’d say the most awful things then look at him like she was
daring him to do something. Of course, Eli being Eli, he never did, just grinned
and shrugged and gave you a look like, well what are ya gonna do…she was a bitch
but I think part of it was, she was tired of him being so nice all the time.
Every now and then I feel a little bad about Eli, but we did try to warn him; Eli
was smart, but he wasn't very quick.
Eli used to say stuff like, "poverty's a
crime" or maybe it was that "property is theft"-thing …I forget now
how it goes, but it was something about the poor and sick and their place in
societylalala. Eli liked helping people.
He thought everyone liked helping people, and that everyone wanted to help them
the same way he did. Eli looked at everything that way, like, he thought I was
sweet just because I acted sweet—figuring out what to be is harder for girls, I
I don't mean, what to be when you grow up, or for a
living. I mean…like when I was a kid, little girls wore dresses and little
boys wore jeans, and little girls couldn't dig in the dirt for buried treasure
like little boys could. It didn’t make any sense and it made me mad until I
figured out that no one cared if I really was sugar ‘n’ spice ‘n’ everything
nice inside, as long as I acted sweet; I could wear a dress and look pretty on
the outside and be mean as hell inside, and no one knew or wanted to know. And
that was almost as good as buried treasure.
Of course, that buried treasure thing is how people
figured out they could walk all over Eli, too. I used to tell him, you let
people get away with murder.
But from the night of Eli’s party, that night I first
saw Will—I knew him like girl lions do, and he knew me like boy lions do. And I knew I would never have to explain dresses
‘n’ dirt ‘n’ stuff, to Will.
The women at Eli’s party were all feminist-types and
the men were all sensitive-types, and the men were all nodding and agreeing
with any stupid thing any woman said just so maybe they could sleep with one of
those women later. I hate most of that women's lib crap because after I'd
figured out about the dresses and dirt and stuff, I knew being liberated is
kind of a personal matter; I mean, if you’re really liberated you don’t go
around announcing you’re liberated or worry all the time about someone not
giving you your rights. I was looking at
them all herded together and standing in a pack, the women all looking for a sensitive
man who agreed with everything they said, and the men all looking for one of
those feminist types to keep them in line, even though they wouldn't go outside
the lines if their life depended on it. And all of them could talk all night
about high-minded crap that didn't mean anything once it was dark and they were
So I was listening to all of ‘em go on and on about how
men still oppress women and that it was built into the culturelalala. I was
thinking about asking ‘em something like, who’s your favorite Stooge, or
maybe asking, which is better The Addams Family or The Munsters. I knew
they’d say The Addams Family, and then I
was gonna tell ‘em The Munsters was a better show because they were working-class
monsters and the Addams Family were aristocrats, just to say something
smart-aleck. But that’s when I saw Will.
From the back of the room he cut right through the pack,
he didn't say "excuse me" or anything, just walked right past them to
the front of the room where this purple loveseat was pushed up to the wall.
Will looked dead at me and patted the empty space next to him like “Come—sit
beside me, now.” His head never moved and his eyes never left my face, and I
hopped up there beside him like a well-trained puppy. The rest of ‘em swung their heads from Will to
Eli then back again to Will like a flock of long-necked birds in a jury box and
no one said a word. But I knew what they were thinking.
They were thinking, Will, you're such a pig, in this
day and age you can't treat women that way.
Women want men who are sensitive, who listen or at least act like they
listen, who think about the world and everybody in it, about people who are
hungry and sick and poor and about how we can help them. Women like that stuff and if they think you
do too, you got a chance—but you gotta go slow and act like you care about
whatever the hell they’re yappin’ about. That's how it works these days, you
can't just hold out your hand like it's all about you…they'll just think you're
a pig, Will.
But Will knew better.
Will knew everything only worked if boy lions did what boy lions do and
girl lions did what girl lions do. It didn't work if you tried to trade places
because the places weren't the same. When Will put out his hand and I took my
seat beside him, it wasn’t because a part of me was missing; it was because beside
him, was rightfully my place.
Well then the long-necked jury looked at Eli like, so
the pig is your friend, eh; Eli's eyes got big and white and round, like he
wanted to say, “No ! I’m nice, I’m always nice, and I treat women good, I treat
everybody good. That's not me, that’s Will.”
And it might have made a difference later if he’d actually said that, or
if he'd said anything. But all Eli could
do was stand there with a big sheepy grin, so what are ya gonna dolalala, law
of the jungle.
A month or so after that party, Eli’s wife started cheating
on him. I don’t mean like a fling, I mean it was like she was in heat. When she
filed for a divorce Eli moaned and cried like a wounded cat, and Will and I
tried to warn him, you can't expect people not to hurt you or harm you just
because you're good and nice all the time. But he wasn’t getting any better, and
sometimes it doesn’t matter whether you’re a boy lion or a girl lion. Sometimes all that matters is whether you’re
So we loaded up the car and headed out past town. I was
wearing my little red dress that was Will’s favorite, I told him, it’s the
perfect dress to wear for burying treasure, and we could not stop laughing.
We rode out on the sunset, radio turned up all the
By the time the moon was high, we didn’t hear a peep
from the trunk anymore.