by Lais Williams
"So tell me about your family. I know they
usually ask about your mother, but just to be different, tell me about
your father instead," Dr. Hoffman said, shifting in her big leather chair.
"Just whatever comes to mind."
"My dad and I have never gotten along," Richard sneered. "One time when I was three, he was riding a bike with me in the baby seat, and the bike fell over and I cracked my head open on the curb. That just says something, you know?" He laughed. "Like, 'Fuck it, I'm gonna find some way to damage this kid.'" He looked at Dr. Hoffman for a reaction, but she was calm. He continued.
"Another time, at Christmas one year, he told me I was 'unplanned.' He said my mom wanted to have an abortion, but he refused to let her go through with it, and that's the reason I'm alive today. Thanks, dad!" He laughed again. "When I get older I know I'm gonna be corporate as fuck, just like him. He's an executive at a cement company, but he's not a hard-ass like I'm gonna be. He's always being lame and giving people extensions on their payments instead of foreclosing when he should, 'cause he's such a good Catholic guy, goes to mass every Sunday and keeps his wife from aborting her unwanted fetuses." He paused. "Does that answer your question?"
Dr. Hoffman looked at him without expression. "If that's all you have to say about it, yes. Why don't you tell me about your family history now?"
"I hate being Italian. I got it on both sides, so I'm also gonna be hairy as fuck when I get old. I don't have hair on my back or my chest, but I have a lot on my legs. And my face, I gotta shave that like twice a fuckin' day. I hate hair. It makes you look like one of those fuckin' greasy 70's movie stars, like Burt Reynolds an' shit. Walk around with your top four buttons undone sayin', "Yeah, I'm a fuckin' man, check it out, I got hair comin' outta my ears I'm such a fuckin' man." The only place hair belongs is on your head, anywhere else is just plain nasty. I shave everything, except my arms. I went out with a girl who shaved her arms, and I grabbed her by the arm one time and almost got cut by the stubble. Stubble's nasty. I want to be smooth, not sharp. I don't shave my chest either, 'cause like I said, it's smooth. Some girl at school told me it won't be like that forever, I should look at my dad and know what to expect, and I just about threw up. So if it happens, when I get out of school I'm gonna make lots of money so I can get electrolysis on my whole fucking body." He stopped. "What were you asking about again?"
"You answered my question," she replied. "Now tell me, why do you hate hair so much? Does it make you feel better when you shave?"
"I fuckin' hate hair 'cause it's fuckin' nasty as shit, that's why I shave! Everybody knows that. The only people who like hair are fuckin' frat boys. They have contests to see who has the most hair. I don't like hair anywhere except on my head." Richard gesticulated towards his hair.
Dr. Hoffman scribbled in her notebook. She looked up at Richard, then asked, nonchalant, "When you're shaving, do you ever cut yourself?"
He looked at her hair. He looked at his shoes. He shifted. He pulled on his ears. He rolled his eyes. "Yeah," he said, sighing. "Sometimes I cut myself." There was a long pause. Dr. Hoffman looked at him and waited. "It's not really an accident either. I have little cuts all over my forearms and some on my legs. Here, see?" He pulled up a sleeve to show her the tiny white scars. He watched her expression, but as always there was none.
"Why do you cut yourself?" Dr. Hoffman asked.
"I get so sick of seeing all that hair, and it keeps growing back, and I get so pissed off*" He stopped and stretched his back with his arms above his head. He returned his arms to the sides of the chair. "So I lie in the bathtub with the shower running and I watch myself bleed for a while, and it makes me feel better."
"You said it makes you feel better, how do you mean?" she interjected.
Richard laughed. "'How does that make me feel?' I can't believe you actually said that," he murmured. Then he got quiet again. He ran his hand through his hair. He looked at the floor. "If I'm in there at the right time, like real early in the morning, It looks cool. See, my bathroom has dark blue tile and a skylight. I leave the light off so it's not too bright, and the tile looks dark like you could sink into it. Like the ocean. I get in the tub and turn the shower on, and then I lie there. I get the razor ready. I look at my body. I can see the stubble that's growing in on my legs and around. I hate it. I hate my body. So I make a cut on my arm, or my leg, and I watch the blood and it makes me feel a little better, something to focus on, but then I think I'm starting to get a gut, like my dad. I didn't eat yesterday, except for a few corn chips at lunch and a diet Pepsi. Today I just had some cereal at breakfast, 'cause my mom made me. I take Vivarin to keep me awake. Last week I took six before school and I threw up. There's no way I'm gonna get fat. Fat hairy men...."