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Click the play button below to listen to Chrys Tobey read
“Dear Woman Who Tried to Pick Me Up at a Hollywood Club in 1998.”

What if I’d said yes? Imagine I go home with you that night,
when I’m twenty, and when we wake up in the morning,
you ask, You know you snore? You laugh at my
nighttime retainer, which I’ll wear for the rest of my life, and say, You look hot.
What if I curl into your arms and stop constantly thinking about where
I can meet women, stop paging through ads, ignore I support gay people.
I just don’t want you to be gay, ignore You’re so pretty. You can marry
any man? Let’s imagine you hold my hand through the next decade,
when I quit acting and finally go to college, and on the last day I wait tables
I come home and tell you I intended to tell a customer to fuck off, but
everyone was kind and tipped me double. We sit on the Santa
Monica sand, talk about how high rent is, how we can barely pay
our parking tickets, and we laugh at the German tourist who doesn’t
realize this isn’t a nude beach. Maybe I stop starving myself,
stop eating fat-free soft serve and running eight miles a day. Maybe
I don’t have a breakdown, don’t swallow pills and end up in the ICU—
where they wheel me down to the curb once they find out I don’t
have insurance—and maybe years later I don’t try again,
sleep in the cardiac unit after they revive me, my heart skipping.
Instead I rest my head on your shoulder as we reminisce about the
night we met in a seedy Hollywood club. I wore some ten-dollar, black, feathery
dress, and after you followed me to the bathroom and back to the
dance floor, you walked right up and said, You’re beautiful. I blushed,
but rather than waiting twenty more years, I saw it:
my beauty and your beauty and how worthy we were of love.