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My wife and I can’t agree on which shade of gray to paint the dining room. She blames my Baptist childhood.

“It makes communication difficult.”

My heart is in the wrong place, but my head bows in contrition.

She prefers ice blue undertones which evoke glaciers.

We’ve argued about this before.

She’d rather not argue. She’d rather not get into power games that introduce conflict in her desire to give me a blow job.

“I’d love to suck your dick but I just can’t.”

I sit on the couch and think about Patty who could and never once couldn’t.

“It’s not that I don’t want to offer you the shimmery oceanic glaze of fine fellatio but you see how getting on my knees would be humiliating after earlier. If we can’t agree on paint, it pops up later. And there’s nothing that feels cheaper than these $4 pop-up cards people send in lieu of carnations.”

“Why don’t we go with your gray?”

Patty was perfect and we never talked about paint.

“It’s no use,” my wife says. “If we go with gray blue now, it will feel like payment for a blowjob. And whenever I look at that color—our kids smacking cereal inside it—I will remember how it feels to be a prostitute. Working for a living between the patriarch’s legs.”

My wife bites a pinky-nail and kills it with her incisors.

“You know…” she begins.

“I don’t know much.”

“I would really like to blow you.”

Patty played third base in softball and blew me on accident. I don’t think she planned it but she didn’t unplan it either. Things happen and no one mentions it after.

My wife nibbles and nibbles her nails.

“If we paint the dining room that godawful gray—your gray with the yellowish undertones—every time I look at the walls I’ll be reminded of how much I hate the patriarchy. I’ll remember how it feels to be trapped and dominated. But I’ll also feel good about blowing you. I’ll blow you whenever I want without being a prostitute. I’ll blow you happily knowing you can’t even begin to pay me for this.”




Alina Stefanescu‘s poetry was born in Romania and raised in Alabama. Every Mask I Tried On, her first fiction collection, will be available from Brighthorse Books in 2017.