A Turkey Baster Is Just Like a Penis

by Rachel Levy Read author interview March 28, 2011

It’s a matter of tone. After all, the details are typical. He and I. A kitchen table, a bottle of whiskey. Ohio. At the table, we choke on whiskey. We wait until thoroughly drunk. We talk about the baby. The baby. The one we’ve agreed to make – if all else fails – when he is thirty-three and I am thirty-five. If all else fails. We talk like the future is unpredictable. But we know. We know. Separately, we’ll botch the same equation. The 1 + 1 = 3. The Boy + Girl = Baby. For him, it’s a matter of preference. For me: a matter of tone. Thus the agreement. It’s all a matter of tone. A catchy bit of wisdom. I add it to my collection of mantras. Weepy on the bus. It’s a matter of tone. Sloshed in the supermarket. It’s a matter of tone. At the bar. (Can I buy you a drink? Yes. Can I buy you a drink? Yes! Can I buy you a drink? —- Yes.) A matter of tone. If all else fails! Every failure: a problem of voice and delivery. So sayeth Novalis, anyway. So many musical problems, and I claim them all. The baby. Ours. A rare breed. He: a Mexican. I: a Jew. Both of us drunk on whiskey. Both of us scholars of literature. Our baby: das über Baby, el superbebé. Our future scholar of Judeao-Chicano Lit. Call it specialization, or the perfect pedigree. Call it Derridian: a new peripheral voice. Of course the naming holds some importance. But I’ve already got it: a good Hebrew name. Zvi. Or maybe something in Yiddish. Schlomo. Schlomo if the baby is a little off, a little soft in the brain; if the baby is born with a tail. No sense wasting a good name on spoiled seed. Put something Spanish in the middle. Filiberto. I say it aloud. “Zvi Filiberto de la Garza Levy.” He is pleased. “To the baby.” We clink glasses, choke. He and I. And now I can really feel it: the warmth. Like spooked birds: my inhibitions disperse. I coax them back. Come, come. I won’t harm you. I need you. Hold me down and keep me quiet. The generic girl-glitch: he’s gay. And we have no money. Poor gay elephant cramping our style. The solution: a turkey baster. Seven bucks a pop. We’ll do it on the cheap. Like the Chicana lesbians. Fill baster with semen, insert baster, and —- it will work. I’ve confirmed with my grammy (real Jewish grammy), and she put it best. She said: A turkey baster is just like a penis. My new mantra! A turkey baster is just like a penis. I’ll lie on bed, insert baster, and ———- Southern Ohio, atonal landscape. You never get what you want. You badly communicate. Your farmland, your winter. Your blonde fields like blonde hairs on the bare white rump of an octogenarian. You, heart-shaped state, which no one loves to talk about. I don’t want to be alone. Across the table, he sways like a stalk and says he’s thinking about puking. I’m still under the whiskey’s warmth, so I ask. “Will you sleep with me?” He says: “Passionately. When you’re thirty-five. We’ll have passionate baby-making sex.” A matter of tone. I speak: “I hope you’ll still find me attractive.” He says: “Me too.” He’s wearing the collared shirt with the pearls down the front, the dark blue shirt. He always finds shirts with pearls. He laughs when I say it again. “Sleep with me.” God, I am the only serious girl in the state of Ohio. But I like the look of his face blackened by stubble. Sloppy when I’m around, but with the others he’s all sweater vests and shiny shoes. “Sleep with me.” He laughs. I laugh: “Ha. Ha.” He says: “Light my cigarette, girlfriend.” So I light it. I’m learning now, knowing that anything can make me cry. I focus on my whiskey so he can’t see. A turkey baster is just like a penis. A turkey baster is just like a penis. I hold my eyes still, and no drops fall. A turkey baster is just like a penis, a turkey baster is just like a penis, a turkey baster is just like a penis. “We’re laughing,” I say. “Ha. Ha. Ha.” I say: “Heart-shaped state.” And I try not to blink. I try to put on a less serious face. I try to take myself less seriously. Stark winter state. I beg the birds come back, pin me down, keep me quiet.

About the Author:

Rachel Levy is currently working toward an MFA in Fiction Writing at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her work can be read at ghostoceanmagazine.com.

About the Artist:

Shannon Douglas is an artist living and working in Boulder, Colorado. Through drawing and painting, Douglas hopes to depict the most hidden aspects of the human experience. Using a variety of mediums, she captures the immaterial and material simultaneously. Her works have been shown in group exhibitions in the US and Italy, including the Woodruff Art Center in Atlanta, Georgia, the Moon Gallery in Rome, Georgia, the SACI Gallery in Florence, Italy. Douglas received an BA in Studio Art from Berry College in Rome, Georgia.