Toxic

A lava lamp sat on the counter. Blues and yellows moved in a dance sequence. He picked up the lamp and examined it. Turned it upside down then upright again. A blot of red entered the lamp. It came from the bottom and worked its way towards the top before separating, glowing in two different directions. The young man marveled at this. He placed his one hand on the glass while holding onto a Heineken with the other. He was truly infatuated. Or, was he just drunk.

She came out of the bedroom wearing a plaid skirt and white blouse with black patent leather shoes. The young lady was going for a sexy Catholic school girl look. His focus was on her; he approved.

They had been dating for years. She always tried to make things interesting; clothes she wore, music she introduced to him, restaurants they went to. She wanted everything to be an adventure. He went along with it. He was in love with her; followed directions very well.

Do you think you’re whipped? she asked him as she placed her long arms around his neck. He looked at her, puzzled. I mean, do you do whatever I say to please me? Do it without any regard for yourself? Would you make a fool out of yourself for me? she laughed. He just looked at her and smiled. He knew the truth; he would.

The two of them went out that night to meet friends. A couple they had known for awhile. And like him, he was whipped too. The two boys had beers while the ladies sipped on cocktails. One, with a wedge of lime and the other a floating cherry making its way to the bottom of the glass. They all noticed the couple at the table next to them. The older man with a loud voice. And his young girlfriend looking shell-shocked. They were arguing over nothing. Nothing at all. Arguing for the sake of arguing. His voice got louder; wanting to be heard. She did a lot of head nodding. It was clear that this was the end.

Toxic masculinity, the Catholic school girl said. It’s toxic masculinity. I feel sorry for her, she continued. Women shouldn’t take that, she pleaded. Another example of white men getting what they want. To be powerful, she rambled. They’re only happy when they’re making lives miserable, her friend toasted her statement.

And then she confessed to cheating on the older man. Said he forced her to do it. Lead her down that path. Said she was continuing the affair. She was no longer in love with him. Said she was sorry. The older man kissed the blonde on the cheek and said goodbye.

The two younger men watched as he marched out of the bar. What was that? the lava lamp lover asked. The two women looked at him with smiles. And didn’t say a word.

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