By. Madison Sweezy
Life is always a little less complicated in retrospect. The problems that seemed so inescapable and shattering when I was a teenager are so easy to solve from the comfort of my future. So I wish that I could make some sort of survival guide and send it back, a book of cheat sheets to walk myself through some of the minor complications of life. Easy, simple things, like: when your dentist asks if you want yellow braces, say no. Or when Britney Spears tells you low rise jeans are cute, don't believe her. Or when your fifth grade sex-ed teacher complains about tampon commercials on tv, saying that kind of stuff is “too sexual” for kids your age. Throw a tampon at her face. Let the scathing sexuality of the cotton rip into her skin. Tear the wrapping off a few more and lob them into the center of the room, watching as kids dive under desks and shriek in terror. Watching as these 2 inches of plastic clear the room like a grenade.
When the boy who lives down the street laughs as he tells you no one will ever love you because you’re too fat. Eat him. Eat his entire body. Start with the head, then his torso. Then work your way down to his arms and his legs and his clothes, too. Then, go wash it down with a pint of Halo Top, because you really are trying to watch your figure.
When the stain on your grey jeans burns worse than the embarrassment in your face, and your classmates howl at the red dripping down between your legs, swipe the blood and smear it beneath your eyes. Wear it as war paint. Decapitate these screaming fools and mount their heads on a stick, waving them as a warning to your enemies. PMS is really a bitch.
When the man at the church door tells you your knee length skirt is too short for your 13 year old body, take it off. Go to church naked. Adam and Eve the shit out of that service. But put on some socks first, high ones long enough to cover your knees. Because if the curves of your calves are too voluptuous, the slope of your Achilles heel too titillating, the bones in your ankle too arousing, it's clearly you that's the issue. Not the men three times your age stroking themselves to the court burn on your knee you got at your youth basketball practice. Whore.
When the boys in your class make fun of the girl with the thick black hair on her arm, pluck the hairs from your head and hers and weave them together, knotting it at the ends like you learned at girl scouts camp. One by one, tie the rope of hair around the ankles of all the laughing boys and hang them from the ceilings. Let the blood rush to their heads as you drain the laughter from their bodies. Remind those boys that a hairy woman brought them into this world, and a hairy woman can just as easily send them out.
When you overhear the girl at the gym tell her boyfriend that she doesn't have girl friends because they're “too much drama” give her a library card. Tell her to check out a US history book. Then a World History Book. Literally any book about the past hundreds of thousands of years of global conflicts caused by men. Then tell her to check out Homegoing because that book is just truly fantastic.
When the whips of your father’s words slash open your mom’s skin, and the heat from his anger threatens to burn down the house, grab your mom’s hand and laugh together. Remember that strength has been defined by a patriarchal affinity for roughness. But it is not always biceps and dumbbells and shouting matches. Strength can be dandelions blooming in the winter, and the sun shining during a hurricane, and tenderness in the face of rage. Strength can be your laughter harmonizing with the roars of the beast trying to kill you.
When the boy you meet the first week of college slaps your thighs and tells you you’re pretty cute, “except for these,” put him in a triangle choke. Wrap your massive thighs around his throat and squeeze the life out of him like a python. Watch as his face turns purple and then blue and then blancs. Feel his soul float out of his body, smile as it dissolves into oblivion. Then take a bubble bath because you’re probably a little sweaty by now.
When that guy your friend is crushing on ghosts her. Just ghost him back. Die a tragic death and have your soul damned to purgatory. Haunt him and his weird roommate who spends all his money on David Foster Wallace books he’ll never read and Rick and Morty t-shirts. Haunt them both, but only a little bit. Not enough to scare them, but enough to make their life blood-curdling annoying. Move his stapler over an inch. Make his game controller sticky enough to notice but not sticky enough to identify the stick. Drive him to madness with your micro aggressions, then forget to respond to his ouiji board call because honestly the afterlife just got really busy and you're not ready for that kind of cross-dimensional commitment right now.
When you impatiently check your watch while you're hooking up with that guy and start to fake it just to end it. Don't. Remember that you’re such a bad actor that you were denied the role of Townsperson #2 in your fifth grade production of Footloose. Remember that the failure of mediocre men is no fault of yours, remember that your existence is not a burden, remember to email the world and tell them that we can totally stop pretending that the only part of the human body made up of 8 thousand nerve endings ENTIRELY for pleasure is in ANY WAY hard to stimulate. What's that old saying? So easy a washing machine can do it?
When you spit at your extra X chromosome and wonder, not for the first time, whether life would be better without it, go sit in front of a mirror. See the hair of Artemis, the freckles of Joan of Arc, the specks of stars in your eyes and the dust from Venus in your skin. Look at your mother, your sister, your friends. See the descendants of the Amazons, the daughters of the Salem witches. See the souls of all the hags and spinsters and sluts and whores who were too stubborn and too resilient and too goddamn female to let the femicidal whispers of the world erode their essence.
Look at yourself, all of yourself, and see nothing less than the moon personified. Look at yourself and see the capacity of an extra X.
But, seriously, when your dentist asks if you want yellow braces. Please just say no.
Madison Sweezy is a recent grad just trying to figure out how to kill time before climate change swallows us whole. Check out her out at https://twitter.com/m_sweez7 and https://instagram.com/msweez7.