Thursday, October 21, 2010

I've Been Told

by CJ Hallman

I've been told that I couldn't give a decent blow job to save my life. That my hand jobs are like vice grips, like instruments of torture. I've been told that I could get a guy off just by turning and looking at him the right way—head over left shoulder, chin down, dark hair falling perfectly in my liner-smudged eyes. I've been laughed at and told that I just don't radiate sexuality at all, that I simply couldn't be imagined rolling around in the sack, or even kissing. I've been told that I'm fat, fat, fat. I've been told that I need to wax, and that I need to grow it all out. That I would never get married because I can't cuddle or spoon properly, because I sleep curled up in the fetal position like I'm a lost Gretel-esque child in some Freudian nightmare. I've been told that I need to eat more, put some meat on my bones, indulge. That I don't deserve a boyfriend because I'm immature and a born cheater and because I clearly don't comprehend the complexities of commitment. That I need to be married soon/yesterday/now. That I need to hurry up and pop out some kids because my eggs are running out and because that's what people do and because that's just the way things are done. That I'd make a terrible mother. 

I've been told that I look like a woman who loves pleasure and I took that to mean: I look like a glutton, a lardass. I've been told that I look like a total bitch and I took that to mean: I need to wear less makeup, invest in some clear chapstick, curl my waxy lips into phony smiles at regular intervals throughout the day.

I've been told to give up on striving toward “success” and to just marry/date up. To say yes even when I mean no, to cook meat even though I'm a vegetarian, to wear skirts even though I cannot stand the fleshy feel of my thighs rubbing together. I've been told that my hands are magical instruments, and that my mouth is a first-class, tropical destination comparable to San Tropez. That my hips curve like a wine glass, and that my tits are too small. I've been told that I dress too conservatively in cardigans and long pants. That the thong I wear underneath these clothes is such a fucking turn-on. That I only sleep with you/men for the power you/they possess. That I have no power myself, but maybe a little bit of talent and someday that talent might evolve into power and that when/if I acquire this power, I should know that no man will want me—it's called the Oprah Syndrome. I've been told that I need to cover up, that I'm too inhibited, that I'm a total slut. This I've been told.

And there's a man with me now, a man in my bed, another messenger who is here to tell me, tell me, tell me, and I hear all of these deep voices in my head, all of these words, and I grab onto his ears with my fingers (which he'd told me were “just so feminine and cute” as I fiddled with my chopsticks over dinner at this Pan-Asian chain downtown) and I steer him where I want him—right where I want him. I tell him, “To the left, to the left, up, up.” This I tell him. This, I told him. And I barely hear my own voice, muffled in the sheets, but I know that he cannot speak at all in the position that he's in, and there is silence, and my guilt, oh my guilt, it quickly gives way to pleasure.

CJ Hallman still naively believes sex is its own song. She lives in Austin, TX, and her fiction has appeared in Identity Theory, Everyday Weirdness,, Sphere, (Short) Fiction Collective, and The 322 Review, among others.


  1. What a badass short short. Well done. :)

  2. Have you been told that if it turns out you're a guy, it would kind of ruin the story for other guys (but not necessarily gays) reading it?

  3. This is fantastic and proof that you should do what you want or not listen to everyone else.