"Push your thumb on the screen," Peggy offered suggestively, holding out her iPhone, while letting the strap of her satin top slide off her milky, smooth left shoulder. She pushed away some of her luxuriously silky brown hair for him to see. Not really wanting to take his eyes off of this and her perfectly oval white face, her beckoning brown eyes and pink lips, he reluctantly looked at the device. The screen displayed a big, blue "I Agree" button that flashed impatiently, awaiting his thumb print.
Joe sat up a bit on the couch to look more closely. She moved her arm from around his neck to give him space. "I agree?" he asked. "To what?" The mood was breaking, ever so slightly.
"You know," she replied, but paused, still needing work on her discomfort in expressing herself in this area, "before we continue…something…we need to both agree to it. It’s a protection for both of us."
He found himself on the sidewalk moments later. The traffic on Connecticut Avenue passed him, ongoing, unheeding of his internal distress. The gentle evening breeze blowing along the tree-lined street and between the stately apartment buildings was nothing to the whirlwind inside his mind. A fleeting scent of wild animals mingled with the smells of traffic exhaust. Must be from the zoo, he thought. The echoes of her angry exclamations at his refusal to push the button still bounded in his mind like the monkeys that frolicked in the Primate House, just blocks away.
The street lights lit the world around him. It was a beautiful summer night at least. And still early really. Early enough that he could meet up with his friends congregating down in Georgetown. Wearing only a polo shirt and shorts, he was not exactly dressed for this sort of outing, but he didn’t care. He stepped off the sidewalk and raised his arm to the traffic to catch a cab.
Unbeknownst to him, a pair of lovely, but very wet, brown eyes watched from above as Joe got into the cab. He didn’t even look up as the cab drove off, the beast. Peggy looked down at her phone and then tossed it angrily on the couch. Why was she so attracted to men? she often wondered. It was all so confusing. She was advised almost constantly (her bedside was always adorned with the latest edition of Cosmo) how to attract one and how to have the best sex with him once she got him. And yet, the thing she was supposed to attract to her was a beast–a potential rapist! Like a wild animal he could attack at any minute. And yet that made him more interesting somehow, like swimming in the ocean rather than in the safety of a pool.
She finished her glass of wine, and then remembered she had some chocolate-covered strawberries in the fridge. Needing some mental comfort, she stepped away from the window to get them.
Seated again on the couch, now handling a bulbous, pointed fruit, she sunk her teeth into the chocolatey goodness. Her lesbian friends at WARP frequently told her to give up men. After all, they were disgusting, smelly animals really. Their kind of sex was messy, drippy and disgusting–and inherently unsafe. Birth control did not always work and life-changing things would be the result. And thank goodness there was a solution to that, they said.
She looked down at her belly, now flat and flawless. Her belly button just visible below her top. She loved her beautiful body, but sometimes hated its fertility. The slightest misstep, and she would be pregnant. It was like her womb was out to get her and make her just like her mom.
Her mom, another victim of the patriarchal society, lived out in the suburbs, in Olney. Her mom’s body was ruined by having babies. And her dad did it to her. But her dad was not a rapist; she knew that. He was good to her mom, and he loved his daughter–madly. No, they just didn’t know any better. They still went to church even, dragging her there every Christmas and Easter. They were happy in their ignorance.
Joe kind of reminded her of her father, in a way. When she first saw him, she thought about Olney and a house and kids and a minivan, and….she had to stop that kind of thinking.
Once on M Street, Joe soon found his friends in the bar they generally got to around this time on a Friday night. There was a group of six of them at a long table: Matt and Phil, Pete and Andy, and Paul and Barney–all good friends and alumni of Georgetown U, as was Joe. The place was a bright, less hip place with tables and chairs to sit on, and quieter than the dance joints they started out in. They made great melon balls there.
They made room for him at the table, and he got seated next to his former roommates, Matt and Phil. He wasted no time in telling them what had just happened to him.
"Dude, are you out of your mind?" Matt exclaimed, after hearing the story, right into Joe’s ear. "You could be with her right now! Do you understand that?" He was a tad inebriated.
"Keep it down!" Joe answered, rubbing his ear.
"She meant it as a compliment to you, man!" Matt opined, laughing at the idiocy of the whole thing. "She was turned on, found you to be a worthy companion, and was ready to let the fireworks begin!"
"She was so gorgeous. I thought I could get past it. Her job. That wacky feminist organization she works for–what’s its name?" Joe said disgustedly.
Peggy was an attorney with some liberal political activist association he was unfamiliar with called WARP. Women against something or other; he didn’t know exactly what it stood for, nor really cared. Joe worked for the Tradition Institute, a conservative think tank. They had met two weeks ago on neutral ground, at a Young Lawyers Bar Association get together. Joe caught her eyeing him when he arrived. This was not an uncommon occurrence for him; he was tall, dark and athletic, and had a deep voice. They hit it off immediately, and met almost constantly since. But it was pure body chemistry between them–their world views were planets apart.
"And then this app of hers," Joe continued, "I really didn’t know what the hell it was!" Joe added, downing his second melon ball, trying to catch up with his friends.
"I’ll tell you what it was," Phil stated. "It’s an app that they’re pushing. It’s a weapon to fight against the patriarchal rape culture on college campuses, at least according to the WARP press release I read the other day."
"I would’ve pushed the button, dude!" Matt blurted out, shaking his head in disbelief.
"And be bound by something I didn’t take the time to read?"
"Can you let go of the lawyer thing ever? I got a good look at her the other day–for her, I’d do it," Matt replied. "…if I were you," he added quickly.
"It’s a contract of adhesion," Phil said smiling, "and not valid. At least, that’s what I’d argue in a court of law."
"Look, I know you both think this is terribly funny, but I could lose my job over something like that. This kind of crap is just the sort of thing we fight against every day."
"And what you were going to do with her tonight?" Matt pointed out. "That wasn’t exactly a traditional value…"
"Not exactly a tradition, but old…" Phil added.
"I wasn’t planning anything," Joe replied, not exactly telling the truth, "I was just sort of letting nature take its course."
"Don’t play innocent," Matt said. "You knew very well what you were doing, and you know it."
"I wasn’t expecting a contract signing."