poem: Girls Like Me

He said, I wonder if you’ll stay the night?

I said,

You’re kidding, right?

 

It wasn’t the beery sway or plump white hands

Or the pallid skin

(I understand some people like to play at night.

I always say

I like the sun;

Life’s more fun when you can see what you’re doing

And that you’re doing it right.)

 

No, it was the voice, his voice that said it all:

Small,

High-pitched and querulous, entitled.

A brat, a chap who gave commands and made demands.

No charm.

Simply armed to offend.

 

Girls like you, he said,

And I, being over twenty-one,

Saw red. And black and blue.

Girls like me, we used to be

Profoundly ground to dirt by men like you.

Now, as you see, we’re a bit more free.

Yippee.

 

Girls like you,

He whined again,

Want wined and dined for free.

Girls like me, I said, sweetly,

(I’m never rude)

Can buy our own drink and food.

Thanks all the same,

But stuff your game.

 

His clammy fingers made a ring around my wrist.

I took a swing

And bloodied his nose and my fist;

I didn’t feel a thing.

You’re wondering, I said,

If I’ll stay the night?

Is that the going rate for a pint, a peanut, a paltry chat

And this fight?

 

He was swaying now with pain, not drink.

Teary eyes, puckered lips too.

I blinked, began to think I’d been unfair.

It’s not his fault his default is Do or Dare.

Men don’t care to nudge each other along the way as women do.

 

Look, I said, you’ll never score behaving like a dinosaur.

Treat me like a mate.

We’ll talk and have a drink, dutch,

Maybe a bite to eat,

And if we like each other much, great,

We’ll hit the sack by mutual consent,

Like gents, no debt,

No owing, simply sowing and reaping,

Due cause and effect.

 

No need to strut, demean

No need to cause a scene

Just say what you mean.

We’re the same, you and me,

Except I’m prettier(ish) and you stand up to pee.

 

I handed him a napkin for his nose

And rose to leave. Thanks for the drink

(I think).

I turned at the door to say,

Just one thing more to help you on your way:

 

Girls like me, I said,

Are called women.

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