by Emari DiGiorgio
From Fall 2016
The joke’s on me. No blonde. Her glossy, cream cheese- colored RV flashing neon, “Shake it Off” roaring from the far end of the Walmart parking lot. Instead of tank tops and lip-gloss, she wants to feed her fans some doughy concoction that’ll fill their guts, undercut heartbreak’s hunger. The 1989 special with strawberry spread. I was eight then, long hair, lip-syncing Madonna’s “Like a Prayer,” down on my knees with a Conair brush, wanting to be the beauty queens my cousins were, wishing for breasts full and heavy as bagels. Oh Taylor, swift us to paradise where a girl can eat her carb’s content. Like once in that Rutgers campus parking lot, Erykah Badu’s “Bag Lady” blaring from the small horn mounted atop the red and gold diner car, as if it was Girl’s Day Out at the grease truck compound. We were looking for our trophies having made it through the night unscathed, no man’s prisoner, no small meal would do, only the blessed mother of fat sandwiches. From my bra strap, I pulled crumpled bills damp with sweat, and the queen cook, a silk scarf covering her braids, gave me a knowing nod, like one who has been on the all-night trek and passed through the gates to safety, to this promised land of grease and meat and cheese. Each wearing our own crown of sweat curls, a day-old sheen upon our brows, my sisters and I waited for subs the size of sneakers to arrive in their checkered cardboard boats. And that first bite–all-beef burger slathered in red sauce, mozza, long hots, and topped with steak fries–burst in my mouth, marinara oozing from jowls. We licked the juice between our rings, running down wrists, victorious in our quest to be fed.