The funny thing about Kelly’s body was the way it appeared to weirdly bulge above the puss area whenever she wore clothes, but then was fine (flat, smooth) once she got naked. (This might more accurately be described as the funny thing about Kelly’s pants, seeing as it had to be the pants that caused the bulge. And yet the pants were normal, Levi’s five-oh-whatevers, so it wouldn’t be the way the pants were made that was funny, but the way the pants fit her body. Unless it was a funny way she wore the pants, i.e., maybe they would have fit just fine if she didn’t pull the waist so high or low, or—it didn’t matter. What mattered was that the way her overpuss area bulged or seemed to bulge when she was clothed, but then didn’t bulge or seem to when she was naked, was… funny.)
Cort didn’t know whether to think of this as a gift or a curse, though. On the one hand, the bulging overpuss area was off-putting, and that kept, he assumed, any number of other dudes from hitting on Kelly, which, for Cort, meant (most likely) a more grateful girlfriend in terms of how she fucked, not to mention less competition. But on the other hand, was Kelly The One? Because if Kelly was The One, then hey, great: no downside to a seemingly bulging overpuss whatsoever. If Kelly was not The One, though, and Cort would, eventually, be moving on, then couldn’t dating her hurt his chances with other girls later? Might not other girls, later, remember him as the guy who’d settled for that girl with the overpuss out to there, and thereby fail to feel flattered enough by his interest in them to give him a shot? And even if, with his native charm (he had a way with words), Cort could overcome that particular hurdle, might not a longer-term girlfriend, at some point further along in their relationship, find herself incapable—upon recalling Kelly’s (seemingly) bulging overpuss—of accepting Cort’s assurances that she was as attractive as she wanted to be? (“He says I’m not fat, but what does he know? His last girlfriend weirdly bulged above the puss area!”) Or, worse, might not the new girlfriend choose to let herself go (split ends, rough knees, dimpled cellulite, etc.), believing that Cort, who had, after all, dated someone with a (seemingly) bulging overpuss, wouldn’t mind? Well… sure. Of course. Sure. All kinds of retarded stuff could happen, thought Cort, but that was only the scratched-up lousy side of a coin whose shiny nice side was all the cred he’d get from girls for going out with Kelly despite her unfortunate overpuss bulge. And if it did turn out that Kelly wasn’t The One, and that Cort had been suffering the overpuss bulge for a smaller payout than real true love, not only would that land him in the black, karmically, but these cred-giving girls would be all over him, knowing he would never say anything, or even think anything, about their bodies to cause them any feelings of insecurity, because, as he’d have demonstrated by dating that girl with the weird bulge above the puss area, Cort wasn’t shallow.
Adam Levin is the author of the novel THE INSTRUCTIONS, a finalist for the 2010 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, and winner of both the 2011 New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award and the inaugural Indie Booksellers Choice Award. For his short stories, Levin has won the Summer Literary Seminars Fiction Contest, as well as the Joyce Carol Oates Fiction Prize. His fiction has appeared in a number of publications, including Tin House, Esquire, and New England Review. HOT PINK, his collection of short stories, was published by McSweeney’s in March 2012. He lives in Chicago, where he teaches Creative Writing at the School of the Art Institute.
Adapted from Hot Pink by Adam Levin. Copyright © 2012 by Adam Levin. With the permission of the publisher, McSweeney’s.