• Emily Kim

cult.


I didn’t bring any thongs I consider publically “appropriate” but, then again, I always forget to pack something.


So one lovely day my friend Haz and I decided to pass the afternoon hours strolling the soft earth beneath the changing trees. We wandered the trails overrun with roots, to the paved path, to the lake with quaint, little cafes round… gorgeous. The paths were comfortably packed with cyclists, joggers and walkers, all absorbing the day. Madrid, I thought to myself, is where I belong. These are my people. They understand me and I them. I tried a sort of nod of understanding at a passing couple of cyclists. In the execution my intended nod came out more as a nervous tic/spasm but I rest assured my kindred spirits understood. They must’ve been really riding hard though because they just furrowed their brows, eyeing me sideways as they zoomed by. Their grimaces were from exertion, not rejection, nor judgment of the colorfully-clad stranger eyeing them as she suffered what appeared to be a mild seizure.


With the paved road to our right and a small ridge to our left that dipped off into a creek, we walked the center trail slick with leaves. The sun began to dip and a sliver of gold light sliced the path ahead, illuminating bare feet and wiry legs on the ridge to the left. I couldn’t see past the knees as the sun was too bright but as we strode closer I could make out a thigh, upper thigh (where were this guys’ pants?), upper upper thigh… uh…junk. This guy was wearing a red thong. He stood facing the trail, hands on his hips, pelvis and gut forward, just surveying the scene ahead. I looked away quickly, not wanting to embarrass the man as he was clearly looking for his lost pants. Haz and I scanned the area for clothes strewn about but saw none. We looked to the other cyclists, runners, unicyclists, jump-ropers, whathaveyous for their reactions… they just glanced at Señor Twig-and-Berries and then continued on their merry way like it was completely normal.


Is it?!!


We didn’t know where to look as we came up even with him. At this point he’d turned his back to us and was rummaging through a backpack of, hopefully, clothes.

I decided I preferred the frontal view to the rear.


We stared. He stood upright and turned to face us, unfolding a t-shirt. Yeah man, a t-shirt is the first thing you need…


Then something magical happened. He made eye contact and the cosmos shifted. Right was left, wrong was right… never had I felt so ashamed of being clothed in my life. This man would have made an excellent cult leader, who knows, he probably was. But he looked us up and down incredulously as if to say, Why in the world are you dressed? And I actually blushed with shame, nervously rolling up my sleeve. Why had I worn clothes today? Idiot. I suddenly found myself in an inverted Adam and Eve universe. Instead of the urge to pile on the fig leaves, I was compelled to strip them off. His eyes drew us in like two deep-set magnets. Clothes are for amateurs. Join meee, join meeeee.


But just as I tugged at the hem of my pullover, he pulled a t-shirt over his head, breaking eye contact, shaking Haz and I out of our reverie.


What was I doing? Of course I should be wearing clothes, it was autumn and we were in public and were…I don’t know… civilized.


Once past him, we glanced over our shoulders to catch him staring us down, shaking his head in disapproval. His belly pulled taut his t-shirt as his bottom half hung free.




And because I get it now, and I haven’t watched Fred and Carrie in a while… that awkward moment when the spell is broken.

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