A 3 Pound Pelvic Cut
Story by Trista Hurley-Waxali
– Trista Hurley-Waxali likes to write strange short stories.
I was too young to understand the bit from Jerry Seinfeld about the butcher paper. I simply remembered the few moments I went for a pap test or a booster shot, which seems so close together at this age. I don’t remember anything specific about that paper, just that it was kept in a roll underneath and the wisp the crisp paper made cutting the air when a nurse lead me into the room. She would smile the same smile and tell me to take off all my clothes and put on the gown.
I would lay there bare once a year, it felt adequate to the proper measures of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Never really thinking of making this a weekly visit, never a concern or even a big item on my agenda. The paper was never thick enough to write on but it was absorbent enough to catch the sweat behind my lower back while I waited. The whole industry of the butcher paper exists through waiting; a symbol of a predictable gesture.
Maybe a roll shipped out and went to a real butchers shop. One that is kept in near frigid conditions for meat that is cut from a band saw that only gets cleaned between shifts. Each allocating their level of torque and speed for its associated cuts. One to handle the short loin array of ribs and then another, sharper, to carve out a flank. Based on the order the sheet will be pulled out, along with the requested cut and weight. A three pound brisket can require a significant amount of paper and might be the key ingredient for tonight’s dinner.
If I were to envision where I wanted butcher paper to go, it would be somewhere to get printed. Where some can say the brand of the butcher shop and be sent out on request. Other rolls would have medical symbols or friendly sayings on them. Something like when you get your luggage at an airport and there’s a non-confrontational wall with the various languages spelling out ‘hello’. Something like that should be pulled out when I am asked to strip down, at least then the greeting can coddle me while I wait under the florescent lighting. At least here she keeps that one off so I can close my eyes.
“Breathe with your eyes,” she tells me.
I do and see more than just those two options. I see ones being made thick to give something for children to draw on. Made for restaurants to pull out and drape so rib sauce is blended with the hand drawn artwork of the giraffe from a nearby zoo. Maybe the child found inspiration from the creature’s various shapes and sizes of circles. To cover the sheet with an array of dark spots like a night sky, somewhere next to their sippy cup. Thus giving the parents time to finish their finger-licking food in peace. Here the paper is their salvation, an indicator that they have some down time, something to distract their child’s active mind. Here the paper is thick and might have emblems of the restaurant, a reminder to those who forget ‘chain number 5’ restaurant menu options and watermarks of the latest girls-night-out combo.
After this I might need a girls-night-out-combo for one. Where I can sit and drink up 4 bellini’s and eat crispy calamari by the handfuls. A moment where no one can interrupt or gaze on my double dipping in the artichoke dip. To remind the waitress that I am a momentary vegetarian to avoid the paper unfolding in the back kitchen. To not interrupt my evening with the sound of the crisp edges opening up to a piece of raw beef waiting for an order to be put on the fire. To give the restaurant that distinct under-seasoned scent of char, filling up the dining room. At least the table I would request will be by the window, gazing out to the youth who will never hear that Seinfeld bit.
I’m older now and use those eyes to breathe in youth, I see being young and carefree and feeling like I can conquer anything. But then you get to the age where you admire that vitality, the one I thrive in on the Thursday nights when you head out with the ladies who don’t care for the combo. Or the times you give it your all in the bedroom, to the husband who has given you his all at his age. You thank him to giving you this feeling of youth. I do this treatment for that moment. The laying down, the looking up and finding the calm. Watching the greys blend in with the orange wall, I start to feel the pressure of her hand inside. The crackle of the paper under my hair echos in my ear and I breathe through my eyes because at least I can still trust my sight. I see the blood is still and ready to serve. I’m starting to finally get that bit, laying like that piece of meat and presented to the customer before they say, ‘one more just like that’.