“Techies are the latest REM cycle in the American dream,” the rapist declares, cleverly. “We’re making the lives of these people better,” he continues. “These people” reads like an insult, not unlike when the rapist uses “girls” when he means women. “A friend of mine invented an app to fight hunger and food waste simultaneously. To date, his app has distributed more than half a million meals that would otherwise have been thrown out.” The rapist, the article clarifies, though it doesn’t refer to him as the rapist, resides with his self-described live-in girlfriend in a sleek, remodelled loft on Folsom Street, in the middle of the Mission District. They came home late after a concert recently to find the words “JOB CREATORS” spray-painted across the front of their building. “I prefer the new method of tagging walls to the old,” the rapist’s girlfriend interjects, cleverly. They are so clever. The rapist’s girlfriend posts a selfie of the rapist and the rapist’s girlfriend pointing and laughing at “JOB CREATORS.” The rapist might not be that into it, but the rapist’s girlfriend is definitely a believer in the selfie. The woman passes by the building and sees a Latino man scrubbing the graffiti off the façade.
It’s the rapist and the rapist’s girlfriend’s half anniversary—six inseparable months already, how time flies when you’re in love!—and to celebrate they plan to dine at East Meets West, a pricey concept joint that’s an homage to Mexican taco trucks and Japanese street-cart fare. The woman arrives early, just as it is opening, in fact, and stakes out a seat that’s excellent for spying. By the time the rapist and the rapist’s girlfriend waltz in for their eight-o’clock reservation, she is tipsy. They begin with a bottle of champagne, though they barely touch it, preferring to concentrate on the touching of their knees under the table, the rapist’s girlfriend reaching to stroke the inside of the rapist’s thigh, the rapist caressing the very tips of her fingertips. The rapist and the rapist’s girlfriend are drunk on their happiness, and the woman is drunk on vodka. Trays of tacos rolled like sushi and sushi rolls spread out like tacos emerge, as colorful and ostentatious as if they were floats in a miniature, culturally appropriative carnival, winding their way through the restaurant and into the triumphant gullets of the rapist and the rapist’s girlfriend.
Distracted by the rapist’s tongue as it darts to snatch flavor from his lips, and by his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallows, the woman wonders, What if the rapist’s girlfriend, instead of nonchalantly sampling the expensive small bites and the champagne, ate the rapist for their anniversary? The rapist’s girlfriend could begin with an amuse-bouche of the rapist’s Adam’s apple, devouring it in one gulp as if it were a cut of tuna sashimi. Next, a lightly braised trio of rapist-tongue tacos. To prepare the main course, the rapist’s girlfriend will grip the rapist by the balls and compress them until they pop! With a sound identical to the sound of a tube of tennis balls opening, the rapist’s balls will bounce across the floor. Waitstaff will skitter around chasing the balls, to be simmered in a hearty broth with ramen noodles. For the pièce de résistance: a dessert of the rapist’s penis, split like a plantain and sautéed with condensed milk until it melts in the mouth.
A toast! To six more amazing months. The rapist and the rapist’s girlfriend share a passionate kiss. A wave of nausea crashes against the woman, though whether it’s prompted by the kiss, or the vodka, or her vision of the rapist’s girlfriend cannibalizing him like a character from her stepmom’s pillows, or a combination of the three, it’s impossible to guess. She dry heaves over a toilet in the bathroom, which has the vibe of a quinceañera set in a Zen garden. When she emerges from the stall, utterly spent, unable to throw up, emptied out of emptiness itself, the rapist’s girlfriend is by the sinks reapplying her makeup. The woman stands there staring for what must be a strange span of time because the rapist’s girlfriend meets her eyes in the mirror and raises her eyebrows like, Hey, Creepy McStaringlady, take a selfie, it’ll last longer. The woman’s feet shuffle her to the sink beside the rapist’s girlfriend, and the woman’s hands wash her hands, and the woman’s vocal cords vocalize.
“You look nice,” the woman says.
“Thanks,” the rapist’s girlfriend says.
“I’m the one who’s lucky.”
The rapist’s girlfriend has no idea that she is dating a rapist. Should the woman say something? Although the rapist may not have raped his girlfriend yet, that doesn’t mean he won’t. If something does go down, she might at least recall this conversation and hopefully not blame herself so much.
“Not to get stalkery, but didn’t you create the app Tender Buttons?”
The woman is stalkery, but the rapist’s girlfriend doesn’t know that.
“Wow, you know Tender Buttons. I am the creator!”
The rapist’s girlfriend’s ego seems to grow three sizes, like the Grinch’s heart, if the Grinch’s heart were already enormous.
“How do you like the app?”
“I don’t know how to properly communicate this, but I met someone through the app who raped me.”
The woman doesn’t feel great blaming the rape on the rapist’s girlfriend’s app, like it’s a fart and she’s blaming it on the dog, a circumstance with which the rapist is probably also familiar, but the truth is out of the question. The rapist’s girlfriend wouldn’t believe her, or she would, but she’d be so disturbed by the woman’s behavior that she wouldn’t.
“I’m so sorry that happened to you.”
The rapist’s girlfriend angles her eyebrows in forlorn, sisterly solidarity. She takes the woman’s hands in her hands and squeezes them gently.
“Aren’t you concerned that your app might be used for sinister purposes?”
“I worried about that a lot when it was in the initial stages. The reality is that any app, such as a hookup app, can be used to manipulate and hurt others, primarily women. I figured, isn’t it better to try to foster human connection than not?”
The woman stares into the pools of bottomless remorse and empathy that are the rapist’s girlfriend’s eyes. She is utterly sincere; the woman can tell. The rapist’s girlfriend truly believes that she and the rapist are making the world a better place.