“You look like you’re going to a Fastball concert in 1998”, Dov had tugged at the hem of Jessi’s t-shirt earlier that night. “It’s hot, I can get into this.”
Jessi checked the time on her phone. “I told you, I’m doing a set tonight at that place Vinnie’s with the girls” Dov’s face fell.
“I thought that was next Wednesday”
“No, its tonight. Why else would we have worked so long on Sunday?” Dov shook his head,
“Babe, you’re ovulating”
Jessi knew he didn’t mean to hover around her cycle so anxiously, surely it wasn’t the hugest turn on in the world for him either, but they’d been trying for over a year, this is what they had to do now.
“It’s just one set, 15 minutes. And we’re going on close to the beginning”
But the bill is more crowded than the stage manager had let on, and their set has been bumped more than a few slots back. Now Jessi sits with the other girls in her troupe in the basement venue that smells like well whiskey and French fries, watching her ice melt in her glass of ginger ale. She wants to pay attention to the troupe performing now, they’re really good, but she keeps thinking about Dov, who in her mind is sitting upright in bed, the New Yorker open on his lap, hair pushed back with his glasses, aggressively massaging his eye sockets with his thumb and index finger. He is looking at the time and sighing with cartoonish disdain.
“You’re pregnant?” one of the guys performing yells to another guy. “Who is the father??” An atypical dud for how well they’ve been doing so far, Jessi fights back a grimace, not just for the lukewarm joke, but for how it pointedly reminds her that she should be at home, having perfunctory missionary style sex and hoping the sperm makes a beeline towards her cervix.
Her thoughts are interrupted by a text, its from the troupe leader Heather, who is sitting too far away to whisper “This name is terrible. We need to change it”
Jessi texts back quickly “There’s no time now, it’ll just be a place holder until we come up with something better” As soon as she hits send, a text from Dov dips into her phone screen.
“Going to bed”
Jessi feels like shit. They had parted so well, too. She had kissed him, and rubbed his back through his shirt. She had promised she would wear those stockings he likes later. When she was walking out the door, he had shouted after her “Hey, call me when they start playing The Way. That’s my jam.”
Stuffing her phone back into her purse, the host has re-entered the stage, applauding the troupe as they barrel back into their seats. Her troupe mates begin to shuffle, readying themselves. “I am jazzed to announce our next troupe, making their Vinnie’s debut…” Heather looks over her shoulder and shoots Jessi a look of quiet pain as they file towards the stage. “Ladies and germs, please give a warm welcome to…” The host squints at his index card, “Her…HERlarious?” Jessi takes a deep breath, and climbs the steps into the spotlight.