Illustration by Kaethe Butcher

Illustration by Kaethe Butcher


My parents are getting a divorce and the only thing I care about is to tell them I’m about to get married.

Five years into their marriage, my dad threw a kitchen knife at my mom because she bought herself a dress with the food money. He called her a cunt. My little brother was sobbing and I took his hand and held it tight in my pocket.

I’m happy for my mom, because she obviously stayed in the marriage too long. And now, with a bit of financial and psychiatric help, she can finally move on with her life. Or try to build a new one. I want to be there for her, but I’m more concerned about living my own life and making my own family, now that the ties are up.

Twenty-eight years after my dad threw a kitchen knife at my mom, I still look every day at women’s genitalia and don’t see cunts.

A bikini wax is much more personal and intimate than having, say, sex with a stranger. Women come to confess, or small talk 30 minutes of their day away, or complain about parking, or about getting locked out some guy’s house in Echo Park after a night in. I imagine what the day would be like if the word was a regular, like vagina. I imagine my clients on the phone. “Hi Laurie, so set me up for Tuesday at eleven and this time pluck those white hairs too off my cunt, okay, bye”.

Illustration by Hope Gangloff

Illustration by Hope Gangloff

I take this word and turn it upside down, left to right, flesh to core: I can’t process its meaning. I don’t know why men see women like that. I look at my lover’s body like it’s a work of art. I look at her mind like it’s a fortune from God. God doesn’t discriminate, doesn’t put women and men into small boxes and labels them as right, or wrong, good, or bad, beautiful, or ugly.

Religion does that, though.

And I was raised in a religion that doesn’t allow to love and let live, unless the commandments you submit to are brute force, power and adversity – for men, fondled with submission, silence and penitence from life’s simple pleasures, for women.

A weak sex, he would say.

Ten years after my dad threw a kitchen knife at my mom, I began to understand I am drawn to women.

Sometimes, in my early twenties, I found myself arguing whether this happened to me out of a sense of solidarity with women and a need to protect them from people like my dad, or simply because that was the life I was designed for.

I met a lot of women since then.

The woman I love is an architect and I want to marry her.

She builds houses where people move in with their kids, furniture, hopes, dreams and kitchen appliances. I want to build a home for me and her, and move in with our years, silences, couple nights in, Christmas decorations, Bon Iver records and our two dogs.

The woman who loves me lost both her parents. My mom lost a tooth when my father touched her with his fist, because the kitchen knife failed to hit her. She and my dad are getting divorced next month.

Two days ago I proposed to my girlfriend on the phone.

I was at my folks, they just let me know the deal was done.

She said yes.

My dad doesn’t know I’m gay. My mom was trying to protect us, so she never told him. Maybe he will have a stroke. Maybe he will call me a cunt. He is old now, used up, and an alcoholic. Whichever invisible knife he may throw at me, I use it to cut my slate of freedom.

Illustration by Hope Gangloff

Illustration by Hope Gangloff

Lauren Holbrook is a beautician by day and aspiring songwriter by night. She lives in Los Angeles with her two dogs, Bing and Crosby.