I made up the word to see if I could get a horny dork like Megan to laugh in science class. But she didn’t. Instead she wrote back, “what the shit is an ardorglyph?”
Mr. Reese was talking about aspens at the front of the room. He changed the slide from the “Arborglyphs of the West,“ which were old bark carvings made by horny sheepherders, mostly outlines of nude women. The new slide showed Pando, a giant aspen grove that has been growing itself for tens of thousands of years. I doodled a panda bear spitting out its tiny panda self next to my reply: “ardorglyph = your SEX signature.”
At lunch Megan and I talked about what ours would be. They involved stuff we’d seen in the movies. I thought I’d have money by the time I was having sex, so I could spread a bunch of twenty-dollar bills on the bed and do it on top of them. Megan said her signature would be serving champagne and strawberries in crystal. Then she’d whisper, “I’m not wearing any underwear.”
I forgot about ardorglyphs for a while, even after I started having sex. Then Ben said, “let me put on my Jimmy hat,” when he reached for a condom. I’d never heard anyone call them that before. I kept turning it over in my head. Ben wrote himself into my memory with “Jimmy hat” just like that. And we weren’t even going to fuck again. I wanted to write myself on someone like a tattoo. For them to remember having sex with me the way they would look at an inked mermaid on their bicep.
And so, I spend my twenties trying to carve impressions: I say, “ah yes indeed it’s fun time.” I strip down naked except for two blobby earrings made of paperclips and twist ties. I sing out, “slipping into darkness” when it’s about to happen. I pretend I’m in a staring contest. I say nothing. Or I narrate everything. I play my VHS copy of The Boy in the Plastic Bubble with the lights off. I cry after. I roll my eyes back and muffle “this is what it looks like if a zombie gave you head” with my mouth full. I whisper, “we should sell tickets.” I try a horizontal Top Gun high-five. I yell, “can you believe that’s FREE?!”
Marthea Webber writes and teaches in Goleta, California. She is an expert at loving dogs and ointmenting their eyes. Her writing has appeared in Paper Darts, Slackjaw, and Little Old Lady Comedy.