Martha Manger was in the market for a new vice. Her doctor had just told her her allergies were caused by alcohol, and she became suddenly more willing to put new and maybe strange things into her body. That’s what she told her brother after the visit.
Martha’s brother, a recovering ayahuasca addict, understood her predicament and promised Acai Berry Smoothies would alter her state naturally. He was an authorized dealer and living proof that the ancient berry could fortify one’s chi, balance one’s chakras, and take years off the faces of all but the most severe chain-smokers. Martha bought two cases. But aside from making her bowel movements magically consistent, like down to the minute each morning, she didn’t notice a shift. And while consistent BMs were arguably a benefit, she needed something that would quiet the conversation in her head, the one about whether she had been too passive at work—or too pushy—and how she could be worried about the exact opposite things at the same time.
At the urging of a friend who thought acai was bullshit, she decided she’d give dicks a try. She’d never been much for men aside from a few formative experiences, but most of her friends swore by them. Dicks were plentiful and not costly, and she was delighted to find that whenever and wherever they were inside her, she felt a rush. Her days keeping books for the cancer hospital melted away and she thought of nothing other than her immediate, physical sensation. But D was also time-consuming. She wanted a “friends-with-benefits” arrangement, but many of the men pushed for more. Plus, D wasn’t as convenient as a drink, which she could pull from the shelf whenever the anxiety hit. Too often by the time she and a man found themselves alone together, she was already feeling better.
While shopping at the supermarket not long after her last sex-date, she passed the Reddi-wip whipped cream and recalled her high school job working at Baskin Robbins, how they’d duck behind the counter and suck the nitrous from the cans for a quick high. She bought five cases. Only on the drive home she had a talk with herself about how brain cells weren’t a renewable resource. What now would she do with so many cans?
At home she tried the product—as it was intended at first. She loved the creamy taste of it and the silky feel, and thought, I have enough to swim in it! And then she thought, why not? She filled the bathtub with Reddi-wip, took off her clothes, and slipped in. She’d set two cans on the side of the tub and she ate the sweet foam straight from the nozzle. In her womb of cream, she stopped being able to discern where she ended and the topping began. She no longer wanted for a treat, something to make her feel better, but rather sensed that she had become the treat. It wasn’t something she put in her, as much as it was her. That’s what she forgot sometimes at work, all the good she did, all the talents she had that others relied on.
The next day she bought a palate of the Reddi-wip and stored it in her garage. She did sometimes allow herself a hit of nitrous on the worst days, but hey, nobody’s perfect. Why should she be any different?