The Strange History of Suzanne LaFleshe

Title story in the anthology, The Strange History of Suzanne LaFleshe (The Feminist Press, Fall 2003.)
Available from The Feminist Press, and other online bookstores.

"The Strange History of Suzanne LaFleshe"

     Listen, every day you are being taught to hate and fear your own flesh. You are told that good food—food sweet and rich and whole—will kill you; you are told that good sex—sex rich and whole and sweet—will kill you. You can hardly imagine, anymore, what it is to love your flesh for the pleasures it provides, to honor even fat as bounty and to find joy in plenitude.
     Here is a story for you. It may not be strictly true, nor exactly instructive, but it is a real story, and I offer it to you. It didn’t come out as I’d planned and I’m not sure yet how it ends but for now, this is it: the strange sad history of me, Suzanne LaFleshe….
     Please understand: I like my flesh. I like the way it moves and bounces; I like to see my breasts floating high, like islands in the bath; I like the sensation of my thighs squeezing together in stockings, caressing each other under one of my favorite full flowered skirts. I like introducing myself, to strange men in bars, as Suzanne LaFleshe and seeing if they smile. (If they’re too drunk or too stupid to get it, I know I can forget about them, move on, find another.) I like to see the little-boy-lost looks on their faces when they lean over and see, for the first time, the actual scope of my breasts under my white cotton peasant blouse, the kind with the puffy sleeves and deep scoop neck. I like to see that gratitude, the absolute relaxation, the flash of joy when they realize that here, here, is a place they could die, happy.

From Body Work: Stories. Spring Harbor Press, 2000.