Kim Magowan


Honey, I know you think I’m the worst thing that ever happened to you. I know you tell your girlfriends all kinds of shit, and your mother won’t say my name. But before we go too far down this path of restraining orders, and your pinhead lawyer, and my sad, lumpy lawyer with the wide hips who always shoves his hands in his pockets like the saddest sack who ever waddled into a courtroom: remember buko?

Buko, that baby coconut ice cream they have at Mitchell’s? You got to remember that.

It was, what, our second date? But our first real date.

(The first one at that bar, El Rio, was sloppy. You nervous, drinking more than you meant to; me drinking too. We made out in the alley by the garbage cans: your mouth was warm and wet. But then you acted like I’d taken advantage of you, instead of taking what was offered. Not even that; I didn’t take you to bed, didn’t try to. I just felt your tits in that alley that smelled like coffee grounds, and chicken skin, and salad dressing, and like sweat, yours and mine, mixing).

So: Mitchell’s was our first real, official date.

You showed up, remember Honey, rigid as a ruler. You were trying to set the record straight after those alley way kisses; you didn’t want me to think you were That Girl.

So I explained about Mitchell’s. “This here’s a San Francisco institution!” I blared, like the guide on a tour bus. “It’s been around since before my mother was born. Her older sister Adela was in my grandma’s belly. All my grandma wanted to eat was ice cream, and the only flavor she wanted was buko: baby coconut. So she took my uncle Rico to Mitchell’s every day and got him a sugar cone. He’d pick different flavors, vanilla, mint, caramel, but Grandma always got the buko.” I told you, “Girl, try this buko. And the right way: in a waffle cone, with that dark chocolate shell that hardens as soon as they drizzle it on. I don’t know what that dark magic is, but you got to try it.”

You said, “I don’t like coconut.”

We sat on someone’s front steps. You crunched through that chocolate shell with your small, white teeth. All you could say was “Ah!” Because it’s that fucking good, the buko.

(Later I would hear you make the same sound, that sigh-whisper, “Ah,” when I thrust into you for the first time).

Honey, do you remember, seven years ago, licking that chocolate shell? It was like my heart was encased in chocolate magic shell, and you bit into it.

Here’s what I want to tell you.

Recriminations fly like crazy birds. They have a path of their own. You say shit, I say shit. You know those cartoons where the characters are in a lifeboat, starving, and they look at each other and hallucinate that their feathered best buddy is a fat, roasted, golden-brown chicken?

Well, there are times I believe you looked at me and saw a green card, a baby girl with hazel eyes, a rent-controlled apartment in the Mission.

There are women, believe me, who would think it’s romantic for a guy to stand outside her place at night, all night, after she kicked him out. Didn’t you see Say Anything, girl? I’m no stalker.

Which is not to discount that I scared you, or that you felt threatened, and belittled, and degraded. All of your big, big words.

Scratch that, I didn’t mean it.

All I am trying to say, Honey, is this: don’t you remember? Sitting on those warm, sun-soaked, concrete steps? You in your soft, old blue jeans, threading apart at the knee, your knee almost touching mine? Between those white, frayed, cotton threads, cornsilk covering the ear, your golden skin? You biting, with small, sharp teeth, into that buko?

I introduced you to that. Honey, that was me.


Kim Magowan lives in San Francisco and teaches in the English Department at Mills College. She has published fiction in The Gettysburg Review, JMWW, Valparaiso Fiction Review, and Word Riot, among other journals. She is working on a novel and a short story collection.