Adie moved her eyes down the mail order catalog for third-world grooms. El Carnal Machismo, or The Meaty Machismo, as Adie had translated, was a storage freezer of affordable men desperate enough to visually prostitute themselves to complete strangers in first-world money countries. There was Guido who was almost 6ft, carried 175lbs of muscle, and liked to run marathons in his spare time. That's tall for a Central American, thought Adie. His skin was caramel and taut, but that could have been because of how she was stretching the page. Either way, she thought his flexed leg looked like a fleshy rubber band about to snap. Guido liked to eat gourmet, drink wine, and spend time conquering new cultures. I bet he does, thought Adie. A bit too sinewy and free spirited. She needed someone less self-involved -- someone who was more of a homebody and liked to eat in (no pun or innuendo intended). Her eyes kept rolling down the page.
"Him," she said, turning to her BFF, Britt, who was sharing the couch with her. "I bet he's great."
"You bet too much on the important things, Adie," said Britt.
Adie could almost feel the negative jolt of electricity that came with losing bets, but quickly shook it off. Her finger stopped on a virile looking meat bag named Charlie, though she thought he looked more like a Roscoe because of the extra caveman hair on his legs. But hair was good because it meant just enough testosterone.
Britt glared for a few seconds at his photo and bio, rolled her eyes, and said, "He's pretty from the waist up. He likes to cuddle, hold hands, take walks on the beach, cook, lift weights, and watch TV. Seriously, Adie? This isn't real, right? The Meaty Machismo? Is that what you called it? Could this get any sleazier? It's like you're trying to import some misogynist who's going to beat you for burning rice. Is Charlie even his real name? He's from Nicaragua. Nobody names their kid Charlie there. Bet you his name is actually Carlos."
"Bet. I don't care what his name is, I just want my own meathead," snorted Adie.
"How did you get ahold of this magazine?"
"Found it on the Central American cruise I went on with my mom last month. We hit every country but Nicaragua so I wanted to read about the place."
"That is so budget, and that magazine is obscene."
"It's not. Old white men order young Asian women from magazines all the time, and they marry them."
"Adie, honey, you're so much better than this."
"You don't think I can? Wanna bet?"
"No, Adie. No bet," said Britt, knowing it was better to stand down when it came to bets with Adie. One time in high school, Britt had bet Adie that she could lose her virginity to a guy faster than Adie could muster the courage to shove a banana up her ho-ho. All Adie had said was, With or without a condom? With, was Britt's response. Britt lost the bet within five minutes.
"Didn't think so," said Adie, feeling as if she was already winning. At what was anyone's guess.
"But I bet you that zine is a scam," snapped Britt.
"So, we are up two. One for his name and one for the magazine. Bet," said Adie as she typed the info into her phone like a bookie. "We can discuss the terms later."
"Damn it," said Britt, realizing she had backed herself into another wager with her compulsive gambling BFF. "Right, so now you want to emulate old white men. You know what comes up when you search how are Nicaraguan men online? Hold on." And then Britt searched her phone to make her point. "Holy crap, seven links down from the top says that men there treat their women as nothing more than pieces of meat."
"Maybe I want to be manhandled a bit by a man who knows he's a real man. I don't want an American. That egalitarian crap is a corporate myth. Men are all the same everywhere -- bossy and horny. It's just some are better at disguising it," said Adie.
"Delusional slut," added Brit. "If the authority of the web doesn't sway you, then you're a lost cause. And why in the world are you browsing a magazine? Just create an online profile for heaven's sake. It's the twenty-first century."
Adie shook her head before answering, "Don't be so socially daft. You can't get more distant from a person than browsing online. I like the feel of paper. Makes it seem like this little meaty monster is trapped right here in this menu."
Britt shoved the magazine away and stood, "Machos don't like their women empowered and independent. Will you tell him that you have a black-belt in slut-kwon-do? I think you earn that after one-hundred men. Science says that for every man you screw you are also sexing five-hundred other women, or something like that."
"That's not true and it's not science and I never said how many men I've made love to."
"I bet you've loosed-goosed for at least five-thousand men, Adie." Britt chuckled to herself before adding, "People who don't share their number are too afraid it might be outrageous. I'm on number twenty."
Adie evaded this wager, probably one of a handful of times she had ever passed on one, and then she snatched up the zine again.
"Shut up. I don't care what you say. Nobody counts anymore. I'm the marrying type."
"Bet you're not," said Britt, perfectly okay with this wager.
"That's three, Britt. You sure you can hang?"
"Bet I can," she said, trying to sound as confident as possible, but betting with Britt was like betting against a category five hurricane. You know you're going to lose if you're in its path.
I'm in deep now, thought Britt, who was exploring the kitchen. She stuck her head from around the corner and growled, "Sorry, honey, but you're too bullheaded. There isn't a man on this planet with enough strength to hold up to your expectations for long. You're not the marrying kind." Britt batted her eyelashes a few times and popped out of sight again to rummage for food.
"I'm doing this, Britt. I am getting married. Thirty is too old and my mom is starting to think --"
"-- that you're a lesbo?"
"-- that she'll die before she sees grandchildren."
"It's okay to be career focused," said Britt. "Tell your mom that not many women are successful business or home owners at this age. And there's also your black-belt. Wait, wasn't your mom a virgin when she married your father?"
"Yes," said Adie proudly, "she was."
"Maybe don't mention the belt."
"But you do know that's bull, right? Moms say that to their daughters so they don't hump every guy that flashes their wiener at them. Guess it didn't work on you, babes. Bet she was a busy Betty like you before getting hitched."
"Jesus, Britt. What is your problem? That's five, by the way."
Damn it. She's still keeping count, thought Britt before saying, "I don't want to see you hurt is all. This is a bad idea. Just get out there and date. Wait, never mind. That's how we got in this mess to begin with. Don't date. Be celibate for once."
Celibacy, thought Adie, is the last retreat of ugly desexualized Baby Boomers and Gen Xers.
"Why don't you want me to get hitched? Is it because you don't think there's anyone out there for me?"
"No, babes," said Britt, "it's because I'm afraid of the horrific, uncharted STD you might transmit to your future husband."
"Get out, you tranny."
"That's politically incorrect and insensitive," said Britt as the door almost hit her where the good Lord had split her.
Adie filled out the qualifying paperwork. She was betting her future on this. She scanned tax documents, paid immigration and visa fees, hired a lawyer to double check everything, and set up appointments to meet with agents that would make the transition happen. It cost a chunk of change, but didn't all true love come with a hefty price tag? Wasn't she told growing up that it was all a gamble anyway?
It was a whirlwind process and Adie was ready for the arrival of her groom. The agency set up the first meeting and the marriage date would be decided on soon. Her meeting with Charlie (or Carlos) would be the final chance she had to back out with a seventy-five percent refund. The stakes were higher by this point. They would marry, and he would move right in. The internet profile matchmaker software said they were a fit. She had the printout to prove it. It was a sure thing. This gave her comfort because robots and machines didn't lie or take chances like humans tended to do. They met at a hotel arranged by the agency. He looked just like his picture: straight, short brown hair, light brown eyes, small nose, full lips, slightly thin chest yet still sexy. He wasn't tall -- maybe an inch taller than her 5'6. But he had broad, muscular shoulders, meaty legs and arm definition. The creepy ponytail was off-putting, but she could snip that while he slept if she had to. Otherwise, he was delicious. If only I had a gigantic hot dog bun to put this man in and eat him, thought Adie as Charlie-Carlos extended his perfectly manicured hand toward her. She didn't feel him squeeze too tightly and he eagerly flashed her his pearly white teeth. The single greenish vein popping off his biceps was driving her crazy.
"I'll take him," Adie said as if she was at some exotic pet store choosing the rarest little chinchilla on display. Charlie-Carlos didn't object.
They married at a courthouse and Charlie-Carlos moved in. Within a few days, Adie noticed he was rather quiet. He seemed to speak through a frog in his throat, perhaps from the weather change, and so she dismissed his permanent hoarseness, and forced words, as adjustment to his new climate. It must be hard going from equatorial weather to four seasons, she thought. Charlie-Carlos walked around clearing his throat incessantly, however. So, after the voice anomaly failed to subside, Adie suspected he suffered from some odd form of hypochondria. She wished he had listed the condition in his profile. He tip-toed around Adie for some time and insisted he sleep on the couch until they grew accustomed to each other. He was practically a ghost, a conservative one at that. After two months, Adie couldn't take it anymore. They had yet to consummate their marriage and she was officially alarmed by it all. Even legally, no sex was an issue.
Texting Britt helped some.
A: he hasn't touched me, not once
B: oh, so did I win the bet? Bad idea ... told ya
A: it's not over, you haven't won, just tell me what to do
B: So, touch him first. You're a pro.
A: shut up, what's plan b?
B: I don't know. Make a move is all I'm saying. If he's not making it happen, then you make it happen.
That night, as Charlie-Carlos slept on the couch, Adie tried to slip under the covers with him. With the reflexes of a large cat he jumped up, stepped back and looked aghast at Adie.
"What the hell are you doing," said Charlie-Carlos in a stern, accented Latin whisper. His adult onesie was unbecoming for such a muscular dude.
Adie sat slumped and defeated on the couch, in her dimly lit living room, and stared at Charlie-Carlos. "Oh, my God, you're gay. You bastard," she screamed as she threw pillows and blankets at him. "All bets are off. I'm sending you back."
He stood sideways looking in her direction with his hands crossed over his chest like a powerful genie who's just been summoned, but the red onesie, which said Thing 1, made him a little less powerful looking.
"No," he said. "Just wait a moment. Let me explain."
"Nothing to explain Charlie, or Carlos, or whatever you're called." There was a moment of silence before Adie whimpered, "She was right, then. I'm not the marrying type."
Charlie-Carlos stepped closer and, after overcoming a few slaps and swats from Adie, sat beside her and wrapped his strong arm around her. His rounded biceps bulged through the onesie and his chest protruded a bit more than it did two months ago, probably from the three-hundred push-ups he did every morning. I'm in. This is it, thought Adie as she leaned in to kiss him, but he turned his head like they did in the movies -- like when best friends awkwardly move in for a smooch and then find their mouth planted on cold cheeks rather than wet lips. Flustered, and at a loss, Adie raced to the bedroom.
"Please," said Charlie or Carlos. "I just need time."
She decided that she would need to curb her strong, feminist-minded character and approach Charlie-Carlos with more tact. He's a macho after all, she thought. The more girly she became the manlier he seemed to her. The more she asked him to be home, the more time he would spend at the gym. The more attention she demanded, the less he looked her way. The more she tried to share with him, the less he wanted to take. The more clothes she took off the more he put on. She couldn't figure him out, and thought he had lied to her about really wanting to be in the marriage.
A week later, she had another plan which she ran by Britt.
A: this is it, tonight is the night
B: Bet it's not
A: that's six
That night, as they were watching a film, Adie tried to move her hand up Charlie-Carlos's thigh. He let her go far. Like, very far. Adie felt she was getting further than any man had let her, but it was probably because it had been such a long journey to his crotch. She could feel the curvature of two manly orbs pushing through his pants. They felt hard but with just enough give. There was also the rod-like protrusion angling itself upward, as if pulling her hands toward it by the sheer gravity of its size. She was curious, but mainly horny, and tried for more. He shot up and ended their session abruptly. Adie tried to hold on to him, but he pushed her off.
"Asshole," she screamed and rushed him.
His back was turned, and she took him down to the ground hard. Her black-belt suddenly became relevant. The anger began in a dark place and landed in a blur of pummels on Charlie-Carlos's chest. He was rendered helpless by her adrenaline-fueled rage.
Charlie-Carlos covered his face as Adie tried her hands at assault. She was locked into a primal trance and felt as if she was experiencing something out of body. She saw herself as if in a film. There was a woman on top of a man. He was screaming, screeching, helplessly extending his arms out to the enraged female who had him pinned in a mounted position. The woman was slapping him and clawing him. Suddenly the energy shifted in the film and everything began to go in slow motion. It was like a rape scene. There was a woman named Adie locked in a violent hypnotic state who was tearing away the layers of clothing off a beaten man. This crazed, female rapist managed to shred most of the shirt off, but lost focus as her eyes darted toward the jeans. She wanted his pants off and tore at them. Under that was underwear and two semi-ripe limes, the kind you get for a quarter at the grocery store. They popped out of the ripped briefs and rolled onto the floor. And, still in slow motion, Adie followed the slow rolling of a six-inch, slightly dehydrated, wrinkled cucumber across the floor. Suddenly the movie tape in her mind squeaked, and a short fast forward caused her to snap back to reality.
Adie stared at Charlie-Carlos's breasts. They were the perfect shape for cupping in each hand. A full-size B. Adie followed his stomach down to the freshly shaved patch of empty landscape. The mons was barren. There were things missing: a penis, for one. None of this was in the profile. All bets are off, she thought. Adie slid off Charlie-Carlos and slumped to the side. He stood slowly like a mythic chimera about to pounce, but then did nothing. The broad shoulders, the oddly sagging square-ish pecks, non-existent hips, lean and defined muscles, just the right amount of hair on the legs -- all of it was organized in a tight, hunky, fleshy body.
"He's so pretty," whispered Adie to herself. "So meaty."
The next day, Adie called Britt.
A: what was I thinking
B: I'm not going to say I told you so but ...
A: you just did.
B: want me to come over
B: Good, because I wasn't going to. I have a date.
A: Just tell me what to do.
B: Send the bitch back.
"No refunds," miss, said Lorenzo, the agent with good English at El Carnal Machismo Agencia.
"Listen up, mister meaty machismo man. I paid for a husband, not a woman. What you sent was a female."
"What does Mr. Charlie have to say?" said Lorenzo.
"Oh, you mean Carlita? She's happier than shit to be in the States on my bill. Even happier now that she's doped up on enough valium to kill a horse and wrapped up like a goddam hammock ready to be shipped right back to you, if you don't give me my money back. I will ship her meaty ass right back to you if you don't refund me."
"You can't ship a human to us, miss," he said. "No refunds."
"Bet," said Adie, as she embraced the familiar jolt of electricity that came from winning bets.