At the age of twenty-three and a half, it would be fair to say that I am a big guy. A little over six foot. I am round and ungainly. I’ve always nursed a real distaste for my body, never more so than in these sweet, waning months of my twenty third year. My awkward, lopsided shoulders – broad but lacking any of the august strength they might suggest on a more lithe form – my feminine thighs, my bodacious hips. I like to impose a strict clothing regimen in order to tame my buxom angles. Wide belts, tailored trousers and billowy dress shirts tend to help offset the visual impact of my strange shape. I hate being without my carefully composed suit of armour and think of my disrobing in front of an expectant sex partner as a kind of eco terrorism, like releasing a zoo full of meaty beasts or blowing up a whaling vessel.
Ira made no secret of his discomfort. He loathed his family and by proxy the culture they’d foisted upon him. “The fucking Jew’s want me,” he’d say if summoned home for some ritual dinner. By the time I met him, a few days before my twentieth birthday, he’d begun detailing a kind of fantasy origin story he’d bring up at parties as a kind of parlour trick, aimed at shocking new acquaintances and entertaining old friends. “I’m not actually a native son of Abraham,” he’d say, “No. I am the lone survivor of a mysterious naval calamity. I was an orphan – a child born into immense privilege onboard an giant yacht sailing towards an uncharted island of the coast of South America, an island I was about to inherit. But some disgruntled seaman planted explosive devices in the cargo hold (strapped underneath a gorgeous Aston-Martin my recently diseased birth father had acquired in exchange for a prize racehorse named Til The Wind Breaks Free) and blew himself and the rest us into pieces over the atlantic, watery graves all round. Somehow I survived and lay floating in a tiny life boat for a few days before being plucked from the wreckage by two infertile Jewish spice merchants who claimed me as their only son.” He could be unabashedly cruel to his parents, terrifying polite company. Being in a room with Ira and his mother was an especially operatic exercise in social punishment – and for some reason, no matter the disagreement at hand, the fighting would always crescendo at the mention of circumcision, “Well you let some bearded fuck cut off half of my dick!” he’d bellow, to which the gentle Mrs. Blume would sashay into another room before the tears really started.