Darren, Ramzan, Camilla, and My Body by Allie Zenwirth

I fuck Darren. Submerging in his wrap-around body; gnawing at his sneaker limberness; surrendering into the smell of his Ralph Lauren perfume; clinging to him like a koala cub, as he thrusts himself into me, my head on his shoulder beside his 29-oz.-steel-can-neck, my left hand slipping down his bare head, my fingers pausing in his mouth feeling its wetness as he cums inside me. Satiated my fingers slide, dropping out of his mouth, grazing his white stubble. There is definitely a daddy thing happening here – I’m not going to try to deny it. I mean he has been in prison for more than I’ve lived.

I dreamt up this lede early on Friday before my GoToMeeting therapy session wondering what the implications that “this New Yorker profile” would have on Darren and my relationship with him. Therapy ended as usual with my “thanks” and my therapist’s politely smiling face disappearing with a snap. I emerged from my crouch by my nightstand. Rushing between the bathroom and my bedroom I putzed with myself in front of the medicine cabinet mirror. Deciding to perform slightly, even though I usually didn’t, I put on mascara, taking forever as I dabbed makeup wipes to remove smudges. In the kitchen, as I passed him – grabbing masks to try on – Ramzan my apartment mate glanced at me weirdly.

A month ago, when Ramzan had moved in I posted the following on Facebook:

               Hallelujah! Roommate Proposition Achieved: After coming out of his room, a pause
               and a pleasantry, my new apartment mate asked me: “Do you have sex with guys?”

               “No.”

               Stammering “It’s ok… It’s ok…” he retreated back into his room.

               It’s a nice feeling.

I texted Darren at the Journal Square PATH station that I was on my way. I was going to make a detour as planned, going downtown to meet with the HR of my new job before I headed up to meet him at Bareburger at 87th St. and 1st Ave. Darren and I had met at an action last week. This Wednesday he had asked me out. After thinking about it I told him “Yes. You should know though that I’m generally only interested in women but there is something about you.”

I wondered if Ramzan knew that I was going on a date with Darren.

I didn’t feel like I could be mad with Ramzan for asking if I would fuck him. He deserved leeway for cultural differences. And I was probably equally inappropriate with crushing on Camilla. Camilla is my dentist. Two days after Ramzan’s proposal, sitting in Camilla’s chair I showed off: “guess who can’t take dance classes in the kitchen anymore because of her roommate Ramzan?” My “complaining” about sexual harassment felt hypocritical.My inability to stop not-flirting flirting with Camilla felt depraved.Offensive even if she wouldn’t have been in a relationship. She would innocently be placing her fingers in my mouth – because she was doing her job – and my body would salivate.

I wanted to like Darren. Among women I feel dangerous, hulky, and clunky. Like a diesel SUV in a garage full of Priuses. Eternally second rate. Even if I get the surgery in May my parts will never be the ‘real real.’ I will never be able to complain about period cramps. I will never be able to get pregnant. And besides Ben Shapiro, who would want to praise my DAP, my dry ass pussy?

The assuredness of Darren’s attraction was arousing. For once I felt freed. Freed from sifting through social media posts looking for rainbow whistles. Freed from feeling that my place in the queer scene was as an observer, an employee, “the barback at Henrietta Hudson,” because most bisexuals (52%) and lesbians (71%) aren’t attracted to transwomen. Freed from feeling like I was on display at Goodwill for the leftovers, those not attractive enough to attain a “cis,” who belatedly push my hanger back and forth as they examine the trans rack. Freed from not feeling duty-bound as refurbished goods, to make up for my inferiority, by donning the assertive attire, by being the fucker not the fucked.  

My time with HR was taking longer than I had expected. I was furiously texting Darren. “I’m on my way! – I just missed a train. I’m at Wall St. and the next 5 train is six minutes away.”

He responded: “Okay Allie, calm down honey everything is going to work itself out. Take your time please. You averted the storm and are coming to me darling. I will be patiently awaiting your arrival okay? I know you will need a huge hug when you arrive😘.”

His response warmed me like a fever as I looked into the mirror of the darkened train window for reassurance.

When I sat with Darren in our booth, as much as I wanted it, the fantasy was gone. Alone with him for the first time, his maleness was overwhelming. I apologized to him saying that I had wanted to be attracted to him, but my sexuality didn’t work that way. His disappointment felt good.

I was back in my apartment before 5 pm, removing my Uniqlo Heattech t-shirt, and eating still-frozen vegetables. Normally, I would take either the Cunningham dance class on Instagram or the Gaga dance class on Zoom, and then do my nightly walk through Lincoln Park, walking on the cemented lip of the sidewalk, but what I wanted more than ever was to disappear into sleep. I twisted and turned while scrolling through Twitter, Better off Ted on Hulu playing in the background. It wasn’t until 11 pm that I fell asleep in my jeans.

I woke at about 1:30 am feeling a warmth and vibrancy right below my left butt cheek – as if I had wet myself.  Jerking myself awake I touched the spot with my right hand. It wasn’t wet.

There is a measure of time I can’t recall.

Ramzan was towering over me.


Allie Zenwirth grew up in the Chasidic community. She escaped through the help of others and found herself at Sarah Lawrence College where she studied dance and writing. Her work has appeared in Longreads.

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, poetry, and creative nonfiction from marginalized creators.