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Love and Air-conditioning

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The Girl Who Cursed My Sex Life
By John Wray

I was living in a tent in a basement in Vinegar Hill, trying to write my first novel. Summer never quite made it down through the cement. She didn’t bat an eyelash when I first showed her the place; she didn’t seem to think there was anything strange about a 30-year-old man living in a tent in a basement in the middle of New York City, which made her worth knowing already. She also happened to be beautiful: six feet tall and vicious-looking, like she’d give the knife a twist after she stabbed you to let air into the wound, which was something I’d convinced myself I was into. I was listening to a lot of Scandinavian metal that summer, probably too much. She showed me the official-looking laminated I.D. that she held up for people to read when she abused them on the street, identifying her as a bona fide sufferer of Tourette’s syndrome. She explained that Tourette’s syndrome provoked muscle spasms at inopportune moments, sometimes causing her to strike those in her immediate vicinity, which was why her body was so fit. I never found out whether she had Tourette’s syndrome. I cut back on the Scandinavian metal toward the end of the summer, and as soon as I’d done that I realized she frightened me. Also she had sex with somebody else, which didn’t bother me as much as it should have, but bothered me enough to get me thinking. When I broke up with her in September, she put a curse on me, predicting that until I had sex with someone with her Christian name—her Christian name exactly—I wouldn’t have sex with anyone at all. Fortunately her name was Jennifer.


John Wray’s most recent novel is Lowboy.


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