• The Dream Issue

    An Excerpt of LA Warman's "Whore Foods"

    The Dream Issue
    Whore foods cover

    "Whore Foods" by LA Warman, Cover art by Sabrina Bockler

    Whore Foods

    When she is on top of me I think three people are on top of me: Jesus, God, Holy Ghost. Her six hands touch me in every tender spot. I am an envelope. No, I am a blade of grass. No, I am just a total asshole.

    But, an asshole bends and changes and becomes pleasure.

    Anybody who is working is a body working.

    In LA Warman's novella Whore Foods (Inpatient Press, 2019) the protagonist is a "femme gay body" who passes the day at a grocer's cash register lost in erotic daydreams. These elaborate fantasies, or are they realities, allow them to transcend the workplace where their "body is defined by others" by blurring work with sex, and sex with work.

    So much is done to dehumanize the worker as a subject that one can feel like an automaton without one's job even having been automated. Workers are expected to be machinic, even if we are not yet machines. Under capital's intolerable regime, writing about the very human desires one turns to while dissociating from one's laboring body can be perversely subversive, a radical intrusion of the private subject into the public sphere.

    Whore Foods is a romp through one worker's libidinal psyche that suggests we all carry vast, orgiastic worlds within our minds that we're forced to sublimate in our daily interactions. Or, taken literally, it's a tour through Pasolini's grocer where ravenous appetites feast amid unanswered societal questions of immigration, gender, and class.

    This excerpt of Warman's Whore Foods compels the reader to ask: How does desire orient our bodies within capitalism? And how does capitalism orient our body's desires?

    — James Payne

    *

    To be the cashier is to be exposed. To be a femme gay body in public is to become hetero. My body defined by others and the not me and I want to be just a body just a body with Her. The woman has a cart filled with repeated items. The woman comes with her own filing folder. The folder gives her away. I turn off my light and place my closed sign at the end of the register. Coupons. Couponer. The woman is buying a case of tofu. She would like the case discount, the Organic Grocery Store coupon, and the manufacturer coupon. The woman has so many coupons, she has a stack of coupons. After all the calculations her case of tofu costs $1.55. She is smiling smugly and looking around to see if others have noticed the amazing deal she got. She got it herself, her exclusive deal. Every time I scan a coupon I need the manager's key to go in the slot and turn. Q is my manager. She is beautiful. She looks young. She enters my cubicle. I love the gap in her teeth, her top teeth and her bottom teeth. The space is so small she is leaning against my hip. I scan the coupon, she turns the key. I scan the coupon, she turns the key. We get a good rhythm going, she is getting sweaty, so many turns of the key.

    *

    It's the monthly Store Team Meeting. It is like a football game. They set up hundreds of chairs they rent from somewhere. It's 6 am or midnight. I am sitting next to N as always. I am recording this meeting with my phone because I have a feeling something will happen and I will need to post the recording somewhere. Things happen for morale, like a random drawing where someone gets a $100 gift certificate to Target. There are 20 minutes of awards. The Store Team Leader always gives a special award to P because she wants to fuck him. P is white, tall, and stupid. He has long hair and always talks about metal. The Store Team Leader wants P to ride on her motorcycle. I have seen the Store Team Leader check out his non-existent ass multiple times. The Store Team Leader calls P into her office at least once a week. I have never won an award. I will never win an award because no one in store leadership is gay. The Assistant Store Team Leader is wearing a football jersey for a team no one likes and everyone is booing him. T starts to cry because he hates football and he doesn't understand how he could work at a place that caters so much to football fans. The Store Team Leader yells into the microphone "We have some final announcements. We are firing the cleaning service. Too many times we have found X sleeping in the cafe when X should be cleaning. We hired a translator. The translator says X works too many hours cleaning the store and cannot sleep. We also found out the company we contracted with pays the workers below minimum wage without health insurance. This is deplorable. If the media found out our cleaning service was getting paid less than minimum wage, they would have a frenzy. Instead, we fired the cleaning service. We will now hire our own maintenance staff who will receive ten dollars an hour and benefits after they are with us for 6 months. I know what you're thinking. We tried to hire X ourselves but X doesn't have any papers!!!!" The Store Team Leader begins to laugh and the hundreds of employees look at their neighbors then begin to laugh with her. We are all laughing in a chorus that says

    "We are citizens! We deserve to work here more than X! We are very good people. We have never fallen asleep on the job like X! We have never worked more than 10 hour days."

    The meeting is over and I try to leave before anyone sees me in my sweatpants. Everyone is swarming a small table loaded with free yogurt. I take three even though I'm lactose intolerant.

    "Have you ever done a yogurt face mask?"

    A from the Whole Body startles me. A is speaking into my shoulder smelling my unshowered body, seeing me wear sweatpants in public. A is evil and only talks to me three times a year. Each time A talks to me I think maybe this time we could be friends. One time A agrees to go shopping on Walnut Street with me. We go to Sephora and A takes photos of everything she wants to send to her boyfriend. We both love Fashion equally. I have never put yogurt on my face. A seems surprised, her taut glowing skin frowns at my acne shimmer.

    "You should really try it."

    "Okay, can you show me?"

    "I guess so, but I'm kinda in a hurry so you have to promise not to talk."

    "Okay whatever."

    I try to act cold to her because A makes me nervous. Her head is shaved and she has a slender gap between her teeth. A is easily the most beautiful woman in the store, A has the widest face. A takes me to the Organic Grocery Store University classroom upstairs. A has the key because every Thursday she teaches a Mask Class. Every Thursday a different mask: avocado, egg whites, chocolate. A locks the door behind us and places me on a barstool. I am trying to pay close attention to her movements so I remember how to become beautiful so I can transfer into the Whole Body department and make more money with other beautiful people. Her large brown eyes across my face, from zit to zit. I'm trying to read her emotions because at Sephora A told me her mother didn't have papers, but as always A is cold and glaring. She peels open the aluminum top to the organic goat milk vanilla yogurt.

    "I wish this was chocolate but whatever."

    She still won't let me talk. She scoops out a large creamy blob with two fingers and delicately dabs it on my face, ensuring only yogurt touches my broken skin, not her finger. The AC is blowing so forcefully loose strands of my hair stick to the yogurt.

    "Jesus, take a breath."

    I try to match my breath to hers.

    "Now we have to wait ten minutes. Can I try something on you? I'm thinking of expanding my mask selections for private clients, starting a side business . . . if you want a New Kind of Mask point to the left if you want to sit here alone for ten minutes point to the right."

    I point to the left and she takes out a small black jar from her tote bag.

    "Lie on the ground and take off your sweatpants."

    She shows no emotion making me feel safe. I remove my pants. She rolls up my sweatshirt to expose my soft breasts. She frowns a little and twists the jar. She makes the same scoop and coat application she did on my face but only on my nipples. The cream looks like green cashew cheese and smells like nothing. As soon as she applies it on my nipples they become hardened. They peak out of the cream like they just discovered they exist. I feel elevated. I feel like a mountain. I feel my breasts won't be soft again only hard like two hard buzzing jellyfish. The cream is making me throb but I cannot speak, I cannot ask questions. She seems pleased at the erotic progress of my body. She looks down at my unshaved pubes and I expect her to pull out a razor and shave me before putting her dick in me but she doesn't. My pubes puff out, a dark cloud above clitoris. She puts on gloves. She spreads my legs like a doctor. She puts a firm hand on my mountain pushing down my pubes.

    "Good . . . I think this will work."

    She pulls out the cream she used on my breasts and applies further, more delicately with her gloved hand. She is putting rivers on my mountain with cream, pushing further and further down. The buzzing spreads from my nipples to my pubis and I can't tell where my body ends and the floor begins. I am a body and the floor. I am a body on the floor. I do not end. She is still massaging my pubis when she clinically spreads my legs further apart. She wipes a little cream on my outer labia and says something about not needing to worry about my Ph levels because the cream is something but I cannot listen because my whole body is pulsating. I am a child running to the end of the driveway to feel my thighs jiggle. I am uncovering what my body can do. My body can be incredibly taut and boundless. Soreness can be pleasure. She can get her energy from the pleasure of others and never once become aroused. My body is ready. She is studying the reaction of my pupils. She is putting the cream on my clit. The pleasure is decentering. I cannot escape from a room that has no walls. I'm falling and turning.

    "Well, ten minutes are almost up . . . "

    and she grabs my thighs. The clit juice pours out like I have never seen before. I am a faucet. I am coming but I think I have been coming for 20 minutes. I thought I came then I forgot and I came again. I forgot again. I came again. I close my eyes I open my eyes. Had she let me speak I would have said I'm Coming 100 times. I would have screamed. I would have annoyed her roommate. The clit juice is still pouring out I look to the floor and see it isn't a floor but this whole time I have been sitting on a bucket and she is measuring and noting my output. She smiles a little and I know I have done a good job. But she is never satisfied, she wants more. She bangs my thighs together again, with a gloved hand over my mouth.

    "Silence."

    I can't tell which way my thighs are moving but they radiate toward and against each other. Her alarm on her phone rings. She already procured a towel from her friend in prepared foods. First she cleans my face off then my nipples then between my legs. She pours the clit juice that used to be mine into a jar and seals it.

    "I think this is going to make some very shiny hair!"

    She smiles and laughs and I know she isn't joking. She puts the jar in her tote and unlocks the room saying to me,

    "Well, that should clear you out let me know if anything changes."

    *

    "Chick with the weird bangs please report to the pasta aisle,"

    the intercom announces. I know that voice. It's Y. She wants me in the pasta aisle. When I arrive she is already undressed, her hand reaching out to me from between two shelves. I crawl under there with her. It is dark but I see her small body. I put my face between her legs breathing in all of her smells. I begin to lick in small spurts and her body smashes itself into my face over and over like if I won't make her come quicker she will do it for me. I slip a finger in her, then another. I reach for her asshole with my other hand and she mumbles

    "IBSSSSS"

    and I try to feel her liquid shit. I like her shit as much as I like her clit juice. It's all orange and vegetable. I let her shit be my lube and I reach in her asshole little by little till I'm all the way in. I have a hand in her from either side and I don't know what end she will come from first.

    She screams and my hand is forced out by shit. We leave it on the floor and I take off my skirt so I am naked too. I get on top of her and feel her clit. Her clit is huge like mine. It is never hiding, it is always ready. Our huge clits touch each other and become intertwined. She feels like three people. When she is on top of me I think three people are on top of me: Jesus, God, Holy Ghost. She is laughing and crying and yelling at me in three different voices her six hands touch me in every tender spot. I am an envelope. No, I am a blade of grass. No, I am just a total asshole.

    But, an asshole bends and changes and becomes pleasure. It is pleasure to shit. It is pleasure to come. We come together. We crawl on our knees in this shelf tunnel till we reach the paper products aisle. I take a roll of paper towels and wipe the shit off of us and we return to work.

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