Myrna Jenkins

Eleanor Levine

She was an American soldier stationed in Syria. Well, at first I thought it was Syria, until my AA friend at the Zoom meeting, who sometimes works for the Mossad, informed me there are no American soldiers currently in Syria.

“Islamabad?” I asked.

“One sec,” a Zoom newcomer said, while we waited for his Google-determined search answer, “your lover is in Pakistan.”

Myrna Jenkins had a luscious voice like a bird that was blonde and flew through clouds. For her, my heart beat in my vagina. Yes, it was so loud that it caused bowling balls to crush pins in a neighborhood bowling alley. 

Myrna and I spoke via Skype messages but had only one video encounter that lasted for twenty seconds because apparently, the connection was bad, but more than likely she was a he or a they, and they were using a fabricated video portraying a blonde chick—one they likely lifted from Facebook or Instagram. 

It was the fertile nature of her soul, the pleather of her purse, the incompetent fauna of her political views, her ability to change tires without calling Triple A, her domination of the food in my fridge one day, though she managed to stay slim—she hiked, she said, in her profile—six to eight hours a day. To her, that was fun. To me, that would be torture. I can barely walk to my car without stopping to catch my breath. I’m okay on the treadmill—it’s the fucking sidewalk and grass that give me angst. Yet here I was—falling for a superwoman who hiked areas I would never, even as an eighteen-year-old, when my weight was pre-French fries with cheese, consider. Though I did walk in the Southwest German mountains, on a minor hike, at sixteen, with my German parents—they were my parents when I was an exchange student. I also walked with Zionists in the 1970s in Red Hook, NY, before said Zionists flushed my ego down the toilet. It was this irretrievable self-esteem, among the Zionistas, that might explain why I don’t hike.

Myrna was an odd combination: you saw her replete with soldier uniform and German Shepherd and then as nymph wearing Amazon-on-sale feminine clothes. A marine versus a delicate flower.

Her name, ostensibly, was Myrna Jenkins…she had a Google email with this name and it was not 2, 3, or MyrnaJenkins303… she was the first of any Myrna Jenkins who had a Myrna Jenkins Google account.

Her heroines were Kate Millett and Gloria Steinem. Let’s dissect this a bit: feminists have been bitchy to me all my life; they are like frat brothers but wear Birkenstocks. I met Gloria Steinem in college, when she yelled at me for getting the title of her famous essay, “If Men Could Menstruate,” wrong. “You sure it’s not ‘If Munchkins Could Menstruate’?” She did not smile. Whereas I met Kate Millett at an art studio in Soho and questioned her intelligence because she had not heard of email, which was then a burgeoning concept. Neither of them were lunch-buddy types. 

I looked in the mirror. I wanted to be pretty for Myrna Jenkins. My friend Martin advised me to pluck my chin hairs before dating. “Your Volvo mirror is perfect for chin plucking,” she said. 

I got very aroused envisioning Myrna Jenkins at the Passover seder with my family—I finally had the WASP. She was not from CNN, and was likely not in the 4-H Club, but she had a curbside appeal that no bike rider would pass, not even in Manhattan bike lanes, where the temptation to kill yourself is insurmountable—like diving in a community pool in 108-degree weather in Albuquerque.

Myrna Jenkins fit my type of woman: naïve about short-tempered feminists; working class; I’d be her second or third lesbian experiment; she thirsted for 21st-century intellectuals. And she was sizzling like clams in a frying pan. I like “fiery,” but coupled with misspelled verbs and grammar mistakes—this gives me an exuberant sense of being—like dating Mae West and putting my hand on her knee while The Philadelphia Orchestra is performing Rachmaninoff. 

With Myrna, I danced each morning and evening and every hour and every few seconds while checking my Skype messages. Though if she did not write me back within five minutes, I deleted Skype from my iPad. I deleted the app just as regularly as I downloaded it. 

When I had my green button on, Myrna might write me back, even when it was “22:30” in her desert world and “1:30” on my computer screen.

“Are you doing yoga? Have you been to the shooting range today?” I asked.

“It’s 22:30,” she said.

I figured: how could someone with this lack of humor, who did both yoga and played with her pistols, patrolled with her German Shepherd Max, with whom she was on a first-name basis, how could this person possibly be “Mo from Nigeria” phishing for my bank account number? There were clearly too many irreconcilable differences. She liked me, I liked her, we were going to marry, she and I were going to bike in upstate New York or the Jersey town where I lived with my brother. We would have delicious meals at expensive restaurants in Asbury Park where Ocean Grove residents celebrated their Presbyterian marriage anniversaries and would stare at us. Despite their stares, and because the Nazis were not yet in power, we would continue ogling while I paid for roasted duck. Myrna might eat the chicken, which was fricassee.

But then it happened—the moment when the girl became a boy or a robot and my circulatory system melted. Everyone on the Zoom AA meeting could tell that my soldier had died or maybe she never existed. I tried not to abort this concept, though I am not pro-life. 

I truly wanted Myrna Jenkins to be my lover. To walk hand in hand on the nude beach in Sandy Hook, NJ. Let the gay men stare at my cellulite and her non-cellulite. We were in love. We defied all earthly delights. 

I didn’t hear from Myrna Jenkins for forty hours. Had I come on too strong when I sent her this birthday poem: “You reek of chocolate pudding/a few mints/and the stock market crashes when it hears your voice.” I knew poetry was not my thing, just like I am not the “Fonzie” of lesbians, but mentioning words such as “chocolate pudding” and “mints,” I thought, might entice Myrna.

“I’ve been in the hospital—I am not eating the base food. I was on a drip for several days. I can’t afford to eat at the officers’ cafeteria. I can’t access my bank account,” she wrote.

Everything ends with a bank account.

All tears fall at the inability of your loved one to access the funds in her bank account, which would allow her to eat at the officers’ cafeteria, not the shitty food the soldiers eat, which had caused her food poisoning, which had caused her to be “on the drip,” which had prevented her from writing me on Skype.

After her “food poisoning,” our affair ended. Or I ended it. I blocked her on my phone, Yahoo email, and Skype. She’d never be able to tell me how much she fucked me over and I would never be able to send her my routing code. There would be no Zelle transmissions, which is the worst because the bank never reimburses you for Zelle—it’s a third-party vendor. Rather than sending her money to eat good food, I will spend money on Scooby-Doo yellow Converse low tops.

I will cry at the AA Zoom meeting because I fell in love with someone who does not exist. A streamlined obsession in my brain named Myrna Jenkins who once smirked while my heart beat and caused rampant destruction in a Jersey bowling alley.

Eleanor Levine’s writing has appeared in more than 100 publications, including New World Writing Quarterly, the North Dakota Review, the Evergreen Review, The Hollins Critic, the Denver Quarterly, and the Raleigh Review; she has work forthcoming in the Notre Dame Review. Her poetry collection, Waitress at the Red Moon Pizzeria, was published by Unsolicited Press. Her short story collection, Kissing a Tree Surgeon, was published by Guernica Editions. She has finished her first novel.

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

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