Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 6 • Summer 2003 • Poetry

Everything A Nice Girl Needs To Know About The Big Secret

Ali Lemer

This is the big secret
that nice girls are not supposed to know.

They don't want you to know
just how easy it is --

how easy it is
to flip your hair
to flash your smile
to bide your time
to take the money and walk
out of the room
like you're worth a million bucks
even though it's only
a few dozen twenties in your purse;
how easy it is
to finger all the
crisp new bills
before you go home
to shower them off.

That's how easy it is.

How easy is it?
Let's just get a few formalities out of the way.
You already know everything you'll need to know.
You'll need to know
their who, what and where.
They'll want to know
your how and why
and especially your
to what extent.

"So why are you..."
they will say,
but what they mean is
"you're such a nice girl"
because they can't imagine how --
since nice girls don't do that.

(Or at least nice girls don't say they do.
Only bad girls do whatever they want
but of course the price of freedom
is that everyone knows who you are.
Nice girls can't let anyone know they're bad.)

"Nice girls have to eat, too"
you can say
and yes, it's true:
you will be eating tonight.
(Here's where your "to what extent" comes in.)

But you know this already:
it's not hard and
it's not like
you haven't done it
a million times before
(a million times nothing is nothing
when you could have been getting something)
and this is something
you can do with your eyes closed.
Just pretend
it's a piece of candy
with the great taste of latex
or maybe mint-flavored
if you bothered.
Just pretend you aren't pretending
who what and where
and especially
to what extent
you are.

How many licks does it take
to get to the center of a tootsie, pop?

That one's easy: three
hundred an hour.
But it's not polite
to ask a girl questions
when she's eating.

They will want to pretend
that you're not a nice girl
because that might mean
they're really bad boys.

ooh you're such a bad boy baby boy
ooh yeah baby boy i'm your nice girl

But remember:
they got what they paid for
and they paid because
you certainly wouldn't
give it to them for free.
You know your economics:
they demand your supplies
and you supply their demands.
Who says women don't have a head for business?

And it's a business doing pleasure with them,
but you don't say that out loud.
They will need to think they're special.
Let them think they are.
They don't want to think of you as nice,
because we all know that nice girls don't
even if bad boys can.

Don't worry:
you won't have to tell them
what you're thinking.
And they'll never ask
because they know that
they don't want to know.

(time is money)
ooh yeah baby
(how much money)
do you like that baby
(how much time)
yeah just like that baby
(is it time?)
yeah baby just like

That is how and why
and especially
to what extent
they don't want to know:
they don't want to wonder
how many other nice girls do.

(You wonder if you winked at all of them,
how many could wink back?
You know it's more than a few
but please don't talk with your mouth full.)

Because no man wants to know
that when he's alone with you
his little princess just might be
his poker buddy's
naughty nurse
his office manager's
cheerleader or
his gastroenterologist's
sexy french maid.

And we don't want them to know the big secret:

that we know
how hard it is --

how hard it is not to laugh
at just how easy it is.

Ali Lemer is a native New Yorker whose non-fiction writing has appeared in publications as oddly diverse as Fangoria, Cybersurfer, Publishers Weekly, LGNY, Women's Hockey, and Black Entertainment. Her poetry has previously been published in the literary journals Aubade and Surgam. With degrees from Columbia University and the University of Chicago, she is officially the most overeducated and underpaid member of her family.

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