My zipper has broken. I discover this as I make my exit from a cafe restroom. Fortune is smiling me into itself, as today I happen to be without underwear. Little seems to be more embarrassing than having the underwear beneath your pants put reluctantly on display. It’s bad enough to be outed as one of the familiar many, those who have modeled themselves after the proper prude, but to make it known that you failed even in this ignoble, altogether tame and unadventurous attempt? Quel scandale! So much better to be that exotic, rare thing, the adroit exhibitionist, one’s flesh a willful presentation melded with the attire’s partial coverage. Not to be confused with your garden variety nudist, mind you—all those creatures whose oversunned skin announces them from afar with the subtlety of a fallout alarm. No, the deft exhibitionist is master of the art of surprise, walking ablend with the masses, creating continuous illusion of coverage, until, when you have no reason to expect it—Voila! Behold! My sui generis—a little ooh la-la-la-la, if you know what I mean. The vision of exposed secret flesh brought forth into the broad light of day—it beats back death, working life into atrophying sensibilities; it dizzies the hopelessly sober, rouses the complacent to the flourishing multitude of hidden possibilities, forever lurking. With my broken zipper, at last it seems I am emboldened with the power I’ve deserved all my life—never getting it until now, when reality’s benevolent chance has chosen to visit itself upon me.
Before returning to my seat at the cafe, I take the zipper tab firmly between index and thumb, prying it free of its last feeble grasp of zipper teeth. What remains is an elliptical gape, lined on each side by a row of plastic cilia: an odd, sartorial vagina. Now it signifies not a broken zipper, so much as its partial cousin, incomplete by design. I believe my intention in this arrangement to be self-evident. There should be no doubt in the minds of those who see me: There goeth an exhibitionist. I have embraced my calling, and I’d hate for anyone to think exposure was somehow less than my aim. It would be a real shame to fill all those eyes with my best, chosen gifts, only to have my recipients skew the context and stumble away with the wrong idea about a catalyzing force such as myself.
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Izak Hahn was born in New Orleans, but now lives in Los Angeles, where he dreams of living elsewhere, or maybe just living differently. He works in Hollywood, though probably in a much sweatier and underpaid way than you would imagine. A lover of old books, human-powered transport, and other Luddite-ish things, he publishes in online journals to reinforce his sense of ironic detachment.