I knew a performance artist who wanted to get punched in the face. I hung out in her studio almost every night because I was lonely. I watched her make sculptures out of garbage and we talked to pass the time. One night while she was gluing a banana peel to a box of Kleenex, she told me she was having trouble getting punched in the face.
"I asked Max and he said no. I asked Coco and she said it was a good idea but she didn't want to do it. I asked Erin and she said I shouldn't do it at all. I want to ask my brother. He might do it."
"What are you going to do if you don’t find anyone?" I asked.
"I'll find someone."
I took the performance artist to a party and she acted strange. She wore silver lipstick and talked loudly to people she didn't know without asking them any questions. She asked everyone if they would punch her.
"Will you punch me in the face?"
"Now?" my friend Kyle said.
"No, at an art show."
"I want to but I'm pretty busy."
The performance artist moved on. She asked the guy who was hosting the party. He laughed and scratched his gut.
"For sure," he said. "I'll do it."
A minute later, he dropped his beer. I think she realized he was drunk and he wouldn't follow through because she started to ask other people.
A small and pale woman walked in the door.
"Will you punch me in the face?" my friend asked.
"No," the woman said, still wearing her coat.
A few weeks went by and I assumed my friend had given up on her desire to get punched in the face. My feelings were hurt that she didn’t ask me but I tried not to dwell on it. I assumed it was because I didn’t go to art school, like her. And she knew me. I was nobody. I would probably punch her wrong and ruin her art.
One night I went to her studio and sat on my usual chair.
"Becca said she'd punch me," my friend said.
"Becca wears a lot of rings," I said.
"She said she'd take them off."
The day of the show, Becca changed her mind.
"Whatever," my friend said. "I'll ask someone else."
She asked a hot dog vendor, a checkout girl and a man walking a dog. They all said no.
I went to the show and she didn’t get punched. She put a tarp on the floor and poured paint over her naked body while singing along to a pop song in slow motion. It was long and a little boring.
Afterward, she wrapped herself in a towel and I helped her fold the tarp. I told her she did great.
"I'm sad," she said. "Nobody would punch me in the face."
When I tried to visit her studio the next week, she wasn't there. I wrote her a note.
"I'll punch you in the face."
I taped it to the door. I never heard back.