Sometimes I get bored, which is not a good thing because when I have idle hands something bad ends up happening in an effort to keep them busy. Unfortunately for you, this months selection of Sears women fashions hasn’t turned up in the mail yet so I wrote. Know the show Quantum Leap? Here’s my little take on if the leaper was someone of note into some other person of note but without the finite wisdom of Al and Ziggy to help the person muddle through….
The kalideoscope of colours! I am afloat amongst them, I feel no weight, nary an ache from the brittle bones of this cursed disease of cerebral meningitis that the wasted time of Reading Gaol has bestowed upon me Paris, while a fount of hues, this is not.
I wish to cry out and question where am I! Who has done this to me! I raise my hand out in defiance but there is naught but the colours that I can see. Do I even have a body? Return me to what I know and am known, I wordlessly shout!
Why do you mock me? What sort of need could I fulfill when I have yet to be fulfilled? I must know but the colours are now churling around me faster and faster, pulling me towards a singular white light…
“…signed Terribly Lovestruck in Colorado,” a voice not unlike a leaky gaslight hissed. There was a pause and then it continued, “So how do you wish to respond?”
“Your response to Terribly Lovestruck in Colorado and her concern about her allergies causing her new boyfriend, the camping freak, to break up with her...what should I put down as your advice?”
Who? Damn my head is heavy with heat…I don’t have the patience to abide such a person who cannot even tell a simple thing as the gender to whom they are speaking to.
A rather mousey looking woman said looking down at me. She was dressed differently that I had expected of someone who would break in to my room, wherever that was. The woman looked like a man in a dark blue pants suit; short brunette hair, glasses oversized for her long face, a face that showed that she had long ago resigned herself to not living but existing. Even her thin-ish frame was slumped over to concede to her mediocrity – how utterly novel...a poorly scripted one.
Why am I thinking I should be hearing French when this woman is obviously American? I strained to think of what bothered me more; the “Mrs” or the “Van Buren” part of the woman’s address of my person. I knew that wasn’t even the remotest of chance to be my name, yet I’d be damned if I could dredge up one that was.
“Abigail? Are you alright? You look a little flushed? Did you need to take a break? Do you need a drink?”
“A drink?” That’s not my voice…is it? “I think I do need one, A drink sounds fine, my dear,” a fine warmed brandy should put my head back to where it ought to be. I watched as the wretch rose from the seat she had across from me. I took a quick appraisal of the circumstance I seem to have awoken in: I sat in an oaken desk in a large open windowed room, utterly cluttered with the knick knacks and obscene colour patterns of overly indulgent pseudo-royal tart whose sense had left her the same time her husband had discovered that maggots feasting upon his eyes for eternity was preferable to waking up beside the woman day after day. According to the petite loathsome cute picture of two children holding hands desk calendar the date was August 12, 1992 - far from the date that was protesting to its fullest that it actually was.
I looked down and saw the thin and slender fingers of a woman, though in the back of my mind I knew myself to be the opposite. I patted the top of my head – it was high off the scalp and as I did a light strafe over it, the shape reminded me of a kneeling plumber’s buttocks. A deep intake into my lungs through my nostrils informed me that I did not even smell as my mind was saying to remember. Even my mind informed me that hearty meals were had not been in my diet for over two years, I had to give a quick push on my chest to ensure that I was not merely delusional about having breasts but suffering from a large distension of the stomach that had loosened itself from where it ought to have been – to my surprise the two fleshy masses were connected. I felt a little perverse as my next thought was to look downwards and inspect for what my mind was saying should be there yet the physical evidence I had presented to myself suggested otherwise.
The woman came back with a glass and handed it to me. Water, I assessed as I took a drink, though it tasted oddly chemicaled; unlike what I expected it to be. She sat back down and watched me as I drank. She waited until I had finished the water and again told me the mundane story of a woman with some inane worry about being outdoors because she had lied to some man she was pursuing by putting pictures of nature to adorn her abode to infer she enjoyed it. She then asked me again of how I wished to respond. The way she held her pen at the ready, I supposed that she was my personal assistant – something that my swiss-cheesed mind readily agreed that I should have but the reasoning behind the way still escaped me.
I thought for a moment and answered, “Enjoy Nature! I am glad to say that I have entirely lost that faculty. People tell us that Art makes us love Nature more than we loved her before; that it reveals her secrets to us; and that after a careful study of Corot and Constable we see things in her that had escaped our observation. My own experience is that the more we study Art, the less we care for Nature. What Art really reveals to us is Nature’s lack of design, her curious crudities, her extraordinary monotony, her absolutely unfinished condition. Nature has good intentions, of course, but, as Aristotle once said, she cannot carry them out. When I look at a landscape I cannot help seeing all its defects. It is fortunate for us, however, that Nature is so imperfect, as otherwise we should have no art at all. Art is our spirited protest, our gallant attempt to teach nature her proper place. As for the infinite variety of Nature, that is pure myth. It is not to be found in Nature herself. It resides in the imagination, or fancy, or cultivated blindness of the man who looks at her.”
My assistant looked blankly at me. I moved my chest forward; damned breasts stopped me short of the goal of appearing intimidating to the woman whilst I snuck a peek at the pad of paper she had – nothing was written down. My stony glare at her unmoved pen must have suddenly stirred her mind to do something lest she confirm what I suspected of her personality to be, statuesque – inert and something for the birds to relieve their garbage ridden bowels upon.
“Shouldn’t you say something like, ‘tell him the truth, that you don’t like hiking and that if the relationship is real and based on friendship then he will understand? – You’ve always said that.”
I had to give a curl of a lip towards this waif. “Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.”
I gave her a frown. Who is she to question me…whoever I am? Surely I cannot be some old frump who answers tedious questions all day…I would wish to end my life, or create one that doesn’t remember the day to day boredom of it all? I gave a sigh and said, “Who wants to be consistent? The dullard and the doctrinaire, the tedious people who carry out their principles to the bitter end of action, to the reduction ad absurdum of practice. Not I.”
As I looked at her quizzical half smile half frown I could not but to think to myself that God in creating man somewhat overestimated his ability as she was clearly a pristine example of this…
I was about to further educate my empty vessel of an assistant upon the importance of remembering that the well bred contradict other people - The wise contradict themselves. Taking a look at the pile of letters stacked on the desk in front of my assistant, I was obviously considered quite wise. The lesson, however, was put on hold when there was a knock on the door.
My assistant rose once again from her seat and announced, “That would be your eleven o’clock appointment” as she walked towards the door of the study.
God! Not only am I a gypsy casting light upon the way for the faceless masses in seething vocabulatory mounds of tripe; I prostitute myself out for it – It is of no wonder that my mind refuses my pleas for un-censoring its content from me! I do hope I get well remitted for it. After all, when I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is.
My assistant was followed by a rigid looking woman, her elegant stride and simple blouse and long skirt suggested to me that indeed she was one who prided herself on being the queen of her domain. The woman continued straight towards my desk, not turning once to see if my assistant was in need of her chair or not; she merely sat down without a glance of concern or hesitation. My assistant, upon seeing this, walked back to the edge of the room and gathered another puffed chair and brought it up to the desk.
What fantastic artificial aristocracy she displayed! Perhaps my busking of snake oil wasn’t always as beneath me as I thought. My enthusiasm for this regal trollop was further increased as she waited for my assistant to introduce her before opening her mouth and even recognizing my brilliance that she came here to seek. It was more the pity that I had not chosen my assistant for her astuteness...or apparently her looks, cleverness, or fashion sense; I had to clear my throat in order to have her present my appointment to me.
My assistant’s face reddened as she adjusted her glasses as she made the introduction. “Mrs. Van Buren, Hurt in Little Rock…Hurt in Little Rock, Mrs. Van Buren,” she stammered out then sat back down again and read the woman’s letter to me to refresh my mind. Some utterly vulgar and low class clatter about her husband having an affair and then getting sloppy about the matter in some public arena.
Once my assistant was done I started by saying, “Ah, a woman who’s husband has traveled the grassy route instead of the finely cobbled.” I leaned back and gave a smile which seemed to put the other two women off guard. “Men always want to be a woman's first love - women like to be a man's last romance.”
I looked a little closer at this seemingly nonchalant woman. Behind joy and laughter there may be a temperament, course, hard and callous. But behind sorrow there is always sorrow. Pain, unlike pleasure, wears no mask. This one, I now assessed as, perhaps could be the storm not unlike the Great Flood. She could absolutely devastate all which tried to anchor their positions firmly against her spewing of spite – she could perhaps amuse me for a mere moment. A small and petty amusement, however, since my mind resisted any attempts to let me relive my own follies, this one’s would have to do.
“Thank you for seeing me,” Hurt in Little Rock said brusquely. “I appreciate it when someone of your stature wants to answer my queries in person…” she gave a curt look to my assistant, “Rather than a form letter. What advice can you give me? How would you handle a man who can’t keep lice out of his pants even when the world is watching him scratch?”
I tossed her light prattle off with a mere lofty gesture of my hand, “Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much.”
“So you expect me to go home and suck it all up?” Hurt in Little Rock hissed out – finally dropping her pretentious smile mask and showed that indeed she did have something other than ice flowing through her bones. “Why shouldn’t I make him pay for publicly humiliating me? I can’t believe that you expect me to…”
Why did I have to deal such inane matters such as this insufferable tart? I once again gave a loud sigh of half bored/half exasperated meaning. “If you pretend to be good, the world takes you very seriously. If you pretend to be bad, it doesn't. Such is the astounding stupidity of optimism. To seemingly forgive and support will put you on a pedestal so high that the only descent from it will be of your own design.”
Hurt in Little rock seemed to think about that for a moment before asking with a wolfish appearance in her eyes and then asked in an off-hand-ish manner, “What’s the pay off for me?”
“Let him be crowned king,” I said evenly and slowly so that even my assistant could follow, “Then once he is dethroned you simply pick up the crown from the ground and place it upon such finely manufactured visage that you bought. You are not only seen as a sympathetic archetype, but one of such strength and character to have stood by your spouse when the typical woman would have severed not only the marital link but his as well.”
“But that’s not the way a good person…” Hurt in Little Rock meekly complained, more for my assistant’s benefit than mine; the gleam in her eye told me that she would one day be a destructive entity and I would thoroughly be deluged with blame for unleashing. But I would look forward to this, if I would remember anything that is. I like persons better than principles, and I like persons with no principles better than anything else in the world. Hurt simply was a walking void, she would be deliciously invigorating to observe.
“It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.” I snapped back at the woman before she could continue embarrassing herself with her optimistic and dulled view of existence.
“But you’re being mean spirited without actually giving the woman an answer,” my assistant pushed. “How is what you said helping the woman? It’s almost as if you…”
“Didn’t care what she does?” I finished for my apparent assistant. I looked at my appointment and repeated my advice.
Neither of the women seemed convinced of the validity of my statement. The sat there looking at me as if I were a mad man, woman…Damn this conflict of who I am! I wish I didn’t think I was so deep; only the shallow know themselves.
I sighed tiredly and noticing the glare of one discontent with one that was idolized only to find them fallible, added. “Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike – I know naught of your husband, nor do I care to. I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.”
I could see the women through the haze of my eyes reaching towards me, concernedly whispering, “Mrs. Van Buren? Are you alright? Should I call a doctor?”
All that was locked from my recall comes to me just as I know I will never see these dreary persons again. I weakly said to my appointment, “Remember: A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world…”
As the world around me became naught but a blur I heard Hurt in Little Rock vow to follow my advice to the letter – and then insisted on my assistant escorting the future Mrs. President out of the office and any potential scandal involving my current swooning condition. I could not help but feel the greatest surge of giddiness; single handedly I had turned a whiny spineless nobody into the biggest bitch amongst a boodle of societal bitches…
Damnable colours! For what does this foretell for me? I am to be sentenced to this enigmatic fool’s errand yet again? What kind of demon would mock me so? To whom do I make my irritation known? I must say to myself that I ruined myself, and that nobody great or small can be ruined except by his own hand. I am quite ready to say so. I am trying to say so, though they may not think it at the present moment. This pitiless indictment I bring without pity against myself. Terrible as what the world did to me, what I did to myself was far more terrible still.
To yourself make your irritation be known for now you return to your imprisoned body but now you have released your soul to forever dance with my Menisphastic grooms...