Every so often she got stoned to loud music, sometimes country,
sometimes rock. Every so often she got off the couch and swayed
melancholically with the music, letting her head roll from side to
side. Melancholy, she thought, becomes me. Too bad no one is
here to see it, to see me in it. And yes, she liked the way her
thoughts looped and swirled according to their own whimsy or
program. And yes too bad no one was there to see it. Our best
moments gone unseen. C'est la vie, oui, oui.
Yes, she knew a bit of French, she was a faux-French, or a
francophone. A disgrace these days with a Bushie and a Dickie in
Washington, D.C. Derelict City. Dereliction is a way of life in our
capital city. Her life, too, was an open-ended dereliction. A life of
scheduling, routinely, then loosening the noose a bit.
Open, and ended. And a bit of a twirl - voilá,
another French word. How fast and deep are you willing to
reveal your wonderful self? When your door is locked? Do you
even know who your next-door neighbor is? Perhaps the one
who would finally proffer his other cheek?
Maybe you are hungry? Yes, you are! But, stop the party?
Because your tummy cries food?
And her dancing shadow on the wall. And the song, and
the music, and the cry, and the vague longing, and the need, made
of the moment. It is all of the moment. You take it in, and then
you let go, retaining something, maybe the essence. And up in the
sky a full but a watery moon. Like yesterday. Aloof.
Very profound, this. She was getting more profound by the
pound, no, by the minute. C'est la vie. She was on the verge of
forgiving herself, tout. At least for the moment. At least for the
now. She was not one to worry about the order of things and
other sure perishables. When she worried, she worried about the
small things. A friend of hers said it was because of the
Holocaust, because her parents had died, no, survived the
Holocaust. That particular friend blamed it all on the Holocaust,
but she, the one who could, said, No, it's not the Holocaust.
She ate her food on the carpet on the floor because it felt
ceremoniously foolish to sit alone at the ornate dinner table. And,
no matter what others might have to say about the matter, she was
convinced she enjoyed her food as much as anyone. Even if she
ate on the floor, hunched over her plate of salad and spaghetti,
and then straightening up for the chewing.
Besides, she liked to watch something while she ate, and,
eating at the table, she'd see only the faint reflection of her image
in the thick glass of the tabletop. And so, consuming her dinner
on the carpet, she watched TV - like many others, in fact - and
followed the story of the hour with the insatiable appetite of a
The fact was, she had met a new man the night before, and
was now thinking about him, even while she didn't want to be
thinking about him. The Split/Conflicted Brain Syndrome - she
worked the acronym in her head, hoping for some chance
musicality that would prove it had been in the cards that the two
of them should meet.
She didn't want to think about him because she wasn't sure
whether she really liked him, or just wanted to be coupled. All
night last night, on her couch, she said that, and he said that, and
she said that, and then he, in response to a question, said
something quite profound, which she tried to remember now and
couldn't, but she did remember appreciating his answer, for it was
an answer concerning her - of this she was certain. She thought it
profound because it surprised her, it went in a direction she hadn't
anticipated. A question she had asked in all innocence, and he had
answered in all seriousness, the seriousness of a first date, of
getting to know you, of wanting to like you, of wanting to
impress you, of wanting to spend some time with you, in bed, and
Inside and out. Simple, and yet intricate and potentially
disturbing. Maybe profound! She had the sense that he was a
nester, a man who needed a lot and therefore got himself a dog
and a cat. She had the sense that he had suffered at the hands and
mouths of women, and that he sought such women out.
He was good-looking, she had to admit that her heart and
eyes and mind, in some order or other, responded as soon as she
saw him in the room. It was Christmas dinner with old friends,
and she didn't expect any surprises, no newcomer. But there he
was, like a lost cowboy, a last-minute addition, so said the hostess
in a whisper, a long-gone cousin who had suddenly reappeared
and had to be invited. After all, they were family, however
The "distant" part got her approving attention instantly.
No exchange of gossip between prospective lover and inquisitive
cousin hostess, who would be eager to know all the dirty details,
on and from both sides. With all good intentions, with all good
and best wishes.
I bruise easily, she told him at some point, meaning that
her skin was delicate and bruisable, but, as she heard herself
speak the words, she realized he might be understanding her
meaning differently, yet couldn't think of a way to amend the
words that had already come out of her mouth. Still, she felt
certain that whatever meaning he gleaned from her words, her
manner told him that she was keeping all escape routes open.
At her door, as they were saying good night and goodbye - it
was high time, 3am - and she extended her hand, and he took it,
she wished him a happy new year and leaned forward, seeking
his cheek, but he, mistaking her intentions, and eager as well, it
showed on his face, and surprised by this sudden gesture on her
part, also leaned forward, offering his lips, then realizing, in a
flash, it was the cheek she wanted, and he offered it, making a
quick, perhaps disappointed, adjustment.
In bed, after he left, she read for a while, forgetting all about
him, and then fell asleep and into a long, tortuous dream, where
she and he are making love, or trying to, but, intermittently, he
takes off and flies in the air, performing tricks for her, perhaps
to amuse her, perhaps to annoy her, so she tries to fly, too, and,
to her great amazement, succeeds, she flies in the air, and does
all sorts of cat-woman acrobatics, but, as she flies, she tells
herself, This is all unreal, as she knows herself incapable of
She awoke from the dream disheveled and broken and
fearful, blaming all the drinks they had had at the dinner party,
and the pot they had smoked when they sat on her couch.
She didn't like to fret, but fretting was part of her makeup,
fretting, and debating, and analyzing, and second-guessing
herself. And listening to oldies on the radio late at night, like,
for instance, to Sinatra singing, That old black magic called
love. American singers, she believed, poured their hearts out,
more so than their European counterparts, who were, on the
whole, more circumspect in their delivery. She wanted to
believe she was, in many respects, just like everyone else, corny
and sentimental and pining after something or someone, or the
idea of someone, in the abstract, a being she didn't bother to
endow with the prerequisite looks and intelligence, but someone
who already came custom-made, so she could get right down to
business and create the first witty conversation they would have,
or were having, at the moment.
How frank and honest and candid can you be? The first
time? How far would you go? To reveal your wonderful inner
self? Like, your real real inner?
She swayed with the music. Her life, if you had to sum it
up, wasn't all that bad. She had her moments, like everyone else.
Her generous moments, her loving moments, her bad moments.
She liked late-night radio because it was then when they played
the best music, the best songs. Or so they sounded, late at night,
when all was quiet on the street, and she was alone, completely