Saturday, June 03, 2006

Fractured Fairy Tales

“I was thinking today about how I court you.”

He laughs.

“No! I court you all the time, it’s outrageousHow about when I ran into you the other day and you were bragging about buying all those new muscle shirts on sale for nearly nothing? I sidled up, batted my lashes like a bloody silent film star and said, ‘well, you’ve certainly got the muscles for them, and you said, ‘Yes, I do.’ And then I said, ‘notice you’re looking mighty fine today,’ and you agreed with me.”

“Well,” he says, “I like flirting if I feel the same way towards someone.”

“Bullshit. You are such a princess, you. Come to think of it, it was me who said I was attracted to you, and me who kissed you the first time, and me who suggested the bedroom might be a better idea.” We were half-way on, half-way off the couch by the time I said that. And there was very little doubt in my mind where the afternoon was heading. The point is, he didn’t ask. Didn’t suggest. Of course – he didn’t exactly demur either.

“It’s nice,” he says, in his fake-reasonable voice, “to know that you aren’t forcing your attention on someone. That you aren’t harassing them.” I can tell he’s grinning through a mouthful of canary feathers.

“Oh right. And also nice not to ever face the possibility of rejection. Nice to sit around waiting for women to virtually land in your lap without any noticeable effort on your part.”

We both end up laughing.

And I’m thinking how much I like men who can laugh at being called a “princess.” Men who, in fact, refer to themselves as “48 hour drama queens,” and who love the story of Lilith and cheer when I’m telling it and get to the part where she won’t submit to Adam.

And I stink at being treated like a princess, let’s face it. If we were a fairy tale, I’d be the knight, carrying on like a smitten fool, falling off my horse, gamely dragging my singed, raggedy ass back to the castle to display the heads of hapless dead dragons for the object of my adoration.

If I tried doing princess, I’d ask him what in hell he thought he was doing. Had he noticed, by the way, that the mote stones were covered in algae? That the west wall was about to fall down? That the Barbarian Hordes were camped only miles away? I’d tell him I had a headache and besides that he needed a shower.

No. No. Better he’s the princess. Better I court and coo over him.
That way, we all live happily after.

Process: clean, commit, consider the consequences

7:30 a.m. My new favorite dollar store mug, small soup bowl sized, filled with coffee. Yesterday’s braids, neatly pinned up in a grown-up hairstyle, slipping their moorings. Blue velvet housecoat, almost vintage by now. Bare feet. I’m brandishing one purple glove.

I hold my gloved hand with my fingers spread, studying its construction. The gusset under the thumb, the shape that covers the back of the hand. I wonder if Sears has lady’s gloves in stock, it being June and summer gloves being a kind of antiquated fashion – like cucumber sandwiches or playing croquet. I’d like a left glove. No stretch. Preferably black. Fat chance.

I’d like, really, to take back the moment where I blurted out the word, “gauntlet,” yesterday, during a studio visit from the Director of a Gallery. My work was being considered for an exhibition in January, Haute Couture Avante Garde. The challenge for the artists participating was to create something spectacular, something they normally wouldn't tackle. “Gauntlet,” I said. I was so thrilled to be invited.

I was thinking of the wrist and arm portion of a gauntlet…a kind of extended beaded cuff. But afterwards, checking the image bank of Google, I looked at pictures. Oh. My. God. Fingers. The damn things have fingers. My 150 hour project balloons to…the rest of my natural life? I print antique patterns for gauntlets. I print photographs. I’m stocking up so that I have sufficient scare-material to keep me from every sleeping again.

Save yourself, I think. I decide to eliminate fingers. It’s fashion for the love of god, not actual war. Covering the top of the hand will do – with a…what? Strap to hold it in place underneath? Suede underside? At 11:00 p.m., past my bedtime and theirs, I consider emergency calls to friends who make costumes. I’m looking up articles on plaster to Paris. After all, it will have to display on something. I’m eyeing the pieces of broken bus shelter glass I’ve scooped up into a jar and thinking those might be an interesting addition.

What makes me glibly agree to such things?

I blame it on a clean house. The day before, I’m dusting light bulbs. I’m changing the foil burner protectors on the stove. I’m nearly at the point of vacuuming the air, just in case. The Scorpio laughs at me. “She’s not coming to check your housekeeping skills, you know.” But I have to do this. I have to buy a decent cream and sugar set and a second bunch of Astromeria. “You never know,” I tell the Scorpio. You never know. What if she saw spotty burner protectors and fled in horror and no one ever asked me to be part of an exhibition again and I had to live in a cardboard box and hold out a Tim Horton's coffee cup begging for spare change?

But bloated with the confidence of having a clean house, grown-up hair, and matching cream and sugar set, I feel capable and professional. “Gauntlet,” I say. I could just as easily have said, “beaded tuxedo and matching shoes,” the cleanliness and order had so distorted my sense of my own capability.

The good news is that this dangerous cleanliness is unlikely to happen again because my personal deadline for this project is the end of August – well before hell season hits at the day job, before I start teaching. And there won’t be time to change burner savers or vacuum the air. Or sleep.

Maybe if I hadn’t dusted, I’d be making a nice set of buttons. A brooch.

Thanks for the training, Mom. I’m expecting a little help from the other side while I’m doing this. It’s the least you can do considering the lecture entitled "it isn't clean if you didn't scrub underneath it."