jolie laide: Commuting 4-11

jolie laide

I started this when I lived in Brooklyn and struggled for grace in a city that grants moments of beauty and ugliness breathtakingly close to one another. Now I live in a place where things are a different kind of ugly and the beauty is pedestrian. I struggle with that.


Commuting 4-11

Stuck in the tunnel, stalled out, re-routed, it takes half an hour to crawl three stations, people fuming and pissing, and I flee that train as soon as I can, leap across the platform to an unfamiliar subway line. The doors close, I pick my head up, and I am in another country. A country where they don’t let ugly people on public transportation.

I am a rusty crow, noticing three girls on one bench, all smart, young, hip in completely attractive and different ways. Their heads are bent over their reading, each at the exact same angle, and bing! bing! bing! each has a tiny gleaming silver stud in their right nostril.

A seat opens up across from them, next to a beautiful woman. Shiny, straight, jet black hair, luminous skin and huge dark eyes. And she takes out a huge compact and starts putting on make-up. What? She is drop-to-your-hands-and-knees-and-howl gorgeous. She is roll-on-your-back-on-a-bed-of-broken-glass stunning. I can hardly not do it myself. How could she possibly improve, what flaws does she see in that mirror? I watch her put on mascara, brushing the underside of her lashes, over and over. Then the top side, equally thoroughly. Then working the very inside corners, working the tiny brush, while the train is in full sway. Out comes a huge brush, and she starts puffing something all over her face…

I am, of course, transfixed. Until the doors open and a little blonde doll gets on. She is just so pretty. Stylish up to the second, lithe, a pointed chin like a kitten. She looks over her shoulder. Looks over her shoulder again. A third time. I do too…there is nothing there. She hitches her purse on her shoulder. Flips her hair. Re-positions her barrette. Fidgets. Examines her shoes. Adjusts her belt. Rubs her nose. (oh. now I get it) Takes of her coat. Puts down her bag. Re-positions her barrette. Does it again. Flips her hair. Looks over her shoulder.

I get off at the next stop.


Blogger Dr. S said...

I like your self-description as a rusty crow; I love the ping ping ping of their noserings. I have wanted a stud in my nose for a little while, but I fear that it wouldn't be quite right, so I'll stick with the hoop in the top of my ear.

Also liked the (oh. now I get it) moment with the twitchy doll girl. One of my colleagues said to me last year that he had heard of people 'round this wee village using a particular substance... and said, "Why? What would you *do* here if you were on that? You'd just be rocketing around, bouncing off dorm walls!"

12:44 AM  
Blogger ttractor said...

well, you'd be having a lot of sex, studying all night, staying thin, and/or, like this woman, looking super pulled-together.

It's interesting. At first I felt like I had stumbled into the Forbidden Train of Beautiful Women. But the three nose-studs who each put themselves together that morning a little artsy, a little clever, a little cool, wound up all looking the same.

And the most beautiful woman was clearly not satisfied, stabbing at her eyelashes over and over. And Kitten with a Cocaine Habit, well...

I'll stay a rusty crow, cocking my head to look at pretty shiny, thank you very much.

10:03 AM  

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