jolie laide

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.


In the shower this morning, I was trying to decide whether I should go running today. My hip still hurts from my last run. What do I tell my doctor if the pain does not let up…I dislocated my hip 25 years ago, it hurts when I run, but I don’t want to stop running?

It made me wonder what I was trying to do by playing football with boys who were much bigger than me, boys who had gone away for the summer, to camp, to stay with relatives, and had come back so changed. Those boys were my neighborhood friends, my baseball team, my bike riding partners, my camping in the backyard buddies.

Throughout my younger life, I have always been friends with boys, taken on a boy’s physical bravado. I would fist fight the biggest boys at recess, ride a bike down the stairs at the school, be on the end of the whip ice-skating on the pond.

I thought that if I acted like a boy, no one would think I was a girl. I could hide from the very specific ways that a boy or a man could hurt a girl, things darkly hinted at, things I already knew too much about. So when I tackled that boy when I was 14, and felt something go wrong with my hip, I got up and walked home. I kept my back as stiff as I could, and tried not to limp, I didn’t want to be excluded from playing the next time we organized a sand lot game, I didn’t want to be called a girl, didn't want anyone to know I could be hurt. But really, that hip crunched out of its socket, that was the beginning of the end.

That was freshman year in high school. The year of that strange transformation, as I got breasts, traded glasses for contact lenses, got my braces off my teeth. The year boys who had been my friends started trying to look up the skirt of my mandatory school uniform. The year a boy who was in my group of friends tried to trick me into coming to his house when his parents were gone overnight, to get me alone and vulnerable, and all the other boys helped him deceive me. The year a boy with whom I had spent so many summer evenings playing soccer until it was too dark to see, him and his sisters against me and mine, pinned me to the ground, put the weight of his body on my face and forced something strange and horrible down my throat.


Blogger Dr. S said...

Oh, sweetie. Oh.

1:31 AM  
Blogger ttractor said...

oh dear. I don't mean to hurt anyone by telling stories, laying out the cards in my deck. This was 25 years ago, we were all trapped in the particular ignorance of that time and place. I have seen so many beautiful things and laughed so much since then.

11:38 AM  
Blogger Dr. S said...

No, you didn't hurt me, except in so far as I did my pale imitation of being able to empathize. I just didn't have the right language, if right language there is, to say that I heard your story. To say thank you seems wrong; to say "I know how you felt" is just untrue; so I just say, Oh. It's so evocatively written, by the way.

5:31 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

thanks don't seem inappropriate. I am not always sure what I am doing with what I post. Saying myself, I suppose. And responding to those who have requested that I peel, share not just what I see, but why I see.

I have a huge capacity for joy, but if that is all I reveal I am hiding, I do not do myself justice.

So, I apologize for the occassional foray into things somewhat more horrifying.

And here is something I have been thinking about: if you were making daffodil-flavored candy, what would it taste like?

6:14 PM  
Blogger Dr. S said...

It would taste like daffodils, silly.

And you need not apologize, was the main thing I was also trying to say in my second comment here.

I am currently, damn, missing the conference-end dance (seriously: literary critics gettin' down in a fancy Ottawa ballroom) because I am sick. Damn damn damn.

10:34 PM  
Blogger Dr. S said...

Oh, my actual answer to your flavor question: it would taste yellow.

10:34 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

ah, I'm sorry you're sick. And missing dancing sucks rocks. I think daffodil candy should taste like rain water and vanilla.

1:04 AM  
Blogger Dr. S said...

Uncle, uncle. The first thing I thought, when you asked what daffodil candy should taste like, was "The inside of Lemonheads." Remember how the inside of lemonheads candy wasn't sour like the outside but instead was a kind of neutral sweetness? That's what daffodils would taste like.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Citadin said...

Thanks for sharing your painful experience, JL. It's helpful to know, as there is a huge disconnect between appalling state of things, which are revealed in statistics like these:
and the tremendous scarcity in their coverage... Perhaps those two facts are not independent.

(one quote: "27% of women have experienced a rape or attempted rape since age 14")

Daffodil candy would have the following components: one quarter herbal, one quarter citrus (mostly lemon but with some softer elements like pink grapefruit), one quarter wet earth and one quarter light floral. Daffodils don't smell like that but that's the kind of early spring olfactory palette that they evoke.

(signed: shallot sometimes)

5:55 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

Shallot, have you tried violet gum? It is wierd at first, but then you realize it tastes as it should.

I can imagine the taste you describe, and I like it!

12:11 PM  
Blogger Citadin said...

I haven't tried violet gum, that sounds good. But I did try violet petal jelly, which you can find in France. You can also get violet bonbons, in the small oval tin can. Candied violet petals are pretty cool too, they are a specialty of Toulouse in the southwest of France, I've had them on cake, a tasty frosting decoration.

Fake grape stuff on the other hand, like cough syrup, doesn't taste violet, it tastes vile. Fake cherry too. Fake orange or strawberry on the other hand, is alright, as in Jello with canned fruit bits inside in a fancy mold shape, with cool whip on top. Once in a while. As pictured in my 1965 Better Homes and Garden "New" Cookbook...

3:10 PM  

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