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.


I go out to lunch late. The afternoon foot traffic has dispersed, the sidewalks blank in the searing heat. So the wallet laying stranded in the middle, between the building and the curb looks particularly forlorn. I'll do the right thing by it, in this grubble hustler neighborhood, I won't leave it to chance.

It is the kind of wallet that has a long loop, for hanging around your neck, and I pick it up and stick my hand into it, looking for ID. I can see a wad of money, hear the clink of change, and then it hits me. The smell. Oh. The wallet is soaked in urine.

I've got my hands stuck into the wallet, my hands are covered in a stranger's urine. I can't put the wallet down. In picking it up I made a compact, I undertook a duty. I am repulsed by what is in my hands on one level. But also I am terribly sad. Someone is having a very bad day. A sudden sickness, an overwhelming loss of control, and in the scramble to maintain dignity, to get home, the wallet drops to the ground and an unsure fate.

And I take the wallet back to my office, put my hands back in one more time to pull out wet ID documents, an elderly couple in the buildings around the way, they are in the phone book, and I make the call. So they will not suffer embarassment, I put the wallet in a big envelope and leave it at our front desk for them to pick up. They never have to see me, to see me who knows their shame.


Blogger remue-menage said...

New York City rhapsody -

the mysterious violent twists of human exchange, their resolution

a complete cycle is here - a complete unwritten story

the story of the City

4:43 AM  
Blogger remue-menage said...

Oh and I love the texture and the deep orange crush of this image!



8:59 AM  
Blogger slickaphonic said...

very nice picture, very sad story. I got quite a bit of dog shit on me today. But there was no lyricism to be found in my experience.

2:29 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

slick-I hope it was your dog, at least! (glad your computer is working--missed you!)

r-m, I am glad you like this! I was delighted to find it. There is a story behind this red orange yellow. I am trying to find the right way to tell it...

4:39 PM  
Blogger famjaztique said...

ah, that moment of horror and simultaneously knowing you are committed because you already chose to do the right thing.

9:38 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

frou-fam, I did not think about the twining of horror and commitment. I hope to not have that pair fused together again any time soon. (oh, and how that must resonate for you too, I am guessing)

9:54 AM  

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