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.


My older sister was an old-school southern belle. Men were for her amusement, and she turned them upside-down and inside-out for fun. And they loved it, there were always men and boys surrounding her, waiting for their chance to be torn apart by her attentions. Starting at age 15 or so, they were breaking their piggy banks, forgoing that killer stereo system or new head gasket for their pick up truck, to gift her, show their earnest intentions, to get her to stay. By the time she left for college, she had a jewelry box that looked like a pirate’s treasure chest.

I was disgusted by the whole thing, and yeah, jealous too. In the family cosmology there is always the pretty one and the smart one, right? She was the pretty one. My younger sister was the smart one. I was nothing. I was the rusty crow looking at the precious shiny things adorning my older sister’s hands, wishing for my turn.

The closest I ever got to some trembling boy offering me his heart in a gift wrapped box from Zale’s was in college. This incredibly sweet, smart and lovely boy I had struck a friendship with dropped by my place unannounced with a gift for me. A package of glow in the dark dinosaur stickers. I knew exactly his intention with that, the gesture revealed everything that he had been hoping for in one instant. He nailed my taste exactly, and if I had been at all interested in him *that way* I would have dissolved in sheer joy. But alas. And that was my last experience of a boy putting it out there, naked and blinking, for examination and possible rejection.

Until last night.

I am at the bar-party, and there is lots of drinking and laughter, wit and high spirits. My friends point out that there is a boy there that seems to have his sights set on me. I am aware of this, as people go outside to smoke, order another drink from the bar, rotate through the crowd, we have chatted several times. But in this crowd of friends and great talkers, he does not get any more attention than any one else. Until.

I don’t remember what brought this on. How could I remember anything in the blaze of him bringing out his personal big guns. I am not sure what I have done to deserve the full peacock tail shaking, incendiary display, but it is clear to all my friends that this is meant for me. The boy heads to an empty patch in the bar, and with no introduction or fanfare, starts in on a full-length Michael Jackson dance routine, complete with moon-walking and crotch-grabbing. The bar stops. The floor clears. My friends look at him, look at me, and dissolve into laughter. They beg me to make him stop, they are laughing so hard. I am laughing at the outrageousness, at the sweetness of his offering, at my own mortification. And I must say, he was freakin awesome. Those hours of practice alone in the bedroom mirror at age 14 have produced some serious moves. It is unbelievably strange and touching. Still, I go home alone.


Blogger cherrydragonut said...

"I am not sure what I have done to deserve the full peacock tail shaking..." You gave him the opportunity to pursue. You know, water flows to stillness and all that. Could have been pherones, could have been a dream or maybe he just thought you were cool, hot, easy to please, jolie. Sounds like he had a good time, that you all did.

1:53 PM  
Blogger cherrydragonut said...

oops-- pheromones.

1:54 PM  
Blogger slickaphonic said...

i've played with several witty comments, but goddamnit, they don't work.

the point of every one? You're the convex combination of smart and pretty.

3:38 PM  
Blogger slickaphonic said...

unless you've been showing us pictures of your older sister on *that site*...

3:39 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

aw, thanks, slick. My sisters and I look astonishingly alike. Our IQ scores are remarkably similar. It was all just family BS, pitting us against each other. On some level I knew this, knew it was subjective, and therefore staked my own claim: I am the Tall One. It's irrefutable and immutable. Sweet!

I will say that my younger sister has the raw brain power to light the Empire State Building. But she'll get flattened by a bus crossing the street to get there. Such is the way of the statistics genius!

5:29 PM  

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