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 am helping to clean up the park after the event. It’s cold out, the light is graying, I am concentrating on scraping up confetti, banana peels, stickers, with my hand in a clammy wet rubber glove.

“You’re not wearing wings today?”

I had not seen him walk up, and now he is standing next to me. He has recognized me from another event, and with that phrase he is telling me I have been regarded, I have been noticed, remembered, and found worthy of re-approach. I look into his handsome face and here is an opening, here is a doorway, here is an open socket, and I have the plug in my hands to complete the circuit. I drop it. I drop it, partly out of sheer ineptitude, partly out of an absolute disinterest, at this exact time, to surmount my ineptitude. The moment passes, he walks away.

I killed another mouse in my kitchen. His body is in the garbage, under the sink. I have been thinking about it for several days, very aware of the presence of the corpse. Every time I open the cabinet door, put something else into the can, I think of his tiny curled body. I think of it starting to decay. I think of whatever vermin is on his body multiplying, feeding on the other detritus, of maggots erupting through his grey fur. Today my dread has reached its tipping point, and I am taking the sack out of the can, very aware of how the garbage realigns and shifts itself as I do this. The movement surfs a piece of paper to the top, my eye catches on an advertisement, “Sale on Charisma ends soon!”

And so today I need to go to the corner store and get a croissant for breakfast. And I thank the man behind the counter for allowing me to give him a dollar for it, but really I am thanking him for his gentle charm, for giving me his complete attention for just a brief while, for looking me straight in the eye in a way that I underdstand and am ready to receive. He gives me his full face, with its lovely round, deep brown eyes, a grin splits his face, and I hope he has a wife that loves him very much, a son that has taken his name, a daughter to dance on his feet.


Blogger slickaphonic said...

Oh, dead mice stories...I apologize if this is an inappropriate (and certainly inappropriately long) comment, but I've fought the urge to type it here as long as I am able.

I lived in an apartment where the mice just kept on comin'. Every night I woke up to the snap and the squeal; I'd roll over in bed, clench my eyes shut and force myself back to sleep.

After two weeks of Mice Nights, I slept over at a friend's house for a few nights of needed peace and quiet. upon my return, I searched for the missing mouse trap. I finally looked under the radiator and found my dead visitor, upside down with the trap on top of him.

I went to pull the trap out to deposit yet another furry corpse into my trash can, but there was resistance. The dead mouse had been there one too many nights and had, well, become stuck to the floor.

i can still feel that horrifying resistance, as the body pulled free of its skin.

I moved one week later.

11:08 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...


11:19 PM  
Anonymous #180 said...

could it be wireless? moments, plugs, waves in a tub rebounding off the sides.

how is your what-i-would-not-take-for-ineptitude and interest in surmounting it?

either way, "don't run out of candy."

2:32 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

My desire to surmount my ineptitude has rebounded considerably, thank you. No chance of me running out of candy anytime soon, just good places to distribute it. Got any suggestions?

3:24 PM  
Anonymous #180 said...

which is really more grave, isn't it? suggestions would range from the truly good to the dully utilitarian to the self-interested and back to truly good by way of magically frivolous.

they would span the dial this way until given a motive, a vector.

what are the chances of this big bucket of a city echoing a moment back our way again?

6:24 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

I don't think there is much chance of this city cooperating, twice already is pushing one's luck beyond belief. After this it would have to be motive and intention and curiousity, all of which I presume you possess. I surely do. That and a bucket of candy.

11:28 AM  
Anonymous #18Oh said...

you assay my posessions accurately, but it would be unfair not to point out my own buckets, two, of ineptitude...

now how to keep the teeth of motive and intention off the tender flesh of curiosity?

5:36 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

curiousity can be its own motive. I do like to meet people, hear their stories, take a guided tour of the inside of their heads.

You have been getting something of that from me here, and that may make you more curious. You have carefully guarded yourself while making contact, and that makes me curious.

10:56 AM  
Anonymous guardado con queso said...

it's been hard to avoid taking on a toxic volume of the stock guided tour, but my curiosity there is kept in check by a much more lively interest in interaction.

as a comparison of live v recorded music, even in overwhelmingly stacked quantities, i feel it holds.

what you say next is always more important.

it's difficult to be guarded in discussing the constitution of one's defenses in a public forum. it all sounds like nonsense, so i won't ... unless i have to.

quite possibly you are showing less out of your norm than i in this, so far. or along less unfamiliar channels.

are you reveling in the interest accrued already by these daylight savings?

i hope to find an appropriately eloquent reply to your santa scream, above.
"pssssssssssssssssssst" seemed incredibly rude...

6:33 PM  

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