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'm in the kitchen of a community room in yet another worn down neighborhood. It smells like all community room kitchens, like transit terminal grade disinfectant and elementary school grade bologna. I have the job offer tucked into my bag.

I haven't accepted the job yet, but by being here tonight, I have accepted a responsibility. This night is the first public meeting for trying to give away a public benefit to a population both bitten and hungry. I've been in this position before, and it's hard not to look like Marie Antoinette with a basket of petit fours.

Towards the end of the evening, I stand beyond the exit. I can see their faces as they leave the meeting. When I let them know I am a resource for them, they tell me the stories they need to say, don't want to say. The impending divorce. The financial mistakes. The illegal housing. One man lets me know he is a stranger to this country, and is afraid to live amongst people not his own. Him I cannot help. He will have to eat cake.


Blogger Michael said...

If Cormac McCarthy could write an opening as powerful as this one, I'd have read Blood Meridian without blinking. *That* is what making a reader hunger the payoff is all about.

5:13 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

Gosh, thank you. High praise from the man who actually knows what happens next. Ah, you know what? I didn't tell you about the two kids on the corner, dressed for shop lifting-puffy coats and two backpacks apiece. Who in the hell did they think they were fooling?

12:45 AM  
Blogger slickaphonic said...

"like Marie Antoinette with a basket of petit fours": that's a phrase i will twirl through my gray matter for a few days.

11:18 AM  

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