Friday, April 8, 2011
Or shift to the daylight realm and take Rhonda Boule a little before the war. I was twenty-five, she, a tender twenty-one or two. She was one of those marvelously adaptive young women one encountered before the war who does not get much press.
She emigrated from some grid-plan capital city of some spacious Midwestern state, settling down in New York for vague aesthetic and professional motivations. She lived alone, on her own income, frugally but with a certain flashy style.
She decorated her single room Murray Hill apartment with baubles won for her from brawny, brainless beaus on hot summer’s evenings at Coney Island amusement concessions. Stiff maroon animals stuffed with unpliable saw dust sat impassively on a small shelf; a marksmanship trophy stuffed with wax apples rested on the lip of the window sill; a diorama of a bowling alley, decorated with colorfully painted, minature bowlers, the paint, distractingly enough, unevenly applied and skewed during mass production: the bowler’s facial features dripping on a collar, or a flesh colored paint snaking up a sleeve.
Rhonda herself held her firm sturdy, corn fed body upright from mere youthfulness alone. Everything that would eventually sag from weight and persistent gravity was tight and round with a certain solid, symmetrical configuration. She had auburn hair with jet black roots, a shinning button nose that she constantly dulled with granulated white talcum powder. She rouged her half apple cheeks and applied bright primary colored lipstick to her broad honey sweet lips as if it was erotic war paint or she was eros’ medicine man.
Taking a mid-town subway on a summer night (for it was a summer romance, and so all the more heartbreaking in its pathos: it is speckled in my memory with late day hazy humid sunshine beneath the dusty Norway maples of Murry Hill. It is sound tracked by the sudden after work cessation of traffic of bustling mid-town; it is scented by the ozone humid detumesence that follows a brief summer shower.)
Take a look at strapping me in my white summer suit, some kind of profusion of posies in my mitts, striding up the subway steps two at a time, bright floral tie flapping out of my seersucker, light straw hat perched high on my oblong Vandemark pate, joyful because I’m at a fork and I haven’t chosen a path yet, gleeful because I can see my life cleaving in two, forming parallel paths after they separate from a single stubborn point… and I’m dawdling; I am savoring the sensation of my own lassitude.
If life wants to force me to show my hand (and it has that power, it reserves that right, of course), then I can be petulantly playful as I lower my cards. I can savor the dread as fate awaits even the slightest twitch of my globular hands.
She is unstrapping her garter belt and removing her stockings. She is folding her girdle neatly over a wooden chair. Her deflated dress dangles from a wire hanger just over her vanity mirror. She sits perched on her wicker stool, rounded buttocks spilling over the leather confines, forming pleasant roundlets, and brushing her hair repeatedly, fifty strokes for each side of her evenly parted straight hair.
Soon that hair will spread out in wild sprays on the pillow when we make love. I stand behind her running my hands over her pale shoulders, occasionally cupping her prodigious breasts. She squirms, letting out peels of girlish laughter. Her reflective, imitation, immature little girl blue green eyes sparkle at me from the mirror, approving and disapproving in gorgeous simultaneity all of my naughty forays.
I will marry this plump little girl. Her firm baby fat body will incubate as many robust Vandemark’s as eggs she posess and sperm I can implant. And I will don a suit, and ride the subway downtown. And in the gray-green twilight I descend in the elevator and ride the careening subway uptown. And mundanely, she will be there, baby-fat more mature, less firm, surrounded by a brood of children. I will eat and drink, urinate and defecate, age and work, reproduce myself and die.
I let my hand drop from Rhonda’s broad shoulder. It is late at night. I look out the window and see the line of cars stopped at a red light on Madison Avenue. The light turns and the cars surge ahead to the next set of lights that turn red almost immediately.
I finished. I lay on the bed exhausted. Rhonda snuggles up and kisses my lips. Her heavy breasts pressing against my forearm. I can feel dead-weight on my brain for the first time in my twenty-five years. I realized, as those soft hands gropped about my body, that possible worlds were a cruel lie and impossible duty for a man whose vision was not just a keen twenty-twenty, but supernaturally acute --- from that point on I would use all my weight to halt forward progress.
As I rode Rhonda’s elevator down and pushed the sliding door, its rotating plates of glass glittering in the morning sun and stepped heavy footed and certain unto the terra firma of Madison Avenue, I knew that I would never marry that plump, solid, loving, perfectly acceptable girl.
I would never look back (and I did not, until now). The garters would hang limply on the chair, the bra would be slung over the vanity mirror, but some other man would leave a depression in the bed next to Rhonda after he rose to go to work. Some other man would stand stiffly down the aisle as a veiled Rhonda, donned in virginal white, took the somber teary stroll on her father’s arm. She would lock in her future with a certitude I could never dream of; she would never balk at the crossroad when it came. She would make the ontologically sound choice. She was not, after all, a Vandemark.