Sunday, January 29, 2006


Rainy Sunday. So I have gone exploring, and such delightful things I have found!

Through a succinct and discriminating clearinghouse with which I should have been familiar ere now, I found a goddess. Miss Snark, I bow down before you.

A touching post on fear and evangelism from Slacktivist. No wonder poor dear VD gets so surly. Carrying the weight of the world and all.

I finally was able to wend my way to Boysmom's blog, even though she is evidently too polite and shy to link to it while commenting. I was utterly charmed. Such a gentle soul, and cursed with visions. I look forward to reading more of them.

Even though Miss E. has stolen my template, I was deeply enamoured of her photographs. Perhaps I will borrow a few of them.

And, to my surprise and pleasure, I discovered that our own Jackadandy has expanded in such a complementary way upon my alternate--oh, well, never mind.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Gamma boys

Such an engrossing discussion over on VD's blog, all about Alpha and Gamma and Domination and thrilling things like that. I would have written it myself except that I was sleeping. I do sleep too much. It's one of my few flaws. However, my dear VD was kind enough to make a suggestion:

It would be interesting if you would attempt to explain the appeal of the Alpha male and the lack of appeal of the Gamma male from the female perspective.

The workings are a mystery to me, having been taught from day one that women just want men to be kind, gentle listeners, but observing completely the opposite. Thus, I know the What, but I don't understand the How or the Why.

Kind, gentle listeners! Why, certainly! We want you to be kind, gentle listeners on the morning after you have lifted us off our feet, tossed us into the loft, given us four orgasms and fallen asleep in a blissful pool of mingled sweat and pheromones. Silly boys. They always get their sequence wrong.

(They're not always very good at the orgasm part, either. But that is Mr. Savage's column, not mine.)

Sigh. Fascinating as this discussion is, with all its sweeping socio-political-cultural-biological generalizations, so much of it boils down to chemistry. Chemistry is a wonky and unfathomable thing, and beyond the scope of my analysis. Thank goodness. There must be some room for mystery.

However, I am moved to focus my discussion on those gray situations when there might be chemistry, or there might not, and Something Goes Wrong. While doing so I may touch upon Alpha behavior, or faux-Alpha, or Gamma, or Alphas who mimic Gammas and thus shoot themselves in the foot. I am not entirely sure. All of these scientific categorizations get beyond me sometimes.

I will tell you, then, about my buddy Gerry. For lack of a better definition, I will label Gerry an Alpha-Gam. He was certainly not Beta, at any rate; noted for his his charm, his Grateful Dead bandanas, and his degree in engineering, he had, to my certain knowledge, a harem of politically correct women scratching each other's eyeballs out over him. Gerry was a notorious serial monogamist. He would have the next lucky girl lined up even as he was tactfully and sorrowfully engineering the demise of his current relationship. One of the girls in the lineup was my dear friend Beth; she philosophically accepted her fate, even as she pined, when Gerry strategically moved to Dallas to get away from her.

Gerry and I were generally on the best of terms, though never close. Imagine my surprise when, upon his return from Dallas, I was informed by the rumor mill that Gerry had staked me out for his next girlfriend. Beth told me so herself. Gerry backed up the rumors with a series of knowing looks, and suggestions that I show up at his cooperative for dinner some evening.

Of course Gerry had my phone number; of course I would never consider inviting myself for dinner uninvited. That would not be polite. When my phone did not ring I naturally assumed dear Gerry had changed his mind.

Later that summer I found myself entangled with the incandescent, psychotic Williams graduate, who happened to be boarding at Gerry's cooperative. We went to dinner together; I greeted Gerry with warmth and friendship. Later my sister, who dwelled in the cooperative next door, told me that Gerry had dropped by, in a powerful sulk. "Your sister's over there," he declared. "She wouldn't come when I asked her, but she's over there now."

And, sadly, it seemed that Gerry never did get over it. He was vaguely snarky in my company right up to the day I moved to San Francisco, and in fact I ran into him at a Grateful Dead concert and he was snarky then. "I didn't think you were into the Dead," he said. He was right, I wasn't. Ugh. How I suffered.

When telling a girlfriend this story, years later, I phrased it like this: "he crooked his finger, and I didn't come running." She replied, "Good for you." But there wasn't anything good about it. It truthfully did not occur to me to come running. I expect that a truly confident gentleman has the courage to make himself vulnerable--to pick up the phone and say, 'you are a fascinating woman. Will you do me the honor of having dinner with me?' Anything else is ego.

But perhaps the story is no story at all; perhaps there was never any chemistry, as I said. I don't know. Certainly Gerry's sulks did not make him more endearing, although I continue to bear him no grudge.

I would say that this incident is perhaps an isolated case of an Alpha's failing to get his girl, but that such things have continued to happen to me on a fairly regular basis in years since. The pattern is generally the same; I am on friendly terms with an acknowledged Alpha, he crooks his finger, I look at the finger and raise my eyebrow, he storms off in a lasting huff. When I boil it down it really does look like pure egotism. I certainly would not call these men my friends. Friendship does not appear to be possible with a man like that.

I would, however, term such finger-crooking as 'passive-aggressive.' Interest has certainly been communicated, but not directly acknowledged. I frown upon such rot. As I said, a genuine Alpha takes his rejection on the chin or not at all.

So I am not sure what we are dealing with. Perhaps I will take refuge in Jane Austen. "By you I was properly humbled. I came to you without a doubt of my reception. You showed me how insufficient were all my pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased."

But then, Mr. Darcy is a fictional character.

Wake-up call

The postal service leaned on my doorbell at positively eight-thirty this morning. I might point out that it is Saturday. Since when do postal workers start work at the crack of dawn on weekends?

They were delivering the set of little Theo's books I ordered from Amazon last week, as well as Emiliana Torrini's "Love in the Time of Science" and Rachel's "Handwriting." I can already vouch for the fact that Emiliana's album is enchanting; I was suprised to discover that she is only 23. Her album "Sunnyroad" led me to believe that she must be my close contemporary, what with its suggestion of a full life already lived.

I suspect it was the evangelical energy that was, however subtly, responsible for the o'dark-thirty delivery, however. These fundamentalists are such ascetics.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Litmus test

Bother politics. Already.

Pretty Lady has noticed (how could she not?) that her fellow human beings have a strong tendency to decide whether a comrade is a Good Person or not, solely upon the presupposition of that person's political alignments. This has caused her untold social embarrassments in the past, as she has always had a tendency to be eclectic in her associations. Who could forget the occasion she invited her French Socialist boyfriend and her Power Puff Feminist girlfriend home, to meet her National Review Republican father and her Anglican Chorist mother, and the boyfriend and girlfriend were cordially invited to Evensong? And the boyfriend and girlfriend muttered, afterward, "If I'd realized that were a Church Service, I wouldn't have gone."

I mean, really, how rude, not to mention ignorant. My boyfriend and girlfriend would have been both honored and respectful, if invited to attend a pow-wow, or an African ritual involving paint and scarification. At least they kept their grumblings away from the ears of my loving and hospitable family. My parents, in turn, were charmed with the French Socialist, as he argued well, albeit with a very strong accent, and brought a lot of excellent cheese. The Power Puff was also noted for her intelligent grace of demeanor, and the weekend went well. I was the only one who suffered.

But it seems that no matter how often those who oppose us break stereotype, we keep building those stereotypes back up again. It seems to me obvious that political opinions are largely a matter of happenstance; people formulate opinions based upon the sum of their education, upbringing and personal experience. They would all like to think that an ironclad chain of unassailable logic leads them to where they stand, but logic can lead in any direction, depending upon what is factored in or ignored. And I know, from the depths of long and intimate personal experience, that Character has nothing, nothing, nothing to do with Standpoint.

Part of this has to do with the assumed format for debate in our culture, and perhaps in the way the human brain is wired. We tend to argue from Positions, and listen to the other person only insofar as to formulate a strong rebuttal to his proposition. This is an ego-based perspective, and rarely leads anywhere, although it can be a lot of fun.

There is another way of arguing, although it is so difficult that it requires weekend retreats for Consensus Training. Consensus decision-making involves basing the discussion on Concerns, not Positions. As in, sincerely asking each person, "What is important to you? What are you afraid of? What needs to be addressed?" and then addressing those things, in a spirit of seeking a genuine solution. This is hard and it takes a long time; few people have the patience for it, particularly when the blogosphere is so amusing.

On the other hand, Pretty Lady has a much faster method for deciding who is worthy of association, and who can be productively ignored. It can be summed up in her rallying cry: No Whining. Not only is whining unspeakably rude and entirely without positive affect, it provides an accurate indication of whether a person takes responsibility for his or her actions in the world, or operates from a standpoint of passivity and blame. It is also, in her opinion, second only to suppurating psoriasis in its anti-aphrodisiac properties.

Having lived in various ghettos and Third World countries in her time, Pretty Lady has experienced, firsthand, the truth of the statement, God Helps Those Who Help Themselves. Not only that, but it is actually impossible to help a person who will not help himself, in any meaningful way. Destruction of the individual will is thus the most damaging thing that can possibly be done to a race of people. The Cambodians, she has it on good authority, are doing a spang-up job of rebuilding their entire cultural infrastructure, a scant twenty years after genocide, but a whole lot of Mexican Indian maids are still blackmailing their patronas with transparent lies, in order to extract a hundred-peso "loan," five centuries after the Spaniards packed their ancestors into the gold mines. Slavery has a long shadow.

Thus, when Pretty Lady has a houseguest who wakes her up with the statement, "I have to go to the store because I forgot my shampoo, and that soap you gave me makes my skin break out, and I didn't get any sleep because my back hurts, and the cat was staring at me, and I forgot my toothpaste, so can we go right now?" and Pretty Lady replies, kindly, "you can borrow my toothpaste," and the houseguest shakes her head sadly and says "I don't LIKE it," Pretty Lady pretty much drops that houseguest like a hot brick, no matter what her religious, political or social affiliations. Just as an example.

Slumming, or, What I did instead of attending my class reunion

was roll around on the pavement in Jersey City while listening to these folks, free and live. I tipped heavily, and accepted a free CD, which, to put it bluntly, 'rocks.' I recommend a download.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

All the money in the world

Come dance with me, my darling
To the edge of the world

Be sure to bring with you your hunger

And all your pretty spells

Today I was listening to a track from my special pre-official-release copy of Chad Parks' 'Pax Americana', and it occurred to me to wonder if Chad had got himself a decent website yet. I am thrilled to report that he has. Please run right over and start downloading.

We'll dance until the music ends
Turn and turn and turn a hell
Into heaven
I discovered Chad by accident, when Jake and I dropped into Arlene's Grocery one quiet Sunday evening about three years ago. The first band was acceptable. Chad's band, which at that time was called something outlandish like the Neo-Filipino Picnic Orchestra, had me doing that Thing I do, where I lose any vestige of self-consciousness I might once have had, and start whirling around the room like an avant-garde dervish, whether anyone else is dancing or not. The music hit me in my solar plexus, lifted me six inches off the ground and held me there. It was better than heroin. Jake forbore to comment.
Tell me your secrets
Quietly in my ear
All that you desire and all that you fear
I'll shout it from the rooftops for everyone to hear
You finally will feel free and your mind will be clear
After the show I approached the stage, grabbed Chad firmly by the ear and requested him to put me on his mailing list. He seemed surprised; I doubt he HAD a mailing list. He didn't have any CDs yet, either, which meant that I was dependent upon live performances for my fix. I started appearing at every one of his gigs, which surprised both of us.
You know that I love you
You know that much is true
Is there anything I can buy you
To make sure you really love me too?
In other places I've lived, bands are accustomed to groupies; you can usually count on seeing the same twelve or twenty faces at every venue. But in Manhattan, it seems that people are too busy and disengaged to become sincere fans. I wondered if my passion for Chad's music appeared immoderate.
I'll give you all the money in the world
All the money in the world
All the money in the world
To burn...

Chad called this his "sugar daddy song." Upon first listening to the words, I thought, with sophisticated cynicism, "how pathetic. Of course he's being ironic."

Then on one occasion I found myself sitting in the front row at the Sidewalk with tears unexpectedly streaming down my face. I was mortified. Not only is the fan obsessive, she is becoming emotional over a bit of sardonic irony.

The truth is, I was thinking of one of my ex-lovers, over whom I made somewhat a fool of myself. The gentleman in question was a musician, a classical violist. He arrived at this position of relative distinction through sheer force of determination, after an orphaned childhood on the streets of Mexico City. He had no musical talent, only passion, discipline, and the sense not to saddle himself with the economic responsibilities of parenthood. He was charming, wounded and pathologically unfaithful. I loved and respected him inordinately.

But the sad truth of the situation was that we were not socioeconomic equals. I had the resources and the freedom to move about the planet at will; he was tethered to his country, his job and his fears of irremediable destitution. Part of his compulsive philandering, I was sure, was due to a need to assert the balance of power in an impossible situation. He could not afford to become attached.

Of course I am romanticizing--of course the gentleman was merely another rat-fink womanizer, and I was a co-dependent fool. But in the moment of listening to Chad's song I had an inkling of what it must be like--do not laugh--what it must be like to be a man. Never to be entirely sure if a woman loves you for yourself, or whether her attachment stems partly from her instinct for survival.

I could sense, in myself, the willingness to throw away any amount of economic security in order to redress the balance of power.
You know that I love you
You know that much is true
Is there anything I can buy you
To make sure you really love me true
I'll give you all the money in the world...

When Chad finally got around to cutting an album, he came by my gallery with an advance copy. My then-boyfriend said that my face lit up like a Christmas tree. "You'd like to have that guy over a car hood," he declared, inelegantly. He was much mistaken; I had the jones merely for his music. Chad himself, although a most attractive man, would have been redundant. Talented musicians rarely have much conversation. My violist's charm, I fear, was in inverse proportion to his musical gifts. I suppose that life balances out in the long run.

Skills test

A very pretty lady and dear friend of mine writes about home cooking:

I find it troubling that ordinary people are so out of touch with the basic mechanics of preparing food. If I mention at work that my husband is sick, people will say "better pick him up some chicken soup on the way home". If I then say, "well, no, I was going to make him his favorite chicken/rice soup" (which home-prep, btw, is pretty much a necessity with B., given his gluten intolerance and inability to eat many many pre-prepared foods), then said people look at me like I am crazy, masochistic, or some sort of Martha Stewart Super Homemaker, and gasp "From SCRATCH?". Well, no, not exactly. I mean, the stock comes in a box, but the rest is just eggs and rice and lemon and canned chicken.

It's not like I'm proselytizing at work and abroad (at least I hope not) but I do wish people wouldn't ask me about my food and then treat me like a freak when I tell them. Perhaps if I lived in NYC, with takeout on every corner, I'd feel differently.

Unfortunately, my dear, if you lived in NYC you would be me. We live in a culture of tragically lowered expectations. BTW, my friend is not only an excellent cook, a poised and elegant ballroom dancer, and a gracious hostess, but a full-time engineer and primary breadwinner. Who says women cannot do it all?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Little-known facts

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Pretty Ladies!

  1. Olive oil was used for washing Pretty Ladies in the ancient Mediterranean world.
  2. If you chew gum while peeling Pretty Ladies then it will stop you from crying.
  3. It takes 8 minutes for light to travel from the Sun's surface to Pretty Ladies.
  4. Pretty Ladies are physically incapable of sticking their tongue out.
  5. On stone temples in southern India, there are more than 30 million carved images of Pretty Ladies.
  6. Half a cup of Pretty Ladies contains only seventeen calories.
  7. Pretty Ladies are the only king without a moustache on the standard pack of cards.
  8. Pretty Ladies have often been found swimming miles from shore in the Indian Ocean.
  9. It takes a lobster approximately 7 years to grow to be Pretty Ladies!
  10. There are now more than 4000 satellites orbiting Pretty Ladies.
I am interested in - do tell me about

Anatomy of Niceness

Pretty Lady is a bit tired of hearing that women will "claw their way over a dozen nice guys to get to the jerk." (I don't remember where I read this, but somehow it sticks in my mind.) On some level, there is a bit of truth to this statement; the woman's virtue of compassion, when taken to the extreme, leads to co-dependency. Thus when a swarthy, moody gentleman is lounging in a corner, exuding misogyny, cynicism, and alienated anomie, the Good Woman will immediately spring to attention, and swarm her way over to heal the devil's wounded soul. This is unfortunate, but it is the Way We Are.

However, in my experience, it is simply not true that Nice Guys always lose out on the goodies. Pretty Lady admits that her own taste in men is terrible. She has always been the first in line to soak up abuse from a moody stranger. However, her terrible taste does not extend to her male friends. She could name you a dozen bright fellows off the top of her head, with whom she has shared many a late-night study session, bourbon and anchovy pizza, art opening or tractor pull, who are Nice Guys par excellence. Many of them were also, in college at least, pimply-faced dweebs with the sexual magnetism of a doorknob.

This dweeb factor did not, however, prevent a single one of them from drawing the attention of one or two of the classiest, brainiest, most quietly beautiful and nurturing women on the market, and marrying them before they turned thirty. No, the women did not swarm; if you want swarming, get a tattoo and an alcohol problem. But classy women are not fools. They appreciate quality when they find it.

The thing is, women have Intuition. This means that they will frequently overlook what is staring them in the face, but things that are hidden will be sensed immediately. So it goes that an openly philandering, rage-filled hoodlum will always incur a second glance, but a mild-mannered milquetoast whose smile hides a smouldering resentment, insecurity and hostility toward women will give her the creeps. She'll feel vaguely guilty about it, but she will flee.

So, gentlemen, all you self-defined Nice Guys out there who cannot get a date, it is time for some brutal honesty. Look yourself in the mirror. Ask yourself this question: am I truly a Nice Guy? Or am I, deep down, a Smarmy Twerp?

Let me elaborate. A Smarmy Twerp is prone to whining. He claims that he is nice, he is kind, he is a Good Listener; but if he were really listening he'd know that truthfully, he's Not Her Type. A Smarmy Twerp will be unctuous toward everything that is female and has a pulse, and glom onto the first one who is polite to him, no matter how little they have in common. A Smarmy Twerp is prone to lie to himself--about his looks, his intelligence, his income, his motives. He will talk to anyone who listens; he will talk, and talk, and talk about things which are inappropriate and boring to his audience. If he listens to a woman, it will likely be to commiserate with her sufferings, and thus bring the topic back round to whining about himself.

A large number of Smarmy Twerps of my acquaintance have been, consciously or no, setting themselves up for failure and rejection. It is important to understand when a woman is Out Of Your League. Being, dare I say, somewhat brilliant and rather striking myself, I have noticed that there are two types of men who ask me out; those who are roughly in the ballpark and very, very brave, and those who are too dumb to have a clue. Men who are reasonably bright tend to be intimidated. Do not think this is arrogance; I have lived awhile. I know.

Just as many a policeman is, deep down, a wannabe criminal without the nerve to face the consequences, many a pseudo Nice Guy is a creep without the guts to admit it. If he woke up one morning with Mel Gibson's face and Vin Diesel's charisma, he'd be the first to line up the bitches and start sowing a crop of fatherless children. He's usually a closet chauvinist; if he didn't believe that women were inherently inferior, he'd never have the nerve to pat the elbow of a woman whose I.Q. and social station is two standard deviations above his own.

One of the things I've noticed, having passed the age of thirty, is that I am now swatting away men in their fifties and sixties by the truckload. They're not distinguished professional widowers with a house and an IRA, either; they're dim non-starters with potbellies and bad teeth, who will assuredly be dependent upon Social Security for the bulk of their retirement plan. It's as though they assume that any single woman over thirty is on the "clearance" rack, no matter how many princes she spurned in her prime. Yes, lovely younger women do marry potbellied old geezers from time to time. But take a look at that potbellied old geezer's bank account, and be realistic. Money and power are sexy; being chained to an impoverished loser is not.

Gentlemen, please get a clue. Women are inclined, by nature and culture, to be polite. It is a rare girl who will say to a man's face, "I'm out of your fucking league. Get a life." We will be sweet; we will say we are busy, we will claim to be brokenhearted, we will laugh prettily and smile wistfully when we decline your charming invitation. If you hate us for doing so, that is your problem. But take a good hard look at your own soul before you blame us.

Being and doing

Boysmom inquires:

Stage presence is surely a rare skill, and one I have trouble teaching to my music students, though I've no problem with it myself. It seems that one has it or one doesn't, and I am not clever enough to figure out how one gets from not to have. Have you any suggestions?

It seems to me that the primary trouble with having no stage presence is an excess of self-consciousness, as opposed to self-awareness. What I noticed about my amateur hat models is that they became, somehow, less themselves while modelling; some essential essence vacated their bodies, while they meanwhile walked too fast, looked at nothing in particular and jiggled around nervously.

Good models, on the other hand, are grounded. They have an intuitive understanding that it is not the pose or the clothes or the activity which matters; it's them. This may seem egoistic, but it doesn't have to be--remember, "you are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here."

(That's from Desiderata. I have had it on my bathroom wall since childhood. I will discuss more of it later.)

In any case, when attempting to teach stage presence to those who lack it, you need to get them to be in their bodies while on stage. You might do this by putting them on stage when they are required, specifically, to do nothing at all.

Start, perhaps, by having them lie down on a darkened stage with their eyes closed. Play "Fanfare for the Common Man" extremely loudly. Ask your students to understand that the earth is holding them up; ask them to feel their physical bodies weightily on the ground. Ask them to feel the music, going through them like a sounding board. Point out that when they are making music, they are the instruments; like a flute or a guitar, sound waves resonate through their actual bodies, making their mere physical presence as significant as the floorboards.

This sort of thing is, actually, not easy. It may take some time. Give it to them. When you think they might be there, have them sit up, still with eyes closed. Let them get used to sitting. Raise the lights a little; have them open their eyes. Ask them to maintain that sense of simply being physically present. After awhile, perhaps they will be ready to stand up.

Now we get to the next crucial phase of self-awareness--making eye contact. Self-conscious performers do not do this. They focus their gaze up, down, sideways, cattywampus, they blink too much--anything to avoid catching the eye of the audience and owning up to what they are doing. The psychological reason for this squirrelly sort of behavior is, I believe, a deeply entrenched belief that they are not good enough.

Coupled with this, simultaneously, is a sense of covert vanity, which urgently depends upon the audience to bestow its approval. The performer who will not make eye contact is actually an energy sink, pulling sympathetic attention from the audience instead of projecting it toward them. This is why bad performers are such agony to watch. They are literally exhausting.

To combat this, it is not enough simply to ask them to make eye contact. Most of them will be too shy to do so, and will end by staring unseeing at their audience while leaving their bodies completely. Instead, have them close their eyes, turn their backs, and imagine that they are singing to the person they love and trust best in the world, and that person alone. Again, let them get used to this sensation. Eventually you may ask them to turn around, pick an audience member at random, engage their gaze, and pour their heart out.

Above all, it is important that a stage performer learn to relax. It is always preferable to move more slowly and take up more time with any action than one might do normally. I remember, in one acting class, I was involved in a scene which required me to wake up. Intuitively I took a deep breath, opened my eyes, and for a moment I just sat, looking blankly at nothing.

My teacher was beside himself. "What was the best part? When she woke up. What was she doing? Nothing. That's so great."

Really, the populace is easily impressed.

The burdens of being overly gifted

La Badgerina riffs on the trouble with Having It All:

But also I remember how hard it was in the early 90s when I insisted I was going to be super-sex-positive as loudly as possible, and went around in my stripper outfits with glitter on my eyelids, even to my classes on literary theory and to grad school department meetings and etc. Because they were all TALKING about empowerment of women and respecting women's desire/sexuality/subjectivity. But fucking-of-course when confronted with a living example of braininess and sexiness, they could not handle it. It didn't compute. And I was treated like the worst sort of idiot by everyone, and it helped to kill my attempt at grad school. Then from the other side - I remember this one kind of psycho but interesting and powerful activist chick in my women's coalition group saying that I was "dumb but harmless" and also all the flak about what I wore and how it reflected badly on the group when I stood up at a rally to talk. You would think that fishnet stockings were FUCKING RADIOACTIVE. And then the whole other dimension of leather and the lesbian Sex Wars kicked in. Me and my gf were pimping for the patriarchy...

Oh, how I know, dear Badger, how I know.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Psycho stalkers

Received a charming letter from Carmella today. I am so proud to know Carmella; I have always maintained that one day I would turn on the Macneil-Lehrer news hour and find Carmella on the panel, as the expert international economista.

I used to run into her at the symphony of a Friday evening, perusing some dense unreadable tome as though she enjoyed it. Once I spent the evening at her unheated hermitage in the Guanajuatan Sierras; we lit a bonfire and argued with great liveliness until 4 AM, while our amiga Pati the pop singer objected to the fact that we were blasting Ute Lemper's "Punishing Kiss" so loudly that it echoed off the adjacent peaks. Pati was such a gifted girl, but she persisted in eliding her consonants and twisting her vowels so severely that her lyrics were incomprehensible. At the time I thought that it was Ute's crystal-clear diction that so offended her, but it was probably the lyrics as well. Pati was ever the idealist.

Today, then, in honor of Carmella, I broke out "Punishing Kiss." Always I have a fascination with "You Were Meant For Me," with its mixture of rampant psychosis and inarguable charisma.

You were meant for me
Even though it's plain you don't agree
I will be there for you
Till these dark days are through
And my dreams all come true

My darling, you were meant for me
And I'm sure that someday soon you'll see
We must not be apart
Or the nightmares will start
And you might break my heart....

Don't break my heart.

I suppose all ladies of note have encountered a stalker or two. I hope it is a testament to my general sturdiness of temperament that I find artistic renditions of the obsessive mind to be droll and entertaining, rather than disturbing or threatening in any way.

Charisma is an open question. I hold that charisma is a thing all accomplished ladies should keep in a back pocket, to be utilized when necessary, but not continuously flaunted. I think of my college days, when to alleviate the tedium of Government 101, I would amuse myself by sauntering in slightly late, banging the double doors behind me, stalking to the front row in front of 500 dutiful sheep--sorry, other students--and banging my books open with nonchalant ennui.

That is, until the day I was accosted by a gentleman of disreputable appearance some two miles from the classroom. He said, "Excuse me, but you're in my government class, and I've been, well, following you for a couple of weeks."

I had enough intuition, even then, to understand that he was not actually an obsessive weirdo, merely a projecting pothead, but still it was annoying. I sat in the back row in government class after that, leaving quickly and early. One must choose one's battles.

However, the evening I was hosting a fashion exhibition at my little gallery, thirty minutes before showtime it became apparent that the volunteer models had no idea how to model a hat, or anything else for that matter. They positively scuttled when they should have been parading. I had no idea that the ability to stand still and project was so uncommon.

Needs must. I herded the models into the front room, and gave them a short talking-to. "Listen," I said, "everyone here is your biggest fan. Cue the music." And I stood in the doorway, hatless and all, and gave them thirty seconds of attitude. The room burst into spontaneous applause, and later the models told me that I'd been so inspiring. Hmph. Perhaps I should give classes.

My darling, try and fact the fact
The only thing you lack
Is Me

I'll be in every place
In every single face you see
You'll run toward the light
But you will never quite be free
Into another's arms you'll fall
But close your eyes and I'll be all you see

You'll see
You'll see

The first genuinely psychotic stalker I encountered was my second or third boyfriend. It was simply the fault of my own naïveté that I interpreted his erratic physical tics as signs of eccentric genius, rather than faulty wiring. It helped that he had eyes of Irish blue, an incandescent smile, and a degree from Williams. However, after five months of dating I had had enough of the tantrums, triggered by any sign of individuality on my part, as well as the terrible sex. Clueless. Utterly. But that is another essay.

It was quite a relief to break up with him. But the relief was short-lived. I soon returned home at 1 AM, after a night on the town, to find him lurking in my bushes. He showed up at my place of employment, he called repeatedly and hung up, he entered my bedroom at 5 AM on the night of our house party, ripped the covers off my bed, and departed.

Fortunately the local police department were good sports. The night of the bushes-lurking I filed a report, although the sound of sirens had chased him away when none of my remonstrances or cold ignoring of the situation had any effect. A few weeks later, a police officer knocked on my door. "Do you know this guy?" He showed me the driver's license of my erstwhile boyfriend.

"Your neighbors saw this guy peering in your windows, and called us. He said he'd been jogging, but he was wearing an Oxford shirt. I kind of forgot to give him his I.D. back." What a darling man. I will never say one word against the Austin P.D.

Stalking, I believe, is simply a symptom of narcissism. It is the failure to perceive anything beyond the self, and the charismatic Other. Years later I had another problem, with a co-worker twice my age. I started receiving reams of drunken correspondence from him, and stacks of postcards when he visited Europe. I endeavored to treat him as a mature adult, but unfortunately he was not. A fifty-nine-year-old man with a sixteen-year-old psyche is a sorry thing; this is why I advocate making a fool of oneself in love, early and often.

However this may be, the trigger to his insanity was that I flirted with him. I admit it. I did so. He only became insanely enraged, however, when he noticed that I flirted with everybody. Old men, young men, gay men, straight women, little girls. Flirting is a social activity, not a sexual one. Failure to understand it as such is a sign of naïve gaucherie.

Of course, one doesn't have to flirt to be the recipient of unwanted attention. In many areas of the world, simply existing and being female is sufficient to draw a smorgasboard of leers, catcalls, whistles, hisses, clicks, snaps, and attempted gropings. In fact, most places in the world are like this. As I can testify, being tall and striking and internationally peripatetic.

So where does this leave us? Should Pretty Ladies everywhere creep around with our heads down, wearing thick glasses and drab, muffling clothing, in order to avoid stepping on some weirdo's psycho button?

Certainly not. It won't help. No matter how plain the girl, there is always a creep out there who thinks she's just his speed.

Instead we must lose our fear. Hold our heads high, and realize the truth--that our fans are afraid of us. Look them in the eye and wave. They will applaud, relax, and go about their business.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Feminine uniqueness

Indeed I have not thought of James in years. I do not know what put me in mind of him, unless it was some desultory correspondence with little Theo--a gentleman further outside my usual social circle, it is difficult to imagine.

Dear James--we met in Freshman English, and instantly recognized one another as kindred spirits. Immediately thereupon, we started trying to change each other. He encouraged, nay, pressured me intensively to become a member of the "greek" system, i.e. to join a "sorority," insofar as this would make me a sociably acceptable companion. In my turn I nagged him incessantly to de-pledge that ridiculous fraternity, and embrace his true calling as a homosexual thespian. Neither one of us succeeded in our campaigns, thank the powers that be. James and I maintained the kind of insouciant, utterly uncommitted association that is eternally restful to look back upon.

Wandering around with James, on the random occasions that both of us had the time, I slowly became aware that within James' world, there were three kinds of women. There were women you married, women you slept with, and "Pretty Lady. She's really cool." I often wondered whether or not to be offended by this; after all, I do not consider myself an utterly unattractive female. However I decided to let it pass, having no desire, myself, to become either James' wife or his concubine. As I have mentioned, he gave off a distinct aura of unconscious homosexuality, and I prefer my men to be of the 'casually fling you into the loft' variety.

Be that as it may--I also noticed, during our friendly wanderings, that every bland, boring fellow in town seemed to be a friend of James'. They were all wearing dun-c0lored Izod shirts, and they were all named Dave. If I heard it once, I heard it a hundred times: "Dave! Hey! I want you to meet Pretty Lady. She's really cool." I never saw any of the dun-colored Daves again, to recognize--I can only speculate as to what they thought of me, or if they thought at all. I rather imagine not.

I have no idea what became of James. Pre-law, pre-med, pre-going-into-Daddy's-business, it was more or less the same. The spark of creativity I distinguished in him is, most likely, going to fan the flames of a backyard barbeque with the kiddies, or manifesting in a unique way of decorating his office. I can't even Google him; or at least, I can, but the name "James Cowan" produces roughly two million hits. Best to leave the happy memories unsullied by a sordid, current reality.

But when I think of those three categories of women, it brings a wry smile to my lips. Yes, indeed, darling James, there are a few of us out there who are uncategorizable; we are the ones who are truly watching. We have no agenda; we love you for yourselves. We know you in ways that the cookie-cutter girls never can.

Art and cocoa

Such a lovely week-end. Jake was in town, and we traversed the city from top to bottom, as unseasonably warm weather permitted. Jake brought me a packet of bright red envelopes from Chinatown--how did he know?

Usually I cook in, as you know, but we splurged on Malaysian dining in Chinatown, "Night and Day" for brunch because of their excellent coffee, the Half King for beer and salmon burgers, and ended up at the Cocoa Bar twice for dark chocolattes. Normally I am neither a coffee drinker nor a chocoholic--Jake tells me he suspects his psyche is female, and I am starting to believe him. He is starting a campaign for a Cocoa Bar in Philly.

We puttered around Chelsea, taking in the usual suspects. Mr. Golub was shouting into his cell phone at Mary Boone and failed to recognize me. The rather randomly curated exhibition featured a mirrored floor which made one a little queasy; the quease factor quadrupled at B. Gladstone; I forbear to comment, except that I entered the H. K. soon afterward feeling rather lightheaded. There were some mildly interesting photos at Gogo.

Sadly, on Sunday evening after Jake left I was confronted with the dreadful news that my photographer has been definitely diagnosed with ALS. I spent the remainder of the evening moodly Googling the syndrome. The soul is immortal, as well I know, having experienced so many glorious lifetimes, but some moments out of eternity are grimmer than others.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Jake dissects the modern Cinderella

My dear friend Jake has produced the finest deconstruction of a Pyrrhic personal ad I have ever seen. I fear that the modern woman has forgotten the crucial fact that a man is, after all, a MAN:

The theorized man takes form: Those that congregate by the dozens in feed lots like Rittenhouse Park or South Street, who create a virtual miasma of disaffected male energy are harboring an individualist in cognito? Someone who has purposely dampened a Wildian humor in order to dissemble and deconstruct the herd? I leave it to the reader’s imagination as to how she is going to ferret out this confederate. Oh that’s right, he will be reading this personal! But won’t he be too busy to answer, with all that stylin’ to maintain?—the manifold body buffings, the endless boutiqueing or the eternal search for the hide of the near-extinct Nauga?

My heart bleeds.

Socket wrenches

I have fixed the dishwasher! My triumph is somewhat lessened, however, by the sobering realization that it was I who caused it to flood the kitchen in the first place, by putting in the wrong sort of detergent.

Friday, January 20, 2006

All agog

Some lovely gentlemen of my acquaintance have decided to be very honest and deep and vulnerable about going to peep shows. I am beside myself with anticipation. Hurry up and spill the deep and real, boys!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Such joy

The phalaenopsis has a spike! I can't tell you how pleased I am. It has been nearly two years since it last blossomed; I have fertilized, re-potted, humidified and fussed to little avail. It puts out ferocious roots, it grows large, dark, fleshy leaves, but nary a bud to be found until now. Come April or May I shall post a photo.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Recipe for a gentleman

By request of Mr. Nelson (any relation to the Admiral?), I now set forth a set of time-honored standards for gentlemen who wish to be worthy of the title. So glad you asked.

1. Courtesy: A gentleman is equally respectful of all humans who command his attention. His manner does not distinguish among attractive ladies and their less attractive friends; elderly ladies, beefy linebackers, chief financial officers of large corporations, or their janitors. He never refers to a member of the fair sex in pejorative terms, no matter how justly her actions may seem to require it.

2. Handiness: A gentleman must be able to handle a basic set of hand and power tools without blackening a nail, detaching a finger, or rendering major household appliances unworkable for extended periods of time. An intimate understanding of the inner workings of automobiles is desirable, but not mandatory; however, he must never get testy on the cell phone with the AAA representative if he is incapable of changing his own tire.

3. Integrity: A gentleman must never tell a falsehood to avoid a difficult conversation, whether the topic of conversation be financial, emotional, legal or domestic. Similarly, he must never wilfully misunderstand the subtext of said conversation in order to adhere to a position which absolves him in a merely technical way. In other words, the statement "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" is Right Out.

4. Dress: A gentleman dresses appropriately to the occasion. He wears hiking boots to go duck hunting, a dinner jacket to the symphony, jeans and a flannel shirt to chop wood, ragged t-shirts to work on the car. He does not wear Italian shoes to a football game, Izod shirts to a punk-rock concert, or a ball gown to a dinner party. Under no circumstances does he ever wear polyester.

5. Fitness: Too much attention to physique is as damaging to a gentleman's credibility as too little. A gentleman should be in good enough condition to survive for a week in the wilderness in the event of natural disaster or manmade holocaust; e.g. he should be able to walk five miles carrying forty pounds, bench-press a mountain lion, tie a bowline, know to camp on high ground,and clear the dry grass from around the fire pit. Hmm. It would seem I got a little off-topic, there; as I was saying, men who blow themselves up like Michelin men in order to impress the ladies are repulsive and vulgar. We are not interested in the size of your equipment, either.

6. Intelligence: A gentleman should be sufficiently conversant with current events, the sciences and the humanities to have some inkling of the extent of his own ignorance. If at all possible he should avoid delivering long monologues on notions which are blindingly obvious to his listeners. However I acknowlege that this may be too much to hope for.

7. Tact: A gentleman should know when to shut up, forgive and forget.

8. Playfulness: A gentleman ought to be able to handle being left alone with an eight-year-old of either gender without either panicking or molesting the child. Bonus points for helping with the treehouse.

9. Manners: No whining. Ever.

10. Resourcefulness: A gentleman should be wise enough to recognize those moments where a lady's petulance is due merely to low blood sugar, not to a pervasive disgust with humanity, and pull over to get dinner accordingly.

Lest I be accused of sexism (perish the thought!) it must be noted that my standards for ladies are in addition to, not in place of, the above requirements. And if anyone doubts me, I will send him my circular saw blade for sharpening.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Professional competence

Even before dear Ms. Austen wrote her immortal novels, debate has raged fiercely over what constitutes a truly accomplished lady. In recent days I fear that standards have declined. Basic skills are neglected--I recall, only too vividly, one occasion when departing for a weeklong vacation, that not a single one of my friends was capable of moving Bessie, my beloved Porsche, across the street! Imagine! Bessie being parked upon a steepish sort of hill in San Francisco, and being a standard transmission ('stick shift' to you youngsters), every one of my girlfriends disclaimed responsibility for handling her. In other words, my girlfriends did not know how to Drive. For shame. No wonder that reactionary forces dog our every step.

Thusly, I propound my list of basic feminine skills, without which a girl may not stake a claim to true womanhood.

1. Language: fluency in at least two modern languages, and a pretense to a third. Candidates who cannot differentiate between "your" and "you're" shall be disqualified from eligibility to offer reasoned opinions in any English language debate. Persons who spell the word "endeavor," as "i-n-d-e-v-i-r" shall have their M.F.A.s revoked.

2. Self-control: the ability to consume two pints of Guinness without wincing, gagging, or slurring one's words.

3. Dexterity: the ability to negotiate one's way to the loo in a smoky Oxford pub, after having consumed the abovementioned two pints of Guinness, without trodding on anyone's toes, or engaging in verbal fisticuffs with a drunken English lout. Bonus points for persuading the drunken lout to wear a condom.

4. Cookery: the ability to throw together a palatable, nutritionally balanced meal over one gas burner, utilizing only staples such as flour, brown rice, uncooked pasta, canned tomatoes, and the spice rack, plus whatever items in season are available at the local farmer's market. Vegans who overcook their broccoli shall be forced to consume an entire raw cow in punishment.

5. Nurturance: the ability to engage six French toddlers of varying ages in constant play for three hours without knowing a word of French, except ballet terminology.

6. Social skills: the ability to carry on an animated, unflagging conversation for an entire evening with a blind date who has announced, ten minutes into the discussion, "I don't read."

7. Self-defense: the ability to extract shamed apologies from a group of Mexican adolescents who have just grabbed one's derriere in a dark alley, in a sort of consecutive gang groping. Bonus points if their mothers invite you to Sunday dinner.

8. Adaptability: the ability to camp in a college friend's living room for three weeks without destroying the friendship.

9. Manners: No whining. Ever.

10. (of course) The ability to parallel park a standard-transmission automobile on the right side of a one-way hill with an incline greater than thirty degrees.

This is a preliminary list; I am sure I will think of more.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Issues of Dominance

How I have been daydreaming today, all about little Antonio and his bondage fetishes. So amusing, when he confessed to me darkly of his problem, after ever so many years of friendship, and started pulling suitcases full of ropes from under the bed--I thought, 'how sweet! Darling Antonio collects rope!'

Such a naive girl I was then.

It was my good fortune, I suppose, that A. was a submissive bondage fetishist. However tedious our subsequent bedroom marathons became, at least they weren't personally uncomfortable for me. My job, as I came to understand it, was to assist my lover in tying, belting, roping, buckling and chaining himself to the bed or wall in all manner of creative, but symmetrical, ways. (Symmetry, as I came to understand it, was key. Sexual creativity does not extend to unbalanced poses.) Then I had to torture him. Nothing terribly outré. Candle wax, whips, testicle pinching, et cetera. Very boring for me, particularly the endless blowjobs. I used to wonder why dear Antonio could not simply imagine himself buckled to the wall; the mind is, after all, nature's most versatile and powerful erotic organ.

I was too young then, my dears, to have understood the nature of sexual dominance versus submission. I had swallowed the political party line about sexual equality much too literally. Egalitarianism is all very well in the boardroom; in the bedroom it is death.

Viscerally, of course, I knew this already. When Antonio was grovelling and flinching as I dropped hot candle wax on his chest hair, I was conscious, not of a frisson of illicit arousal, but of vague contempt. I dropped the wax merely out of willingness and friendship, not out of a deep inner desire to do so. Ultimately this caused the demise of our relationship, and quite properly so.

Girls, when embarking upon any sort of adventure with a young man, it is vitally important to understand one thing about yourselves; are you sexually dominant, or submissive? If the former, you can look forward to a long and lucrative career of walking on the buttocks of CEOs while wearing four-inch stilettos. The type of performance that Antonio expected for free, forty hours a week, is a skill with which you can put yourself through college, if only you have the temperament.

However--if, like myself, you get your jollies reading the last chapters of Georgette Heyer novels, where the saturnine Marquis pins the impertinent heiress to the wall and kisses her senseless, you would do well to stay away from flinching bondage addicts. They will depress you. A man may wash the dishes; he may write poetry, meditate, save whales and cuddle babies, without losing one iota of his scintillating masculinity. But if, behind closed doors, he cowers when you want him to rain molten kisses upon your yielding bosom, you will eventually come to hate him.

A discovery!

Darlings, I told you. I told you it was no good, I am too featherbrained and inconsistent ever to carry on such a serious occupation as journalling. In my defense, the browser crashed over the weekend. It took Ernest ever so long to figure out that it was a problem with my profiles.

In any case, here I am, with a new recipe! Actually invented by myself! I am so excited. I hope there are no vegetarians in the crowd--you must hide your eyes. Here it is:

The Lady's Marinated Steak Tacos with Guacamole

2 lbs skirt steak, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup ranchera sauce
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce

2 ripe avocados, peeled and chunked
4 tomatoes, chopped
6 scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 handful cilantro, chopped
lime juice
2 dashes olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


Mix the lime juice, ranchera and Worcestershire sauces, and marinate the steak for as long as you like (it really doesn't take too long.) While the meat is marinating, mix up the guacamole. When you are ready to eat, throw the meat with the marinade onto a hot skillet; simultaneously throw the tortillas on an open burner for 6 seconds per side. (You must have a gas stove to do this. Persons with electric stoves should not be cooking.)

Serve with cold beer.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

On Picking Up Checks

Spent a lovely afternoon in Chelsea Books, browsing dear Maureen's new book. I was heartened to read, among her rather statistical musings on gender (never look at statistics, my dears, statistics lie. Humans are unique individuals, all of them; always remember that) that the younger women have evidently wised up. The chapter I perused was full of examples of young women who refuse to date men who fail to pick up the check at the conclusion of a dinner date. Ms. Dowd seemed to decry this phenomenon; Ms. Dowd is a foolish woman. The younger women are exercising the greatest common sense, and I applaud them.

Women, girls, self-described 'feminists' all: listen to the voice of experience. Check-paying has nothing to do with equality between the genders, good sex, or feminism. Check-paying is the simplest, most accurate method of ascertaining whether you are on a date with a man, or with a bizarre specimen of animated pond slime. Heed this warning at your extreme peril.

A man who does not pick up the check at dinner is a man who will cheat. He will not even call it cheating. He will sleep with your best friend; he will sleep with your best friend's best friend. When confronted and called a two-timing rat-bastard, he will declare, shamelessly, "so what?"

A man who does not pick up the check is a either a man with low self-esteem who will never amount to a hill of mouse droppings, or a man whose ego is so out of control that he believes he is God's gift to promiscuous women. He will borrow your housekeeping money and spend it on dominatrixes in Washington, D.C. He will forget his toothbrush on a weeklong vacation and decide to save money by not brushing his teeth. He will not take you out on your birthday; instead he will stay in, watching while you ransack the back cabinets to produce an inferior meal of creamed canned salmon over pasta past its sell-by date. He will not wash the dishes.

A man who does not pick up the check is a man who values his pocketbook more than he values your opinion. He is a man who shirks responsibility. He is a man who, when walking on a secluded beach with you in a foreign land, will cut and run when the local police force approach and suggest he leave you alone with them. He will abandon you at a keg party without a ride home. Should the unthinkable occur, he will not only expect you to get an abortion; he will also expect you to get a second job stocking groceries at Piggly-Wiggly to pay for the abortion. He will never pay alimony, child-support, or ask you to marry him in the first place. He will criticize your body, question your sexual preference, and insult your parentage.

A man who does not pick up the check is a man who uses false notions of liberalism in order to exploit women. He is the sort of man who would never have dreamed of using a condom before the advent of AIDS. He is narcissistic, squirrelly, improvident and fearful of intimacy. He is quite likely to become verbally or physically abusive under stress.

In short, any man who does not appreciate the privilege of being allowed to take you to dinner for the simple glory of your lustrous presence should be shunned like the mutant he is. Do not be manipulated into believing that he respects your equality; the only thing he respects is the dictates of his reptile brain.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Doggy mustn't

Recently viewed: "Must Love Dogs" on DVD.

Because: graceful Ms. Lane and the inimitable Mr. Cusack.

Verdict: Arf.

Plot: negligible. Believeable only in its inconclusiveness and utter banality.

Dialog: flat, predictable and lacking wit, except for the abovementioned Mr. Cusack, who may as well have been acting in another movie entirely.

Characterization: Arf. Characters with 'character' had none. Characters without 'character' had less.

It is with great sadness that I admit that I was forced to utter expressions of the sincerest loathing against the character played by dear Ms. Lane, for her utter lack of spine, personality, logic, creativity, or generosity of spirit. The character was, in a word, pathetic, and undeserving of the affections of charming Mr. Cusack. These aspersions in no way reflected upon Ms. Lane as an actress, merely upon the wanton insipidity of the writing.

Henceforth I vow to view with great suspicion any films produced by writer/directors, after a similar fiasco involving "The Upside of Anger." Life is too short.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Et voilá

My former associate J. Alexandria Moore has achieved the notoriety and renown she so eternally craved. I must send her a congratulatory note. I suppose I must go through her agent? The site does not appear to contain an electronic address.

Ms. Moore and I shared so many delectable evenings long ago in San Francisco, nattering and nattering into the wee hours when we returned to our snug apartment in the Mission district, she from capoiera, flower arranging and Peachy Puffing, I from spray-painting construction sites. Her head was shaved, then; mine was dyed an aggressive shade of blue-black. Both of us, I believe, have only increased our personal attractions with the wisdom of the years.

Justine was always good at 'funny voices.' How clever of her to make this into a career.

Now that this is off our chest, down to important matters

Marinara puttanesca:

1 large can crushed organic tomatoes, fire-roasted or with organic basil
5 dried red chile peppers
5 cloves garlic, crushed
6 large organic scallions, chopped
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 handful fresh basil, or 1 tsp dried basil
4 fresh Roma tomatoes, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 jar Spanish capers
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
1/2 jar anchovies
Red wine

Stew all ingredients except capers, olives, anchovies and wine for a minimum of one hour and three-quarters, covered, over a low flame. Add anchovies, capers, olives, and a dash or two of a stout merlot, cabernet or burgundy at the end of cooking, then turn off the heat, lest the alcohol evaporate. Serve over linguini or tortellini.

Warning: the addition of parmesan cheese, in this particular recipe, renders the salt content excessive.

Such furor

My, my. Only four days into my public career, and citizens are already hurling pejorative epithets. Tres amusant. I always said the populace was tone-deaf.

Girls, a man who uses the term "whore" is lower class. He is mirroring his own abysmal self-esteem, and will definitely become personally abusive, should you be foolish enough to pursue relations with him. This applies in exponential magnitude to those ignorami who drop the first and last letters of the word in vernacular parlance.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


A lovely young Frenchman has sent me a photo of his pants.

I am reminded of that festive New Years' Eve in the Montpellier chateau. It simply went on and on. I discovered that anyone can speak perfectly understandable French after five whiskies. I remember an intense conversation about acting with a young lady with the name of a wildflower. People tucked themselves away into the corners of the chateau as the night wore on, only to re-emerge at lunchtime, to my pleasure and surprise.


With a hey, ho, the wind and the rain
The rain it raineth every day

Drooping about today. Wrote a long letter to Bosie about some sensitive issues. Nothing too compelling.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Looking for Bushra

If anybody knows a charming lady by the name of Bushra Quinlan, a lovely teacher of Urdu from Lahore, who married my dear friend Peter Quinlan and moved to Austin, Texas in 1991, would you kindly tell her to contact me? I miss her sorely, and am updating my Christmas card list.

Winter dressing

Couture tip # 47:

When forced to wear a long winter skirt because of inclement weather, wear a slightly longer slip underneath, trimmed with a deep flounce of Belgian lace. It will keep you warm, and drive sentient gentlemen quietly insane with longing when it peeps from beneath your hem.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Shocking rift

I see that my dear former classmate Anne Bass has finally parted ways with Mr. Martin of the NYCB. I can't say that I blame her; personally, Peter always gave me the creeps. Mr. B was definitely an evil man, but at least he had Vision, however cruel and distorted. Peter always seemed, well, just about flowing blond locks. I was sorely disappointed when they made him director; it seemed to me that he hadn't the necessary creativity. It now appears that Ms. Bass agrees with me.

I found this disturbing:

For some, Mr. Martins is star enough. On Friday afternoon, the last day of school, S.A.B. student Cecilia Iliesiu stepped out of the Rose building, which towers over the Juilliard School, and where the school occupies the fifth floor.
Tall and thin, with braces and her blond hair pulled back in a bun, the 14-year-old talked fondly about the school she has been attending since she was 8. Ms. Iliesiu said that on a recent night, too tall to dance on stage in The Nutcracker, she watched the smaller children from the wings.
When it came time for Ms. Reichlen, the Dewdrop, to take the stage, Ms. Iliesiu mimicked her elegant movements, rising on her toes and slowly slicing the air with her arms.
Mr. Martins, who also likes to watch from the wings, turned to give her an icy stare.
“He just gave me this stare, like: ‘It’s nice you’re learning it, but …. ’” Her voice trailed off. “Whenever I see him, I get chills.
“I hope he’s my director one day.”

Sweeheart, no! Never work with a man who squelches your ambitions.

Ah, the ennui

Darlings, whoever it was woke me up at the crack of noon this morning, calling from an area code of five-one-six, could you not have had the grace at least to leave a message? Where is five-one-six? I have never received a phone call from such a barbaric location.

New Years' Day. Such a bland holiday. I was out until positively four AM. Met such a dear charming fellow, it was a pity he did not know when to stop talking, so earnestly about his travels in Ecuador among the mystically enlightened primitives. Cloud-jungles and things.

We met while listening to Eastern European music at a little French bar in Brooklyn of all places. He said he liked my dancing. I said 'thank you,' of course, as though I had never heard this before. I am a good dancer. It has been a useful talent. You have to give the boys an excuse to speak first. Poor boys, now that I am over thirty (!) I have such compassion for them. Having to say any inane thing, with the risk that nine times out of ten they will be shot down on the first try.

Then he had to keep the conversation going, of course, with such obvious comments on the music being like a Fellini film, it was all I could do to tell him not to be so pretentious. And dancing with me badly. And failing to fetch me a glass of water so that I had to do it myself.

I forget this about boys; that most of them have to be educated.

But he was charming and gentle and kind. It is such a pity he is departing for Ecuador tomorrow.

My resolution this year is to record my life in painstaking detail. Of course I shall fail. Ernest says so. Ernest says I could write the Great American Novel if only I would stop talking for a nonce, but then I never will.