Wednesday, March 29, 2006

You had to remind me

Ah, darlings. It just goes to show, you can't always predict what you're going to write about next. I had all sorts of tidbits saved up for you, about Cousin Spiro's miraculous epilepsy cure, Cousin Margaret's Tamayo-esque paintings, Cousin Will's potential for hitting it off with Pretty Lady's best college friend. But no. You had to get her going about why she has no place to stay in Paris any more.

The last time Pretty Lady was in Paris, she was all over the place. Some of the journeys she endured--well, I'll not even give you the itinerary. Suffice it to say that she was in Transition, she was Confused, and she was always Catching Flights to Somewhere Else, having nowhere very permanent to stay. It was dehydrating, to say the least.

Particularly dehydrating was that last 50th anniversary celebration at the Frenchman's parents' house in the South of France, in midsummer. Well, it's hot down there in August, and what with the coffee, and the Pastis, and the wine, and the wine, and the wine, and the brandy, it's a wonder she didn't collapse right there. Then toward the end of the day, the Frenchman's younger brother, the groovy one, with whom she had planned to bunk on her 24-hour layover in Paris before flying back to San Francisco, sidled up to her and said, "I hope you're not planning to stay with me or anything. Our apartment is being renovated."

Pretty Lady had become mistress of all situations by this time, very fortunately. She drifted over to the Frenchman, who, due to labyrinthine plane logistics, was flying direct from Paris, and said, "We need to call Herve."

Dear little Herve. He was always so glad to see us. Pretty Lady forgets which trip it was, that she and the Frenchman extended their jet lag for four days, crashing at Herve's; we arrived, whacked into the Pastis, had a snack, and passed out for four hours. Then we awoke, had more Pastis, went out for Moroccan and much wine, came back, fooled around, and passed out. Four hours later we did it all again. And again, and again, and again, blissfully regardless of daylight. Such memories.

But I digress. Herve was the dearest soul, utterly unfit for the vicissitudes of twentieth-century life. He ought either to have been a medieval monk or a promiscuous major domo. His psyche was fragile. Once he married a lady who successfully deceived him into thinking she was a fashion model and a high-salaried executive, when, in truth, she worked as a temporary secretary. Ultimately they divorced, for reasons unrelated to identity-related deceptions; when she returned to the apartment to collect some things, she found him in the back closet, in a fetal position. He was hospitalized for a time, and when I made his acquaintance, seemed more or less stable.

However, upon this last, impromptu Parisian visit, things with Herve were slightly bleak. He had been laid off from his software engineering job some months earlier, and was deeply unmotivated to seek another, given the fact that he loathed twentieth-century technology with an abiding revulsion. His beloved girlfriend Anne-Elvire, the daughter of the Ivory Coast consul-general, had long since left him, being, truth to tell, somewhat out of his league. When Pretty Lady arrived on his doorstep with ten hours' notice, she was not only warmly welcomed, she was the only thing on his schedule.

Herve was ever the charming host. He escorted her to a lovely corner restaurant, and became confidential over the wine. "I am a weak person," he said. "I just don't have the will for this world."

Well. Pretty Lady was not having any of that. She took him back to the apartment and made him watch "Groundhog Day." She practiced her newly acquired spiritual healing techniques on him. She impressed upon him the fact that "Groundhog Day" is a literally truthful movie; suicide is No Way Out. She requested him to contact her, to see if the spiritual healing had any effect. She didn't make any promises, she was just curious.

A month later, the phone rang. Herve sounded much better. In fact, he sounded high. "I don't want to say that it had any effect, and I don't want to say that it didn't," he declared. "But I went to Amsterdam. I spent a thousand dollars on drugs and prostitutes. Then I rediscovered faith." Soon dear Herve was getting up at 6 AM to do push-ups, before going into the streets to Do Good. He signed up for a retreat at a local monastery. Pretty Lady stopped worrying about him.

Two years later, Pretty Lady's phone rang again; it was the Frenchman. She and he had long since parted ways, on excellent terms, due to irreconcilable temperaments. (He wanted to motorcycle around the world; she wanted to sit very still in one place and achieve enlightenment. They wrote each other letters of recommendation, and are friends to this day.) Pretty Lady was thrilled to hear from him, but there was a catch.

"He put all of his papers in order," said the Frenchman. "He cleaned the apartment, he wrote his family, then he took an entire bottle of pills. My cat died, too. It has been a sad Christmas."


So, my friend, in answer to your question, "What are your beliefs, if someone is a Christian and they commit suicide?" I must reply--how could God love darling little Herve any less than I do?

Pretty Lady's wise cuñado once said, "Suicide is like, when you are standing by a cliff, and you think, 'I could jump off,' and something in your brain says 'nah, don't do that'. People who do it are just missing that little connection in their brain. It's an accident." Pretty Lady does not think it is quite that simple, but she knew Herve. He needed people. He needed them to be around most of the time; single life in a one-bedroom apartment in an anonymous city in the twentieth century did not provide this. She wishes he had remained at the monastery, but alas, he did not. She still misses him, every time she thinks of Paris.


Anonymous said...

I imagine that God takes the soul into his arms, and holds them, and says "I know it was hard, it's ok now."

No theological basis that I know of, other than the statment: God is Love.

Anonymous said...

"But I went to Amsterdam. I spent a thousand dollars on drugs and prostitutes. Then I rediscovered faith."

Well, I don't know what went wrong with him, but it sure as hell helped me.

Pretty Lady said...

The interesting thing about Herve's marriage was that, in practical terms, the lady's mendacity did not matter at all--being French, Herve naturally assumed all the financial responsibilities in the relationship, regardless of his wife's alleged income. He only found out when he caught a glimpse of her pay stub, which was roughly twenty percent of the sum she claimed to be earning.

Morgan, I cannot BELIEVE that your friend actually went through with the wedding after that. Even Pretty Lady has never been that foolish.

And as regards to drugs, prostitutes, and faith--well, they worked for a year or two. The real killer was simply isolation. It is difficult to maintain an active faith when one is without company.

Anonymous said...

hi pretty lady,

Interesting about the motorcycling around the world. Sounds a bit familiar. I understand the living alone bit. I think death is preferable then lonliness. Lonliness just doesn't go away until there is someone there. Sad existence. Ripe for the enemy to destroy.

Sorry for your loss.

This enlightned thing? I don't find that to be true. People I have met that claimed to be enlightened always had either an agenda or a drug addiction. But that is only my small experience.

Pretty Lady said...

People I have met that claimed to be enlightened always had either an agenda or a drug addiction.

Well, then obviously they weren't enlightened. QED. Truly enlightened people will never claim anything. That's why they're so hard to spot.

Anonymous said...

Good point...