Saturday, August 26, 2006

Men Act and Women Appear



I once attended a Halloween party where a beautiful young girl was dressed as Jackie Kennedy on that fateful day in Dallas, pink suit, pillbox hat, blood-spattered clothes, fake brain around her neck with a string. We were close to Dallas at the time, a place that has never really washed the stigma of Oswald off itself entirely, and I wondered what her story could possibly be. She had a much older man at her side, and it was clear they were in a fight, the kind of tense party truce where couples aren't getting along, but they've already accepted an invitation and feel stuck, with the party, with each other, with life itself. The girl became the opening image for one of my stories -- I tried to imagine her relationship with the date and the worst possible ending for both of them, where you feel equal sympathy for both their positions, no easy task. I gave the man a dead wife and a beautiful teenage daughter; I gave her a haunted violent past that she chooses to reveal that night. The story turned out to be about ghosts, but of course, I didn't know that as I was writing it -- all I knew was that it was Halloween in Houston, Texas and the city would still be in a swamp-like heat wave and the decorations would act as props for their own melodrama.

Anyone who knows me knows my great love for Halloween. It's not something I can explain except to say that it's during my favorite season -- fall. And it's a day in which you are able to express parts of yourself that are usually buried. I have been all sorts of things for the great day -- as a child, I was a devil, a princess, Snow White. I have been a woodland spirit, a Playboy bunny, and Medusa. My mother used to ask me a question every year before the day -- Do you want to be scary or pretty? It was years before I figured out I could be both.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"When women let their hair down, it means either sexiness or craziness or death, the three by Victorian times having become virtually synonymous. " Margaret Atwood

Beautiful Ghost

1 3/4 ounces of Vodka
5 ounces of orange juice
2/3 ounce of Galliano

Serve over crushed ice.

Benedictions and Maledictions

Men Act and Women Appear

I have asked you what you are thinking
and you say nothing. We are both sad
because that is true. Once upon a time
you'd make something up. Love bestows
newness, life takes it away. We become
more ourselves each passing year, lonelier,
less willing to change. What is there
to say? I don't need rescuing from myself
anymore. How does it feel to be out of work?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Margaret Atwood is into the dual nature of writers. They are themselves and, then again, they are others. Much like actors.

Anonymous said...

That Anomaly sounds so hot. I would really like to be in her clique.

John Ricci said...

Dear Michelle,

Lovely post as always. Interesting angle. Was it taken by a dwarf or child? I would not be surprised. You look saintly beautiful with your hair down not scary plus I am sure I recognize that restauraunt. Bravo!

R's Musings said...

Great post, M! Reminds of the infamous pumpkin carving contest! Texas has never looked the same since! lol Love the poem, especially the last two lines!

Jason said...

I have had a string of terribly boring halloweens for about 4 years now.

How can I break the curse!?

Anonymous said...

Don't you just love Anomalie's "I'm going to eat you" cartoon? Why do I think of cunning linguis when I read that? Maybe it's just me.

JR's Thumbprints said...

My Halloween costumes have always been dull. One year I wrote "John Galt" on a white t-shirt and snickered every time someone asked the question.

As far as character studies, the Jackie Kennedy costume can only draw the reader to this beautiful young girl. Of course, she'd have to have the most troubling past of anyone in the story.

R's Musings said...

Jim, you are too funny--Who is John Galt? ha ha! No, really, who is John Galt? ha ha! Okay, I've had my laugh for the day! Thanks!