Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Extremely Lucky, Prone To Vanity
I once dated a man with a raging eating disorder which I thought was unfair, given that's usually the girl's role in the relationship, and I felt something crucial had been usurped, taken away, gone bye-bye. I'd watch him pick at his dinner, usually something at the Chinese Garden of Beautiful Earthly and Heavenly Delights (perhaps the longest name of any restaurant) and retire to the bathroom for an uncomfortably long time while I sat looking at my placemat, the usual ones with the Chinese horoscope on them. I don't know how many times I read that I was a pig with beautiful loyal friends (true!) and a tendency toward marital strife. (umm, also probably true!) This never served to cheer me up -- in the western horoscope, I'm a bull -- another stubborn chunky animal without much luck in love. Nobody wants to be a pig in the Chinese horoscope; most people want to be dragons, which my then-boyfriend was. I read all about him while he fought his demons in the bathroom -- extremely lucky, prone to vanity. I'd pick at my egg foo young and wait for his return, eyes red-rimmed, and a little white around the gills. Under normal circumstances, he looked like a Rodin sculpture come to life; I was way out of my league, and I knew it. But during the sad time after dinner and before the bill, he looked like what fresh hell is this? come to life. He'd buck up in time for the mandatory chat with the owner who loved him and gave him an odd assortment of gifts from time to time -- xerox coupons, a jade bracelet charm, a hat with a leperchaun on it with the inscription, The Fightin Irish! I was just thankful that he could eat in public -- many of my female friends with eating disorders had strict rules about this (no eating on dates, no eating in public, no eating after six, you get the picture), much to the irritation of the men they dated. Any garden of earthly or heavenly delights was out for them.
The relationship did not last all that long, but my memory of those dinners did. I thought back to his room with a scale front and center flanked by pieces of notebook paper listing his morning weight and evening weight, day to day progress. I'd had my moments of diet misery just like every other woman my age, but this was something beyond me. He could sketch, my then-boyfriend, lovely figures of lushness and life. These drawings covered the room, pinned to the walls and dripping from the desk onto the floor. I'd try to look at them instead of the sheet listing all the weights, but well, I'm no artist. I kept going back to the most disturbing thing in the room, thinking about the way the dying light looked through the paper-thin curtains, the list of weight fluctuations fluttering, blown this way and that by the one fan in the room that never stopped.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"You go back to the old things, make them new." John Coltrane
Drinking music suggestion: Bitch's Brew Miles Davis
Benedictions and Maledictions