Time Given Over…
… to wondering why it isn’t told from her point of view. Wondering why, in that instance, cliché would abound. Why she would choose to remember it that way.
And it would be a choice – which is another reason, if another were required, to distrust it.
Inside, somewhere behind that iron breastplate of hers, the battle between memory and prerogative rages.
Which is itself a cliché.
In the end – eventually, inevitably – her memory submits to the heartless hegemony of inertia.
One half of her yields before the other, and does so in a very compliant manner, bending her over gently and closing her eyes.
And she’s cross-legged under – or, more probably, within – the sheets, steam still rising from the middle of her.
And opinions burst like tears, and collect in the shallow basin of her palms, held over her face as she wails and wails, crying to be heard and to be understood.
Which is, undoubtedly, how she would choose to phrase it, were her semiotic dalliances more strictly controlled, her thesaurus less indulgent, and her assumptions not inherited from a childhood that lasted far too long.
Instead, she merely cries – which is no way to tell a story, or even to report a cliché.
A story (nonetheless) of lonely adolescence still in procession. And in many ways of adolescence also at rest, awaiting the return of the drum-major, who’s wandered off to god-knows-where.
Her tales, an unsorted web of plots and sub-plots and counter-plots and contradictions whose complicated interrelationship is lost in the retelling, the weight of the story-teller’s affected weariness too colorless for the reader (the listener) to conjure anything like a reliable chronology.
Difficult to witness such a consciousness trapped in such a physiognomy.
Taking pity on him, she holds his hand and, apparently on behalf of them both, curses the vagaries of human cognition, to which she attributes the supposed gaps in her story(ies).
Her stories about the others reveal, again and again and in ever more brilliant colors, only the pressed boundaries of her own mental map – she, having apparently sucked enough to think she knows a thing or two.
She, a lost cartographer, applying make-up in the mirror, reading Lacan, listening to Schubert.
And he, wondering how to bottle a flood.
Wondering which slit – mouth or cunt – he prefers to be lubricated.
Despite Lacan, and many others, she remains a secondary character, never quite able to stand to her full height – the principle defect being a mis-calibration in her apparatus of discrimination.
Both unable to tell things apart, and congenitally predisposed to lump them together, cliché and many other such offenses to grammar and etiquette spill over her sides.
Against the provincial wisdom of her past, and her reliance upon the advice of others who are guaranteed to repeat her own ideas back to her, her native self-confidence can make no appeal.
What instances of intellectual independence she periodically experiences – through cerebral collisions and accidents that are equally random and mysterious – it is doomed to wander and slowly expire in the vast cognitive clearing house of her mind.
Her intolerance of the contradiction inherent in simultaneously pushing and pulling – for the contradiction can only become tolerable after it is revealed – obliges her, in a not uncommon session of self-reference, to recast her doubts as modest wisdom.
(Doubts, because – need it be said? – she’s far from stupid…)
And her face alights with the cliché feminine visage, bright with assurance of vindication, sooner or later.
But, as so often, the story-teller is unaware of the struggle written so blithely across her face – incognizant, as a child might be of a smudge of chocolate across her cheek.
All of this, mixed with a standard upper-middle class aversion to information not already known, rouses her, and she talks and talk and talks, with a conviction as strong as any metaphor will bear – indeed, the boundless conviction of a little angel.
Her opinions are her own, are labored over and hard won, having been forged in the hostile cauldron of an inquisitive, skeptically-lived life, beset variously by a corporatist oligarchy, a near conspiracy of phallologocentrism, and a vicariously disposed and vindictive mother.
This knot of misunderstandings about herself he regards as the origin of her pettiness, her mishandled and generally undercooked thinking, and her correspondingly comical expanse of self-confidence.
A very unattractive mixture, no less for its presentation in an endless parade of outfits to suit any combination of mood.
Which, he thinks, justifies this version standing in for her own account.
But she fucks like a maniac.
Caterwauls and somersaults.
Like some kind of religious fanatic in receipt of the final judgment.
Perhaps she’s correct about the world-wide ruse.
But she also insists that she’s fat.
Which is a choice.
An entirely predictable decision.
And therefore, cliché.
Which is hardly worth telling, much less writing.
Better to nod, and to affect a studied interest and urbane encouragement whenever she sucks in her stomach, pushes up her chest, turns to the left, to the right, to the left again, pacing back and forth, toward and away from the mirror, going round and round and round, while the clock ticks closer and closer to 8pm.
Then, eventually, past 8pm.
He takes his shoes off, unbuttons the top button, loosens the tie, lays back and waits for her to make a decision.
Watching the clock like a bureaucrat.
Watching her like a watch-maker, deeply attuned to the inner mechanism, its every skipped tick and broken tock.
Waiting, it seems, until she’s finished, and there’s only silence.
So they can leave, and he can think of an interesting story to tell everyone about why they’re late.
Ryan Block is sweating profusely having just escaped from a torrid love affair. He played with fire and then he got burned. He’s currently cooling his heels, taking it easy, re-evaluating his life, and intends to turn over a new leaf. Any day now.