Monday, November 07, 2011

A Story in 500 Words

Nietzsche said that women make the highs higher and the lows more frequent. For who I wonder. I am a woman and I feel the highs higher and the lows more frequent. Am I becoming more woman? Is this what they call gendering?

I have known for a while now that this might just be the end of life as I know it. The world is at war. Thinking does not lead to change. Television no longer brings pleasure for more than a sum total of sixty minutes. I have become more dependent on alcohol.

And yet, this is also the beginning as I know it.

I had a conversation at the drugstore this morning.
Man at the counter: “How’s it going?”
Me: Silence
Man at the counter: “Shopping spree this morning?”
Me: Silence.
Man at the counter: “Going somewhere?”
Me: “No”

I am not going anywhere. I did not buy drugs. I bought a lipstick, combs, hairbands, concealer, eyeliner, pantyhose, nailpolish, eyelash curler, and breath freshener.

Tomorrow night, I will fill in for my friend Eileen. She is ill. Tomorrow night, I will accompany her client to a masked ball. I will be as womanly as womanly possible. How does one do that though?

The other day I watched the little girls on television preen and pirouette as they performed to Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies”. It was uncannily real. If you buy into the notion of the real that is. Perhaps it is from them that I have to learn how to be feminine. The tilt of the hip, the jaunt of the brow. The awareness of beauty. The settling in of power.

Yesterday, I had an appointment at the spa. I decided to go all the way. It hurt.

These days I feel the weight of walking down the street. The air bears down upon me. I am not sure who I am, even though this is who I always wanted to be.

Do not get me wrong. I am not in crisis. I do not bemoan my presence in the world. I am beautiful. And striking. I catch my breath when I catch my reflection in shop windows. Doormen at the Majestic tell me that I am lovely. Men hand in hand with their girlfriends, and paramours, and dates throw me furtive glances. The boy at the dress store gave me a pair of earrings, gratis. My new landlord smiles when I tell him the rent will be a day late.

And this should add to the weightlessness of being. But it doesn’t.

I am a woman, and I feel the highs higher but the lows more frequent. It is a hypermodern age. Things don’t last. My feelings are intense, and short-lived. I careen up and down. Profound anxiety suffuses my existence.

Nietzsche also said that behind all their personal vanity, women themselves always have an impersonal contempt for woman. I never knew what that meant; until now.

You see, I used to be a man.

© Ed Paschke
Elcina, 1973.
MCA Collection, gift of Albert J. Bildner