Secret Pop

Jun 18, 2005

"Three women will understand that."

I came home from my workshop to find the last bits of a documentary about Yves Saint Laurent on the Sundance Channel. He is iconic to me. His name is on the perfume I have been wearing since I was a freshman in high school. I once had a very extravagant and pretentious idea of what my wedding dress might one day look like. It was inspired by a design of his. And it involved a turban. I know. Anyway. The lithe, swan-necked figures in his drawings are what mocked me in my pudgy girlhood. Even when pudgy became voluptuous, it still felt pudgy to me. I will never be that wisp of a creature whose angular shoulders and sharp-edged hips swivel in their sockets as she strolls past with Parisian abandon. I will never be the woman he wants to dress. And I've come to terms with that. I'm just busy struggling to be the woman I want to dress. That's a movie in itself.

When I was leaving the studio today, there was a shirtless guy standing behind a van with its back doors open. He was changing. And speaking to someone on what may have been a two-way radio about the directions he was to take. "Which way do I go when I get to Vine?" He was very pretty. The kind of pretty I find to be detestable. And I don't mean because of bitterness or resentment or because I want the world normalized. I just mean that there is a certain brand of handsome that I find gross. Guys who look like Chippendale's dancers are a massive disappointment to me. And I think if all the hours they spent in the gym and having their eyebrows waxed and having those highlights put in their George-Michael-in-the-days-of-Wham! curly hair could be turned into currency or fuel or a cure for cancer...well, the world would have more money, more fuel, and less cancer. It was a very Hollywood thing to see. I am surprised by how run-of-the-mill it has become for me. Standing in hallways talking to people about auditions within earshot of people who are standing in a hallway waiting to be called in for an audition. Postcards for shows and headshot photographers stacked on every flat surface. When I used to audition for theatre in San Diego, it always felt like something somewhat removed from the reality of living in that city. A very small community of people who know how to behave in this setting. A limited number of rooms where stacks of headshots with resumes stapled to them are being organized by a woman in a black outfit with an over-serious expression on her underexperienced face.

I continued past the van guy. I imagined he was changing on his way to his next singing telegram gig. And then I heard a whistle from across the street. Not a wolf whistle. A hey-look-over-here whistle. The kind of whistle you might use to call a pet. I don't know why I looked. I suppose there might be someone in my class who doesn't know better than to do that. Or who doesn't know my name and didn't know what else to do. Or who is just a very poor communicative whistler. So I look over and don't see anyone on the street looking in my direction. I hear, "Hi, there." And I have to scan the horizon twice to eventually find a guy sitting in the screened upstairs window of a building across the street. I don't know what the building is. Possibly a residential hotel. I assume he isn't talking to me and continue towards my car, and he calls out again, "Hey! Hi!" I look over again, and he says, "How are you today?" And while the polite me is tempted to answer, I realize that I definitely don't want to have a chat with someone across the street and one story up. I don't care who the someone is. I don't like having to yell.

Last night, I was on my way to meet Jessy and Brian at the Mountain Bar, but we changed our plans and met at Short Stop instead. We had a nice chat. I was tired but -- to the untrained eye -- effervescent. Engaging. That's a game I play well. Brian and I exchanged enthusiasm over Gibson guitars and rich neighborhoods in San Diego and Irish whiskey and the music industry. I told him about a fascinating Fresh Air interview with Les Paul I heard this past week. And the three of us gabbed about how deceptive a job interview can be. I likened a job interview to a date with someone you don't know. They present this lovely face to you and everything seems great, and then one day you're sitting at your desk and you realize, "This job has herpes." My job has not so far revealed itself to have an unpleasant venereal disease, but I am also easily distracted by a bomb ass espresso machine. We have a Miele.

When I was walking back to my car, I passed a crowd of patrons who were leaving another bar at closing, and one guy said, "I like your pants," and a girl said, "Great haircut." I thanked them both. I was appreciative, but truthfully I was feeling about as unattractive as I have felt in recent months. I'm still in that mode today for some reason. Frowny and displeased. Covetous of tapeworms. I'm not saying don't compliment me. And I'm not saying do. I'm not saying I'm ugly or pretty or anything in-between. I'm just saying that sometimes I'm oblivious because nothing exists outside of the narrow version of me I am currently judging in my brain. And that judgment never comes out in my favor. Maybe that's why I fear municipal authority as a rule. I just know that, if I were ever tried for any crime, I would be convicted. Whether by the judge or by a jury. There's just no way they wouldn't hate me. At least that's the way the script reads in my imagination.

According to this new documentary that started as I was writing this, Yves Saint Laurent got his grandmother to change her dress when he was three years-old and didn't like what she was wearing. I envy people whose lives have been such a singularity. I really do. I envy the public figures whose episode of A&E's Biography consists of testimonials from all who knew them that they were always on the path they eventually took. "It was clear that he should be an actor from the first...It was obvious that she had an attraction to and a gift for the culinary arts...He was never going to be anything other than a garbage man..." No such story could be told of me. Except that I was always talking and sometimes being asked to stop. But I wanted to be everything. A writer first. But everything else, too. A writer primarily. But on the weekends, maybe a ballerina or a paleontologist or a policeman or an astronaut or a U.N. translator or a filmmaker or a physicist. And let's face it. Ballerina was never very realistic.

I don't know how to choose what will be written on my file folder. I've been reluctant to write in permanent ink for fear that it would entrap me. I've been reluctant to have just one business card. Or to have one at all for that matter. I've wanted to be certain I would live at least three lives. Maybe as many as six. If I'm honest, twelve. I've wanted to try my hand at things. And I'm beginning to realize that at some point, your hands become old and palsied and you run out of things you can set them to with any deftness. A more organized person might have chosen to start the delicate artistic pursuits in girlhood and save the more abstract careers for later. I was never so logical. And it takes me time to catch up and settle in. I required significant adjustment cushions each time I changed the part of my hair.

Tomorrow is Father's Day. I had thought to buy my dad a really huge and hopefully sexually-charged poster of Denzel Washington so I could say, "Here, Dad. This is a poster of your boyfriend. You can put it in your locker." That would be a funny joke. And perhaps less of a joke than comfortable people would allow themselves to consider. But I never found anything suitable, and my schedule this past week has left me little time for such things. It's not just the day job that sucks up my time like so much soup through a straw. I think having a day job actually makes my life fuller in some respects. At the end of the work day, I am already dressed and still to some extent prettied-up, so I can accept invitations to meet for dinner or drinks or to attend some highfalutin affair and not require a great deal of preparation time. When I was working from home, I might work all day long in my pajama pants and get to seven or eight in the evening without having had a chance for a shower. And all of a sudden the prospect of having to get ready to go out is more complicated and burdensome. And that resulted in a few more nights a week in. I was out every night last week. And every night but one the week before. I don't know if the scales will eventually change their markings for me on this topic. If being out will cease to have more value than being in. I hope so. Otherwise, my old age may be a challenge.

Yves Saint Laurent looks a surprising lot like Crispin Glover. That is an associative shame.

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