Purple Magazine
— F/W 2006 issue 6




America, you never see her naked. That’s not to say she doesn’t shed her clothes, or that they aren’t cut to reveal. Sometimes they’re so tight I can barely form a thought, but when she peels them off, I’m never satisfied. She’s protected by a kind of chastity belt of perfect tan and sparkling cream, of lip gloss and nail varnish and perfume; her hair is straightened, or permed, waxed or shaved, sometimes all of the above. I want to shut the lights out just to feel her without distraction, but she won’t have it. She’s prepared a whole seductive song-and-dance, meant to seem un-choreographed, that involves tripping in heels over the carpeting to turn on a favorite mix to which she’ll jiggle and sway, lighting a candle here, turning a lamp down there: it’s the theater of the perfect mood, and she can’t be stopped until the scene is set. She has big plans for us—an extensive program of exorbitant production—that she works on tirelessly: educating herself, plotting, researching, employing specialists, training constantly. She wouldn’t find it funny, my telling you this, but she’s never more creative than when she’s describing what stage we’ve reached in our relationship. If we quarrel, and afterwards I bring her flowers, she calls it “a decisive victory.” A weekend at the beach is “a turning point.” A new haircut is “the end of an era.” There is no conversation, however small, that doesn’t go on record and can’t be used to bolster hope, no detail too contradictory to derail her optimism. From an artistic point of view the only shame is how seriously she takes herself: so determined to see things objectively, she misses out on all the pleasure of her invention. I fear the stress of this work will age her prematurely. The foolish confidence she has for her plans is part of her success, and part of her charm, like the bravery of a mountain-climber who has never fallen, but she’s never planned for failure and seems so ill-equipped to deal with it. I hope I’m not around the day the futility catches up to her. I haven’t the heart to watch her take that blow.

It’s a shame, but I’ve stopped mentioning the details I find most attractive about her body or her home­—or else she’ll go and improve them beyond recognition. If I love her belly, she takes it to the gym. When once I remarked how pretty the color of the bathroom was, she painted it all over the bedroom, and coordinated her trinkets to match. And be careful please, if you’re the sort of person whose compliments generally run, “this recipe is incredible, it’s better than anything I’ve bought!” or else I’m likely to find myself on yet another homespun business venture. What saddens me about her struggle, to always have the best, is how it often makes her less distinctive amidst the people around her, as she goes about vigilantly refreshing any little wrinkle of age or cracks of character. Perhaps I make more of this detail than I should, but America has an incredible fascination with the old pictures of her mother’s youth. She keeps yellowy vacation snapshots of her parents, long-haired and slender, framed upon her desk and taped around the kitchen. Occasionally she’ll pull out one of her inherited dresses and bemoan how skinny her mother was, and how little she’d had to do to stay that way. She’ll go into the bathroom, and re-emerge holding a picture of her mother, tanned and wind-blown by the sea. She has just spent an hour with hair-spray and make-up to re-create the effect. “Does that look right?” she asks. “Do I look like her?” Yes, in effect she does, but no more than another imposter, as if she’d donned a mascot suit. I want to tell her she could come closer to it if she went back, washed her face and hair and lay out on the grass, in the sun for an hour to let it dry. Once I tried, by taking her to the mirror and undoing her work, to show her what I meant, but she stared blankly for a moment before telling me I was dumb. I shrugged it off. I more or less gave up the idea that she could see my point, but later I caught her in front of the mirror, crying.

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F/W 2006 issue 6

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