Friday, July 26, 2013

Me and sexy Patti

So I saw Patti Smith the other day – as in live, onstage, and do you know what? Twenty years my senior, she is not one iota less sexy than she was all those whatevers ago, you know what I mean, that young androgyne in the iconic Mapplethorpe photo (which, incidentally, I saw last summer, as I went to see the Mapplethorpe retrospective over in a major modern art museum in Budapest. See, I can name-drop with the best of them, I can). I mean, Not. One. Iota. 

Now you see, I've always had a difficult, not to say fraught, relationship with my own femininity. Up until pretty much now, I've never felt any pangs about getting older (≈less attractive, right, in our youth-obsessed world; and let's face it, young people are beautiful). Every milestone or year or whatever, I've felt, like, great, I feel so much better, more at ease with myself, and I don't give a flying fartleberry if people think I'm not attractive any longer. 

Of course, you see, this is partially to do with the fact that I've never felt attractive in the first place; so losing nothing (the attractiveness I didn't have) and gaining a lot (feeling way, way better just being me) has seemed like a really good equation and trade-off, all told. 

However. I used to care not, but things have changed, to paraphrase Bob Dylan somewhat. All of a very sudden, I do care. I will be forty-six in not that many weeks (Jesus wept, I remember celebrating my 40th on this here very bloggy (things were so very different then, remember?), and it only seems like the proverbial yesterday. What do they do with time, these days, to make it run so bloody fast?), and now, I'm very aware of the back wall (of life, right) becoming visible. Before the back wall (if I'm lucky, right), I will slowly become more and more decrepit, in ways I don't yet know (and believe me, don't care to know in advance either), and (believe it or not) even less and less attractive. 

An unpleasant thought, to formulate an understatement. A fucking terrifying one, to tell you the truth. My – how does it go? – days are in the yellow leaf; The flowers and fruits of love are gone; The worm, the canker, and the grief Are mine alone!

Yes verily. Yes all of a very sudden, it’s not a case of just faffling around feeling bad about oneself as a woman; all of a very fucking sudden, it’s about, well, sort of ceasing to be one ­– and close on the heels of it, of ceasing to be at all. (I’m talking about death – just to clarify.)

Anyway. T’other day, I attended a picnic, and a very nice one it was too, although I got too drunk, although happily, other people confessed to having done so, too, afterwards, which made me feel a bit less like a total wanker. This picnic had a theme: ice cream. I mean really: ice cream. How the fucking fuck does one dress up as ice cream? I went the easy way: white dress, white shoes (ruined by a smallish black bow, but whaddaya know), and a stupendous length of white, um, organza-type material. Vanilla ice cream, you see; and given that my hair was dyed The. Day. Before (purplish, with shocking red and copper block stripes), I was vanilla with kuningatarhillo (believe me, this is a word. It translates as Queen Jam – which is, as I suddenly note, a very promising term which needs incorporating into bloggy parlance, I’m sure, and means jam made with not only raspberry (the very best of berries, better than angels’ nipples, to be sure) but also blueberry (things of goodness and life everlasting). Amen).

So yes, I went to this picnic dressed as vanilla ice cream with lashings of whipped cream (the organza) and a splash of Queen Jam (hair, right). And at this picnic, a friend (Allah, Mary and Little Baby Jesus bless his soul and his socks) suddenly said, when I had the unwieldy organza wrapped scarflike round my head, and was fussing over someone’s beautiful white Samoyed (dog, right), this friend (may his name live forever) said, “Whoa, you look just like an Italian model” (!!!) and everyone started to laugh (in recognition! Please) and comment and I burst out laughing too and said, yes, God, look at this, I never realised but the dog’s a perfect fashion accessory, and so I did a little catwalk thing, and I played around at being attractive –


– and to make a long story short, this is what I’ve decided:

I will (attempt to) do the femme de la femme thing, if and when(ever) it pleases me, for another four and a bit years. And then, when I turn fifty (it’s soon, dudes, sooner than you’d think), I will go Patti, lose ten kilos (I happen to know it’s easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy, all you need to do is give up all animal produce full stop, you can even continue to drink copious quantities of wine, no problem) and go for the androgynous thing – you know what I mean, jeans, white shirt, black waistcoat under a very unisex black suit-jacket thing, and nobody will ever say, look at that old woman and mean me, for they’ll see, maybe they’ll see, maybe they’ll see someone like Patti, ageless, genderless, but still there, still dancing on feet so light –

– but I guess what actually brought me to tears at the gig was not the fact that I am getting older and am going to first be an old woman (if I’m lucky) and then die, but Frederick ­– you know the line, “Frederick, you’re the one, as we journey from sun to sun” (at least that’s how I’ve always heard the line. Please don't correct me if I'm wrong). And, you know, I’ve never had The One with whom I’d journey from sun to sun, from life to life, from existence to another. There have been a couple of very, very, very important contenders, to be sure: one too early in both our lives for either of us to realise, and, quite likely, it would never have been possible anyway; two more who would, each in their own way, yes, really would have been The One – but both taken, so, you know, so long, so long. Maybe we will come back some day.

It’s a bittersweet realisation, that it’s too late for The One, and that one actually needs to be really, really grateful to life for the two or three near misses, for that in itself is a big thing and perhaps not something to take for granted. Not that I don’t believe in people finding The Ones whenever in life, but it’s just too late for me; I’ve had my three goes, I believe that’s what we’re given, four at a push, there aren’t that many The Ones for any one of us, the rest are – I don’t know, perhaps dear in their way, perhaps a ruse that we pull so we don’t see how lonely we are.

That’s one thing I have learned, though: I am no longer (very) scared of being alone, you know, sort of forever, of growing old alone, facing my impending death alone. I know I can create, and live within, a life inhabited only by me and a faithful dog (okay yes of course, my children, goes without saying – but they’ll be buggered rather than stay inhabiting my life, as they are positively gagging to go and have lives of their own), and what’s more, live with a reasonable amount of contentment, from time to time (as well as the inevitable blackness, insomnia and despair, my faithful companions) and the occasional pang of joy.

What more can one ask for? Exactly. 

* Photo courtesy of Stina Halmetoja's facebook instagram photo collection. No, I don't know what that means either. 


Reading the Signs said...

Excuse me, but clearly you are a slender willow of a femme and if you lose 10 kilos you will be nothing but scrawn and bone. And hand on heart I am not (just) being sour grapes because I am still more than 7 pounds over what should be my heaviest weight. But yes, I can see the appeal of genderless and slip in and out of it myself, even with (get this!) size 40 breasts, which I can do nothing about, and even if I excluded every trace of animal stuff the least they would probably be is 38 even though the rest of me might have shrunk to size 0. Imagine that - body not substantial enough to carry the boobs. Oh, fie upon the thought! Patti never had this problem, just saying.

So did you go Vanilla to Pissed Poets in the Park? Or was this a different pissed outdoor picnic event? Very delicious, my dear. But what I think is, you can still be a raspberry ripple ice cream and a mind that has a core of androgyne. Lets face it, up to the age of 10 we're all genderless, and that's a lot of years of practice! Shut up, me?

Wishing you pangs of joy a-plenty.


Anna MR said...

You are, naturally enough, excused, which I hope to be too (for my atrociously slow reply – I have been in the sticks, where the connection has been so agonisingly slow that I just haven't had the oomph to do much online).

Obviously, I thank thee for that "slender willow", whilst picking myself up from the floor and wiping tears of mirth from mine eyes. Let's put it this way, dearest Reader of Signs – I fake well (actress, don't you know, actress). The general idea, however, is to be/come scrawn and bone, yes. (Evidently, I have a hard time adjusting to my so-called "new" self, as the thing they do with time these days has made fifteen years go, and ten kilos arrive, frightfully fast. I actually used to be ten kilos less than I am now, and I still expect myself to be that way and despise the fact I'm not.)

(These despications, by the way, only apply to myself. You, on the other hand, are perfect as you are, and there should not be any less of you in the world. Verily.)

No, this was Another Picnic – Official Arrival of Summer. Pissed Poets in the Park was a quality-rather-than-quantity affair this year, as we had rather, um, changeable weather on the day (and three stalwart pissed poets in attendance). Those who didn't come missed a spectacular thunderstorm arriving from over the city and into the airspace above the small island we have taken over as The Designated Picnic Spot (don't worry, there's a bridge to the island, it's that small and that close). I may be guilty for it all (as usual), for the storm was clearly heading sorta northeast from us when I taunted it with some resounding "come on then if you think you're hard enough"s. Which it did. However, we sheltered on the very handy terrace of a very handy and very small hut, right by our chosen picnic spot; one of us had a raincoat, the other had a brolly and a raincoat, and I used my picnic blanket (which is sorta plasticky on the underside, so the damp grass doesn't dampen the picnickers knickers. Doubles as shelter from the rain, too, as we have now discovered). Obviously, after it cleared, it was again beautiful and sunny, and we had lovely things to eat and recited some stuff and talked A Very Large Amount of Bollocks, which all was, as it always is, good. Hurrahs all round, in other words.

May there be said pangs aplenty your way as well. How are you?

Multi many mwahs…


Navas said...

Hi Anna!
I was just passing through my blog with a duster and thought I would pop in to say hello :-) You make a most delightful vanilla ice cream! Had I been there, I would probably have gone as an Eisschokolade - minky coloured trousers, white top and hat, carrying a long spoon and a straw. What fun!