Prunes and Prism

RULES FOR YOUNG LADIES: Some arch advice on snagging a husband. Exercising the mouth into a pretty shape through repetition of certain words seems to have been an indoor sport for young nineteenth-century girls; in Little Dorrit, Charles Dickens' overly bred girl repeats, "papa, potatoes, poultry, prunes and prism." (

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Existential Nausea on Ice

In the February Vogue: "From Poland with Love," or "How a Girl from Kansas Ended Up with a Boy from Katowice." The author pictured in a Duro Olowu-esque slipdress.

From the bathtub I yelled, "Jesus Christ, I should have written this!" (the way I'll tell Emma she should be the cat on the Fancy Feast commercials) and made the Comrade come in so I could read aloud:

"Men raised in formerly Communist countries make wonderfully patient shopping companions."

"Yes," he said, "Just tie us up like ossliki*."

Then he went back to obsessing about the European weather patterns and left me to wrestle with the crippling awareness that I will likely never be photographed for Vogue, and certainly not with my upper arms bare.

Friends, it's a short trip from rudderless wanderer to embittered crone. Sunday night the Comrade and I were watching the U.S. women's skating championships (out of consideration for my feelings, the Comrade pretends to be only half as enamored of Sasha Cohen as he really is), and so we were watching Emily Hughes, and so we fell to discussing Sarah Hughes and the 2002 Olympics.

The night she won, the Comrade was watching with some emigre friends (doubtless over herring salad in someone's Sheepshead Bay living room) , and his friend Senya maintained that Irina Slutskaya wuz robbed of the gold by a cabal of Long Island Jews. ("I am one old Jew myself!" said Senya. "I have cheated more people than you have kotleta po-Kievski** eaten!"***)

I squarely faced the Comrade: "Sarah Hughes was fucking awesome."****

The Comrade agreed that she was, and then, dear readers, I started to tear up, remembering. I think crying over an ice-skating routine that happened four years ago is part of the DSM-IV definition of "emotionally labile."

The Comrade asked if I was tearing up because Sarah Hughes was a triumphant underdog in the classic American tradition (to wit: Rocky II, III, IV, and V). Probably, I said, but also because she skated with such unleavened joy, and it was so pure and exhilarating and transcendent. How often do we get to see somebody be so passionate and brilliant without a thought for who's watching? How often do we get to experience that ourselves?

"You know how you watch the skaters and you sort of imagine you're them?" I said, and the Comrade said he did. "Well, I don't imagine the skaters as me anymore. I imagine them as my daughters."

"Well, let's have a daughter, then," he said.

With my therapist I tried again, five minutes before my session was up: "I think of them as my daughters," I said.

"Well, have a kid then," he said.

What I meant as despair apparently reads as longing. I guess they skate as a pair.

* donkeys

** chicken Kiev

*** This grotesque cultural stereotype is simply a verbatim account as related to Your Humble Narrator.

****For reasons I don't really understand, I prefer not to use profanity in this blog, but here I think it's sort of revealing.


Blogger thirty-year-old secretary said...

I agree about limiting the use of profanity in blogs. It is show-offy and vulgar.

1:18 PM  
Blogger thirty-year-old secretary said...

"It" (in second sentence) meaning profanity. Every time I get up on my high horse I get thrown.

1:20 PM  
Blogger frostine99 said...

That's it! I used to work at a magazine where the editor in chief made us dash the vowels out of the swear words -- I always thought this nutty, but now I kind of get it.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Recovering Baptist said...

I use some profanity on my site. Can we still be friends? Also, I'm stuck on just throwing that out there. No big deal. Just, "so let's have a daughter." That would have made me a little nauseous.

2:15 PM  
Blogger frostine99 said...

Dearest Recovering Baptist, blood is so much thicker than cuss words!

It's funny (well, not hilarious funny) because it didn't even occur to me to be startled by "Let's have a daughter." The Comrade knows I may never be anything but allergic to children, and his response is, well, for everything there's a season, except when there isn't.

Incidentally, I owe you an e-mail!

2:34 PM  

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