Love, or Something, Conquers All

Is there something else you want to tell me, sir? You say you are a musician, yet I distinctly recall that on evenings around the campfire you’ve always strummed off-key and your songs are always unrecognizable to your fellow players. You tell me that you are a skilled horseman, but I have known you to fall off every mount you ever met and the way you’re always sneezing makes me pretty sure you’re more a specimen of the allergic type than a cowboy of any real sort. As for your claims of being a king of the romantics, they strike me as far more hopeful than strictly factual, considering that you cannot read, write or dance, never remember to comb your hair or wash your face, and are cowed into stammering and foot-shuffling when actually in the presence of anyone even slightly ladylike.

Forgive me, then, if I tend to take your claims with a certain jaded skepticism. I am fairly certain I do not want to listen to you bash away on your two-stringed guitar, to watch you topple out of the saddle the instant your horse makes a move, or to wait for you to wrestle up the courage to make small talk while I dream of my escape from your company. And if you should persist in attempting to convince me that you are the master of the Wild West, I shall be reduced to the expedient of dispatching you with a hefty branch of mesquite laid across your noggin, stuffing you into a handy gunny sack and slinging you over the back of a mule headed toward some terribly remote corner of the prairie.

Other than that, though, I suppose I don’t mind your company. A girl can’t be too choosy out here on the frontier if someone offers her his family fortune and she has her eye on a particular set of acres for ranching. Business is business, after all.digital illustrationOn Closer Examination

A fella whose flaws were prolific

And both manners and taste quite horrific

Filled my soul with alarm

But still had one great charm–

His inheritance, to be specific.

Natural Affinities and Others

digital photoCats are nature’s hate-seeking missiles. If there’s a houseful of guests, only one of whom dislikes or is wildly allergic to felines, everybody knows that’s where the household cat will make a speedy beeline and glue itself to the ankles of whichever sufferer would rather the cat were somewhere about a thousand miles away. As it happens, when they choose to do so, cats can also sense affinity. Some are so quick to attach to the humans who will indulge their every whim that they must probably have a sense transcending the dimensions we with our merely mortal five senses perceive.

In both, I have seen parallels in human form. There are some who manage at every turn to recognize quickly and attach themselves instantly to others who will love and appreciate them and all their gifts—and some, conversely (or perversely) who have only the knack of finding and sinking their hooks into people who would rather they were about a thousand miles away.

Hot Flash Fiction 5

The Duchess was inordinately fond of animals. Though her courtiers would never dare say so to her face, they imagined she ought to have been born a zookeeper, or at the very least a farmer. This idea was strengthened, especially, by the fact that it always fell to the housekeepers and servants to make the palace tidy enough for Her Ladyship’s dainty passage through life and to freshen the air when the royal menagerie had pranced, prowled or otherwise paraded through its rooms and left unseemly gifts along the way. The Duke, who was as allergic to all things animal as the Duchess was attracted, considered for some time whether he oughtn’t to have a team of expert taxidermists and artisans solve this problem once and for all, creating a large display of preserved zoological beauty that might be both lower maintenance and less powerfully scented than the living creatures populating his estate indoors and out, day and night.digital collageUnfortunately, the Duchess’s sisters who lived in the east wing of the palace did not support the Duke’s enthusiasm for the design, making noises of disapprobation at least as loud as the Duchess’s favorite dogs’ barking or donkeys’ braying. Perhaps, the Duke thought, he had been a little incautious in discussing this artistic concept with his secretary while within earshot of the sisterly ladies-in-waiting, for they both appeared quite ready to dash off squealing with rage to their unsuspecting sibling, or at the least, to imitate the household fauna in some other impolite fashion.digital collageAs it fell out, the Duke, however incautious he may have been in heat of the moment, was not without the wit born of hard experience. Working swiftly with his retainers, was able to resolve the situation quickly and suitably merely by shifting the subject of the new art to a slightly different one featuring the Duchess and her sisters. As an added benison of this resolution, it was discovered that he wasn’t allergic to winged or four-legged pets after all. The palace staff found maintaining the menagerie surprisingly less onerous afterward as well, even with the added curatorial duties of dusting off the Duchess and polishing her sisters from time to time.

Crazed Weasels and Other Objects of Affection

The Georgian era gave us, along with a whole raft of other creative gifts for sweethearts and mementos of important occasions, the piece of portraiture-cum-jewelry known as the Lover’s Eye. Something of an oddity, to those of us in the modern day who don’t happen to be of that individualistic bent that swallows capsules of a late wife’s ashes with daily vitamins, wears vials of a lover’s blood as a pendant or keeps the deceased boss’s body as a nice piece of taxidermy so that he continues to sit in on board meetings in perpetuity. Yes, all realities for some folk. Not so much for Average-Joan. Portraiture is generally so very much more socially acceptable.digital collageA portrait of a lover’s eye, even if it happens to be shown without reference to and other, presumably equally adorable, parts of said person, isn’t quite so unsettling and freaky then. Of course, that assumes that one’s dearest has eyes, at least one eye, that is pretty attractive in its way. I got to thinking about this whole little question when I had the allergic attack recently that made my eyes so distinctively disgusting. However, I was reminded by that very episode that love is genuinely, in its way, blind. My darling husband didn’t cease to treat me with the usual kindness and affection and sweet intimacy, and while I know there was for both of us an underlying hope, nay, assumption that this was a temporary appearance for me, the possibility of permanence existed as well.digital collageWhat did this prove? Nothing in and of itself, really. It did, though, remind me ultimately of the age-old truth that love makes us see the objects of our affections as good, desirable, as beautiful. That beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My spouse saw the Me he loved, without necessary reference to how I looked at the moment. And he does, after all, love me either despite knowing I’m a little bit weird and kooky, albeit (I hope) pleasantly so or, weirder and kookier yet, because I’m that way. Probably not especially hankering to wear around any new jewelry, my beloved. Least of all, jewelry with a little picture of my eye staring at him all of the time, as if my gawping at him in person, however admiringly, isn’t enough to send him up the wall. I’m not absolutely certain that a prettified version of my healthy eye would be markedly better than a silly and outrageous portrait of my eye in its bizarrely bloodshot wackiness, as jewelry goes. But my guy, he looks pretty fabulous no matter what he’s wearing. So there’s that. Wink, wink.

Were My Eyes Red!

I think I had a deer-in-the-headlights moment on a recent morning. When I went to wash my hands and looked up into the mirror, a bizarre monster was looking back at me and I froze. I stared uncomprehendingly, quite unable to make sense of the world for a moment, what glared back at me from the looking-glass was a creature with the strangest pair of burgundy wine-colored eyes I’d ever seen.

digital image from a photo

BOO! [artist’s rendition of conjunctival googly eye]

A quick assessment–possibly including a bit of arm-waving to see if the monster waved back at me in perfect sync or, rather, in reply to my advances–convinced me that I was looking at myself after all. An inexplicably unrecognizable self, but mine all the same.

I wasn’t in pain. There was no horrible itching, no creepy gunk running down my face. None of my limbs seemed to have detached themselves from my torso. I could feel no symptoms of anything untoward at all, and had awakened feeling perfectly dandy, with no sense of impending doom whatsoever.

As it transpired, the red-eyed madness was evidently a friendly reminder that I’d slept the night on a hotel pillow unlike mine. Perhaps the pillow’s stuffing or even, I suppose, the detergent with which the bed linens were laundered, bestowed upon my freakish new beauty by the agency of an allergic spasm of hyper-chromatic hilarity.

The really surprising thing about this whole episode is the series of alarms it set off in recognition that I often, well, don’t recognize the perfectly obvious in front of me until its moment has already passed. Ah yes, those many times when I’ve sat talking with a person and not realized until later just whose presence I’d taken for granted–whether an acquaintance I’d not recognized thanks to my prosopagnosia, a celebrity I’d not recognized by failing to connect name or title or other clues, or any other person I’d not fully appreciated in the moment. It’s a pity we are sometimes so blind to who or what is right in front of us that we don’t recognize how fantastic our lives really are, and how much richer for the company we keep.

If I need further periodic reminders, I hope the great people who are around me will kindly give me the needed nudge. So very much kinder and cheerier a nudge than, say, the appearance of an alien in the mirror. And lest I have failed to make it clear to you, this is also my time to say Thank You and express my appreciation to all of you good people who do give me the time of day, regardless of my thick-headedness or my bleary red eyes.

graphite drawing

Oh deer, what can the matter be?