Forever Thirteen

July 17, 2010 § 1 Comment

New York Times photo

It’s in fashion again to deify French women, who stay slim, age gracefully, are always in style and retain that most important of qualities, feminine mystique. No, I don’t mean Betty Friedan’s book, but what she was rebelling against, what Wiki Answers defines as “The mysterious power that women have to make you become attracted to them and want to do things for them, like buy them a drink or fix their central heating system.”

I grew up reading novels by men who found women delightfully enigmatic creatures, unencumbered by the square-jawed honesty common among men. As a plump thirteen year old, I was drawn to the idea of being mysterious, able to charm and enchant—for such powers giving up the right to become a desk-bound executive or a draftee in basic training did not upset me.

I did, however, think I must not really be a woman since I had such a dense and peculiar inner life and the lovely sylphs in the books had only the sighing of the wind and the feral grace of hunting cats. I was not a woman but I aspired to be, at least one day out of seven.

That was then, this is now (for the moment, anyway). Nothing is enchanted. We’re not French. What we need is more and better enhancements; tension, torque and speed; seven league boots and bionic arms able to pluck prey out of their office chairs and toss them over a shoulder. No more than three to a customer, please, and don’t get too excited and bite their heads off.

Let’s not age gracefully. Let’s become crones, feast on brie-stuffed croissants and foie gras ice cream, train rats to serve cocktails and find jobs for all the men.

(btw, I know Isabelle Huppert’s face and Robert Herrick’s poem demolish my argument. So it goes.)

Upon Julia’s Clothes

Whenas in silks my Julia goes
Then, then, (methinks) how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.

Next, when I cast mine eyes and see
That brave vibration each way free;
Oh, how that glittering taketh me!

–Robert Herrick

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§ One Response to Forever Thirteen

  • Trish Accetta says:

    I read this with delight as I sit, greasy and unshowered in rank clothing, contemplating a burrito and ice cream cone for lunch. Completely mystique-free.

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