Thursday, 22 September 2011

let them eat fruitcake: magpies

Again, from Ms. Rosemary Graham's class. This time we were to write two paragraphs dealing with the movements of time, borrowing techniques from William Faulkner's The Bear (from Go Down, Moses). One paragraph covers minutes and another covers years (or vice versa). I noticed that Faulkner likes to have a certain object (a silver cup, a cabin, a house, or even an eye) to effectively move the time around as he pleases.

On the bus from school to the BART station, I was chatting with Daniel, my senior in Fiction Writing, that I think the way Faulkner did it was he placed an object around or among people, and that object stays put (in terms of placement - it stays where it is, or characteristics - it remains a silver cup in a burlap sack) while the people around or inside it change (grow up, get married, die, etc.). So the object serves as sort of nostalgic platform, if you will.

Anyway, this is the story.


I remember the first time I saw it. Roger had brought the thing to our junior high prom night. We were dateless, naturally, but Roger insisted that it wasn’t against our own accord. We were too exclusive, that’s how he put it. As for me, I was having a problem that millions of other teenagers faced: my looks. A beauty magazine that I read years later diagnosed my symptoms as a light case of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. “Here, hold this,” Roger said in the boy’s bathroom. “What’s that?” I asked, staring daftly at a transparent tube filled with some sort of sparkly, gold substance. “This is called glitter and that’s the universal short-cut to utter fabulousness,” he snapped his fingers. “Here, let me put some on you,” and so he did. Despite my frantic protest and giggling, he skillfully applied the sparkly thing on my cheekbones and under my eyes. When I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror, I almost cried. I’d never felt prettier. I turned back to look at him with a stupid grin and he said, “Wait till the spotlight hits us, then things are going to get seriously sparkly,” and I laughed, despite the tears that were welling up my eyes and choking my throat.

That was almost fifteen years ago and I still kept the gold MAC glitter, though it was almost empty now. From time to time, whenever my inferiority complex caved in, I’d open that tiny bottle of wonders and carefully applied the content onto my face, imitating Roger’s skilled fingers that night eons ago, then I’d feel as pretty as any Disney princess. For several years, Tux had been that glitter and I would turn to her during my times of sadness and self-loathing that mostly spawned from my failures and rejections by men. But then I lost her. So there I was, gently applying the last precious gold powder onto my puffy and swollen under eyes, and like another powder, white, duller, and deadly, it began to work its charm. Then as I looked at myself in the mirror, I saw the edges of my lips starting to lift themselves up.


It's amazing that I can actually learn something from a writer like Faulkner (he's a great writer, I have to give him that, but he also can be too experimental for my taste).

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