2. Lack of Ease
Updated: Jun 13
This particular woman has jet-black hair and milky white skin, the flesh of innocence and purity. She lives in a modest, traditional suburban home, where at this particular moment she is washing her hands in the upstairs bathroom. On this particular day she is wearing blue cotton tights and an old white T-shirt that says "BOY LONDON" on the front in large black letters. Midday light filters through the translucent bathroom window as she dries her hands on a light brown Martex Luxor, a duck-trimmed towel that had been given along with other bathing accessories as part of a wedding gift from her sister-in-law.
The Woman With Jet-Black Hair And Milky White Skin looks into the mirror, takes a deep breath and says, "Easy."
Not more than thirty minutes ago, she concluded an overindulgent but succulent business lunch with a prospective client at Angeli's on Vintage Boulevard, where she consumed a large plate of rigatoni, several pieces of garlic bread, a glass of red wine, and as a finishing touch, a bowl of gelato de cioccolato—which is why she is currently stuffed. The client was a bald and bland man whose artistic tastes were just as bald and bland. He sucked his soup and sucked his wine, and tended to sweat more than average, especially on top of the shiny bare summit above his brow. She found no challenge in the scheme he described, the scheme he desired in his wildest dreams, and though money was an important consideration, artistic principle—at that moment—carried a lot more weight. She told him that she would have to think about it.
"Easy," she says again, still looking deep into her reflected face.
At this moment, she feels the urge, a lack of ease. And she fights this urge valiantly, with all her bodily might, but the temptation is overwhelming. The gluteus maximus flexes, sinews tighten, toes tingle, nostrils flare, her throat begins to itch. She coughs.
The bathroom itself is more than clean; it's immaculate. The porcelain sink, toilet, and tub gleam and squeak at the touch. The tile on the floor is a reddish-brown burnt adobe with a touch of Aztec paganism etched in, and is equally clean; no muck in the cracks, no grime in the corners—not even light water stains (the kind that are only visible at certain angles when the light hits it just right). The mirror is devoid of spots and smears, and the counter below it is clean and nearly bare, except for a pearl white soap dish that cradles a half-used, smooth and rounded bar of peach colored soap. The soap dish is also clean, without a single clod of soap gunk on the bottom. The Woman With Jet-Black Hair And Milky White Skin is a perfectionist. She is of the anal-retentive nature, always concerned about dirt, filth and contamination. And organization. All things must be in their proper place. If not, the world crumbles.
The Woman With Jet-Black Hair And Milky White Skin brushes aside a stray strand of hair that has blocked her view of the face in the mirror. She lightly bites her bottom lip, scraping off a thin layer of scarlet red lipstick. With her tongue she can taste the pasty gloss, feel it against the back of her two front teeth. She loves lipstick; the smell, the taste, the look. She doesn't need any other cosmetic—not a dash of rouge, not a stroke of eyeliner. But life is nothing without her lipstick. She has been painting her lips red since she was seven years old, back when she used to play with Barbie dolls. But unlike the other little girls on the block, her Barbie doll didn't marry Ken; instead she married Gumby, the unkempt, misunderstood artistic type. Of course, the innocent wisdom of her youth has long since been forgotten and replaced by adult practicality. Forgotten until now, that is—after it is too late. Although she's an individualist who abhors popular culture and the sterility it perpetuates, she went ahead and married Ken anyway, just like everyone else—even though deep in her heart she still truly wanted Gumby.
All her muscles become taut like a bow. The urge is too much. It's the urge to purge. She lifts the toilet seat and fingers her uvula.
And then there is peace of mind.