Tuesday, February 27, 2007
She wasn’t what you would exactly call “beautiful”. “Good looking” fit her better. Her teeth were slightly too large, her nose stopped a flare short of pointing, and she possessed lower ribs that stuck out slightly ahead of her breast-less nipples when you saw her from the side (it was her self conscience lack of even boy breasts that caused her to never leave the front door without a safety pin holding padding to the inside of her garment). However, she was nonetheless attractive in a way that a bubbly, budding, energetic ‘lets get together after school’ fourteen year old girl who has vitality and personality is attractive. Filled with a suggestive promise of what might come, but ultimately without sustenance.
Marlena was an incessant and domineering talker at a gathering who had the proclivity to ‘one up’ the speaker. If you mention that you have a grandfather sick and in the hospital, she had a “close relative” who went through the heady levels of hell that others hadn’t. If she overheard someone talking about men, she would easily dispense stories of how her husband, or a recent former boyfriend had somehow, in some way through deeds, words or unfulfilled promises, either pissed her off, misused her, took advantage of her, or abused her in some form and in doing so, left her with deep emotional scars. If a woman spoke of children or childbirth, hers were stories of almost uncomfortable, wide-eyed, and silent amazement.
Always spoken too loudly (for the benefit of attracting attention) and with such sculpted rapidity, it seemed almost scripted, and that she was simply reciting lines into an audience. Or, perhaps it was that she had spoken these scripts at countless gatherings countless times before. One would almost wonder if she had these scenes written down on index cards, and brought out just for occasions at local bars, random parties, chance meetings or for general entertainment purposes, such as what one would do with jokes that they couldn’t remember.
She was at times very pleasant to gaze longingly at. She had amateur knowledge and an amateur display of fashion that was what one might call ‘older cute’. Not quite young enough to still pull off gauchos or retro pencil skirts, she was approaching the outer margin of still being comfortable with the choices in her closet. Her October skeletal frame did display a set of legs that were very long for her 5’ 11” frame and actually worked quite well in boots, or a very high pair of heels, making it almost impossible for many not to physically look up to her eyes when speaking. Again though, there was something missing, something that would stop one from calling her statuesque or graceful. Perhaps it was the way she always walked; pounding hard and carriage-drawn fast - enough to turn heads in wonder of what the rhythmic rattle was. Another attention device used purposely and yet she would be the only one to never admit to it.
Lovely, long hair, long for her age of thirty-nine (and edging closer), was constantly mused about and fussed over in mirrors, window shops and of course, in conversations where she would amazingly produce pictures of herself in various hair styles, lengths and colors from her personal annals of glory. As one looked about at the other faces when her photos appeared out of nowhere, you could see eye catching eye catching eye in the crowd, men and women alike as if to say ‘Here we go again’ and suppressing smiles while nodding in feign agreement and with raised eyebrows at how wonderful the past incarnations were.
In fact of matter, she had a phrase, a cliché really that she proudly admitted in private and public alike. “It is all about me!” she trumpeted over and over again with a wide grin and in voice for all to hear. It became amusing that she thought that people were grinning and laughing at her bravado and confidence, when in fact they were chuckling over what was more readily seen as a needy persona trying to overcome self-doubt.
So, I wonder in my post-fascination/dating of Marlena, despite her attraction and unattractive ways, what exactly caused me to be drawn to her?
First to mind comes that she was the pursuer. I was too closely coiled in my own world to realize that she set out to gently pry me apart seam by seam simply on the premise that she found herself yet again without a partner. I found out later that she would whisper to a coworker that she had me targeted out and wanted to kiss me. The coworker would giggle and tell her to “Stop it – he’s married!” They would both laugh and watch me walk. If I happened to see this, I supposed that it was a bit of harmless flirting due to the fact that I was the only male around during the day, and nothing more.
I would occasionally look over at them and ask, “What are you two laughing at?” I blushed a bit at times, smiled broadly at the flash thoughts in my mind and for a moment during the day, I would saunter out of my boundaries and step a bit lighter at her good natured flirtations.
Yes, I was married. Bitterly engaged in daily spats and floor denting heart breaks, but still married and wondering what to do, or more precisely, how to do it. Despite my outward nature, because of my personal quagmire, my personality was turning inward on me. I was becoming introverted by degrees, a position I only realize in hindsight. Without losing my ability to heartily smile and draw others to talk about themselves, I had become silent on the subject of myself, and generally withdrawn unless approached. It was the very brash and loud nature of Marlena, which I would later cringe at, that first drew me to her.
I was firmly and dryly encrusted within an emotional trough of loneliness, and her public nature backed against me like a curtain of Arctic air - causing me to quickly catch my breath, fill my lungs to saturation and refreshingly exhale. An unlikely opportunity was presenting itself and shaking my hand, offering me glossy foreign lips, vanilla smelling uncharted skin, lightweight romance, and a widening slice of fresh perspective tuned to what alternative life could now offer.
My heart was vulnerable, void of feeling, and my spirit miserable and full of self-doubt. No excuses though, and candid truth be told, I was open to eagerly snatch and embrace anyone who came on to me and offered me the slightest modicum of affection and understanding. I was elated and thought myself lucky and fortunate enough to chance on Marlena.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that it wasn’t that I was lucky and fortunate – it was only my turn at the head of the line.
(Well - it's a start anyway. I'll be lacing it up more as the time, and my conscience, track me down)