Saturday, February 4, 2012

In the Parking Lot of Barnes and Noble

I suppose the nice thing is that it’s all easier when you’re upset.  Disappointment—when things do not go as hoped, planned, dreamed—disappointment just puts words on pages.  What do you think?  Is it easier because there’s nothing left to let you down?  Or maybe life suddenly doesn’t seem so glamorous or captivating because you’ve lost that little inkling of hope that sparkled in the morning or flitted around throughout the most promising parts of the day.  Whatever the case, it’s nice to know—that is, to understand—that things just come out better when you’re feeling low.

Maybe that’s just my own (basket) case?

Do you suppose that’s why so many prominent authors, writers, musicians off’d themselves? Is that why beauty is suicidal?

Perhaps our greatest work, our most meaningful contributions only come out of the most disparaging moments of our existence.  That’s sort of awful isn’t it?  That the greatest way we’ll ever feel, or feat we’ll accomplish can only occur when even our fondest moments are eclipsed by circumstance.

So, a story:

I think she’s named Molly.  Her friend, the fat one with the white sweatshirt and black and pink sneakers, yes the one with the pretzel and the diet Pepsi, yes the fatty-fat girl called her Molly.  And Molly has on that new pink hoodie from Victoria’s Secret. The little dog, the bubbly font, the questionable length for a fourteen year-old girl.  Yes, there’s no question that it’s new.

Molly, she saunters when she steps, but you know that.  She moves like her feet have never been so heavy, like the blended caramel and coffee and whip and chocolate drink in her hand and that grass-green straw fixed at her lips could not strain her more than they already do. And the way she trips with every step, one foot stumbling after the other again and again and again.

She looks like a barnyard.

Look at them both: country girls from asomebackwoods farmstead.  Pink Molly and her fatty friend.

Molly and fat franny—like you care what her name is—they’re leaving the mall armed with cell phones and sugar and calories and bulging bags of clothing sized 2 and 4.  And at least 24.  Well maybe not quite 24, but like you give a shit beyond: she’s fat.

And when they step off the curb, yellow lines striping the asphalt under their shuffling feet, a car goes honk and boys in hats and shirts with giant numbers and impossible last names start laughing like they’ve just heard the funniest joke in the world. And fat franny chokes and spits out her pepsi—diet pepsi—and those boys nearly pass out.  And there are syrupy stains on those yellow stripes and running all the way down that white sweatshirt and you have to laugh too because, I mean, she looks like a layered desert, like a Little Debbie.  Like a goddamn Zebra Cake.

But Molly, sweet-blonde-in-her-new-sweatshirt-and-oh-so-skinny-jeans, Molly is saying: oh, honey, let’s clean you up.  Let’s get you out of here.

And that only makes it worse, of course, because whenever someone is nice or friendly to fat franny she just loses it.  She’s crying and there is blush and mascara—god it looks cheap—all up and down her once clean, white sweatshirt. Oh—and you’d laugh now—those black and red and pink little drops running off her face. You know they look like sprinkles, like fatty flabby franny is some costume from Halloween Express.  Ha! She’s a cupcake.  A fat franny cupcake.  And she knows how it must look, how she’s just a desert with legs, a snack on sticks. 

Well, on trunks, really.

But good ol’ Molly.  Happy little, rich little Molly is pushing her into the car.  Like: get in, you’re fine, we’re fine, it’s okay, you’ll get a new one, a better one, a more—and she can’t help but sneak this in—a more flattering one.

And you know you’re thinking: could anything be flattering?

But Molly knows best.

So when fatty, fatty franny is sopping wet and so many colors, Molly touches her arm and there is just one big sniffle and a little more than a pause.  And when there is finally breathing, Fatty McHuge friend says: I wish I were dead.

And Molly, oh-she’s-so-sweet-and-so-positive, Molly looks at fatty franny’s flabby face and her shining jowls and pushes stringy, curly locks of hair behind those flapping ears and studies the palette of colors on her friend’s face. With that shaking voice and with one big slurp from an oversized straw, Molly, nice-and-sugary, Molly stares out the windshield and says: You know what I think? I think this makeup is some of your best work.

And she says: No, really, look at you.

Fatty franny—and don’t kid yourself into thinking that her whole face will fit in that little visor-laid mirror—fatty franny looks up and moves back and forth in the tiny glass until she’s seen it all. And it’s impressive. It’s a canvass, a new avant-garde runway trend.  A Degas, a Monet, a Dalí, a Picasso. Even fatty franny, even bulging, squeezing, overflowing franny, yes even she knows she’s somehow created something impossible.

When Molly, little Molly with her slender wrists and full-bodied hair, when Molly says: See?, not even the tears or the laughing or the sweatshirt can keep her from smiling. With a grin as big as her own planetary frame, franny is radiant at her worst point.

Molly, going-nowhere-fast, Molly says: So you won’t do it?  Molly says: You’re stronger than that.

And fatty franny, she still hears honking cars and howling boys and has never been more certain of anything in her life. Franny, still salty with tears and shake-shake-shaking, franny can already count her mourners on her pudgy painted fingers.  

Franny, flabby at best and more upset than ever, franny says:

I’ve never been more beautiful. 

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