Tuesday, December 22, 2009

#2 of Fleur's 10 Best

Dear Fleur,
My downstairs neighbor is listening to "Prairie Home Companion" so loudly that I am entertaining the strong inclination to tear my life apart, to cut off all ties, to escape by greyhound in the middle of the night. Am I justified? ~On the Verge

Dear Verge,
The first time I ever wore a gown was to a small town beauty contest. Reader, I came in dead last. My placement was not so much of a disappointment as was the ensuing rejection of the boy for whom I had crushed myself into the gown. (It wasn't that the gown was too small, it was my spirit I crushed knowing inherently, at fourteen, that I was not meant to be Miss. Dairy Queen Montour Falls.) That night, I hitched a ride home with a half-drunk janitor from school who let me ride in the open bed of his pickup truck where I stood gripping the cab and crying into the wind the way only teenage girls can when the want they want has swollen until they don't have a single other thought in even one of their unrequited cells. Long since changed out of the gown, I was nevertheless clenching it as I kept a precarious balance while Hank, feeling obliged to impress me, gunned the truck around the dark curves of the dirt road up, when suddenly the warm Miller I'd had and the couple of Marlboros and the strain of Mozart that was bursting in my head inspired me to fly that long cheap contest-losing gown by the shoulder pads. I flipped it up in the wind like a sail and I thought about the wild long hair of the boy I loved and the gown whipped pink shimmies and the pickup truck made its ripped-out muffler thunder and I just thought oh please about what my mother had said that all little girls want the bad boy and it gets them nothing but third degree burns and I screamed the way you do when you're fourteen and everything is new and old at the same time because you love a boy who thinks you are nothing but eggshells and lips the color of the tractor gas can, a curdling, grieving scream mixed with an unswerving conviction of immortality and I let the gown go. I watched it fly off like a shiny ghost, getting just as far as the suck of the truck rushing away could take it before it wilted and sagged and knelt in the weeds and the muddy water of the ditch. Goodbye dumb gown.

So yes, to answer your question, yes, you are justified. But no, no you can't do it. You've already let one gown go.

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