Sunday, April 11, 2010

On the Orange Line

Picture the Rum Tum Tugger's ideal mate. She is short, and stretches black leggings over thighs that would do better in a muumuu, but for all that she can't play at the hourglass figure that once she could she's achieved a more-or-less V-shape from a high and full, yet voluptuously languorous minx collar that's probably a second cousin of the love child between Shakespeare's plumed collar and 80s shoulder pads of DEATH™.

Her hair is thin and streaked with gray and pulled back by a black scrunch band. The spotted brown sunglasses are so tight that she can't tuck them behind her ears (that would, in any case, upset the delicate arrangement of taut hairs she's achieved), so they press upon her ear drums. Her lipstick is a rusty orange of a shade that may once, years ago, have been scarlet, but no more.

The only movement she makes is ill-fated, an attempt to reach the empty seat when the train starts moving, heels tripping and chipped nails clanging against the metal hand rail. Desperate, nearly disastrous. The air of sneering haute couture now has undertones of flustered self-hatred and embarrassment.

I could have called her "Moskva," or "Kapital'ka," but I recalled the conversation Briullov, Phoenix, and I had the day before. We asked, if American Pyscho describes the decadence of the 1980s, and Invisible Monsters - the 90s' elitist fatalism, what novel could describe the Noughties? Harry Potter? Twilight? The Da Vinci Code? A novel, in any case, penned for children or for anti-intellectualists, so confident in their ignorance that, "If I haven't learned it by now it's not worth knowing" - a novel marked by its reductivism and escapism.

So I've left her as a real woman, given just the slight enhancement of being Grizzabella's ideal fate. (The 80s are retro, now, so I can get away with an extended Cats metaphor.) A nastoiashchaia woman, whose pitiable condition and attempt to look like a younger, sexier version I cannot ameliorate by abstracting her into an allegorical category. Her story is minimalist, and subjective, and existentialist:

She was born when she walked into my metro car, and lived looking like crap, and she died when I exited on Sukharevskaia.

1 comment:

Miriam said...

Novel for the noughties, you say?

It must be Zadie Smith's White Teeth.