Friday, December 11, 2009


"William, be a love, don't put your shoes on the bedspread, the damn thing costs four bucks to dry clean."

"More feet rubbing" William says. (Mark down the day, a Thursday, on which it is established I can tell William what not to do: the future is all before us.)

"And straighten out your towel on the towel rack," I say.
"If I remember," says William, "I will."
"Try to remember, William," I say, "that a scrumppled towel cannot dry, and William, why do you lie down instead of sitting up when you're writing?"
"Because, Lucinella, we don't have a chair," William says.
"That' true," I say.

Next day the bell rings.

Outside my door is a man with a chair upholstered in turquoise crap with tulips, quilted in gilt thread.

"You have the wrong address!' I scream, but he shows me the label:

New York.
I love you,

"William, could you imagine that for some people an ugly object can cause physical distress, like a bad smell?"
"Yes," Says William. William has a good imagination. We lie on the couch together and I tell him my theory that kitsch is visited upon our generation because of Adam's second disobedience in swallowing the core of that apple, though god knows god did his damndest to keep us from the knowledge that his secret name is I AM NOT and the corollary nonexistence of our souls exemplified in the stupidity of the proportions, the dishonesty of shape, and the venal color and fabric of this kind of furniture, so would William please put away the chair in that corner when it's not in use?

"Okay," says William,

Why doesn't he mind? Next day I take the bus downtown to buy myself a leather belt, and put it on under my blouse. I take the elevator to to the furniture department - my chair is still here. I ride down to stationary. There's this poem I'm going to write, for which I need a brand new notebook. At home I find the right white folder to put it in. Surprise!

I go to the bathroom and find William's towel scrumpled on the towel rack. I make my first notch on my belt for straightening it out without a word, and a second one, next day, because I keep my mouth shut about the chaos in his papers. I'm surprised when my mouth opens and hollers, "Why is that chair not put back in the corner?"

"Because I am sitting in it!" William shouts.

When our eyes retract into their sockets and the floor stops heaving, it has been established: William and I can yell at one another. (This is Saturday).

"Lucinella, where's the chair?"
"I put it in the closet. William, can you imagine walking around all day with an ugly object continually in your peripheral vision? Will?"
"How come you don't mind me nagging you?"
"Mind!" Says William. "I hate it!" He unbuttons his shirt and shows me his leather belt. Two notches Thursday. One, when I nagged him to straighten out his towel in the bathroom, and one to please put the chair back in the corner. Four Friday: one chair in the corner, one shoes on the bedspread, and two scrumpled towels. Saturday _

"Hold everything!" I cry, and show him my notches for the times I kept quiet. "William? I've often wondered why you don't straighten out your towel on the towel rack?"
"Never occurs to me," he says.
"You think he you ever will straighten it?"
"Probably not," William says. "Lucinella," he says, "will you marry me?"

{From Lucinella, a novella by Lore Segal}

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