Jack Vees

The Secret Notes of Tattooed Barbie (1991)

Even in his declining years, when the disease had put an iodine stained gauze over the topography of his life (which already had few discernible features), a few events stuck through like white hot dental equipment. These occurrences, distributed randomly over the years, seemed imported from someone else's existence. So out of character were they with the beigeness which stretched before and after, they could hardly be called life-changing. One of these occasions preceded by two days what was to be the date of his wedding.

His bride-to-be met him at the restaurant and, as she walked towards him, he caught a glimpse of something both blue and rose colored emblazoned on her upper arm. At first the shape seemed indistinguishable, but as she got closer, it became unmentionable. He hustled her down to a table and, in a whisper, pleaded with her to go to the ladies room and wash it off before the relatives arrived. Even as she started to explain that, no, it would never wash off, he began not to hear, so strong were the buzzings in his ears. She described in detail the late night session she and her friend Midge had had with "Slim". But he could only smell the acrid smoke of burning polyethylene protective funiture coverings.

She explained how there was another insignia, somewhere not visible right now, and that her life's work was to create, bit by bit, a living tapestry between these two small seeds. Then he only felt the shrinking of the webbing on the yet-to-be-purchased lawn chairs, some of it snapping, some bending the aluminum piping into grotesque sculptures. He remembers her derisively brushing off his plans for cosmetic surgery and forgiveness as if they were only reaffirming a decision she had already made. She walked out, and her final words to him were that she had finally found out what every girl between the ages of seven and thirteen had known for the past twenty-five years, that he wasn't really a man.

Copyright © 1991 Jack Vees

Jack Vees

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