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10:06 am | 27 August 2004 | sleeping with duchamp
SLEEPING WITH DUCHAMP
I have got the most ferocious cramps, and Marcel will not bring me a single goddam aspirin. I have been pretzelled under four blankets all morning, alternately whimpering and bellowing for painkillers like a harpooned whale, were whales able to demand aspirin—but nooo, someone is too busy playing fucking chess to tend to his ailing mistress. I try annoyance as a tactic. "Duchamp!" I yell, Americanly, the ch clenching out past my rear molars like a stale cubed caramel, sounding like the 1950s dad cheering on his son at Little League, c'mon, champ. That same dad would no doubt call his daughter kitten. Nobody is calling me kitten.
He says he doesn't paint me because he is interested in motion, and I am so still. I think it is because he is interested in things that can be reduced to angles, a category from which I am as exempt as a bucket of snowballs. He says he is leaving the whores to Picasso. I know it's because he can't crack me up into my component parts, can't break me into planes. I am more than the sum of my parts. He wishes he had thought to rename me when we started.
"MarCEL!" I hate being reduced to this, this Liz Taylor shrew, but my uterus is approximating one of those blood-pressure-cuff things that has been miscalibrated to fit a Gwyneth-Paltry twig-arm, and my abdomen certainly has a circumference greater than four inches, especially with the fifteen gallons of water I'm retaining, not to mention the Scotch which was within arm's reach, unlike the aspirin. "Marcel!" He'll try to fuck me later. At least he doesn't bitch about my smoking in bed, or wandering around in slips and pink foam rollers.
He hates me because I refuse to learn his stupid chess and persist in calling the knights "horsies." I won't play any game at which a machine is capable of beating me. He says I am a machine—a process—that's why he doesn't paint me. I say I am the Deus ex, the principle of unpredictability, the human element. The feminine one. He hates me because he can't guess what I'll do next. If I could get out of the fetal position maybe he'd find out.
I do get up. I get up when I hear the bathroom door open and close, and the hollow porcelain clank of the seat being lowered. He'll be in there for a while. I grab a fistful of aspirin from the bottle in the kitchen and chew them absentmindedly as I walk towards the library, little crushed bits avalanching down the black nylon front of my slip. I walk quietly, the way some flowers turn toward the sun throughout the day. I walk to his chessboard, look at the game he has been playing with himself for years. I pick up a horsie and move with undeliberate stealth back to bed. It's my nature.
Through my down shroud, I hear the bathroom door open. Any minute now he'll be in here, demanding his precious chess-piece back, and then he'll try to fuck me. He says he's leaving the whores to Picasso, that he can't divide me into my parts. I tell him I am that part of the machine that is the most still. I tell him I am the power switch.
*i.e., the back side. the front side is "recto," which seems counterintuitive on an anatomical level, but deal.
unless otherwise noted, all work contained herein is © claudia sherman, 2002-04.