Sunday, December 12, 2010

the trouble with a raised hem...

about 6 years ago i bought a size 10, mid-calf wool skirt from goodwill in morgantown. it belonged to some well-to-do woman at one time. i know bc it has a nice lining. good skirts are always nicely lined. i paid 3 bucks and took it to the seamstress, the asian lady who worked in the back of the dry cleaner on high street. on the way to her room we had to pass through the work area, prefaced by one of those old-fashioned blue-grey metal boxes full of time cards. the workroom was a big, open square with a low ceiling, w workers busy at their task, no one smiling. the old-ish, short, italian owner was always somewhere in the back. i only knew that because i could occasionally get a glimpse of him in his office from the seamstress's room. the scene would've made jeremy bentham proud. it was very panopticon-y. bentham, he's one of my boys. i'm not sure if we agree, but he is alluring nonetheless. the panopticon being the least of my interest, btw. it's what he says about pleasure and pain that bends my mind the most. bentham says human behavior is governed by pleasure and pain—the pursuit of one, avoidance of the other. it's much more complicated than that, once you start reading. i'll read about it until my mind is sufficiently blown. then i'll forget most of it until the next time i'm compelled to look him up again. you know, for old time's sake.

i went to that asian seamstress numerous times. every time: through the work area to her dark room in the back left-hand corner...her delicate index finger pointing me toward the dressing room to change...her other delicate fingers prodding my waist and hips and inner thighs and ankles as she measured and pinned...a murmur here and there...a paper handed over, w a price in her stark handwriting...another nod, a brusque "okay" from her, an uncertain"thank you" from me. our interactions bothered me. they felt like what i imagine to be the interaction between a hooker and her john: the lack of conversation, the awkward touching, the service performed, the payment arranged.

i wore that wool skirt a few times, then decided i didn't like it. it would be better much shorter, and w some cool boots that i don't yet own and some other lady's shirt i've yet to buy from goodwill and then cut up into a new shirt. new to me, i mean. so a week or two ago i turned morgantown well-to-do lady's skirt into a mini. hopefully not too mini. i haven't tried it on yet. i don't like skirts much, actually, nor do i have much cause to wear one. maybe on a date. i had this notion recently...maybe last month?...of taking myself on a date. it was during one of my spells in which i thought memphis was as pleasureless for a girl like me as the town i grew up in and what am i going to do and why hadn't i just moved to the city instead. my thoughts, they are a little balloon, apt to stray into troublesome places if not held fast to...something. i have very few fastenings, though.

my date. it would be at the peabody hotel downtown, where i would sit at the bar in the lobby. it's dark in there. tons of travelers, too. i'd probably meet skirt men all night. businessmen, lawyers, doctors, they like skirts. if the term weren't antiquated, they would refer to women as skirts. skirt men like to impress women w compliments and expensive meals and the like. i've been out w a few of them. i didn't wear a skirt. and i found not a one of 'em great company. not for long. some of them were nice enough guys and even had what appeared to be decent intentions. i don't know, maybe i'm just not one of those girls, the ones who...like their pleasure up front, no nonsense, immediate. it's too easy, i suppose. so is that explanation.

so is no-nonsense pleasure what bentham intended? i would be let down if that's the case. or did he take into account that sometimes the way to pleasure is through pain? maybe that's why he insults me and intrigues me all at once—the guy is dead, and i'll never know exactly what he meant.



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