I had been reading Huysman’s À rebours. If memory serves it was my ceramics teacher, Irv Tepper, who lent me his copy. (Irv had also xeroxed a bootleg of Raymond Carver’s Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? for me and insisted I read it. Thanks, Irv.) À rebours “concentrates almost entirely on its principal character and is mostly a catalogue of the tastes and inner life of Jean des Esseintes, an eccentric, reclusive aesthete and antihero who loathes 19th-century bourgeois society and tries to retreat into an ideal artistic world of his own creation” (Wikipedia). Under Huysman’s sway I decided I wanted to paint with blood and purchased a two gallon bucket of the same from an abattoir near Alviso. I brought it back to the dorm, wrote my name on the lid and put it in the communal refrigerator on 9th floor Swig. Within minutes I heard a bloodcurdling scream (pun intended) from Maria, our maid. (Yes, we had a maid.)
“ROBERT, YOU’RE AN ANIMAL!”
I may have been an animal but I was not so debauched as to go poking my nose into other folks’ food.
P.S. The painting was bloody boring.
–Robert Lee Haycock
Being raised Catholic may have something to do with my lifelong predeliction of caring too much about what others think of me—or perhaps there is only correlation and no cause and effect. Regardless, I have always endeavored to keep a reasonable cap on my earthly pleasures and avoid being offensive—at least in public. This is why I was so disheartened, years ago, to notice that two born-again Christian FB friends, a mother and daughter, had unfriended me overnight without warning or explanation.
“What did I do?” I thought desperately, thinking back upon our initial friending, which involved their desire to have me help promote a fundraiser for a family member of theirs, whose own debauchery had led to an incapacitating accident. What did I do? I remembered that I’d recently acknowledged I’d be attending the brothel at Polly’s Paladar with one of my besties, whose writing is also featured here at the farm. “The brothel!” I said aloud, in horror. It must have been the brothel.
Polly’s Paladar, far from being a house of prostitution, is my favorite supper club. Megan, the owner, produced a witchy event with herbally infused foods, creatively naming it a “brothel” in honor of sacred feminine sexuality, so often personified by Mary Magdelen. (I highly recommend The Moon Under Her Feet by Kinstler.) Megan was sticking up for good old-fashioned gender neutral sexuality (something that in the Christian paradigm God certainly invented, because He is in charge of everything) and creating a new connotation for the word brothel. Good on her. No wonder Polly’s Paladar is my favorite supper club.
I had my fingers on the keyboard to type a note of explanation to the mother and daughter who had so cruelly wronged me. (It had to be the brothel thing.) But I stopped short. Such intolerance, I decided, was its own brand of debauchery. I thought of my father’s frequent cheer to me in childhood: “Don’t let the turkeys get you down!” I wish them the best of luck with their next fundraiser…
–Carolyn M. Crane