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Tova Gabrielle

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Not American Beauty
by Tova Gabrielle   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Posted: Monday, October 14, 2002

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Tova Gabrielle

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memoir excerpt...

Not American Beauty
By Tova Gabrielle

Monday, October 14, 2002

Itís not American beauty, "not at all," they say, more a Mediterranean kind of charm, especially noticeable in the eyes and the dark hair. The eyes are intense, dark and piercing, but, isnít it obvious, theyíre too close ? Now the curly hair, that, they got right: full, lustrous, and almost black, even at 45! But the hands are little girlís, peasantís hands, stubby and unsophisticated.
Half of me is in the stars and half is in hell. How can I be successful and happy when my identical twin, "Cindy" is in the hospital again with another psychotic episode? Cindy in Hell and plain Gravity pull me down like a pear.
I ate when I felt too much, as if I would explode with energy like a lightbulb. The heaviness food brought on was my dimmer switch. Still, the light is on; sometimes I buzz with lust or more often lately ideas and insights. It's hard to feel indifferent but if I could I wouldn't be so prone to over-eating or eating the wrong foods as sedatives.
I can really understand sphinxes and mermaids and twins as well, their being another freak of nature.
Last year when I called My Insurance Man to report my name change, he flirts, "You wonít stay single long!" "Why?" (I milk it)."Iíve always found you striking," he confesses from his safely married corner of the world.
"I donít know what he means, Iím not ." I protested later to Zoey . "Maybe not by Hollywood standards, my best friend explained to me, "butÖitís in your eyes, your presence."
I had to know. Itís not vanity, itís total confusion, desperation. It comes from being told I look just like Cindy, I think. Oyh, Cindy. While striking has itís quick fix benefits, like caffeine, over time it wears you and every one else down. Sometimes itís OK when someone walks into a room and you donít have to look up to know theyíre there: sometimes striking is good, like when you want to make a strong impressionóan interview, a first meeting, a date.
But sometimes itís a curse: High School, for instanceóthe kids knew you were afraid before you didÖ But even if people are polite about it, often your presence simply crowds them. No matter that the committee in my head crowds me: I canít get out of my own way. If I could I would.
I donít think the "presence", is genetic; that came with me and it will leave with me-itís my gift and my curse. Mitch used to say Iím too small to come out with the heavy things I say, so loaded (pointed things, Zoey says). "Itís like youíre a powerful pixie," heíd explain, all husbandly, "Ö an oddity. People donít know what to do with you. Thatís what infuriates them." Then he softened it, with, "but you are important, the way you move the worldÖ" Yes, I do make ripples, itís true . Itís the waves on the rebound that undermine me, however.
"Itís your honesty," they all say.
I know Iím honest, Christ, had to go to therapy to learn to lie. (Itsí too hard to keep track of lies.)
Thatís why I go for blunt men, I suppose.
Like this last guy: Aaron. First met on a net sight for Jewish singles.
We go out on a date: Aaron gives me a hug at the end of the night. I say, "So do you like me?" He says, "Whatís not to like?" I say, "OK, but do you find me attractive?" He says, "Oh definitely." I say, "like what?" He says, "nice hair," silence, then "...nice tits."
(Aaronís handsome but what a mess. A real fixer upper.)
If Iím attractive, itís not by any traditional standards. I found that out after Mitch had built me up about my looks, which only he could love so much. I made a fool out of myself by calling a modeling agency to check me out, declaring I was attractive. The photographer looked around for someone else to come in to the room behind me. Then he flushed when they didnít. He fiddling with the lights but it was a waste of time. I thought maybe I would have done better if Iíd taken my clothes off. But I was afraid heíd wince and tell me to put them back on. Probably heíd focus on my top half, but itís all downhill from there, like a pear or hills, and oyh, my legs, what a waste: so shapely yet theyíre about 4 inches too short.
I have a theory about sizes. Short people need to learn that they are relatively small. They need to deflate. Tall people need to inflate; realize their greatness. Itís just a theory. I need to make meaning out of everything...canít tolerate Chaos. Tolerate Chaos. Now that would be something to learn.
I look in the mirror and I see beauty. I worry Iím like an anorexic who sees something other than whatís there, except in my case itís greater. Iím the same with people: I meet them and start talking familiarly, like weíre picking up on a conversation left unfinished in a cafe; if Iím too familiar itís because I experience them as being too familiar. I used to think
I was this way because I could see the soul in everything; even rocks. But now I think my innocence is animistic, outdated, misplaced, something I should have outgrown from childhood. Nature isnít always kind, I need to "get" that, stop being such a damn hippie. Itís not becoming at my age.
As a child I see all objects animate and inanimate as being alive and craving love. I hug and consoled the upright Hoover, taking it out of itís closet or climbing in to sit with it, because it is over -worked. I apologize because in old age it is being abandoned in the dark closet. I am having conversations with everything, especially the one big maple tree on which I draw with crayons in the front yard. Iím apologizing as I do this, feeling oddly guilty for clogging up itís pores with colored waxes but I canít stop, something is driving me to do this, I hope it understands. I am amazed to see that the reds and blues when on top of each other look brown. I am looking at flecks of dust in the sunlight and seeing the whites arenít really white but also made of colors, exposed to my staring eyes like the brown had done upon closer inspection. The rain pounding down on the grass played a rhythmic beat on the drum of a hungry earth. The dropped foliage crackling under foot spoke to me loud and clear; respond to my feet with their crunchy talk knew that I was there albeit, in a dreamy wakefulness, constantly communing.

But how do you be any more or any less than the sum of who you are? How? Certainly Mom and Dad had the knack.

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