Saturday, December 31, 2016

Chicks with Dicks

This year for the Bunny could be summarised as a battle between masculine and feminine. It began with recovering from an operation in which my right ovary was removed. Feminine. Girl-bunny in my sticky bed brought cups of tea by Mr Rabbit, encouraged by Ris to keep on with the Tramadol, lose myself in those long trips of motionless ecstasy as long as it took. Girl-bunny passing out at the medical centre at having the navel stitches removed - oh, woe! - girly-girl balking at the surgeon's warning a few weeks later - Careful, you can easily get pregnant after an operation like this. Pregnant? thinks the girl who can't fathom that this body, with its right-side black gap, its claggy nothingness, could even think of housing a human life, especially after that whiff of sex - a thought, a dream - that may or may not have transpired. 

It must have, and who would have thought you could conceive from a whiff but sure enough, there was the vertigo and there it was, the Bunny nearly fell on the floor in another room of the medical centre when the young female doctor presented the straw.


This wasn't happening. 
It was the opposite of the Kiki feeling, a darkness in the blinding sun. EBR wanted her balls back - Oh please, can we just have a moment to catch our breath? 

I wonder if my whole life in some way I've been fleeing femininity - the responsibility that comes with womanhood, what I saw in mum, all she had to take on, the weight of it all...

A reprieve, the baby didn't grow. The Bunny felt evil for being glad.

She put her nice tidy balls on and went back to Paris. To her spiritual home, her brain-home, her man-cave. She put on neat blacks, straightened her hair and went off to meetings with luxury clients, toting all kinds of smart things through her neat red lips. She moved around the streets with purpose - her old life as present inside her as if she'd never left, never bought a house in an Australian seaside village and baked ANZAC cookies (with aplomb, she must admit, and recently, variety). Here she was, at home in her sharp city world - a planet away from the grass, the tea, the kindergarten, the deck, the beach. 

She saw the dress in a second-hand shop. It was Sunday, and she and LL were in the Marais, having breakfasted at Fragments and taught Cyrille what a wedgie was. She'd seen the dress last year, when it was new, in its real shop. She had quickly moved past it then - who would ever wear a dress like that in Paris? The dress was long and beige with deep pink flowers printed on it, interspersed with panels of lace. The dress had tassels. The dress was made for bare feet on long grass, on beaches, not on the Boulevard Beaumarchais and most certainly not at a meeting with Chanel. But it was 20 bucks, so she bought it with a thumbs up from LL, and left it sitting in a bag on the couch in the tiny 1-bedroom Air BnB as she showered off yet another good power day. 
She was Patrick Bateman in her suit, sharp as a pin - she had finally worked her way to a position in Paris where she could afford to eat where she wanted, buy what she wanted, rent a lovely little apartment like this all for herself, with its view over one of her favourite streets, its memories of her student days in the canal bars, Kiki on her trottinette, a thousand ghosts of so many hers. But though she felt empowered - nuts so strong they could split the seam - the loneliness was always there to greet her when she stepped through the door. Oh, woe! For as much as she wanted to ram the city, here she was, a girl alone with a lamp.

The water cascaded down her hair and back (it was one of those weird corner spas with no curtain so it was better to sit to prevent the floor getting flooded). She was drying herself when she saw the tassel hanging out of the bag on the couch. She pulled out the dress. It was a hippie dress, nothing she had ever owned before. It fell down over her naked body, drifting around her ankles, caressing her collarbone. A long, whisp of soft cotton. Absolute Girl. She turned up the heat and made herself some avocado toast. Tonight she didn't straighten her hair, it dried as it did in unruly waves. She downloaded La Grande Bellezza because Ris said so, and fell asleep in front of it, in the dress.

The next morning she straightened the hair, pulled on the black and spent the required half hour doing the natural makeup and power-lips. Chic. She lit a cigarette as she exited the porte cochère (she only smoked in Paris now, it tastes good there). The day was bright and the coffee strong and in the meetings she noticed her disgusting female self starting to leak out a tiny bit. She quickly reined it in. Tightened her jock strap - fast. Don't let them see. A lunch meeting. The female dripped out again, gushing this time, oh the shame. A thai formule, a group of women from a makeup brand she wrote ads for. There were six of them and they were all young and sweet and interested and she really, really liked them. Out it came, the realness - oh man - the embarrassment as they kissed goodbye. She had shared too much - or was it just her - they didn't need to know that she was a mother, and 40 and living by the beach and missing Paris and that she had been writing a novel for 10 goddamned years. She lit two cigarettes as she hustled away down the canal. Her balls had shrunken into two pea-sized labia. She met with LL to drink cocktails and find that perfect blend of feminine/masculine at the bar, the spritzes, smokes, the long in-depth conversations. On the walk back through République people were camping out and playing music, the Nuit Debout movement still going, the striving for change. Emotion/strength. Power/passion. Vulnerability/striving. She wriggled out of the black dress, sat in the shower, got out, the dress came on to her again. She watched the scene in La Grande Bellezza with the woman in the bed again. She does die. The scene evoked a vast discomfort that she took with her into her dreams.

She left Paris a day early. Kiki made a sign WELCOME HOME MUMMY. Her arms were soft like dumplings. The Bunny was a mother, and a woman and she didn't have nuts and she returned to her home and was content in her own sheets and forgot her man-self for a bit before returning to her home office to resume it again, à distance, the connection with Paris and her work so strong it made no difference she was in a beach side village a drill-hole all the way through the earth from. She was busy - so busy, she must not let herself or her family down. She worked and worked. Her day began with the emails at 7 as she leapt out of bed to assure Paris she was still there, still their man, and ended with iPhone checks through the night, quick messages to say the edits were being done, the translations were fine, explain the significance of a word and why we just don't say it like that.

She was stiff as a board. The days went by.

The dress didn't come out until September, in the first moments of Spring. And with it came the moment, ball-deep in a powerpoint presentation on toothbrushes, that her fingers lifted themselves from the keyboard and placed themselves in her lap. She tried to put them back on but they refused. The fingers said No.

Cutting off from Paris, from work, was something she had always terrified of. A relinquishing of control - of the image of who she wanted to be. 

It all went black, for a week, as she felt around herself for the walls that had fallen away.

Then a new light started to creep in. Flowing, colourful, floral, interspersed with lace.

Nyssa Sharp 'Girl with the Yellow Skirt'