#5: Fode

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From the Oxford English Dictionary: † fode, v.

[‘ trans. To deceive or delude with kindness or kind words; to entice or lead on with delusive expectations.’]

“Who comes to you,”  was an artist’s question when I told him about the healing work I do.  I should have just answered, ‘creative types,’ but leaving out names or institutions, I listed categories of power in the art world.

Our connection was through OK Cupid and after one phone conversation, we met at a park.  I must say, he was a gorgeous creature, but the opposite of what an interested guy would do on a first date.  He spent the evening dropping bombs of financial, professional, and emotional disasters,  His desperate need to find a gallery presented many chances for me to offer connections, but I honored client confidentiality.

This attempt to fode me was a familiar one.  My detection skills were solidified in a recent deception, one for which I fell.  While serving as President of the Board in our building, a co-owner approached me with an offer.  He’d seen my modeling pictures and insisted they needed an update.  As a photographer with a make-up artist partner, they were willing to do a head shot session, no charge involved.

I turned them down, but they didn’t let it go, applied pressure and flattery until I acquiesced.  Sitting for portraits is something I have done many times, but this shoot was an energy-less chore equivalent to cleaning out someone else’s garage.  Though the photography turned out fine, my sour expression ruined the possibility of usable images.  When they insisted I select favorites, the thought of looking at those photos again made me want to go invisible.

This shoot happened during the same month that we conduct our building’s annual Board election, and after years of serving as Madame President, a new person was voted into my old position.  Happy to step aside, when the photographer’s partner found out the results, her first response was to stomp her feet, and then she cried.

Such a surprising emotional display got me thinking: for extra income, they used their second apartment in the building as an Air bnb, technically against the rules.  The headshot session was designed to keep me looking the other way while they did what they needed to do to maintain both spaces.  By not campaigning to my position of power, I’d dropped my end of the silent deal.

Even though we’re on friendly terms, the photos were never spoken of again.  And coincidentally, the man who wanted art world contacts just wrote stating ‘energy differences’ regarding a match, with an offer to continue our ’instant friendship.’  The answer to that is no thank you, because through the eyes of a foder, everyone is humiliated.

Photo by Marissa Bridge: Deceiving colors

#4: Ecdysiast

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From The Oxford English Dictionary :                                                                   Ecdysiast: (noun) a striptease performer

In the late sixties, Jeff, my ex-husband, and I met a dancer from a long legacy of ecdysiasts.  We were promptly invited to her home to inspect generations of vintage stage costumes, and to meet her thirteen foot boa constrictor, Tiny Tim.

Upon arrival, our hostess said, “The snake is hiding behind the stove.”  So the dark-haired beauty pulled out her Kansas City skin-trade costumes, many of which belonged to her mother.  Dressed in regular clothing, she demonstrated a few shakes from behind a fluttering fan of pink ostrich feathers.

Very distracted by the sound of slithering, I could only barely whisper, “That’s cool.”   A snake on the loose was not what I anticipated from our social call.

“Jeff, will you help me get him out of there,” the dancer said.   “He might cut himself.”

Jeff wrestled the stove out of its confines, the woman grabbed the snake by the tail, and said, “Oh God, help me!  Tiny’s wrapped around the gas-line.”

Jeff gripped Tiny Tim with both hands.  Because of the reptile’s powerful writhing, his arms shot above his head, positioning the monster close to the ceiling.  Jeff managed to hang on, but as we stared in horror, dust bunnies from Tiny’s body fell off him and landed in our eyes.

I never heard such sounds from my ex, as if he were on a runaway roller coaster.  He lurched, twisted, and tripped from the kitchen to a small cage in the front room.  Tiny obediently coiled inside his home, the dancer slammed the door and locked it.  Just like that, it was over.  Left panting and sweating, Jeff held his snake oiled hands out like he’d been slimed, I was fairly sure I never wanted him to come near me again, and with a quick dip and giggle, our hostess had just survived an awkward performance.

In seconds, we left that house with an oft-told tale: Jeff and I knew a stripper who performed with a boa constrictor.  Given the strength required to handle thirteen feet of pure muscle, it simply wasn’t possible.  After all these years of embellishment, this is the truth: that girl was a normal dancer with a pole, removable costumes, and a few inanimate props; Tiny Tim was her household pet; and it was Jeff who danced with a boa constrictor.

Photo by Marissa Bridge

#3: Canaglia

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Based on my mother’s limited expectations for marriage, she chose her mate according to his gene pool.  My dad called himself ‘The Producer,’ so I’m pretty sure he operated within the same parameters.  Their insecurities, lack of opportunities, coming of age in WW2, were overcome by what they saw as  physical superiority, in themselves and their children.

Beauty was more valued than education.  Their badges of honor were square shoulders, shapely legs, almond eyes, good hair, exceptional posture, and in my mother’s case, speed.  Her driving skills matched any daredevil man’s,  Dad was a normal driver, but nothing could slow her maneuvering excellence down, especially four screaming kids in the backseat.

Not long after my father left, so did Melanie and I.  She was still in high school.  We had only the confidence of our upbringing, youth, and skimpy clothing.   Those led us directly to a hippie artist with a page-boy to be coveted, who lived in a retired mail truck.  Old friends in a matter of hours, we piled into his vehicle for a spin around Kansas City.

The truck had been converted into a sunny, drivable living space, lined with daisy wallpaper.  Big enough for sections, it housed a sofa/bed, a small table, and what Melanie and I used as a running track between the front and back.  The driver sat on a free-standing swivel stool, and in a moment of quiet repose, I plopped next to him cross-legged on the deep dashboard.

When he pulled in front of our house, one of his friends, referring to our car antics, said to him, “God, all that screeching, now that those two are leaving, maybe we can actually hear ourselves think.”

Self control and car manners were not part of our upbringing.  Until then, we’d gotten by with our buona faccia facades.  Realizing that acting like wild animals wouldn’t cut it with those outside my parent’s model was as shocking as a slap, and the first step to self-examination.  And even though we were mere canaglia, I fit into the artist’s aesthetic vision.  He moved out of the mail truck, into our house, which he turned into a palace of his imagination, and I married him.

Definition of canaglia, n. from the Oxford English Dictionary:                                             [‘ Rabble; the common people; a mob or pack of people regarded as rabble’]

Photo by Marissa Bridge

#2: Magnolious

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We plant trees for the women in our family who die.  It began with a Redbud, my mother’s favorite, at the world headquarters of Unity Village, Kansas City.  Then came a Magnolia for our forty-nine year old sister, Gretchen.  It was placed twenty feet from Mom’s Redbud, which died shortly after Gretchen’s tree went in the ground.  We bought a replacement, it died too, and now we commemorate them both in the Magnolia.

Near the end of Gretchen’s life, she took care of someone’s house, plants, and animals while they were on vacation.  Early in their week of absence, she got all gussied up in one of the owner’s cocktail dresses, shoes that Gretchen could barely walk in, and adorned herself in jewels.  She drove their BMW to a bar, brought a guy home, and as if she lived there, entertained him for six nights in a row.

On the eve before the owners return, Gretchen called me and explained her predicament, not knowing what to tell the guy.  I said, “You have to tell him the truth.”

“I can’t do that!  He’ll think I’m a big liar.”

“Well, what if he knocks on their door looking for you?’

“I know, what should I do?”  I heard the conspiring laugh.

“ I think you have to tell him, Gretch.”

I never found out how she got out of that one.   Smoke inhalation in an apartment fire took her life.  At her memorial, during the informal stories from those she saved and loved when no one else was there for them, a teary-eyed tall blonde stood to speak.

“Gretchen worked for us a few days a week,” she said.  “She only did what she wanted and it wasn’t that much.”  A knowing laugh erupted from the attendees.    “But she was so good with the kids and our pets.”

Remembering Gretchen’s description of the woman whose persona she assumed, it was clear I was looking at her.  “The weird part though, “ the woman continued, “is how much time we spent talking to her, about her after she went home, and even my friends called to hear the latest Gretchen episode.   She drove us a little crazy, but we’ll really miss her.”

I view Gretchen’s week of borrowed identity as a climactic convergence.  She’d always been a prankster, an envious person, she possessed theatrical flair, and an impulse to impress.  And she felt most alive the moments after a big scare.  But the biggest influence in her life was disappointment.  In Gretchen’s mind, it was only through intrigue and risk that she could begin to approach her magnolious potential.

Definition from the Oxford English Dictionary:                ‘ Magnificent, splendid, large’

Magnolia photo by Marissa Bridge

#1: Revirescence

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When young, my writing was fueled by rage and righteousness, put down with a furious pen. These days I quietly type away, sifting through facts for a buried truth, a clear explanation of what just happened.  And I write for revirescence.

So this is the latest.  After a year-long recovery from broken bones and medical immersion, I went online and met a man.  Immediate core differences stood between us, but the mission of my healing legs held us in symbiotic captivity.

He treated me like an injured queen and I acted like one.  We took weekly trips from one end of New York State to the other, and traveled to other countries.  With every step of the way on his lovely arm, I grew stronger.  A few months ago, pain-free and greater leg power than ever, I pronounced myself completely recovered.

But my needs were our structure, and without them the foundation of the relationship shook. Our lack of common priorities turned into a contest of wills.  The future did not belong to us, yet in the scheme of our lives, it was an important chapter.  Speaking of which, I find myself in another recovery, this time with mighty bones…and an open heart.

 Revirescence: excerpted from the OED, noun                                                                                                                         ‘ The action, quality, or fact of growing fresh or new again; an instance of this.’

Photo of Long Island Hydrangea by Marissa Bridge