Odile & Odette & a CamelliaThursday, April 19, 2018
|Camellia japonica 'Swan Lake' April 19, 2018|
My grandmother, born in the 19th century, was influenced by the shock of Darwin’s theory. Whenever I said something that demonstrated my ignorance she would say, “La ignorancia es atrevida, “or ignorance is daring." If my mistake was of major consequence she would then say, “Asomaste el rabo,” or “You let your tail show.”
Memory tells me that one of my first real boo-boos happened in Mexico City around 1962 when a music connoisseur asked me if I liked Carmina Burana. My answer shocked him, “No, who is she?” This one was similar to one in front of my high school students in Mexico City in 1972. “Mr. Hayward, have your heard Alice Cooper?” I am sure that anybody who has arrived to this line will immediately guess my answer.
In the late 80s I became enthused over the police procedural (not quite, just really good novels) book by Newyorican author Jerome Charyn. One of the books was Blue Eyes featuring the gunning down of a policeman playing ping-pong in a NY City ping-pong club. The story includes Isaac Sidel the “Pink Commish” who much later becomes President of the United States and still carries a Glock in the White House.
George Bowering reads from Charyn's Winter Warning
Blue Eyes is sexy (the guy and the novel) and it even includes a chapter that happens in a very familiar Mexico City since I lived in that city for many years.
But there was a character in Blue Eyes that defied my understanding. Who was this Odette who sometimes was Odile and sometimes not?
It took around 20 more years for me to go and see the ballet Swan Lake to figure that out.
They sat in her room-and-a-half, Odile in plain cotton, a highcheeked girl with gorgeous fingers and a sturdy profile, and she asked him what he wanted of her. “Straight talk,” he said.
“Oh the ambitious little cop. First we have some breast beating confessions from Odette, then a seduction number, with your pants on my chair. Mister, I’m not so crazy about men this season.”
“Don’t tense up on account of me, Odette. I’m not much with the girls anymore. I get most of it off on the ping-pong table.”
“Odile,” she said. “I’m Odile. Odette is for the hard-ons. I remember the ping-pong. You played with Vander with your tie off. Why’d you come?
“Because I am getting bullshit in both ears, and maybe the same people who are fucking my brain are fucking yours.”
She decided he was no great shakes of a cop, and she warmed to him considerably. She mashed two lemons and made him a hot buttered drink in a tall glass. She opened her icebox for him, spared him the canapés of luncheon meats and triangular party breads, which she served to male clients and Vander’s friends, and fixed him one huge, unnatural pancake with primitive utensils and her own private awkwardness. It was the pancake filled with egg fluff and clotted bits of sugar, that galvanized Coen’s affections and fastened him to Odile.
Blue Eyes Jerome Charyn
Blue Eyes Jerome Charyn