Sunday, June 20, 2010

Double Vision

When I first met Festivus, the black kitty I’ve been fostering in my office since last week, I immediately fell in love with his big old head, carved of night and panther-wide. His face a river, broad and deep, flowing and rippling with catthoughts and catfeelings…

Aha! He reminded me of the beast in Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et La Bete, as portrayed by Jean Marais, above.

Totally catty, right? It’s one of my all-time favorite films, but for some reason thinking about it makes me profoundly sad. I don’t know if I can explain it, but I just walked into the living room as America’s Funniest Home Videos was playing a clip of some kid with a piece of spaghetti shooting out of his nose and, as the canned laughter and clapping by people-told-when-to-clap faded, I thought, “That is the exact opposite of Beauty and the Beast.” Which is OK—it’s not a judgment, really, just a fear… I hope people don’t laugh at Cocteau’s beautiful poem-film and think it “quaint,” or that we’re way past a candelabra held by a disembodied arm, in a pearly swirly palace in a black-and-white world of mirrors and magic and mist...

Ruh roh, sounds like a Cocteau Twins song! Eggs and Their Shells. Shallow Then Halo. The Spangle Maker. And those beautiful 4AD sleeves, making me want to buy a rock tumbler so everything hard could be soft, and wear clothes the color of mold and moss.

Thinking about the Cocteau Twins makes me melancholy, too. I did a Wikipedia search and then found myself watching a video of Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops, and wishing I hadn’t. Oh, it was all beautiful, but I much preferred thinking that the songs were sung and played by tiny redheaded fairies in a woodland clearing, or at least a flock of twittering sparrows or, heck, a pair of squirrels. To think they actually toured (and that I could have seen them but clearly didn’t want to break the spell), and that there’s even a genre for their music—dream pop. Eeek. And though I pretended not to know their species, I did know that they weren’t really twins but rather a trio. The voice? Elizabeth Fraser.

Oh, well. It’ll be OK. It’s just that there aren’t any good reality shows on TV right now, which is one of my main sources of truth and beauty these days. (Not my fault, I swear—my growing-up music was 80s music, so I’m used to that sort of “difficult beauty” you have to really look hard for, but can find in RuPaul’s Drag Race, Sober House and From G’s to Gents if you try.)

I just really, really, really miss thinking that life is more like a poem than a Facebook status.

P.S. Wondering why there are visions of George Costanza pole-dancing in your head?

Forgive me. They were no doubt triggered by the name Festivus, celebrated on December 23 in the land of Seinfeld.


  1. I love your description of the cat's head. It is so lyrical. Really, really emotional. What happened to Festivus, by the way? You're fostering the cat. Did you end up adopting him, or have you found a home for him elsewhere? I have a soft spot for black cats as well. There is something charming about knowing a little panther is curled up at your feet, comfortable and comforting.

  2. Stephanie, thank you! And the great news: Festivus was adopted within a week by my friend and coworker who was helping me take care of him... he has an amazing home with 3 kitty friends and a pair of doting humans.