August 21, 1997 (#19) (and before ...)

My darlings odalisques,

I have ennui. Doldrums. The mid-summer somethings. Don't argue with me on the midsummer bit; summer is not defined by the academic calendar. Ask Shakespeare.

I spent a lovely time in North Arkansas, near Bentonville - home of Walmart. I was a guest of my own dear family who thought that perhaps a bit of sun and water fun at the lake would do my urban soul some good. They got out the wooden aqua-plane for me, and I was there hardly two minutes when I was whipping around the lake with my hand in the air, brilliantine smile on my face (showing teeth), dreaming of my old performing days at Cypress Gardens. Perhaps you saw me there? Perhaps not.

One of my most memorable moments was making contact with my other "family" while perusing the aisles of the largest monument to sundry consumption I have ever seen. It was THE Walmart. The ultimate. Enormous. Gun counter and all. I had toned down my usual flair for creative visual interpretation and was trying to "go lake native" - flip flops and cut-offs. I couldn't bring myself to put on the halter top my niece insisted on: I thought it best to spare Arkansas that showcase.

Back to shopping and the event. My sister was running herself completely ragged trying to determine if and where Walmart carried pimentos - we are, my blood family, cosmopolitan by nature - and I was merely tagging along for the exercise. (They had a stockboy on rollerblades - just to try and help you imagine the largesse of this suburb within a community.) When suddenly, coming down the aisle was a very respectable gentleman, yet perhaps a bit too composed for such an outing. Maybe it was his extra attention to personal details about himself: the haircut, the studied gait, the wildly roving eye. I suddenly was struck with a thought, that perhaps I was not alone in this Bible belt bodega. As his curious gaze settled on me, my excitement grew to have found a soul mate amongst the condiment aisle. (They had 4 gallon containers of catsup! Where have I been?)

My sainted, but older sister was completely oblivious to our secret meeting on that linoleum aisle. Where two people from across the country, merely with a passing gaze betwixt them, locked cultures. He was perhaps a little slow to realize that I had opened my heart to him and that I had his number (figuratively, please). When he caught my dazzling, but sincere smile, his eyes popped open wider and euphoria began to fill his soul - or so I imagine it might. I would suspect that the Walmart on old highway 71 is not exactly a fertile cruising ground. Children, please, it's all platonic; I was with my sister after all - I was just being neighbourly, something perhaps some of you might consider.

The moment was brief, but the lesson is clear. We really are everywhere. I returned to the lake and the aqua-plane, where I thrilled the progeny of my siblings with an arabesque while I end up holding the tow rope with my flexed foot. Refuse to grow old.

Other notables moments on the trip -- seeing a water moccassin (they're dreadfully poisonous) in the lake when I was too. The matriarch of the family describing how they just had every type of church imaginable in that area. "Just anything you can imagine, it's all here." Then she paused, looked a bit perplexed and said, "except, you know, I don't think there're any synagogues." Hmmm. She is a spectacular woman, but sometimes she can close her eyes a bit to her surroundings. I suppose it helps her to love me. Then of course, there were "o mi papa"'s famous gimlets - where I kept requesting a half of one; so he simply made doubles and gave me half. Uhhh, pater, I was trying to behave, and you weren't helping.

I did spend a lovely week in Provincetown, most of which I can't recount here because it's not appropriate. Suffice to say that you all know who you are, and I love you all each more than the other.

Goodness knows how, but I managed to avoid getting a ticket for over-exposure and for Lancelot on the beach. Abattoir spent most of the time grumbling something unintelligible in Flemish. I suspect he was a bit putoff by the time I spent on the beach, as he tends towards a fair complextion and distrusts sun screen.

So my little chatelaines, that should keep you up to date. I remain your languid,