Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Living With Animals

What is Pierre doing? (The boy on the left is Mateo...
I think we scarred him for life.)

I will never read Neil Gaiman again.

Something you have to know about me is that I'm one of those flaky sorts who believe that if you think something hard enough, you'll make it real. It works both ways. You can make come true the good, the light, and the wonderful; at the same time the bad, the horrible, and the ugly. Just as long as you believe.

So, back to Neil Gaiman. I'd just finished reading his collection of short stories, Smoke and Mirrors, and as I do when I read something very good I'd given his characters space in my brain for a few days. They got full play at night; I'd gone to bed with images of babies being used as lab animals, God setting up Lucifer for his fall, a child's fingers in a pool of wolfman's vomit, the monster Snow White feeding on her father's genitalia. Truly horrible stuff that used my head as a bridge to walk out of the pages of a book into the country roads of southern France.

Yesterday night the elegant black cat came, fur slightly dusty, a rat clenched between her jaws. She approached her sister, the smaller, nervous one, sleeping on my bed, and with a call like a crow cawing, woke her up so that together they could torture the dead. They moved to the living room and tossed the body around, poked its belly, pulled the tail, nibbled a little.

I shut myself up in the bedroom, barely able to breathe. I remembered myself, five years old, in bare feet going at night to the kitchen for a glass of water, but a few steps away from the fridge stepping on something warm, furry, and alive, feeling things cracking underfoot, then hot liquid on my soles. I turned on the light to find my foot covered with meat and blood.

After I'd spent an hour listening to the sounds of the cats' macabre play in the next room, my husband came home. I thought, "My savior, my hero." I asked him to get rid of the rat, please.

"In Peru, ancient kings considered rats a feast." (Yes, Dang, again he was in Yoda-speak.) I wasn't in the mood for his tales of travelling the wild lands, so I repeated, Come on, get rid of it.

Which he did. Holding the rat upside-down by its tail, he went to his mother's house next door. A few minutes later, he was back with something red and glistening packed in cling-wrap. I saw him feeding tiny bits of meat--was that liver and a heart?--to the cats.

Later that night, in the middle of a post-Christmas dinner at a friend's house, my husband got up and went to the fireplace. From his jacket pocket, he took out his cling-wrapped bundle and gingerly freed from it a string of meat. He put it in the fire and grilled. So while the rest of us feasted on oysters, smoked salmon, foie gras, and duck, my husband, he ate like a Peruvian king.
Gutted and skinned.

Saturday, December 24, 2005


I'm spending Christmas as an Inuit on a black-and-white beach, enchanting dragons with a tusk borrowed from the silver walrus.

How about you?

Monday, December 12, 2005

The People In My Neighborhood #1

Nope, he's got the same nickname as my husband, but it's a different man.
Pierre--the husband--was the guy behind the camera though.

Pierrot lives in a big old wooden boat, a retired peniche, one of the lumbering cargo carriers that until the early twentieth century was essential to life in these parts. The Camargue, as this region is called, was a poor area that had not much roads, but made up for it by having connecting bodies of brackish water, les etangs. The peniche would move supplies from village to village, powered not by any machine, but by the muscles of the horses teethered to its two sides, the animals galloping on dry land, pulling the boat along through the narrow marshes that snake all over the region.

Given the must-see value of his abode, Pierrot occasionally hosts concerts and parties. One I recently attended was a period piece: come dress as a Gaul, the modern French's ancestor, and feast on wild boar roasting on the spit. Pierrot not being a very sociable guy, his events are considered a success if he manages to attract more than a dozen people. That one I went to had maybe twenty attendees--half of them dressed like Asterix and Obelisk--so I guess that it was a smashing hit.


You don't need a frontal view to know that the man in the old boat doesn't care much for depilation. This serving as my segue to a postscript:

Blame it on the wine, my amateur French, or my brain shutting down because it just! couldn't! take it! anymore! In my neighbor retelling the story the day after, I realized that I had missed an important part of Anick's depilatory adventures. It turned out that after slathering on the hot wax, she went chicken when it was time to tear her hair off. So she decided to leave everything where it lay, and went to work with hardened goo still stuck to her pubis.

The next time you see a postman, wonder if she (or he--why not?) is carrying more than just your mail.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

New Parents

PIERRE (standing in the kitchen corridor, watching the little ones have lunch): They always have a good appetite, no?

ME (walking up to stand next to him): Yep, they eat all the time!

PIERRE: They're growing up so fast...

We look at each other fondly, with wide smiles, then continue watching the girls.


PIERRE (talking to one of the girls in French babytalk that we try to translate here): Ooohhhh... yes, that's my moomoon. Moomoon loves her Papa, yes? Come to Papa now... My moomoon...

ME (looking at our other little girl; then, in English, so that the barely bilingual children don't catch it): Honey, that's why this little one is developing an emotional problem. She knows that the other one's your favorite.

PIERRE: Of course, she doesn't know!

He thinks for a second, then goes to the neglected little girl, resumes his babytalk.

PIERRE: Yes, my moomoon. Come to Papa, moomoon...


ME (at night, in bed): Where are the girls, honey? Can you bring them in here?

PIERRE: You know, you have to start learning to let go. One day, they're going to be all grown up and won't want to sleep with their Mommy anymore.


PIERRE (early in the morning, in bed, just woken up): The girls are crying, honey. Maybe you should see what it's about.

ME (half-asleep): You go look, hon. I take care of them the whole day, now it's your turn.

I go back to sleep, Pierre gets up.


Meet the girls, that's Sally on the left and Dolly on the right:

I know, we're sick.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

My Spaceship Has Landed

Now that you have the map, come and save me.

Last night was girls night at neighbor Violette's house. Now "girls" may not be very accurate here. I was a good ten years younger than everyone else, and I'm at an age when some mornings I actually spend time checking for wrinkles under my eyes. The conversation, however, was decidedly female (and don't be going feminist on me on this one!).

Ever since those times in Mandaluyong that I spent with Maya and Tara, often over coffee, sometimes over wine, occasionally over harder stuff, talking about our jobs, our dreams, our loves, our writing, and, yes, about other people, I have learned to appreciate female-bonding sessions. This time, somewhere in southeast France, I don't think I bonded with anyone.

"Don't expect to be discussing art and literature," Pierre had said, sending me off, the anxious husband thinking that for her sanity his transplanted new wife has got to start finding girl friends to replace her old ones. Of course not. Just art and literature would have been a bore. Pierre, however, did not prepare me for this:

There we were, first with our aperitifs of white wine (that would be me and another dark-haired guest) and whiskey coke (the four tougher mommas), later attacking the raclette and green salad, talking about: where to get the right bra for big bosoms, how much the shrimps went for at the just-opened supermerket, stockings or tights for the winter, the place to shop in Montpellier, what exactly is a bag tag, and where to go for tequila and rhumba. The high point of the evening was Anick the postman entertaining us with her depilatory adventures. (Are you ready for this? I sure wasn't.) All flushed with the excitement of remembering, she recalled the pain of waxing her own crotch, of chickening out halfway through the torture, and so living for a few weeks with the dire consequence of having half her vaginal triangle hairy as usual and the other half smooth as a baby's butt. Nowadays, she just lets it all grow wild.

As Abi would say, Hindi ko kaya...

Friday, December 02, 2005

But He IS Cute!

No, Pierre is not pushing 50! And neither is he without any chin. I admit, my husband is not a very photogenic fellow, and his skin is somewhat sun-damaged, but he does have his charms. That includes his integrity, intelligence, kindness, and, yes, his abundance of body hair. I find him hot. Just to prove you wrong who've said Pierre is pangit, I've put together some of my favorite pictures. Di ba okay naman siya?

(Above) Sailing the Atlantic.
(Right) Life as a beach bum.
(Below) His everyday face... Oops! Eh hindi nga photogenic...