on her suitcase, waiting for the taxi. It was hard to believe the love
of her new life was coming to such a pedestrian end. At least her previous
infatuation turned into a glamorous tragedy reflected in the media of
the times... even somewhat mythologized for the generations to come. While
now she was sitting here like a fool, waiting for a taxi.
She had heard the fairy tale about his early
life, but had never imagined playing a role in the sequel. The day they
met was pure magic. She was lost and cold. He took her in and nurtured
her back to life, and love. For the first time she felt like a human being,
the human being she had once longed to be. Now she knew that, despite
his pledge of honesty or precisely because of it, Pinocchio hardly lived
happily ever after.
After his father passed away, Pinocchio started
looking for a job as the small amount left off old Geppetto’s will
was vanishing fast. A shrinking demand for woven baskets and custom furniture
had forced him to close shop. Yet, a globally methastasizing market had
created a pending need for sales people. Pinocchio decided to give this
swelling niche a try. Following in the pioneering footsteps of his compatriots
who expanded the business horizons of a new alcohol-free world, Pinocchio
crossed the ocean to join the anonymous ranks of the dreaming post-modern
nomad. The Oneiric State was indeed an attractive notion.
Employers were delighted to make Pinocchio’s
acquaintance - after all he was a celebrity of sorts. They maintained
bon ton throughout the job interviews despite a lame CV and the sad realization
that his notorious experience in lying was of no use now that he could
no longer practice. Getting the odd job here and there was about as much
as he could bargain for. Yet our hero remained mindlessly loyal to recession
stricken Montreal where he had eventually moved to evade, he believed,
the aesthetic inflation that inevitably marked any political oblivion,
let alone one inspired by world domination itself. When he found out those
abstract concerns were but a slogan compared to the immediate terrors
of the transplanted human, he had already been overtaken by the inertia
of localization. Then again, war was still to come.
Pinocchio’s personal life sucked proportionately.
Despite the bio-metamorphosis he underwent after he mellowed down on social
norm, Pinocchio hardly turned into Mr. Handsome. After all, he was originally
a Marionette and there was only so much organic matter could do to remedy
the edgy crudeness of the wooden configuration.
Once upon a time, in real life, there
was a drop-dead beauty that would systematically disregard men’s
looks. She even had an entire supporting theory, too inconsistent and
boring to quote, which nevertheless prompted her to finally marry Quasimodo
in an updated version where he had succeeded to provide his generous heart
with a matching pool of wealth and success. Needless to say, Pinocchio
had neither. In other words, as far as the procreation market was concerned,
he lacked a competitive edge. Well, his mild popularity (due to his childhood
adventures) would land him the occasional literature student who, vaguely
fascinated with his complex character (and waning glory), would treat
him to profound conversations over coffee. Invariably, she’d abandon
their charming afternoons for the nocturnal passions of a promising intellectual.
She would give Pinocchio an elegantly moving speech about their forking
paths and, years later, would mention him fondly in the first chapters
of her memoirs.
The years went by reluctantly in the
dull, involuntarily celibate, life of Pinocchio. He would make the best
of it by pondering the grandiose questions of being and mortality. Though
death was an elusive category and could barely comfort his troubled soul.
After all, Pinocchio’s somewhat mythical nature deprived him of
the definitive life span his more or less fellow mammals shared. Yet,
his now human heart yearned for companionship, for the warmth and love
of a woman, of the mother he had never had. For the return of that fleeting
mnemonic touch of the Maiden with Azure Hair.
It was a typical day in the life of
Pinocchio. He had gotten up late, jobless again. Barely conscious, he
attempted to tidy his bed before proceeding to make coffee – an
effort that wiped the last spec of enthusiasm off his melancholic character.
Collapsing in the armchair, he lighted his first cigarette of the day.
My ever so perceptive Reader, stop before
you sneer at our protagonist and henceforth start doubting the credibility
of my story. Yes, of course, Carlo Colodi left Pinocchio as an exemplary
little boy. Indeed, the boy continued to be the comfort of his father’s
days - smoking was far from his adolescent inventory. But when hardship
struck this young adult’s life, he could no longer evade the alluring
companionship of a silent cigarette. Through the years of voluntary exile,
this enigmatically powerful tobacco product remained his most faithful
companion. Pinocchio had contemplated its significance with chronic devotion
and even composed an essay entitled In Praise of Cigarettes. In it, he
wrote at lyrical length about the transcendence of the breathing pleasure
and the meaning of what he called the fire breath, the relationship of
addiction to death and the synaesthetic nature of smoking. However, he
got stuck at the latter as he tried to prove cigarettes engaged all the
senses, but couldn’t quite fit the sense of hearing into it.
Anyway, he was drinking his coffee smoking his
cigarette and humming a bouquet of selected Italian arias. Don’t
get me wrong, Pinocchio was a true opera buff and he knew of more than
the best selling aria compilation. But he would leave the profound stuff
for later when he would be fully awakened to the depths of a musical masterpiece.
And, much to his credit, his finely tuned ear for opera had not snobbed
him into aesthetic hysteria. The songs he was now listening to would bring
back fond memories of his native land with its rolling hills, magnificent
buildings, cobbled streets of his hometown. And for some reason, the memory
of running up the street while still a wooden chap, where he runs and
runs until…. A Carrabinieri blocks his way, lifts him by the nose
and hands him solemnly to his, exhausted by the chase, old father.
By the time Pinocchio reached the
bathroom, it was already 6 P.M. winter. Night had set in. There was no
mirror above the sink and only the sonic reflections of the retiring pipes
reverberated around the ceramic space when he turned off the shower. Until
an unsettling noise joined in, coming from the gutters of the toilette.
Pinocchio held his thoughts. The sound grew near and a powerful thump
announced the arrival of whatever started emerging from the toilet bowl.
For a split second, Pinocchio recapped all relevant horror movie scenes,
trying to haphazardly reconcile art with life. During the rest of the
aforementioned second, an unprecedented event unfolded to commemorate
Duchamp and to forever redeem the romantic toilet. Half a messed up but
downright gorgeous woman emerged through the battered Acme toilet bowl.
Pinocchio’s jaw, which would naturally recede, now literally dropped
to his chest.
Upon seeing his naked figure, the
female intruder gave out a muted scream of mixed emotions that proceeded
to carve a suppressed smile on her otherwise frightened face. Evidently,
this was the first nude male she had seen up close.
He is handsome, she thought, but asked indignantly:
“Who are you?”
Finally, he managed to reach the towel,
almost slipping on the floor in the process.
“Uhh, a… nobody really.”
Then, extended a hand:
“Well… Pinocchio –
delighted to make your acquaintance!”
“Oh, Pinocchio? Weren’t
you the one who gave up a life of wonderful, albeit unfortunate adventures
for the mental misadventures human nature could offer?”
She is not only beautiful, but also quite intelligent, he thought and
“This is incredibly accurate,
come to think of it.”
“Well,” she said ponderously,”
Pretty much the story of my life. Only I was seduced by the misadventures
of the heart. Oh, I forgot to introduce myself – my name is Little
Mermaid. A tad ridiculous, I must admit as I’m way past a diminutive
age, but at least it doesn’t show. I’ll probably have to change
my name if I ever ripen. Although, even if I grow to appear 50, I’d
still be little to an eighty year old,” concluded Little Mermaid
as she was growing increasingly flirtatious. “May be,” she
went on, ”instead of changing my name, I’ll just shift my
target market. But anyway, here I am, blabbing my head off, while you’re
freezing politely in your tiny towel. Excuse me for intruding like this.
I guess I must be going…”
“Oh, no, no! Please, be my guest.
It’s such a pleasure talking to you.”
In spite of her fully naked upper body, Pinocchio’s frank gaze would
not falter below her chin line. She had never seen this abstract look
in men’s eyes during her short but intense sojourn among their kind.
“I’m afraid it’s
been me doing most of the talking,” she replied in acquiescence.
“Would you like a candy?”
asked Pinocchio energetically to conserve the momentum.
“I’d love one, but I suppose
mine is not the most comfortable position to savour the pleasures of life.”
Pinocchio helped Little Mermaid get
out of the toilet bowl and into the bathtub. After days of swimming in
the cold stinky gutters of the city, she felt heaven had descended unexpectedly
upon her. Her host was not only the most handsome creature she had seen
in months but also irresistibly accommodating. While she was enjoying
the gentle caresses of her native element, he brought her a hot cup of
coffee and a box of divine chocolates in a, what seemed like silver, plate.
Then he moved the TV and the armchair so that she could watch the news
and him, all from the comfort of the bathtub. Thus laid out they spent
one of the most heart warming nights in their lives, conversing happily
about what not – the environment, opera (she had a natural feel
for it), human nature, distant lands (his geography was impeccable), canned
food and anything in between. To say it outright, their weary mythic souls
were falling quickly and passionately in love.
The taxi arrived just as Pinocchio
appeared with her wheelchair. His hunched posture, withering hair, protruding
nose were all cast in reality now. Eventually they would converge into
an abstract memory, a fiction. So would the years of passionate love,
of hypnotic devotion, of cool alienation. But time could not stand corrected
when he, Pinocchio, the wooden chap, the Italian immigrant, the man who’d
known the pain and the aspiration of fitting into the human form, called
her a freak.
She flapped her fishtail. As Pinocchio,
the man, was silently helping her into the taxi, Little Mermaid realized
she had lost out to natural convention. Saddened, she vowed she would
end this obsolete and last fairy tail once and for all. She would get
those freaking legs, and this time without the vocal side effects.
"To the Center for Plastic and Reconstructive
(end of excerpt)
Montreal, October 2001