Archive for March 14th, 2008

Forever Young

Friday, March 14th, 2008

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Sometimes I like to look at vintage erotica. Of course the pictures really aren’t erotic, the photography isn’t very good, and the poses are silly by today’s standards. But they’re still fascinating to me.

Who were these women? Obviously they’re all dead now – unless they lived to be older than a hundred. But imagine how scandalous and shameful these pictures were at the turn of the century – even in Europe. Were the women prostitutes? Unwed mothers in need  of money? Drug addicts?

The most compelling parts of the images are the womens’ faces. Rarely do they look into the camera. Are they hiding from us their most vulnerable features – their eyes?

I hope many years after they posed, when they lived in old lady bodies, they had a chance to again see themselves in these pictures. By that time, the shame would be gone and they knew they would also die soon. And they would leave to this world forever – a beautiful image of themselves.

I hope that made them smile.

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God Doesn’t Make Mistakes

Friday, March 14th, 2008

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The only time I went to strip clubs was when I was in my early 20’s. At one mob-run joint downtown, I became friends with a dancer named Emily. Emily loved for me to come in so she could talk. “Franco, you always see the best in me. After talking to you, I feel better about myself.” Emily had a sad story – but one thing tore at my heart: she was ashamed of being a stripper – and scared her two young daughters would find out one day.

I worked at an ad agency at the time and knew another agency that needed a receptionist. My friends owned it and would be pleased to interview Emily regardless of where she worked before. If she was good with people, could work the phones, and was a friend
of mine, she just about had the job.

Emily was thrilled about the interview and told all the other dancers about her new opportunity. She even bought a business suit so she could make a good first impression. She was so excited! The owners of the club didn’t mind because they had a lot of dancers; they wished her luck. It seemed Emily’s life had changed and she was finally catching a break.

A few days before the interview, an old mob guy (later shot to death in the local crime wars) gestured for me to come down to his end of the bar. He signaled the bartender to bring me a drink. When I was seated at his side and the drink was served, he turned to me and smiled. I knew not to speak until he did.

“Franco, you’ve got a beautiful heart – but you’re kinda dumb in some things. Ya know, God doesn’t make mistakes. All the people in this world are right where they’re supposed to be. Emily is never going to become anything more than she is right now. Ya see, people are like water – they rise or they sink to their own level. And that’s just the way it is.”

“Now I know your not going to believe me – but someday in the future, think back to what I’m saying and learn something. Capesh, paison? (do you understand, my friend?)”

The big day of the interview finally came. Emily never showed up. No calls. No excuses. No explanations.

I always thought it a sign of respect that not one of “the boys” ever mentioned the incident to me again.

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