I was beautiful once, you know. You loved me, back then.

You stared at me and smiled when you passed me by, on your way to work. You counted the minutes to freedom, when you could come visit me. You didn’t even mind that you had to queue up to see me. Yes, I was that popular then.

I remember the days when I was a debutant belle. Silent and veiled as a sweet young thing was supposed to be, in those times. It piqued your curiosity and despite the fact that we were strangers, you came calling. You stared at me awe-struck, as my velvety black eyelids lifted. Seduction was my craft, after all.

They said it wouldn’t last. They warned you that I was the devil’s spawn. They sneered that you’d lose interest. But they were wrong. Even as once ardent young men’s affections cooled when their women discovered their voices, you never wavered. You loved the fact that I spoke and had so many things to say. You listened when I sang. You wooed me with you undivided devotion. My curves, my lines, my secret sounds all spelt ceremonial grandeur to you.

Emboldened, I grew proud in my carriage. Your lavish affections swathed me in fine fabric, in sparkling adornments, in soft music and in romantically lit rooms. I was a lady and our love made hearts run over.

Yes, it was all true once.

I don’t wish to be petulant. Sourness doesn’t suit a lady of my class. I must go in dignity even as I die out. I only wish you’d come and see me once before I go. But I know you won’t. Your attention, once rich in its depth and body, is now but a beggar’s alms. There are the common women at every corner, trying to be part of so many people’s worlds at once. They touch no one and no one remembers a story shared with any of them. But they’re quick and easy (never words that should describe a real lady) and you spend a night a week in one of them.

You’re clutching a floozy, a skinny, plastic thing and she knows she owns you. Briefly, for that’s the best such a creature can hope for. She doesn’t seem to mind that she shares you with the screaming shrew in your home. That one I hear, permits you to call her an idiot and shut her up whenever you feel like it. It makes you feel powerful but considering you rarely exercise that power these days, who is the real idiot? And then there’s that new thing everyone’s talking about. Everybody’s got a piece of her. She takes pride in not being connected to anybody. Rootless must be ruthless, is what I say.

It’s hard to believe you could love the way you did once. The way you loved me. Your adoration was simple and sweet, uncluttered by the other options that came to you, later. I’d like to remember those times when we were both young, when our love was fresh. When times were hard and hearts were soft. When romance demanded the ceremony of wrought-iron grilles, of music in the foyer and red velvet curtains. When a moving picture was magic and a movie theatre was a real lady of class, to be wooed with grace. And when a man’s heart could be captured by spinning a film reel. Adieu, my love, this is final goodbye.


War Made Easy - Grand Lake Theater in Oakland
War Made Easy – Grand Lake Theater in Oakland (Photo credit: Steve Rhodes)
Grand Theater
Grand Theater (Photo credit: Pete Zarria)