Of Love, Black Widows, Praying Mantises and Lemmings – a dangling conversation in a still life watercolor of a now-late afternoon

Praying Mantis and Spider

“She is too beautiful not to be inherently evil” Christopher Moore has his incarnation of Toulouse Lautrec exclaim to Lucien in his charming novel, Sacre Bleu.

It startled him and thus ensued a conversation between the two souls that inhabit a certain body.  [“Mine: each exclaimed, possessively].  For the most part it’s a monologue but with several meaningful interventions.  Obviously, the somewhat more idealistic, more romantic soul serves as the narrator [a snicker from somewhere can be heard in which the concept “naïve” plays a prominent part, although the phrasing may be a bit different].

So, …

As with almost everything, no matter how seemingly irrelevant, Toulouse-Lautrec’s fictional exclamation made him think of his own obsession: that certain woman who’d somehow enchanted him, teasing him with possibilities that really never quite approached fruition while extracting the most extravagant but heartfelt promises.  The moon?  That would have been easy.  Her suggestions tended more towards the mundane, the pragmatic, the more bourgeoisie.

He, unlike Lautrec, wondered how anyone so beautiful could be so lacking in romance (Lautrec tended to focus more on the sensual here and now, at least according to Moore).  His (the narrator’s) self-query was probably occasioned by his own idealistic and hopelessly romantic nature, especially whenever she was around.  “Perhaps her romantic instincts had been used up before they met” he rationalized.  Perhaps, as she’d aged, she’d been forced to focus on the mundane requirements of survival while her beauty still had devastating albeit fading impact.  The more it faded, he speculated, the more desperate the need to attain sustainable security perhaps.  Still, at least as far as he was concerned, it could have faded a great deal yet and still have been devastating.

He wondered if flies ever willingly sought spider webs.  Perhaps those of spiders so beautiful resistance would have been, not only futile, but unthinkable.  Hmmm, a Borg spider perhaps.  He recalled a rather sensuous Borg “mistress” in an episode of Star Trek who unsuccessfully sought to seduce a few somewhat undersexed Enterprise crew members.

He was not fond of flies, not fond of them at all, but he thought he might understand one faced with a compulsion such as that.  Strange to feel empathy for imaginary love sotted flies involved in imaginary interspecies love affairs, perhaps one sided love affairs involving black widow avatars.

He was not especially fond of spiders either but realized he seemed to be drawn to a human variant.  He wondered how he’d feel about a female praying mantis.  Wouldn’t “preying” mantis be more accurate?  At least the latter involved sex immediately followed by a quick end rather than drawn out torment.

Strange how notwithstanding an apparent ability to clearly recognize his state of affairs (no pun intended), he didn’t seem to care.  After all, he might be wrong [a mental snicker from the co-occupant which the narrator chose to ignore].

Both, coincidentally wondered if that’s how lemmings rushing towards cliffs analyzed their situation.  “I guess that’s the nature of enchantment” he [the narrator] thought.  Who’d have thought that the phrase “she’s enchanting” ought to be more a warning than a compliment.  Then he thought to himself, perhaps rationalizing, “shouldn’t beauty be good and extreme beauty extremely good?  Ought not the divine, if it exists, be absolutely beautiful”.

At that point the other soul seemed to respond: “Divine?  Another interesting adjective” to which the narrator whispered, not wanting anyone within hearing range to think him less than sane, … “Shut the fuck up!

And they both generally did.

At least for a while.

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2018; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen).  Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

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