Sunday, May 1, 2011

   Ballrooms. For Jacob, the BALLROOM is the salle de bal in the château de Fontainebleau, dimly remembered from a day trip during his summer in Paris, when he turned seventeen: the glossy floor stretching away, the sunken octagons in the ceiling, the chandeliers plunging from the great arcades, the tightly clutched copy of the Oeuvres Complètes of Rimbaud purchased at a bookstall on the Seine and carefully cut with his Swiss army knife, the tormenting breasts of a tour guide called Monique. He can still see her coppery braided hair, and the white, loose blouse, suddenly heavy with breasts from a twist of the shoulders. His seventeenth birthday: two years older than David. Jacob is glad to be rid of adolescence; he worries about David, but doesn't know how to protect him. For Marian, the BALLROOM is a nearly forgotten black-and-white movie in which a bride, abandoned by her groom, dances a waltz alone, round and round, one two three one two three, as the members of the hired orchestra exchange nervous glances and continue playing. For David, the BALLROOM is the high school gym, festooned with pink and green crepe paper for the spring dance. He tries to see another, more plausible ballroom, but the images are vague - a British officer with a neat mustache and slicked-back hair gazing across a room at a girl with masses of blond ringlets overflowing with ribbons - and keep turning into the high school gym. For Susan, the BALLROOM remains unimagined: a gray rectangle on a board.

- Steven Millhauser
A Game of Clue

No comments:

Post a Comment