Walking 4.2 miles with my girlfriend in Westgate Shopping Center one night was exercise with the benefit of air conditioning and fun talk. K.’s one of those friends Elbow refers to — “that’s why it’s so magical when you have a friend who actually understands much of what you are trying to say. It makes you want to say things you never thought you had in you.” [pg 122] We get each other. So, we were laughing and talking, in our typical style with five or six open incomplete threads, sentences that would be picked up after other anecdotes or comments.
For me, this walk was an art tour of the high-end handbags in various name brand stores, partly because K, had just attended a graduation where her ex was invited. For some reason, her way of making him “eat his heart out” was for her to be dressed super fashionably with all the right labels. I surmised he’d always required that kind of class of her. Now K. was my docent.
My theme was trying to articulate why one purse got my attention or some repelled me. We were in yet another a store, stopping in agreement that the best handbag was an unusually textured Ives St. Laurent. It was softly illumined on its own shelf high on the wall. K. wanted to know the price, so an obliging saleswoman opened it and found a card.
My friend realized that, in my inattentiveness, I hadn’t gotten it. To help it register, she said “nine grand” in an aside with teeth in her words. Just to let me know. Which was maybe information for her, but I went on mute. Underwater, into the fog. There was something to say I couldn’t articulate. I could do the math: ten times less expensive would still be $900. Who would spend that on a purse? And ten times less again would put it down to $90, a lot for one at Marshalls. Read the full text of Message on My Mind here.
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