Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Motown Angel

By Elena Georgiou

Yesterday, I went to the supermarket. To get the maximum amount of pleasure from putting what I want in my cart, and going home with it, I stood in the produce section and imagined I could hear singing coming from the aisle which housed the jellies, fruit spreads, etc.

My C-Town usually blasts RuPaul spinning bass-thumping club music, but the singing I could hear sounded like a Motown angel who'd dropped from heaven.

As I moved down aisle three, standing there, singing, dipping his finger into a jar of orange-blossom honey was the Motown Angel himself, Mr. Marvin Gaye.

When he saw me, instead of trying to hide what he was doing, he asked if I wanted to share the jar of honey with him. Now, imagine, if Marvin Gaye asked you to share a jar of hone, what would you say? I said, Okay Marvin, but on the condition that you take me home and sing, Mercy, Mercy, Me. He agreed.

I didn't care that the cashier looked at me as though I'd lost my mind for not being able to wait until I got home to dip my finger in the honey. I knew she couldn't see Marvin, being that he was a ghost and all. I imagined she thought I was high on grass and my behavior due to an extreme case of the munchies.

When we got home, I thought Marvin and I might have sex after that little finger-licking honey episode, but I think he could feel I had a lot on my mind, so he suggested we talk instead.

I offered him some fruit though, and he chose a pomegranate. I think he did this on purpose; it was definitely the one piece of fruit in my fruitbowl which took the longest to peel and separate, and I had a strong impression he wanted to stretch out the time we could spend together.

He separated every single red seed, made a mountain out of the bite-sized blood crystals and put them in a clear glass bowl. He took a teaspoon and fed me scoops of pomegranate seeds while we talked about love.

Marvin, I said, what would you do if you'd noticed you and your lover had replaced love-making on a Sunday morning, with holding hands while reading the paper; that you'd replaced skipping meals to make love, with going shopping for food; that you'd replaced not waiting to shower before making love, with choosing to watch TV even though your bodies are clean enough to be traveled with tongues?

He didn't answer immediately. Even ghosts have to think, I thought. But when he did open his mouth, instead of talking he sang, Mercy, mercy, me--things ain't what they used to be.

Marvin, I said. I want to make love so badly. I say it like a mantra, like a poem about a lover leaving, a poem about loss.

I want to kiss. And I know a kiss is more than a kiss; I know it can come straight at you, or tease you, or speak to you and say I want you, but not just yet, I want you to wait until your wanting spills over my thigh.

I want a lover to hold at a distance, examine like a child looking at a slice of watermelon wondering how she'll fit the whole piece in her mouth. I even want to act like a teenager standing on the train with my body pressed against my lover, kissing.

Sometimes, Marvin, I fantasize about being my lover's wisdom teeth, held captive in the back of her mouth, only able to see daylight when someone says something to make her laugh from her belly; a laugh big enough for her lips to fly open and show me a glimpse of the outside world. I have to find a way to dig all this up, resurrect it, but I'm not sure how.

I know how, said Marvin. Take off your clothes and kneel by your CD player and pray. I felt self-conscious taking off all my clothes in front of Marvin Gaye, but I did it anyway. I knelt and I prayed.

Get up, God said, and put on Marvin's music.

As the words to Sexual Healing began to fill my living room I noticed a young dancer standing where Marvin had been, moving like the only reason God had given her a body was to dance.

I watched her dance. She fell in love. I remembered that the last time I fell in love was also the last time I felt beautiful.

The young dancer traced the outline of the scar on my stomach with her tongue and told me how lucky I was to be able to wear my history like a map across my body. Her words made me realize how little love I've been prepared to accept for fear of not getting any at all.

The dancer said goodbye to me three times. I think she did this on purpose because it gave her three opportunities to run her five fingers along my back. On the third touch the dancer faded and Marvin came back.

Marvin, I said. Why is the person I want to touch, the one I can't put my arms around? Why is the one I want to look at, the one who takes away my capacity for direct eye contact? And why is the one I want to walk down the street with, the one who makes me run in the opposite direction? Makes me forget how to construct sentences; forget brand names of chocolates, so I stand there, feeling like a fool, as the words Bar of Mars tumble out of my mouth, and the only thing I can think to do is make a casual face and pretend I meant to say Mars Bar like that.

But this is my big question, Marvin. Why is the lover I want to stay home with, the one who leaves?

I don't know the answer to your question, Marvin said, but what I've learned is this. Do you remember how sweet the taste of our hello was?

Yes, I responded.

Well, in the same way you dipped your finger in the honey, right there, in the supermarket and didn't wait to go home to do it, that's the way to approach love.

I'm going to change back into the young dancer, now, and I want you to dip your finger in her. I want you to tell her that you need her to dance with you and I promise, if you tell her what you need she will try her best to keep dancing to the taste of your words.

But, Marvin, will her best be enough?

It will be, if she chooses music that moves you, if she dances as though you share a body; and if she leaves you dancing after the music has stopped.

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