-Barbie Doll Blues-
Matrioshka’s a walking contradiction wearing high-heels and low-cut shirts, over-sized bras and mini-skirts. She has dyed hair, collagen lips, silicon breasts, methacrylate nails, a plastic face, a liposuct stomach and longs for true love. She reads self-help books written by other people. Her diary’s a connect-the-dots of days with extravagant descriptions of her mediocre existence. Her photo albums look like laminated stationary showcasing various backgrounds with her smiling mug in the middle. When she shows everyone her albums (and she shows everyone her albums) every picture is prefaced, “this is me at (someplace) . . . “
Matrioshka loves possessions more than she loves people so she shrinks everyone into microcosms of themselves and arranges them on shelves. She has shelves for enemies, acquaintances, boyfriends, girlfriends, a high shelf for her best friends and an empty one for her future husband. As with all collections, her sole purpose is to horde the most and the best, so her focus is always on what’s next.
When Matrioshka’s not collecting dolls she likes to don her latest designer tackle-box and hit the mall to fish for complements. She always buys the best bait but hates to get her feet wet so she just waits with her big bobbers and shiny lures until some prickly pickerel puckers-up his best fish face for a slimy kiss. Once she pulled the pole early to hook a handsome salmon nibbling her worm only to have him eat his fill then sever the line. Since then she’s taken up fly-fishing and only caught shadows.
The experience leaves her feeling empty and hollow so for structural reinforcement she finds two smaller followers called friends that fit inside her. Their relationship is selfish and superficial but reciprocal; they rely on her exterior to attract attention and she relies on their interior to fill the hole inside her. Sometimes they come out to play but usually just stay tucked up, fucked inside agreeing with everything she says because they want to remain friends (and enemies are anyone that disagrees).
Every morning she awakes to an alarm clock then watches TV until the car radio. At work she gossips, gabs, and babbles, small talks and chit-chats about shit like this and that until it’s time for the all talk drive at five hour live. Then back home she divides her attention between the television, computer, and cell phone until it’s time for the alarm clock. She’s never experienced comfortable silence alone or with another person because she avoids it. She’s scared of silence because that’s when minds thrive and hers is toxic; Her brain’s a label maker and she uses her tongue to stick them on everyone. There’s a price tag attached to each relationship and the currency is compliance, hence most people don’t buy into her business. The few who do, however, love getting together to drink alone and vomit on themselves.
Since change is costly and adds up quickly, Matrioshka develops an unconscious bias toward whatever she learns first then practices defensive education by dodging opposite viewpoints and countering new facts with old opinions. She side-steps advice and strikes down constructive criticism with cynicism and sarcasm. Such insight into abstract epistemology even spurs a revelation in philosophy known as illogical negativism; Matrioshka’s dedicated work in the field remains unparalleled but continues to fall short of the Nobel. And unfortunately for her emotional well-being there are repercussions to this behavior: She feels fake and lonely, led astray and abandoned like an oxbow lake. Incessant judgment of every situation keeps her brain in constant rumination. Every experience is cross-referenced to check for inconsistencies, labeled and captioned for her table of contents, prefaced and appendixed then indexed for easy access. This process is so complex she’s only half experienced her whole life.
Asbestos Head is the truest friend she’s ever had. Today after a moment of mutual passion she says he somehow ruined their friendship through physical contact and she doesn’t know how to think of him Now because she hasn’t a label for that.
“I figured out the solution to Our problem.” Matrioshka drops a loaded clipboard onto Asbestos’ lap.
“What problem? What’s this?”
“This is your standard relationship contract. I need you to read through, sign in triplicate, initial there, write you love me here, and then say you love me. Twice. And once in French.”
“Are you serious?”
She sighs through her nose and shakes her head. “I knew it. You’re afraid of commitment.”
“I’m not afraid, Trish. Commitment’s a responsibility not to change your mind. It’s like playing psychic with yourself determining what seems right Now will continue to seem right later.”
“No, commitment is a promise between two people that some things, like their love, will never change.”
“Love does change. People change, priorities change - you’re asking me to make some promise for your peace of mind, but if I did it could be a lie.”
“You make sure it’s not a lie by sticking to the agreement!”
“That’s not how emotions work! I won’t fight my feelings just to keep a contract.”
“Well I can’t be happy knowing you’re not committed to a lasting relationship with me.”
“Then you’re deriving happiness from some false sense of security, not from the love you have for me. Love cannot be unconditional if there exist conditions like commitment that hinder it. If love is truly selfless then all that matters is each other’s happiness” He skims the contract. “What is this?”
“That’s the Exclusivity Clause.”
“The basic allowances and prohibitions of any exclusive relationship. You’re permitted unlimited male companionship but female friends must first be approved and are limited to daytime visits. Overnighting is prohibited as well as intercourse and physical intimacy of any sort. You’ll notice I only checked off a couple of the optionals - no drug use, no clubbing or bar hopping without my prior approval or attendance. Failure to comply with any . . .”
“I’m not gonna sign this.”
“Don’t worry, I already signed off on all the same stuff.”
“That doesn’t matter. I just don’t approach relationships like you do.”
“Everyone does like I do! That’s why there’s a form to fill out!”
“Try to wrap your head around this, Trish: Exclusive relationships yield an unconscious asceticism. At the least, you and your partner disallow for each other the possibility of physical intimacy with anyone else. This may seem an acceptable loss for some couples, but the fact remains that you are limiting your partner from ever experiencing the entirety of another’s love again without leaving you. But love happens, so couples continue to make-up and break-up on whims and hopes of greater happiness instead of simply allowing all their relationships to be mutually inclusive. Once you begin putting limitations on each other, you take a part of your partner’s sovereignty and there’s no telling where that will end. Suddenly these stipulations become more important than the relationship and even possess the power to end it! Couples set the rules for their relationship games and eventually someone cheats; so they either add in an emotional amendment or abandon the game altogether. There’s no reason for people to pair-up and run off into the sunset just yet. Most everyone falls in love with something about someone every other day, and even those love funnelers who numb their feelers to one person at a time are guilty of coveting a neighbor or two. The fact is Our true nature seems polygamous no matter how rigorously We deny the monotony of monogamy. And there are so many wonderful people with interesting differences and unique personalities; why limit yourself from any possible experience? Why silence your spirits of romance by lining them up single file?”
Matrioshka dismounts her high-horse and hangs her head. “I just couldn’t help feeling jealous if you were with other people too.”
“Jealousy is nothing but selfishness applied to love.”
“It’s selfish to want to love only you and have you love only me!?”
“No, it’s selfish to dictate. Love and romance are wonderful things that everyone enjoys and cherishes - you should be happy that one you love, loves you and is loved by many, not treasure the love you share and scorn that of others; it’s selfish and ideologically inconsistent.”
“Whether it’s consistent or not, like you said, I won’t fight my feelings and they tell me it’s wrong.”
“Your feelings about love are based on foolish ideologies in the first place. If you don’t truly love everyone you can’t truly love anyone because love is selfless and based on other’s happiness, so even choosing where to place it is a ridiculously selfish pre-requisite. In life you can’t choose who to love, you can only choose whether to love or not, whether to love everyone or to withhold it from some for selfish reasons. Once your love becomes a selective process, the recipients are no longer loved unconditionally because they’ve been chosen based on some appealing conditions. Maybe looks or smarts or funny with a good heart or whatever inconsistent justification it takes to unlock the floodgates and let out the love you’ve dammed. Then you praise and cherish each other’s appealing conditions until infidelity or death do you part. Meanwhile time flies and your dammed love well dries up leaving little for everyone else in the world. Once you withhold your love for any reason you’ve lost what is so beautiful about the emotion. Everyone you meet is physically examined, psychoanalyzed, categorized, sized-up and mentally rolodexed under favorable characteristics that you can love. And anyway, when you focus your energy on those easily loveable people, your love may be shallow or at least less needed in the world, for it’s those who are harder to love that benefit the most.”
“What!? So what!? I’m choosing you! Your lack of commitment is selfish, not my love for you! I want nothing more than to get married and be so good to you.”
“I’m sorry. I think people who get married are either afraid of being alone or misled by some married-life fantasy that clouds the actual day-to-day reality of spending so much time around the same person. There are many people I love and want to know for the rest of my life, but stick me in a house with any one of them for too long and I go nuts. All those quirks and characteristics We should appreciate are more often annoying to me. I find it harder, not easier, to love someone I’m around all the time. Think about it: new relationships are interesting and exciting. We can experience new personalities, perspectives, and have sex with new people. Old relationships are cozy and comfortable. We can speak with glances, share memories, and know exactly what We like in bed. But after some arbitrary amount of time, all old relationships suffer from their inherent consistency and yield way to the need for those exciting features of new relationships. It’s a natural cycle yielding instinctive desires that We deny Ourselves from enjoying. Instead We torture Ourselves and start to hate the ones We love for not letting Us love someone else too. Couples may live together, separate, call each other spouse or buddy but I for one need to see other people too or no one, just to feel that totally free freedom only accessible outside an exclusive relationship.”
“I don’t feel that way at all. If I have you to keep, I’ll always be happy.”
“You can’t have or keep me and you’ll never be happy until you listen to what I’m saying: You’ll always be alone and no one else can make you happy. I love you and I love everyone else, and so do you. What will make you happy is unconditionally loving those people you wish to have and keep, whether they keep coming back to you or not. I personally refuse to place all my eggs in one basket because I want to influence and be influenced by many. I don’t want to carry those eggs everywhere until I die or your basket breaks. I want to place individual eggs in many baskets then return to them periodically throughout life to watch how We’ve grown. That seems so much more beautiful to me than two people that settle for only each other, ultimately leaving one of them old and crushed when their spouses basket breaks.”
“Don’t you want to have children?”
“Not really. The world’s got plenty of other people’s children to hold, gawk at, and play with. I have no desire to endure diaper changes, screaming sleepless nights, eighteen-plus years of lost freedom, time and money, just so I can have and keep one exactly like the other six billion and call it mine. I’d rather not have a wife or kid, and love all women and children equally. Anyway, I’m going away for a while, but meet me at the library Friday, I have a friend that wants you to ask some questions.”
“What? Wait. Please don’t leave. I thought We were going out tonight. You’re torturing me. Who’s going to split the number 2 at Spendy’s with me? You know I can’t eat that much alone.”
“Don’t worry. You’ll accustom yourself to a more moderate-sized Spendy’s special until that new routine becomes lodged into your sentiments.”