Monday, August 28, 2006

red, once in a lifetime


I was lying on my back with a plastic cage over my face, while the beige crypt-of-a-machine buzzed and zapped at me, when I remembered the line from Beloved when Baby Suggs is dying and she says, "Bring a little lavender in, if you got any. Pink, if you don't." So I thought of pink, and then I thought of red. Red Rothko-style, layered-down wide canvases: fushia, magenta, crimson. Maybe the thought also had something to do with Julia's recent post about vermilion or the plum-and-crimson paper composition Rachel and I'd constructed to hang in her new apartment.

Then the bed I lay on started vibrating at longer and longer intervals and I thought of the warning signs in the dressing room about serious injuries caused by wearing metallic objects while being zapped. I wondered about my fillings. Aren't they metallic? Why didn't they ask me about my dental fillings? I wanted to reach up and touch my jaw, just to make sure it wasn't undergoing a serious medical injury. I began to run through a list of other metallic objects I might still be wearing.

I turned my mind to color again, red in a wide room overlooking the sea, someplace sunny. I imagined a corridor with a scarlet-drenched canvas set at its end. I thought if I ever get out of this machine I might just make enough money to buy a house, or at least a hallway. And then I'd hang a canvas covered in red at the end of my hallway. Or maybe blue, aquamarine blue.

Armed with color in my head the machine of magnetic onomatopoeia seemed less ominous, and my place in its bowels less confining. I didn't seem to be wearing the kind of metal to set off a serious medical injury. The radio station on the headphones began to play a Talking Heads song, the one that goes,

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground,
which was an improvement from whatever vanilla song it was previously broadcasting at me. And then the technician's voice came on saying there was 2 1/2 minutes left, which wasn't much. And I closed my eyes and let David Byrne assure me things were the same as they ever was, er, were.

2 comments:

Julia said...

This is like a Nostalgia quiz post. Where were you? A tanning bed? Somehow I doubt that, even though, by virtue of residential proximity, you are practically a Yonkers girl.

Lucy said...

No, Yonkers hasn't sucked me into its low-class glitz yet. I imagine if I ever take to tanning it would be more the kind that Ann described her daughter getting: the full body spray-on. The machine of magnetic onomatopoeia was, in this case, a MRI machine. Migraines.