I want to be beautiful. I'm saying this with a complete lack of irony. Really. I want to be beautiful. Don't you? Tonight was the 7th annual Pretend You Are Rich Art Auction. Presumably, it ended about three hours ago. It was held at The Pump Art Complex, a collection of studio spaces and a community of artists. The auction was an exercise in fantasy, a night when the artistic community of Austin could come together and become something that many, if not most of them are not: wealthy.
But this article is not about the auction. That will come later. This article isn't really about anything. I have no map that marks a path for these words. I'm not even sure of my intent in writing this. Except that...
I'm not beautiful. Are you? I have, throughout the course of my short and short-sighted life, lived on the edges of the realm of the ugly. In show business, we call them character-actors. You can be either Juliet or Juliet's maid. My dear readers, you are in the electronic presence of Juliet's maid. In my younger days, being ugly was horrible. Given the unspeakable cruelty of children, it's not hard to imagine why. I've never understood why people believe that children are innocent, kind, perceptive, or sacred. I don't buy it. Human nastiness is most likely born of ingorance, and there is no human creature more ignorant than a child. As I grew older my ugliness became empowering. My very existence was a "Fuck you!" to all of those heartless bastards who took for granted that they were beautiful. My ugliness was freedom. I chose to be ugly. I made ugly decisions. Ugly was beautiful.
So I was an ugly child. Not surprisingly, I am an ugly adult. I have been, at least subconsciously, aware of my ugliness all of my life. But it had not become so evident to me as earlier tonight, during the auction, when I engaged in the communal fantasy of wealth, stardom, and beauty.
Fantasy should be easy for me. After all, I got my bachelors in fantasy with a fool-hardy major in theatre arts. And yet, tonight, as I stood up on that stage, with my tuxedo, my clip-on bow tie, my costume spats, as I looked around the room at our guests and patrons, called to them to spend real/pretend money, the stark reality that was hidden beneath our phony fur coats, our fake pearls, became evident.
And so now, here am I, kept awake at one in the morning, wondering, how can I become beautiful? Decorations, tattoos, piercings, cuff-links, designers shoes, hair-gel, mascara, are all distractions that hide the truth of the naked body. Similarly, knowledge, hobbies, habits, ironic references, interests, abilities, and our ability to boast of them to others; all are distractions which we emit to draw attention away from the fact that we are vulnerable. At the heart of our vulnerability lays... is it ugliness?
I can't speak but for myself.
ugly is beautiful because it is real. Ugly is the only beauty. You can pile as much money and charisma as you like on ugly and call it beautiful. But you are lying, and you won't realize the truth and tragic beauty in ugly until there are no distractions except for you and the mirror.
Don't shatter it.