There were two really jarring events in the world last week. The first was that I had this massive hangover after a bout of bemused drinking and the second was that Britain left the European Union. Because most of my readers are American I will address these two catastrophes in order of importance.
So it’s like one of those hangovers where your eyelids are pasted together. There is ringing in the ears. The roof of your mouth feels like it is covered with barnacles. Your tongue searches in vain for anything resembling a drop of saliva. Your liver is beating like it thinks it is your heart and your heart is pumping as fast as possible to try to clean some of the congeners out of your blood before your kidneys develop nephritis and your stomach is acting like some kind of flipping trapeze artist and the banshees stab at your forehead with icepicks and your future is bleak and your past is shameful. That kind of hangover.
The reason I mention the hangover is that it was intimately tied to the “Brexit” or British exit from the European Union. I was its first casualty, maybe. I had gotten caught up the night before at a bar explaining to a couple of chowderheads about Britain’s decision to impress its sovereignty on the rest of Europe. The folks I was talking to were the kind of ill-informed types that think Kim Kardashian is Secretary of State, somehow. They were confused by the “Brexit,” freaked out, believing that the nation itself was going to submerge, like Atlantis, and roam the oceans like a submarine, now free to do as it pleased. As my frustration increased so did the number of beers polished off. I ended up in a scene of gross oversimplification, telling my young audience to forget the whole socioeconomic shift and just think of it as a reality television show wherein the European Union is represented by an international photographer named “Jorge” and Britain is represented by his girlfriend “Selma,” a fashion model, who is about to tell him that they are breaking up.
I set the scene: (Jorge is in his studio, furiously snapping photographs of a Czech girl draped on a bearskin rug like in that Antonioni movie. He barks instructions. Enter Selma, sheepish, with the dim news.)
Selma: Jorge, we need to talk.
Jorge: Haven’t I told you never to interrupt me! I am Jorge, the great, international photographer. My pictures are seen all over the continent. I have a very busy day ahead of me.
Selma: I’m leaving you.
Jorge (dropping his camera in disbelief): What? How? Why? (To the Czech girl) Take five, Nadia. (Exit Nadia.)
Selma: I feel like I’m losing a bit of myself in this relationship. I’m being smothered. I need to go out and be Selma again, not just Selma, Jorge’s muse, or the Selma that is just an extension of Jorge.
Jorge: But we are a team. You are my greatest model. I need you and you need me.
Selma: You dominate my life, Jorge! I’m sick of it. I’m obligated to pose for you. You won’t let me work with other photographers.
Jorge: Like who?
Selma: Like Percival.
Jorge: Percival! That British dandy? Bosh. He’s got maybe an eighth of the distribution that I can guarantee. I’ve got your picture on billboards across Europe, America, Asia. You’ll be lucky to be the “kitten of the week” on some tittie bar handbill in Manchester working with Percival.
Selma: It’s not only that. It’s your friends Jorge.
Jorge: What about my friends?
Selma: Your friends are slobs. They are these transient weirdos that come around and crash for weeks. They are freeloaders.
Jorge: They are good folks once you get to know them.
Selma: It’s an intrusion. I’m British for chrissakes. They are beneath me. That’s another thing. I’m always loaning you money. How can you have all this money yet you are always broke?
Jorge: My money is out on the street, baby! You know I always make it up to you.
Selma: You have so many rules. I feel like I’m trapped. I can’t do this and I can’t do that. I can’t go here and I can’t go there. I’ve got to appeal to you for everything. You’re a jealous bastard and I want to make my own decisions.
Jorge: You live a fabulous life!
Selma: It’s a cage with golden bars!
Jorge (consulting the ceiling): How could this have happened?
Selma: My family almost dared me to leave you. They said I didn’t have the nerve. And I almost didn’t. But then, you know what, I said that is it. I’m leaving.
Jorge (to himself): What if this is the beginning of a trend? What if my other models start leaving?
Selma: You can be abusive.
Jorge: I only push you all to be your best!
Selma: I’m sorry Jorge. That’s it. The blue collars have spoken.
Jorge: I respect your decision. I’ll have you know, though, that I’ll no longer be able to take your picture. Things won’t be the same. You’ll fade. You’re on your own.
Selma (consulting her feet with a twinge of nostalgia and regret): We can still see each other sometimes, right?
Jorge: I’m afraid that is impossible. There are too many factors. I’m too hurt. I’ve got my pride, you know. I’m a self-absorbed photographer, after all.
Selma: Can we still make love from time to time?
Jorge: We’ll have to do it sneaky. Like black market style. Like wink, wink. Like climb into the chifforobe and get it done before anybody finds out. Like rocking the chifforobe while the maids tiptoe around it, like in some silly British soap opera. It’ll be a dirty, nasty business, which part of me gets excited by, truth be told. But as far as our public image is concerned, it’s gotta be over.
Selma: What if…
Jorge: Please! I’m allergic to hypotheticals. Nadia! Get in here.
(Selma makes her exit, which will now be known as the “Sexit.” Jorge reloads his film and sighs.)
Have a safe exit for the holiday weekend!
More Alembics to come.