the rigorous m

bits and bobs, quotes and catching up

Surrealist Joyce Mansour on romantic waiting

Posted by rigorousm on February 1, 2017

Joyce Mansour, “Practical Advice for Waiting,” trans. Myrna Bell Rochester, originally published in BIEF.

The constant retouching of your face paint, the care of an ever-ready body, all the errands necessary for dressing well, all this confers feminine dignity upon you, but to be a woman, it’s not enough to be beautiful, you must also know how to wait.

To know how to wait under a sunshade, nervously, jealously, unruffled by fatigue, for the arrival of an old Turk, a messenger from another world, for the sword thrust of a gullible man or the jeers of a passerby. Enslaved by circumstances, to wait, without vanity, uncalculatingly and available, for the whim of the marketplace; to wait, without pleasure, for routine or for chance.

Learn how to wait while staying pretty, relaxed, spotless… despite the draining away of hours more elastic than your corset (wear it all the time: it keeps anxiety from settling between your ribs and your sympathetic nerve, thus speeding up the disappearance of your true face). You must learn to deceive your boredom. Wait without looking like you’re waiting and watch out for signs of aging! Waiting will wear out your nerves all the more if the curtain lets the sunset’s rays pass through.

Wait in a train station if you’re attracted by foreign men, but learn to predict and check for mechanical breakdowns; become an experienced conductor, a clever knitting machine, a switching technician (and all that in six sessions thanks to the new practical training program “Introduction to Locomotivity”) before crossing swords with chance. If your stockings aren’t best quality, sleep anywhere else but on the tracks; everyone knows about the force of mimesis (statistics prove it: beautiful features lead to exclamation points, pen-pushers, rotten tomatoes, etc.). Despite all that, don’t lie down on the tracks; the train can stop without your help, it already knows how to; you don’t.

Be bright, colored with sincere happiness (choose your colors with the sam skill you use to choose your hebdromadary personality), always have a cup of coffee within reach; don’t forget, for men it’s always coffee time.

If you await in a restaurant: This is a rendezvous you should dispense with. Be elsewhere. A starving man is better shielded than a blockhouse.

If you need to wait at City Hall? At home? Are you over twenty-one? Suitable for marriage? Maid for marriage? If not, wait until you are before considering marriage.

Don’t wait in the street: Actual little hooligans will drag you off far from today and then where will the beautiful finery of your defects end up?

Wait for him at the heart of the struggle among the scorched leaves and the caramel-colored vapors of your discriminations. Hide your voracity under a semilunar smile (can be obtained in the following sizes: 42, 43, 44) and above all, sport a chilly bosom; you must prevent your partner from being unsatisfied, this state commingles values and embitters the character. Be certain of its cause. Adopt an attitude radically different from the one you usually take in bed. Be as glossy as a widow with rigid morals. Isolated and sulky. And console yourself if you don’t know how to begin waiting; women who don’t know how to be faithful can be practical, but in this case you’d better hurry; tickets are scarce and behind the broom, implacable death is taking shape.


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