BOOKISH MAMA'S AND LUR THE RED-HAIRED WITCH
A Novel in Twenty Minutes or Less
Chapter 4: The Woman in the Pink Dress
I dreamed about her again last night. Don’t get the wrong idea – she is not the woman of my dreams; she is just a woman I dream about, which is a different pair of sleeves. Actually, there is no exact equivalent for “une autre paire de manches” in English. I remember Marc Angenot scratching his head and muttering to himself . . . “why do we say another pair of sleeves. . . ”
I later found out that in the sixteenth century sleeves were not permanently sewn on a woman’s dress. Courtly women could give one or maybe both of their sleeves to their chevalier as a token of fidelity. So – “une autre paire de manches” could mean that somebody had taken a new lover. Semantic drift takes it to mean you’re going to pass from one subject to another, perhaps by μετάληψιζ. If she had given me one of those tiny sleeves I would have been totally astounded, but a knit dress doesn’t have detachable sleeves and anyway she was moving way too fast to be giving away her sleeves to a total stranger.
I was on my way to work on a sunny morning in the middle of April when she appeared for the first and only time in my waking life. The last of the snow had finally melted. I was standing on Sherbrooke St. near the corner of McTavish, waiting for the light to change. On this particular morning I was feeling a bit - shall we say languid? Yes, I think languid is the way I was feeling. And then, in the fullness of time, the light changed.
I saw her out of the corner of my eye just as I stepped off the curb. My peripheral vision is pretty good so she was still far enough away for me to step back and avoid being runned over by a really tall red-haired woman in a pink dress with short sleeves and a short skirt bat-out-of-helling it along Sherbrooke St. on a pair of black roller-blades. I couldn’t help noticing that the shade of pink she had picked out made a surprisingly good color scheme with the Mary Magdalene purply-red hair and the black skates.
One good place to see people on roller blades around Montréal – a city of accomplished skaters - is over at Parc des Rapides where they have a dedicated lane for le patinage. There are lots of newbies, a few more who are pretty good, and every now and then you can see someone who kicks ass. The woman in the pink dress was just plain magnificent. She had long red hair flying in the slipstream, a lovely face, a strong, supple body, and exquisite bio-mechanics. I was riveted to the spot.
Watching her skate was like an expression of divine grace, if you happen to think that grace has to be divine. I happen to think there can be just plain secular humanist grace without any divinity. Nobody else seemed to notice anything unusual and the thought crossed my mind that this might be some kind of private, visionary experience, though it must be said I am not much given to hallucinations with or without the assistance of psycho-pharmacopeia. But here’s the thing. If you happen to see Artemis when she is not in a mood to have you looking at her then you will in all likelihood get eaten alive by your own dogs. One guy this happened to, he had about 40 dogs.
Well – the pink dress didn’t leave much to the imagination. I watched her flying down Sherbrooke all the way to where it makes that left turn just after the statue of Queen Victoria in front of Pollack Hall. By the time she was out of sight the traffic was moving and I had to wait for the light to change again.
After I crossed the street I realized the woman in the pink dress was not wearing a helmet. No elbow pads or knee pads either. “What if she falls?” I thought. But I knew she wouldn’t fall. She didn’t think she could fall; that was why she didn’t fall. Maybe she was just a goddess in a hurry. Listen, if Artemis had something she wanted to do in downtown Montréal these days, she’d be like traffic, shmaffic – towering over the cars, skating along Sherbrooke St. just like she was flying in a pink dress that doesn’t leave much to the imagination. She will be the best thing you’re ever going to see on roller blades.