Ready to Where

What to wear, what to wear, over this pear shaped form! Persimmon is more like it, I think.

They say that clothes make the man, but what about the woman? The assumption is that she is already made, like a piece of fruit. I fell from the tree of my parents quite imperfectly. In a land of hourglass gals and stick-figurines, I am a persimmon with forky tines for fingers and toes. My catty head spins a full 360 degrees around my neck, so I can easily report that I am nothing different anywhere; all the way round I’m a piece of fruit. And not luscious and lovely, the things that people want me to be. I am unluscious and unlovely, forever unripe. While my color is attractive, my flesh will never yield to the touch, never be ready to be served.

Still, my mother dolls me up, tries to make me more appealing to the opposite sex. Though what is opposite a persimmon, I don’t know. Each Sadie Hawkins day I am crammed into a gown. The torso of such, even with Lycra stretching between the whalebone stays -- strains over my form. I have no edges to prop up the hips of a skirt, and so my dress spills all around me, a puddle of taffeta, of raspberry gargone. I claw my way round the dance floor, getting little bits of polyurethane under my nails. I look like the janitorial crew, not a little giggly girl at a dance. Not a grown woman either, mature and demanding her mate. No. I’m a spill of scratchy fabric that no one can clean up. Why do I participate?

Because I am urged. “You’ll have a good time,” my mother declares every year, and even though I never do, I do return.

I’m not a masochist. I do have hope that someone, some fruit or vegetable, some Brazil nut shaped creature will see beyond my shape and into me. See the person beyond the persimmon.

Think of wasps penetrating the flesh of figs; it sounds sexual I know, but I just want to be known. Not in a Biblical and/or physical sense. Do you know what it is to be seen? Have you been avoided or invisible? Then you’ll understand what I mean. You’ll know what it is to believe that you are not what you seem. Although my body is malformed, according to the standard options, my mind is sharp as an apple. And I see that you and everyone else out there thinks that they are something other than what they are. You think, they think, that they are better than they are. Or worse, sometimes. But no one imagines that they are what they are, no better or worse. No one sees that they are limited, curtained by the borders of their body and soul. No one sees that they are not terrifically generous or wildly brilliant. We hardly see the skin of the fruits we are, blemished or perfect, either.

I am damned. To see myself and to see you for all your flaws and glory. I see the ick, the ack, the ache, underneath the fine shiny surfaces, the smooth sentences that flow like hot chocolate sauce into the empty ice cream cone of a very willing ear. I am damned, a wretched vessel with terrific vision. I don’t like what I see. Not the greed, the grind, the pretended splendor.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t go to the dance. This year I’m asking the mailman, and my mother bought me a new dress, as if novelty will change the story. As if the man won’t be embarrassed by my resemblance to a floor mop and will start to deliver me his affection in addition to my bills. We’ll see. Maybe she’s right. Maybe I am all potential, no pear, no persimmon, just person, ready to be.



Amy Halloran has written for Salon, The Seattle Weekly, and the American Book Review. Her short stories have been published in a variety of online sites, such as McSweeney’s and Pindeldyboz, as well as printed in Gargoyle and Alimentum. Currently she writes opinion pieces for The Times Union and The Daily Gazette, and is working on a novel and a comic book about urban removals in upstate New York, where she lives with her family.