25 March, 2009

Little Face

Sometimes it takes another species to humanize us.

It's one of those weird paradoxes of my fondness for binding lovely lasses that I must be exceedingly fond of them in the first place to motivate the degeneracy I would ever consider visiting upon them. The act of restraining someone is necessarily reductive - the person presenting love to me and receiving love from me becomes with a few meters of ligature a fabulous distortion of a person - I amputate at this joint, efface that feature, make of my lover less a one and more an all. I'm often tempted to call it objectification, but it's not quite. When my machinations work, the broad humanity of my lover becomes much more evident than her specific individuality.

There are times, however, it's not quite working, when I lose track of what my friend D might call the transformation, when I fret a bit over what I'm doing, worry about her humanity and wonder about my own, my civility, the barbarism of my instincts and their disquieting manifestations. At such moments it has for years been a comfort to me when someone like Conor pads into the scene to rework my perspective, to check in on his first love, his mistress, and to affirm to all present that God is in his heaven and everything is as it should be.

Intelligent, instinctual fellow that he was for all the 14 years of his life, Conor is likely no less so for having died this past weekend. His rare ability persists in, for example, the words emerging into this essay, shaping this moment much as he did when his mistress would lay suffering helplessly on the floor, down at his level. He would make his casual but subtle entreaties to her inert form and remind everyone that, to his delicate and refined sensibilities, the woman whose limbs were normally available to hold him, whose voice normally cooed his name (or the even more affectionate "Little Face"), whose eyes would meet his, and who in this moment could do none of those things, was still very much a person he loved, and in his estimation very much at peace in her present dishabille. Having contented himself that everyone seemed happy enough with the general proceedings, he would take up him accustomed position on the living room couch to quietly observe the elegant violence among the humans.

Perhaps he sensed (as his mistress and I often have done) that all the drama was one big field of manic loving energy, and that his mistress was implicate in it... somewhere amidst the endless coils and coverings and laminations and loud eruptions. I flatter myself to think that Conor came to love me in part as a function of the affectionate brutality I visited on the provider of his evening provender, cleaner of his litter box and stroker of his ears. I was not known to him for those things (well, maybe I did stroke his little head a bit and opened a can of cat food once or twice - the litter box, however, was sacrosanct between him and his mistress), but Conor would receive me as though I belonged, comfort me when I wondered about my own humanity, drift by me as indifferently as any other member of the household in good standing, and insist upon attention only when the human drama to which I was party had quieted. He knew very well that it was all about love, and he himself loved being discretely in its midst, not wanting to interrupt, seemingly delighted to have it go on in all its sweaty and lurid spectacle. Even in his passing on he waited gracefully until a weekend when his mistress would be least inconvenienced and was for the moment in full possession of her limbs and voice, so that she might hold him in those final moments and coo into his ear.

He was an awfully good boy.


Asobime said...

Oh Mac, I am so sorry about Conor. I just lost my Spanky March 24th, looked like your Conor....had to put him to sleep for leukemia. He was 8 years old.

This was shock because this boy was my bed lump. Spank and I were shadows of each other.

Mac, 14 is an excellent age...and you write so sensitively about Conor. My sympathies to you and Fin.


Mac K. said...

Dear Jane,

I'm very appreciative of your kind words, as is doubtless Besu, whom Conor called Mistress.

You're right to point out that no where in the essay do I actually say with whom Conor lived his 14 years. In his maturity Conor was not much more than a handful, but Besu first held him when he was not much more than would balance on the tip of a finger.

I was an incidental feature of the last several of those 14 years, though I like to think Conor enjoyed my company well enough - I was nothing if not perpetually entertaining, if for no other reason than he did like to chase the rope ends.