on her ideal ... body shape
I was in my room the other day training myself not to flinch when someone tells me something I’d rather not hear. I stared into the mirror and played various recordings I made throughout the day. I started well, remaining inscrutable as I listened to an elderly Cockney man say “I’ve not slept a wink since Ethel passed” but completely breaking down when I heard “They didn’t have cream so I got this Elmlea instead”. Disappointed, I decided instead to imagine the ideal body shape.
Humans should count themselves lucky for having a distinctive shape, not shared with any other creatures. A mouse is shaped like a rat, but smaller. Apart from size, the other difference between a mouse and a rat is that a mouse can roll his tongue and a rat can cry*.
Their similarities lead to confusion, a certain amount of patronising and, in the 1970s, the scandalous mass adoption of adult mice by childless rat couples. A rogue agency arranged the placements and the mice tried to protest. They tore at their new bonnets, spat out their pacifiers and insisted they were too old for the pram they’d been sat into by their brand new parents. Sadly, their voices were squeaky like a baby rat’s, so nobody believed them. The truth wasn’t revealed until one of the adopted mice overdosed on Cashel Blue and an autopsy revealed “Baby Jared” to be 48 years old.
Frustratingly for the immortals among us, different body shapes are constantly coming in and out of fashion. Style encyclopedias tell us that, in the 1700s, everyone wanted to be a cube, so they could wear cute little boxes and stack up to reduce the cost of a ride on the locomotive.
In the Stone Age it was cool to be boulder-shaped and nowadays all the chatter is about a big bustle out back.
I’m a practical kind of woman. Every time I walk through a narrow doorway I offer up a prayer of thanks for not being star-shaped. Toll-booth operators would be more comfortable if they were oblong and locksmiths would get a lot more work if they were slight enough to slip under doors.
Try not to get too turned on when I say this next thing: bodies are simply flesh cases that hold our organs together. That’s important, our organs keep us going – even our funny little spleen has work to do, though nobody knows what. What’s not important is the shape of the flesh case. You can be a puddle or a candlestick but when it comes down to it, what you are is what you do.
My ideal body shape fades to irrelevance depending on how much I bother with all the other puddles and candlesticks around me, and that’s the dream.
*Like the time I got a letter from Gayle King saying how shiny my hair is, this may be fact or it may be from a dream, I cannot say.