Sunday, November 29, 2009

November 29, 1936

Now, where was I? Yes.... Well, when last I spoke of it, the film star had left me abandoned in Mexico City! Such behavior is incomprehensible. Unforgivable. And you can imagine my shock, my horror. At least the hotel management was most solicitous and kind; I do believe - at last - they began to know who I was! After a fruitless search for Miss Lombard was concluded, they thought to contact one of the guests from the party of the previous evening. A certain count Peñál-Yrués, a charming fellow who fortunately spoke a fairly decipherable English.

Now, is it possible that he was genuinely Mexican? I don't believe that silly Mexico even has any aristocracy, so perhaps he was actually a Spaniard. At any rate, I do hope he wasn't one of the dreadful fausse noblesse one finds everywhere nowadays; how they irk me! Now, where was I...?

Oh, yes. Well, the count was most kind. Whilst I struggled to have arrangements made for my return to America, he generously squired me about to this office and that. Everyone was faultlessly kind and smiling, but the paperwork and delays were maddening. I travel about all the time, so I can't think why this was so very difficult to arrange. I am terribly celebrated, so that does raise some complications - a good deal of extra care is necessary - but you'd think they were trying to post a soft-boiled egg! Haha! During the days of endless waiting, count Peñál-Yrués took me about and introduced me to some lovely people; regardless of my ghastly experiences in their country, I do adore les Mexicains! Lovely parties were held in my honour. And, during the daytime, the count, thinking I would enjoy it, toured me about to the various museums and art galleries of the city.

Now, my darlings, you know how I loathe modern art. It's all so ugly and unpleasant. Nothing that one would dare to hang upon a wall, certainly, nothing that would complement the sofa or window draperies. So what's the good of it, I ask you? But what I saw in Mexico was not offensive, I'll give it that. And it seems that the country is, after all, terribly artistic. And I don't mean the silly pottery and baskets that one would expect. No, not at all. Of late it seems they've gone quite mad for murals. Everywhere one looks, they've put up vast, brightly colored compositions. The newer buildings in town look quite slap-dash and haven't the least bit of architectural élan, so perhaps the murals are a necessary diversion. But, really, I thought them a bit of all right, terribly jolly and so large. So very large. Which may explain why the perspective always seems to be a bit of a muck-up.

Artists leave me quite senseless. Such dreary, self-important bores. But, of course, I couldn't tell the dear count that when he offered to take me to the atelier of Mexico's most celebrated painter, a certain Mr. Rivera. And what a truly appalling looking fellow he was! Enormous and having the aspect of a great ape - or should I say toad? I don't know which is more apt. At any rate, he smelt like a goat! But his work was lovely. Yes, it was. The subject matter was a bit too peasant-y to my way of thinking, you understand, but lovely nonetheless.

And then I met his very curious little wife. She was quite a sight, I must tell you. Even if one were to overlook the black, bristling brows that met in the middle, one could never fail to note the moustache! I know! Impossible to imagine, but it's true! A tiny, sweet-smelling thing, she was dressed in some sort of madcap native costume, covered in jewelry of all sorts, her hair braided and set with flowers. A most delirium-making concoction. And yet.... And yet.... One would expect this toilette - this apparition - to jar - at best - but, you know, somehow it was all rather charming. The woman must be a sorceress to pull off such a thing. She was a complete effrontery to all notions of beauty and good sense. But there you have it. She looked really quite marvelous. They tell me that she paints a little, too.

Finally, after nearly a week, all my arrangements were in order. On my last night - or what I imagined would be my last night - I was thrown a lovely little soirée by the dear count. It was quite charming. At first. I enjoyed myself a bit more than I should have, perhaps; the circumstances of my visitation had been so very trying. And the Veuve Clicquot was flowing rather freely, you understand; the dear widow and I are such dear friends! Haha! At any rate, things did get a little vague as the evening wore on and, at the same time, it seemed as though the - oh, I don't know - the tenor of respectability weakened. Yes, rather. And, of course, when I gaily quaff champagne, I do like to dance. Yes, I do! I danced dance after dance with all the most lovely, fragrant and swarthy men. Real men, you understand; not a pansy in the bunch! The last thing I remember is that I was clasped in the arms of some great Mexican god, his hands the size of Schiaparelli handbags, and his glittering, black eyes proverbially smoldering. Babbling throatily - mesmerically - in honeyed Spanish, he danced me expertly into a darkened corner, through gauze curtains that breathed gently with the last warm breeze of night breaking unto dawn....

Ah, then everything goes blank.

I awoke hours later somewhere out in the country. An old, leathery peasant was patting water onto my face, hoping to revive me, I suppose. I appeared to be lying prostrate in the middle of a farm yard; there were chickens about! Well, I believe they were chickens; I've never actually seen a chicken standing up. I suppose I'll never know exactly where I was or how I'd arrived there. Or how I'd gotten to such a state: I hadn't any wrap, my gown was soiled and torn, and I'd only one shoe! My hair was matted with dirt and straw and, when I tried to speak, I found several feathers clinging improbably to the inside of my mouth. Of the chicken variety, I presume. And I was terribly, deplorably hung!

It was quite useless trying to communicate with the peasant, but he was obviously very concerned about me, which was really too sweet. He wrapped a filthy horse blanket about my shoulders, gave me some coarse sandal-like things to put on my feet, and led me - dragged me, really - to a wretched donkey cart full of dirty straw and threw me into it! I was too weak to protest anything, too ill. We drove for miles and miles, under the blazing, burning sun, every bump of the rutted road was an agony; I longed for death! Somehow, the old peasant seemed to know exactly where to deliver me because, after what seemed an eternity - I can't even know how long; I was quite unconscious most of the journey - we were back in the city, and he pulled the brakes on his little burro right at the door of my hotel. As my Good Samaritan rolled my limp form out of the cart and toward the doorstep, the hotel doorman was just about to roll me back toward the gutter - haha! - when, thankfully, he noticed my Cartier bracelets; Cartier has saved me on more than one occasion! Oh, yes.... At any rate, there were shrieks of alarm and everyone was quite aflutter as they carried me - fainting, repeatedly - to my rooms. They wanted to call the doctor or take me to hospital but, waxing quite Amazonian - I'll never know how I mustered the resolve - I gave a noble "no" to all succor. I had a bath - well, of course, I did - and the next morning flung myself into a chartered aeroplane and returned to Oregon. Where, at last, I allowed myself the well-deserved luxury of a complete and utter collapse!

Now, there, I've told you all. All the parts I am able to remember, at any rate. Not a tale at all indicative of my otherwise glamorous lifestyle. A sordid, messy tale; this incident will certainly be expunged from my official biography, you understand. But you begin to comprehend why my recovery has been so very prolonged. I do hope my distressing story hasn't upset you overly much. Dreadful things happen to us all, of course. Those of you who are lowly and even those, like I, who live in a more rarefied manner. We must all learn from life, my darlings. And, if nothing else, do learn from my error and stay far clear of any beastly film people!

Oh, and do keep at least something by Cartier on your person at all times; you'll never regret it! Until we speak again, mes amis....

Friday, November 27, 2009

November 27, 1936

Well, yesterday I endured one of America's strange national customs. From what I've been told, it all began with a terribly drab sect of Christians. It seems they came to this country a bit rashly and were very ill-prepared as to the practicalities; I do believe they hadn't thought to bring any servants at all, silly things. And when the weather got colder and they couldn't eat figs and plums and such from off the trees, they got really terribly hungry and had to go steal food from the lovely Indians - no, not the Gandhi sort of Indians, the other ones. And then they sat down at table and thanked God for having the Indians to steal from. At least that is what I've been told. Though I may have scrambled it a bit. But then, of course, American history is so very contradictory.

The way the country now celebrates this sad little occasion is to come together and gorge themselves quite dreadfully. My hosts were charming and the food was really quite expertly prepared. (Especially when you consider that, once again, I was supping with people who have no servants, and must needs do the cooking themselves!) I must quibble with the selection of courses, though, as it was all most starchy. I was told that that was the one indispensable ingredient of the menu though, to me, it did seem unnecessarily reckless. And then, of course, everyone sat about on the sofas in very ungraceful postures, their heads lolling, too sleepy for any intelligible conversation. Really, Americans are such a strange race. Oh, and we ate a turkey! I didn't know that anyone actually ate turkey! Haha!

Now, I must get back to my conte du Mexique, mustn't I? I'm sure you're all quite cross with me and my negligence. Now, where was I...? Hmmm...?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November 18, 1936

Oh, at last my nail varnish is dry! My hair has been set, my skin has been slathered with creams and unguents, I have been rubbed up and rubbed down by my great, bull-ish masseuse, Miss Daphne, and I finally begin to feel able to tell all you lovely people of my Mexican ordeal and my veritable, well, resurrection.

But where to begin? Where to begin? Well, my divine aviatrix, ma polonaise - Lina? Lena? I don't know, but I know I shan't get anywhere near to the last name; Polish names are barely human! - but I digress.... Hmmm...? Oh, yes. Well, the gorgeous creature set us down in Los Angeles - like a butterfly on a rosebud! Such expertise, such grace; she was some sort of acrobat prior to her aero-mania. I was hoping she might linger a while - she has such a frightfully strong allure - but, no, she had need to fly right off. She's terribly serious about her craft. Oh, well.... Hmm? Now where was I?

Well, Los Angeles was a dream. The nights were balmy and fragrant - I did get to wear my new organdy - and my hosts were just adorable. The wife does all the cooking - can you imagine? - but marvelously. Though she seemed to believe me the famous calf in need of fattening! Haha! I do believe I dined on avocados at every meal. My hosts are good, decent people - they don't know a soul even peripherally famous, bless them - but, after a day or two I was found out, tristement, and I started getting all sorts of invitations from horrid film people; I suppose I'm too, too famous to wallow in anonymity for long. But what a bore! After that, it was party after party. Every night too much champagne - though, entre nous, not of the best quality - and ridiculous frenzy. And then, of course, the silly people are all in bed by ten. Ten o'clock! Because they have to be up before dawn and off to work. Pictures! Quite the most barbaric way to make a living!

I saw a lot of a certain Miss Dietrich - I rather got the impression that she was trying to woo me, if you'll believe it - and though she's quite the "film queen", she is , after all, European. So that make her quite a bit more tolerable. Oddly, I got really rather chummy with Miss Carole Lombard. I can't think why. But she's very jolly, quite pretty in a well-scrubbed American sort of way, and makes riotous good use of an alarming vocabulary. Very fun, really. Which is what got me into the bloody mess I'm about to describe.

She suggested - demanded, really - that I take a little weekend trip with her, "south of the border". Just a short jaunt in the aeroplane and right back again. Well, I was up to nothing at the time, she appeared to want it so, and she is so very jolly! I expected we were merely headed to that delightfully louche Tijuana I've heard tell of. But once aloft, she said, no, darling, we're headed for Mexico City. Mexico City! Can you believe it?! It was a dreadfully long, unpleasant flight, during which I languished, completely non-plussed. When we finally arrived we were whisked off to a rather nice hotel, everyone bowing and scraping to her; really, it was a bit much. And the silly people didn't even seem to know who I was - imagine!

That night we had the grandest party in her rooms; she seems to know lots of the natives. The crowd was immense. All Mexicans. Lovely, charming people. The woman all smooth and perfumed, with that gorgeous magnolia skin they have. And the men? Oh, I can't remember ever being so flocked about with male pulchritude. Not really adequately tall, of course, but so very beautiful! The golden skin; the oiled, ebony hair; the exquisite scent. Perfectly attired, faultlessly groomed. Such manners and such allure. And, well - yes - the sex quotient! I was quite giddy, I must tell you. Though that might have had a bit to do with all the cocktails...and then more cocktails! I don't remember the end of the evening, exactly - no, I don't - but if I have done anything less than discrete, I shan't disclose it here. Haha!

I awoke the next morning - or afternoon, as it were - in a bit of a daze and a trifle hung. A lovely, tiny - tiny - little maid brought me my coffee and then I rang Miss Lombard's room -- only to find that she'd checked out! She was nowhere to be found, utterly, utterly gone. Et, j'ai été abandonnée! Can you imagine my shock?!

Oh, dear.... Oh, dear.... This is most upsetting, just thinking of it. I will have to continue this later, my darlings; do forgive me. I must lie down. With a cold compress upon my brow. Now where is my maid? Alyssia? Alyssia?!

Friday, November 6, 2009

November 6, 1936

Oh - oh! - at last I'm back in Portland! At last! I never thought I'd be so happy to see this dreary place - marooned here, though I seem to be - but, my word, after all I've been through! I shall write very soon, pets, and tell you all about my adventures into the dark soul of Mexico. But you'll have to wait just a bit, my darlings. Your beloved, glamourous Madeleine is in the greatest, desperate need of "refurbishment". You would not believe the poverty of grooming I've been made to endure; I might have died of it. I'm all scuffed and rumpled. My feet, my skin, my nails! Wretched, I tell you; I look like a pig who's been digging for truffles - yes, I do! And my hair! Les coiffeuses de Mexique are little more than barbarians; you should see what they've done to my lovely hair. It looks as though they set it whilst I sat astride a spinning top; I am awhirl! I look like Lupe Vélez, for goodness sake! Which is fine for her, I suppose, poor dear, but not for me. After I am properly rested, and I've recaptured a bit of my starry lustre - haha! - I shall tell you all about my ghastly little escapade. Quelle horreur!